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11.03.17

Links 3/11/2017: IPFire 2.19 is Out, Black Duck to Vanish

Posted in News Roundup at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Are open source solutions set to take the high ground in the telecoms industry?

    With open source solutions rapidly growing across the telecoms industry, we’re seeing a major shift with the migration from voice and data services to an encompassing set of networking tools. Operators are moving away from traditional hardware and software systems, says Robin Kent, director of European operations, Adax, with open source solutions now viewed as a key enabler of transformation and innovation.

    While open source solutions do have clear advantages, allowing third-party deployment without having to solely manage or develop the software, challenges still remain. For example, if there’s a bug that causes reliability problems or a crash in the network, how long does it take to fix the bug and who’s accountable for it? Until such industry issues are properly addressed, it seems that open source solutions will not be taking the high ground in the industry anytime soon.

  • Beyond Bitcoin: Oracle, IBM Prepare Blockchains for Industrial Use

    There’s been a lot of talk recently about blockchains beyond its original use for supporting Bitcoin. Earlier this year, we covered a session in London where the takeaway from the panel was there are too many problems to be solved. But that was in February, and a lot has changed since then.

    Judging from some of the blockchain sessions at the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference, the emerging potential uses for blockchain are kind of staggering.

  • Looking at November 4th

    There is a communications exercise this weekend that is being held by the United States Department of Defense involving the amateur radio community. That is to say, ham radio operators are doing a drill with the military in the United States. The subject of the drill is a simulation where a simulated Coronal Mass Ejection event causes a simulated nation-wide power grid failure and there is a call-up of stations on an interoperability frequency in the 60 meter frequency band to see who in all the three thousand counties of the United States of America is out there. The lights will not actually go out and there will not be an actual mass of charged particles hurtling towards Earth from our local star’s corona that would make a human-created EMP generator’s output look miniscule in comparison.

    [...]

    If anything, this will be fun. This is a simulation on a continental scale. Sadly, I don’t have any working transmitting gear so I won’t be able to fully take part. I will be able to set up the RadioShack DX-398 and listen in, though. Folks without radios at home can utilize the WebSDR (Software Defined Radio) network of receivers perhaps by learning more by pointing their browsers at http://websdr.org/.

  • Events

    • Embedded Linux Conference Europe videos posted for free streaming

      The Linux Foundation has posted 13 videos of Open Source Summit Europe keynotes and 57 videos of Embedded Linux Conference Europe sessions on YouTube.

      The combined Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE) and Open Source Summit Europe event held Oct. 23-25 in Prague, is now available for all to see. The Linux Foundation has posted 70 videos of events on YouTube, including videos of 57 ELCE presentations.

  • Databases

    • Alibaba leads $27m open source database MariaDB’s funding round

      MariaDB’s wallet just got a little thicker with a strong Series C investment round that featured Alibaba as the lead investor.

      The round, which saw the open source database company raise $27m in investment, was led by the Chinese company to the tune of €20 million of the total €22.9 million raised, according to Tech Crunch.

    • MariaDB reports successful investment round led by Alibaba

      MariaDB Corporation announced that it raised $27 million in an investment led by Alibaba Group. Combined with a recent $27 million investment from the European Investment Bank (EIB), this latest capital brings MariaDB’s total funding this year to $54 million. MariaDB will continue its collaboration with Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, to deliver new solutions for the cloud and emerging use cases. MariaDB reaches more than 60 million developers worldwide through its inclusion in every major Linux distribution, as well as a growing presence in the world’s major cloud providers. The latest investments reflect the rising interest in MariaDB from every commercial region around the world.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.3.7 Is the Last in the Series, End of Life Set for November 26

      LibreOffice 5.3.7 is now available as the latest update for the series, bringing a total of 49 bug fixes for various of the office suite’s components, including Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base, and Math. To see what exactly was changed in this point release, you can study the changelog attached at the end of the article.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • ‘Tallinn declaration’ commits EU to increase use of open source

      When building or rebuilding ICT systems, public services should make more use of open source software solutions, the Ministers of the European Union Member States and EFTA countries agreed in Tallinn (Estonia) on 6 October. The recommendation is part of the ‘Tallinn Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment’.

      By signing the Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment, the ministers agree that using open source solutions and open standards helps to avoid IT vendor lock-in. They call on public services to make their ICT solutions publicly available, and to encourage the private sector and civil society to reuse the software.

      In addition, the ministers call on the Commission “to consider strengthening the requirements for use of open source solutions and standards when (re)building of ICT systems and solutions takes place with EU funding – including by an appropriate open licence policy – by 2020.”

    • NHS Digital wants to beef up information exchange healthcare solutions through open source APIs

      Expressions of interest are invited from suppliers and INTEROPen members to get involved in new API Lab

      NHS Digital has announced plans to develop a new API Lab in Leeds to solve information exchange problems for patients and clinicians.

      The objective is to make patient information and securely accessible to healthcare professionals at the point of need.

      The API Lab will pool the expertise of developers from both industry and NHS Digital to accelerate the development of open source APIs designed to improve system integration across the NHS and social care.

      The Lab will work according to open standards group INTEROPen’s openness and transparency principles to address information exchange problems for patients and clinicians.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Company that sought to control Google search results is a no-show in US court

      Earlier this year, a small Vancouver software firm called Equustek earned an extraordinary legal win against Google. The Supreme Court of Canada ordered the search giant to de-index all pages from a former Equustek distributor—not just in Canada, but worldwide.

      Google’s response to that was to file a lawsuit in US federal court asking a judge to rule that the Canadian order is unenforceable in its home country. Google called the Canadian order “repugnant” to the First Amendment, and it pointed out that the Canadian plaintiffs “never established any violation of their rights under US law.”

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • The Google Docs Lockout Fiasco & The Failed Promise Of The Cloud

    While it wasn’t always called “the cloud” people have been talking about and predicting the future of remote computing for the past few decades (and, sure, I know that in the early days of mainframes and terminals, that’s how things worked, but I’m talking about in the modern internet era). And some argue that we’ve now finally reached the true age of the cloud. After all, tons of people can survive with most of their documents really stored in the cloud. Indeed, for many people, they have little use for much storage on their own computers (and, sure, I know some of you will get snooty and talk about how crazy that is, but the simple fact is that many people are not like you and don’t need much in the way of local storage).

    But, as I’ve said before, and will say again, I think by letting companies like Google and Amazon control “the cloud” we’ve actually missed out the real possible benefit of the cloud. The version that I had always pictured separated out the storage layer from the service layer. I’ve made this point in the past concerning online cloud music services (which are now pretty obsolete due to streaming services) where I’d prefer the ability to store all of my (legal) MP3s in one spot, and then point a music playing service at those files. Instead, every cloud music service required you to upload local tracks to servers somewhere, and you’d have to do it all over again if you switched. This is obvious lock-in for those services, but it’s a pain for end users, and diminishes the possibilities for more innovative services.

  • New Zealand library cracks case of the missing books

    Staff discover homeless people had been carefully hiding books under shelves at Auckland library so they could return to them without losing their place

  • Science

    • Trump pick for science position withdraws due to Russia connection

      Yesterday, the Trump administration’s pick for a science post at the Department of Agriculture withdrew his name from consideration. Sam Clovis, who was a talk radio host before joining the Trump campaign, had been a controversial pick to begin with due to his complete lack of experience with either agriculture or science. But his nomination was terminated due to his role in the Trump campaign, where he supervised George Papadopoulos, the first person to plead guilty due to Robert Mueller’s investigation of the campaign’s Russian ties.

      Since Trump’s inauguration, Clovis has served as a White House advisor within the Department of Agriculture. Earlier this year, Trump nominated him to a formal position within the department: the Undersecretary of Research, Education, and Economics. That position coordinates research within the department, and the person who holds the position is often referred to as Agriculture’s chief scientist. The law that created the position indicates that the person nominated for it should be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

    • EPA bans research grant recipients from advising agency on science

      US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt took another step to reshape the independent boards that advise the agency on science Tuesday. The newly announced directive bars scientists who receive EPA research grants from serving as science advisers to the agency. The move follows previous decisions to dismiss a number of academic researchers in favor of greater representation from industry representatives.

      In a news release, the EPA described the move as ensuring that advisers are “independent and free from any real, apparent, or potential interference with their ability to objectively serve as a committee member.” Pruitt and some other conservative critics of environmental regulations have recently argued that scientists who have performed EPA-funded research have a conflict of interest—that they are biased toward approving new regulatory efforts. “Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn’t be political science,” Pruitt said in the agency’s release.

    • Lamar Smith, chair of House Science Committee, leaving Congress

      Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today acknowledged he is retiring at the end of his current term. Smith was one of the key sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which attracted widespread criticism for the powers it would grant companies going after copyright infringement. For the past five years, he has been chair of the House Science Committee, where he has intruded on peer review at the National Science Foundation and gotten into fights with NOAA because he refuses to accept the evidence for climate change.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Companies claim marijuana makes cancer “commit suicide,” FDA loses it

      The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday publicly scolded and threatened companies claiming that marijuana-based products could treat or cure cancer.

      In the harshly worded announcement, the agency suggested that the “deceptive marketing” was tantamount to “health fraud” and that the agency was “increasingly concerned at the proliferation of products claiming to treat or cure serious diseases like cancer.”

    • Uganda Parliament Passes Bill To Promote Use Of Genetically Modified Materials, Biotech [Ed: It sounds as though a corrupt lobby has finally bribed enough officials and bodies there to impose Monsanto et al]

      Several genetically modified crops that are more resilient to drought, flooding, saline or acid soils and temperature extremes resulting from climate change are already being researched in Uganda and are in advanced stages. The enactment of an enabling law, the Uganda National Biosafety Bill 2017, is intended to enhance the development of modern biotechnology.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ISIS’ power is waning, but its child slave trade is still booming

      Three years on, ISIS’ slave trade continues to prosper, even as the extremist group’s power and influence wane. ISIS has been largely driven out of its former Syrian stronghold, Raqqa, in recent days — only sleeper cells are thought to remain in the city.

    • Why Trump Has Nothing to Say About ISIS

      The Trump Administration’s shady ties to the Turkish government may have had something to do with the decision. [...]

    • USS McCain collision ultimately caused by UI confusion

      On November 1, the US Navy issued its report on the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain this summer. The Navy’s investigation found that both collisions were avoidable accidents. And in the case of the USS McCain, the accident was in part caused by an error made in switching which control console on the ship’s bridge had steering control. While the report lays the blame on training, the user interface for the bridge’s central navigation control systems certainly played a role.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

      Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say

    • Republican tax plan kills electric vehicle credit

      The nascent market for electric cars will suffer a big setback if the Republican tax plan released on Thursday enters into law. Among the changes to the current tax code would be an end to the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit. That’s the tax incentive that currently means up to $7,500 back from the IRS when you purchase a new battery or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

    • High Court says previous National Government should have done more on climate change targets

      The previous National-led government failed to take appropriate action over some of its climate change emissions targets, according to the High Court, but it won’t face any consequences because it’s no longer in power.

      Justice Jillian Mallon released her decision on Thursday after Waikato law student Sarah Thomson took former Environment Minister Paula Bennett to court in June over alleged inadequate action to address emissions targets.

      The High Court dismissed the judicial review. But in her written decision, Justice Mallon acknowledged that when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fifth assessment reports in 2014, the Government failed to undertake a satisfactory review of its 2050 emissions targets.

  • Finance

    • SEC warns that celebrity cryptocurrency endorsements may be illegal

      The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a statement warning celebrities that they may be violating the law if they make paid endorsements of cryptocurrencies without disclosing the payments.

      Just a few months ago, there would have been no need for such a warning because there were very few celebrities endorsing blockchain products (though Mike Tyson has been endorsing Bitcoin products since at least 2015). But with billions of dollars flooding into initial coin offerings, celebrities like Floyd Mayweather and Paris Hilton have begun promoting new cryptocurrencies on social media.

    • Bitcoin blows past $7,000, double its value in mid-September

      Six weeks ago, it looked like Bitcoin’s latest boom might be coming to an end. The virtual currency had been worth almost $5,000 in early September, but then Chinese regulators announced a harsh crackdown on China’s Bitcoin economy. On September 15, Bitcoin’s price reached a low of $3,000.

      But then the currency bounced back, and it has been on a tear ever since. Last night the price of one bitcoin soared to about $7,000 for the first time—that’s a ten-fold increase over the last year.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Media Spent Months Lionizing General Who Defended Slaveholders’ Revolt

      According to corporate media, the top general who just complimented the commander of the slavery-defending Confederacy is the greatest hope to rein in President Donald Trump’s extremism.

      Since retired Marine Corps four-star Gen. John Kelly was promoted to White House chief of staff in July, pundits have insisted that the former head of the Pentagon’s Southern Command is a positive, moderating influence on the far-right president.

      Kelly swiftly dispelled such a notion in an October 30 interview with right-wing Fox News host Laura Ingraham. Kelly spoke highly of Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederate army that fought to preserve chattel slavery during the Civil War.

    • Trump on lack of nominees: ‘I am the only one that matters’

      President Trump pushed back Thursday on concerns about a lack of nominees for key positions at the State Department, arguing it wouldn’t affect his agenda.

      “Let me tell you, the one that matters is me, I’m the only one that matters because when it comes to it that’s what’s the policy is going to be,” Trump said on Fox News when pressed about vacancies by Laura Ingraham.

      “We don’t need all the people that they want,” Trump continued. “Don’t forget, I’m a business person and I tell my people, well you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.”

    • Congress Pats Itself On The Back Via Social Media For Its Opportunity To Slam Social Media

      As you may have heard, this week there were three Congressional hearings in two days, allowing various Congressional committees to drag out officials from Facebook, Twitter and Google and slap them around for the fact that some bad things happen on those platforms. The general sentiment appeared to be sputtering anger that social media companies haven’t magically figured out how to “stop bad stuff” on these platforms.

    • Here are the Kremlin-backed Facebook ads designed to foment discord in US

      Facebook, which has conceded that Kremlin-backed ads might have been seen by as many as 126 million people, has been taking the biggest beatings in these hearings.

      Today, the House Intelligence Committee finally, and officially, released some of the Facebook ads and the handles of several thousand fake Twitter accounts—all of which were designed to foment discord in the United States.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Price Wolfenstein 2 Had To Pay To Get Around Germany’s Anti-Nazi Laws Was Removing A Mustache

      The last time we talked about Germany’s Strafgesetzbuch law, specifically section 86a that prohibits the display of Nazi symbols, iconography, or historical figures with few exceptions, was when Ubisoft accidentally sent the country versions of a South Park video game chock full of swastikas. I feel much the same today about the law as I did then: I get why the law was created, but it’s probably time for it to be retired. While the law does make room for Nazi symbols to be displayed for the purposes of art and education, too often those exceptions are either not actually adhered to in real-world examples, while those that might be able to fit their work within those exceptions don’t bother trying, too chilled by the law that limits their speech. Coupling that along with the simple fact that German citizens who really want to see Nazi symbols don’t have to work particularly hard to circumvent the law resolves the whole matter as being somewhat silly.

    • Estonian Presidency on © & Censorship: Oops!…I did it again

      The Estonian Presidency compromise proposal on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been published and guess what… Oops: they did it again.

    • Anti-censorship group explores York College efforts to restrict access to art exhibit

      With York College hosting REWIND, an art exhibit focusing on the history of racism and racial injustice — – in the United States, local artists reflect on the impact this kind of art can and should have on society.

      [...]

      The National Coalition Against Censorship recently interviewed Rucker about his exhibit and the college’s handling of it.

    • On last day of work, rogue Twitter employee deactivated Trump’s account

      Twitter announced Thursday evening that an employee, on his or her last day of work at the company, deactivated President Donald Trump’s notorious Twitter account. The president’s account was only absent for 11 minutes before it was restored.

    • Donald, YOU’RE FIRED: Rogue Twitter staffer quits, deletes President Trump’s account

      For a few minutes on Thursday afternoon, Pacific Time, the Twitter account of US President Donald J. Trump ceased to exist – sensationally deleted by a Twitter staffer on their last day of work, we’re told.

      The absence of such a distinctive, dare we say divisive, social media voice was immediately noticed, and welcomed by some.

      “For a brief moment Trump’s twitter was down & outside my window white nationalists were paying reparations to black people,” commented writer and Harvard PhD candidate Clint Smith. “Then I awoke.”

    • Rogue Employee Shut Down Trump’s Twitter Account On Last Day Of Work

      What can you do on your last day at work? Possibly, delete the Twitter account of the President of the United States. The handle @realDonaldTrump was back on the microblogging site after straight 11 minutes of exile.

      An initial response from Twitter’s Government and Elections team blamed a “human error” as the cause of Trump’s account getting “inadvertently deactivated” by an employee. They also said that the deactivation was initiated by a Twitter customer rep on their last working day.

    • China Again Expands Censorship to Overseas Academic Publishers

      One of the world’s largest academic publishers has confirmed that it blocked access to some 1,000 journal articles to Chinese internet users because they contained banned keywords relating to political topics such as Tibet, Taiwan, or the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

      Springer Nature, which publishes Nature and the Scientific American, blocked the articles, all of which appeared in the Journal of Chinese Political Science and International Politics, the company said in a statement.

    • Springer Nature blocks access to articles in China
    • Springer Nature blocks journal articles in China
    • Nature publisher bows to Chinese censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • You Can Spy Like the NSA for a Few Thousand Bucks

      Gaining access to the global network used by spies to track phone calls and intercept communications is relatively cheap and easy for hackers, criminals, or even anyone, a Daily Beast investigation has found.

      The network, known as SS7, has faced renewed attention in the past few years, especially after researchers exploited it to eavesdrop on a congressman’s calls in real-time from the other side of the world. But a major concern is that more sinister hackers could conduct this sort of surveillance. To test just how possible opening the door to SS7 really is, The Daily Beast posed as a small potential customer to a telecom in Europe, and was offered SS7 access for just a few thousand dollars.

    • Trump wants to keep our draconian surveillance laws. Don’t let him do it

      While it’s an uphill battle, if enough pressure is put on representatives in the coming months, there is a real chance some of the most controversial NSA surveillance powers exposed by Edward Snowden could be substantially restricted.

      Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) – the controversial spying provision that allows the NSA to spy on hundreds of thousands of foreign individuals and warrantless access to Americans’ emails – expires at the end of the year. The Trump administration and intelligence agencies are lobbying for the law to be permanently reauthorized, but a bipartisan coalition of congressmen are pushing for important reforms.

    • EDITORIAL: Close the back door to our freedoms

      The government shouldn’t be able to spy on Americans without a warrant. Yet that’s what Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the National Security Agency to do.

      With the provision set to expire at the end of the year, it is critical that Congress stand up for the constitutional rights of Americans and put hard limits on the surveillance powers of the federal government.

    • Canadian Court Says Law Enforcement Doesn’t Have To Hand Over Info On Stingray Devices

      This may end the line of discovery as it relates to law enforcement’s IMSI catchers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the prosecution will be able to move forward. The defense plans to challenge the lawfulness of the prosecution itself. Withholding evidence possibly crucial to the defense doesn’t make for a fair trial and it appears the defense will argue charges should be dropped if information isn’t going to be produced. It’s not like there isn’t any precedent to work with. Earlier this year, the government chose to let 35 accused Mafia members go free rather than discuss Stingray use in court.

      Clayton Rice, who is representing one of the accused in this case, has graciously sent over a copy of the court’s ruling [PDF] on the issue. (This ruling was under a publication ban until mid-morning Tuesday.) Rice points out this is only an interim ruling and doesn’t necessarily represent the final word on the subject. The court has granted the government the (possibly temporary) right to withhold certain information about its cell tower spoofers, which includes its make and model. The order is heavily redacted, which is one of the reasons it’s only now being released despite having been decided back in August.

    • Challenging Government Hacking: What’s at Stake

      The government should protect privacy and security. Secretive and unregulated government hacking endangers both.

      The FBI is making increasing use of an investigative technique that puts the public’s internet security at risk. This month, the ACLU filed amicus briefs in two cases to challenge the FBI’s use of this technique, which has significant cybersecurity implications for everyone.

      The technique — government hacking — involves sending malware over the Internet to search computers remotely, often for information that is transmitted by or stored on anonymous targets’ computers. The malware can give investigators total control over a computer system. Absent extraordinary circumstances, courts should not grant this kind of power to law enforcement — much less with just a run-of-the-mill search warrant.

      Malware — software designed to covertly damage a computer, take control of a system, or steal data — is not new to the federal government. The FBI has been deploying tools to search anonymous users’ computers since at least 2002. More recently, however, the FBI has expanded its use of this technique. Rather than deploying tailored malware against individual targets, the agency is now conducting “watering hole” operations that deliver malware to everyone who visits a particular webpage or pages. This can result in hundreds or thousands of computers being compromised, as well as the uncontrolled distribution of malware around the globe.

    • Liberty Act Presents Another “Fake Fix” To Controversial NSA Spying Program

      Ever since Edward Snowden helped reveal the true extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive spying program, U.S. politicians have attempted to “fix” the program’s gross violations of the Fourth Amendment with legislation. While some legislative efforts were “fake fixes,” others were well-meaning but have fallen short, as legislators still lack key information regarding how the government interprets and uses Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Section 215 of the Patriot Act to legally justify its dragnet collection of citizen phone records and other information.

      Indeed, over the past four years, Congress has been stonewalled by the NSA in its attempts to learn more about the program. The NSA has repeatedly refused even to estimate how many Americans are spied on by the agency’s most invasive programs and has even refused to reveal whether it spies on members of Congress or other elected officials in the United States.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Dustin Hoffman Apologizes After Accusations He Touched 17-Year-Old Without Consent

      Hollywood star Dustin Hoffman has apologized after a former female intern named Anna Graham Hunter said Hoffman touched her without her consent when she was only 17 and working on the set of the movie “Death of a Salesman” more than 30 years ago.

    • Kim Dotcom makes police pay heavy price for ‘military-style’ dawn raid
    • Kim Dotcom settles lawsuit against NZ Police for raid he says ‘traumatised’ his family

      Kim Dotcom has settled a lawsuit against the New Zealand Police over alleged unreasonable use of force in a raid of his north Auckland Coatesville mansion in January 2012, according to a statement from his lawyer today.

    • Dotcoms Announce Settlement of Lawsuit Against NZ Police

      Kim Dotcom and Mona Dotcom announce that they have resolved their lawsuit against the New Zealand Police in which the Dotcoms sought a remedy for their claim about the unreasonable use of force in the military-style raid of their family home in January of 2012. The Dotcoms also raised the concern that their home and family had been under intrusive visual surveillance by the Police which had not been authorised by the Court.

    • Dotcom wins settlement from police over the 2012 dawn raid which saw him arrested

      Kim Dotcom and his former wife Mona have accepted a confidential settlement from the police over the raid which saw him arrested, saying he did so to protect their children and because the Government “recently changed for the better”.

      He said that their previous desire to see accountability had been trumped by wanting to “do what was best for our children” by bringing an end to the court case.

    • First Circuit Appeals Court Latest To Overturn Playpen Suppression Order

      A third Appeals Court has ruled on the tactics the FBI used to track down users of a dark web child porn site. And the third one to rule — the First Circuit Appeals Court — continues the government’s shut out of suppression orders at the appellate level.

      In the two previous cases to reach this level (Tenth and Eighth), the judges found the FBI’s Network Investigative Technique to be a search under the Fourth Amendment. This wasn’t much of an issue because the FBI had a warrant. The real issue was the warrant’s reach: it was issued in Virginia but the NIT found a home in computers all over the US, not to mention the rest of the world.

    • Video dooms cop who arrested nurse for not letting him take patient’s blood

      A Utah nurse who was roughed up and arrested on July 26 by a Salt Lake City cop because she told the officer that he needed a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious patient has settled for a $500,000 payout.

      Body cam footage from the scene shows University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels calmly telling the officer, who was trained for the task of blood withdrawal, that he cannot take a blood sample because the patient, who was involved in a vehicle crash, had neither been arrested nor gave consent. Then the cop lunges and grabs the nurse as she was fearfully backing away. He rushes her outside the hospital, and handcuffs her. All the while, she’s screaming that there’s no reason for her detainment.

    • Sen. Feinstein Wants Wikileaks’ Lawyer Chats in Violation Attorney-Client Privilege

      However, the Twitter account @granmarga belongs to Wikileaks lawyer Margaret Kunstler, who posted this message identifying herself as a Wikileaks lawyer. Her identity can be confirmed because the article that she tweeted out identifies herself as an attorney for Wikileaks who is writing in support of that organization, in an article entitled, “Wikileaks Attorneys Blast Citizen Four Maker Poitras.” It should be noted that Kunstler is a New York civil rights attorney with the law firm HRBEK Law, according to their website. The site notes that Kunstler “has spent her career providing movement support and protecting the rights of activists.”

    • Another Stash House Sting Criticized By The Court… But Lengthy Sentences Left Untouched

      The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has let some more stash house sting convictions stand. But not without considerable discussion of the government’s tactics. And not without one judge appending a long rebuke to her reluctant concurrence.

      Once again, the ATF has managed to secure multiple convictions predicated on nonexistent evidence. The sting, helmed by veteran ATF agent Richard Zayas, involved a made-up drug stash house “containing” at least enough drugs to trigger 10-year mandatory minimum sentences for the defendants. Zayas’ sting operations always include fictitious armed stash house guards, otherwise the ATF’s involvement would be unnecessary.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Boss Demolishes Media Ownership Rules In Massive Gift To Sinclair Broadcasting

      FCC boss Ajit Pai has been busy ignoring the public while he kills popular net neutrality rules. But he’s also been working hard to weaken broadband deployment standards to obfuscate a lack of broadband competition, to gut programs that provide broadband to the poor, killing previous FCC efforts to improve cable box competition, to protect prison telco monopolies from oversight, and to make it easier for business broadband monopolies to rip off smaller competitors. All while proclaiming to be a stalwart defender of the little guy and a champion for bridging the digital divide.

    • AT&T struggles to get Trump administration approval for Time Warner merger

      AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner Inc. is reportedly hitting a speed bump as the Trump administration’s Department of Justice considers filing a lawsuit to block the merger.

      This wouldn’t be a death knell for the merger because the DOJ often files lawsuits against deals that it ultimately approves, and AT&T today said it still expects to get approval. The DOJ’s antitrust division could file a lawsuit to block the proposed merger while at the same time filing a proposed settlement that would allow the deal to be approved, as it did last month with CenturyLink’s purchase of Level 3.

    • Giant International Egos May Derail The Sprint T-Mobile Merger

      We’ve been discussing how Sprint’s plan to merger with T-Mobile would be notably awful for the wireless industry. Not only do Wall Street analysts predict it would kill anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 jobs (potentially more people than Sprint even currently employs), but it would reduce the number of major competitors in the space from four to three — dramatically reducing the industry’s incentive to compete on price and service. The resulting competitive lull could derail many of the good things a resurgent T-Mobile has encouraged in the sector (like the death of long-term contracts and the return of unlimited data plans).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Qualcomm sues Apple over alleged software licence breach
    • Qualcomm Continues Legal Battle With Apple, Files Suit Over Software License
    • Apple accused of sharing Qualcomm’s software secrets with Intel in new lawsuit
    • Qualcomm accuses Apple of helping Intel with chip software
    • Qualcomm sues Apple AGAIN in new row over chip code
    • Qualcomm Says Apple Breached Contract on Phone-Chip Software

      Qualcomm Inc. has sued Apple Inc., accusing the iPhone maker of failing to abide by the terms of a software license and said it may have used its unprecedented access to that code to help Qualcomm-rival Intel Corp.

      The chipmaker filed the lawsuit against Apple on Wednesday in California state court in San Diego, adding yet another front to their bitter legal battle. Apple is being sued for breach of a contract that governs the use of software needed to make chips work with other parts of mobile phones and communicate with networks.

    • Why We Must Fight for the Right to Repair Our Electronics

      On balance, all this technology is probably making our lives better. But there’s a downside, too: The stuff often malfunctions. Unlike the 30-year-old mixer on your kitchen counter that refuses to die, new technology—especially the smart devices with fancy, embedded electronics—breaks more quickly. That trend, confirmed by a recent study by the German government, applies not just to delicate products like smartphones and tablets but also to equipment we would expect to last for a long time—like televisions, washing machines, and even tractors.

    • How far to take user rights into consideration? Repair?

      And so—the question: Is there a compelling explanation why the legislator should enact such a right to repair? Unlike the rationale for a user’s right with respect to copyright, e.g., the better to maximize the milieu in which copyright creation takes place, a user’s right to repair does not directly address any core element of an IP right. But there still is a connection. After all, it is the public, through the legislative branch, that provides the statutory authority for (most) IP rights. One can imagine a dystopian world where digital products of all kinds are more and more prone to repair. A refusal to enable repair, forcing the need for more and more replacement purchases of an item, could then lead to a situation where the public throws in the towel and orders their legislators to cut back on IP protection so as to make self-help repair more feasible. Yes, there is TRIPS, the Berne Convention and the like. But none of them is self-enforcing. “Repair” may yet find its way to the pantheon of rights.

    • Blaming Inequality On Technology: Sloppy Thinking For The Educated

      The argument for intellectual property is well-known. The government grants individuals and corporations monopolies for a period of time, which allow them to charge well above the free market price for the items on which they have a patent or copyright. This monopoly gives them an incentive to innovate and do creative work.

    • Trademarks

      • Court of Appeal hails London black cabs as not distinctive

        In another ruling demonstrating the difficulty for UK trade mark owners to protect their designs, the Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that The London Taxi Company’s trade marks are invalid. The case would present some interesting issues were it to be pursed to the Supreme Court

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate TV services are taking a bite out of cable company revenue
      • Collateral Damage Not Russian Site-Blocking’s Only Failure: Pirate Video Market Has Doubled As Well

        Over the summer, we discussed how laughably bad Russia’s efforts at blocking so-called “piracy sites” has been. In the course of four years of attempting to stamp out copyright infringement in the country, the Russian government managed to block 4,000 sites it intended to target as piracy sites, and 41,000 sites it had not intended to target that were caught up as collateral damage. Those are the kind of numbers that would make a cluster bomb blush.

        Even so, you might have imagined that this heavy-handed iron-fist routine must surely have had some reduction effect on the rate of piracy in Russia. The short answer to that is: nooooooope. Instead, over the course of the past few years, the market for pirated video content in Russia has doubled.

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