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11.07.17

Links 7/11/2017: Krita 4.0 Development Update, Apache Kafka Reaches 1.0, Apache OpenOffice Revisited

Posted in News Roundup at 4:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What’s the difference between open source software and free software?

    Do you use “open source software” or “free software”? Although there are different rules for free software licenses (four freedoms) and open source licenses (Open Source Definition), what is not apparent from those two sets of rules…

  • Open-Source Acumos Project Aims to Make AI Apps More Accessible

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest areas in technology today, with enterprise application developers often struggling to figure out how to integrate the technology. A new open-source effort that is set to debut in early 2018 could change that situation, making AI easier to use and integrate.

    The Acumos Project will be an open-source effort hosted by the Linux Foundation, as an initiative that aims to make AI easier to integrate and consume. The initial founding members of the nascent effort include AT&T and Tech Mahindra.

  • Events

    • Open Source Summit Europe 2017 & Dedoimedo

      I am happy with the OSS Europe 2017. It was a solid success. Smart planning, great organization, great atmosphere, friendly attitude, and a colorful mix of mingling, food and technology. My own session was received well, I met old friends, made some new ones, and that’s what it’s all about.

      While it’s unlikely that my call to action will result in any major revolution on the desktop side, and we still haven’t figured out who the emperor – or empress – ought to be, having fun is all that matters. I intend to continue participating, well, provided my future talks get accepted, and I am definitely looking forward to the 2018 event. Anyway, thank you for the fish and see you next year.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Apache Kafka Reaches 1.0 Milestone for Open-Source Distributed Streaming Platform

      Widely deployed open-source technology already used by major enterprises including Goldman Sachs, ING and Capital One reaches a critical milestone.

      In the modern enterprise apps world, distributed streaming data is a core component and perhaps no other technology is as widely used for that purpose as is Apache Kafka. On Nov.1 the Apache Kafka 1.0.0 release officially debuted, marking an important new stage in the evolution of the widely used open-source project.

    • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 12 Puts the Cloud in a Container

      Red Hat OpenStack Platform 12 (OSP) was officially announced on November 6th, the first day of the OpenStack Summit in Sydney, Australia. The Red Hat OpenStack Platform 12 release is based on the OpenStack Pike milestone that first debuted from the upstream open-source project on Aug. 30.

  • Databases

    • MongoDB’s Mat Keep: Open-Source Database Can Help Agencies ‘Glean Insights’ From Large Data Volumes

      Mat Keep, director of product and market analysis at MongoDB (Nasdaq: MDB), has said government agencies should modernize their data infrastructures to manage and analyze large volumes of collected data through the adoption of non-relational databases.

      Keep wrote such databases work to help organizations automatically spread data across public cloud platforms and data centers as well as “maintain service continuity in the event of a failure.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Linux Security Developer To AMD: “Smatch” Your Driver

      Dan Carpenter of Oracle who is responsible for security audits of the Linux kernel is not happy with the current state of the AMDGPU DRM code-base.

      Carpenter fired off an email today on the public kernel mailing list with the title: AMD, please run Smatch on your driver. The Smatch he is referring to is a static analysis tool he designed for working on the Linux kernel.

    • Longtime GNOME Contributor & Oracle Principal UX Designer Leaves The Company

      The latest talent to have departed Oracle is a longtime GNOME contributor who has at Oracle/Sun Microsystems for nearly the past two decades.

      Calum Benson who had been involved with GNOME since 2000 and was particularly active during the Sun Microsystems days with GNOME 1.x and GNOME 2.x, involved in improving the usability of GNOME, has announced his sunset at Oracle.

    • Apache OpenOffice: We’re OK with not being super cool… PS: Watch out for that Mac bug

      Apache OpenOffice 4.1.4 finally shipped on October 19, five months later than intended, but the software is still a bit buggy.

      The resource-starved open-source project had been looking to release the update around Apache Con in mid-May, but missed the target, not altogether surprising given persistent concerns about a lack of community enthusiasm and resources for the productivity suite.

  • Healthcare

    • NIH Awards $9M for Open Source, Cloud-Based Big Data Commons

      The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected twelve recipients of $9 million in grant funding to support the development of an open source, cloud-based data common for biomedical big data.

      The pilot phase of the NIH Data Commons will create a shared, secure space to share data sets and analytics tools that support a wide variety of research topics, especially those related to precision medicine and genomics.

      “The NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase will create new opportunities for research not feasible before,” said NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Program Manager, Vivien Bonazzi, PhD.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Background for future changes to membership in FSFE e.V.

      At the general assembly in October the Executive Council sought the members’ consent to simplify and streamline the route to membership in FSFE e.V. The members gave it, and as a consequence, the Executive Council will prepare a constitutional amendment to remove the institution of Fellowship Representatives at the next general assembly. If this constitutional amendment is accepted, active volunteers meeting a yet-to-be-decided threshold will be expected to directly apply for membership in the FSFE e.V. The Executive’s reasoning for moving in this direction can be found below.

      For the reasons listed below, the Council believes that the institution of Fellowship Representatives has ceased to serve its original purpose (and may indeed have never served its intended purpose). In addition, it has become a tool for arbitrarily excluding active contributors from membership, and has thus become harmful to the future development of the organization. Wherefore, the Council believes that the institution of Fellowship Representatives should be removed and asks for the members’ consent in preparing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the institution and resolve the future status of Fellowship Representatives in office at the time of removal. The proposal would be presented to the General Assembly for adoption at the next ordinary meeting.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Concerning a Statement by the Conservancy

      On Friday, while we were putting on our annual conference at Columbia Law School, a puff of near-apocalyptic rhetoric about us was published by SFLC’s former employees, Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn, who now manage the Conservancy, which was originally established and wholly funded by SFLC, and still bears our name. We were busy with our conference when this happened, which seems to have been the point. We are glad to have the chance now, after a little much-needed rest, to help everyone avoid unnecessary hyperventilation.

    • Concerning a Statement by the Conservancy (Software Freedom Law Center Blog)

      The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has responded to a recent blog post from the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) regarding the SFC’s trademark. SFLC has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to cancel the SFC trademark due to a likelihood of confusion between the two marks; SFC posted about the action on its blog.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • [Old] Experiences with an Icon-like Expression Evaluation System

      Icon’s expression evaluation system utilises what it calls goal-directed evaluation and was, until recently, the only imperative programming language capable of backtracking. While Icon’s goal-directed evaluation strategy is not as powerful or extensive as the backtracking used in some declarative languages (e.g. Prolog), it can express surprisingly complex relationships. In order to allow backtracking, the design of Icon’s expression evaluation system is fundamentally different than other imperative languages, yet it manages to ensure that ‘vanilla’ expression evaluation has the same observable effect as in most other languages (though the means used to achieve this effect are rarely the same). The underpinnings of Icon’s expression evaluation system challenge a number of standard assumptions.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Issues Guidelines Against Antibiotic Overuse In Farms And Food Industry

      Against the growing threat of a world where bacteria can kill again because they have developed resistance to available antibiotics, and the lack of new promising options in the research pipeline, several international agencies are seeking solutions. The World Health Organization today published a set of recommendations to help stop the routine use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.

  • Security

    • IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 116 released

      Just days after releasing Core Update 115 with our brand new Captive Portal, we are releasing the next update for IPFire which is necessary because some security vulneratbilities have been found in some packages that IPFire uses. Those are openssl and wget, but this update also brings some smaller bug fixes.

    • MINIX: ​Intel’s hidden in-chip operating system

      Why? Let’s start with what. Matthew Garrett, the well-known Linux and security developer who works for Google, explained recently that, “Intel chipsets for some years have included a Management Engine [ME], a small microprocessor that runs independently of the main CPU and operating system. Various pieces of software run on the ME, ranging from code to handle media DRM to an implementation of a TPM. AMT [Active Management Technology] is another piece of software running on the ME.”

      In May, we found out that AMT had a major security flaw, which had been in there for nine — count ‘em — nine years.

      “Fixing this requires a system firmware update in order to provide new ME firmware (including an updated copy of the AMT code),” Garrett wrote. “Many of the affected machines are no longer receiving firmware updates from their manufacturers, and so will probably never get a fix,” he said. “Anyone who ever enables AMT on one of these devices will be vulnerable.”

      [...]

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has called for Intel to provide a way for users to disable ME. Russian researchers have found a way to disable ME after the hardware has initialized, and the main processor has started. That doesn’t really help much. ME is already running by then.

      But Minnich found that what’s going on within the chip is even more troubling. At a presentation at Embedded Linux Conference Europe, he reported that systems using Intel chips that have AMT, are running MINIX.

      If you learned about operating systems in the late ’80s and early ’90s, you knew MINIX as Andrew S Tanenbaum’s educational Unix-like operating system. It was used to teach operating system principles. Today, it’s best known as the OS that inspired Linus Torvalds to create Linux.

      So, what’s it doing in Intel chips? A lot. These processors are running a closed-source variation of the open-source MINIX 3. We don’t know exactly what version or how it’s been modified since we don’t have the source code.

    • MINIX — The most popular OS in the world, thanks to Intel

      If you have a modern Intel CPU (released in the last few years) with Intel’s Management Engine built in, you’ve got another complete operating system running that you might not have had any clue was in there: MINIX.

    • What Is MINIX? Is The World’s Most Used OS A Threat?
    • DDoS Attacks Become More Frequent in Q3, with Linux Dominating [Ed: Kaspersky should note that there are FAR more Linux devices than any other OS, even combined (lots of embedded)]

      Kaspersky Lab experts also saw a growing number of DDoS attacks on gaming services, including Final Fantasy, Blizzard Entertainment, American Cardroom and the UK National Lottery. Additionally, the report shows an increase in the number of DDoS attacks targeting platforms conducting next-generation financial services, such as initial coin offerings (ICOs) – an initial deployment of tokens using blockchain technology. Such DDoS attacks are aimed at either discrediting these services, or worse, serving as a distracting maneuver during ordinary theft.

    • Linux Botnets Responsible for Nearly 70% of DDoS Attacks in Q3
    • Flaw crippling millions of crypto keys is worse than first disclosed

      A crippling flaw affecting millions—and possibly hundreds of millions—of encryption keys used in some of the highest-stakes security settings is considerably easier to exploit than originally reported, cryptographers declared over the weekend. The assessment came as Estonia abruptly suspended 760,000 national ID cards used for voting, filing taxes, and encrypting sensitive documents.

    • Google Fixes The KRACK WiFi Exploit For Android, Download OTA Now
    • New ‘Marcher’ malware attacks Android users’ banking accounts
    • Marcher Malware Poses Triple Threat to Android Users
    • Android security update fixes KRACK, slaps Band-Aid on Pixel 2 XL screen
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #132
    • Hacking the vote: Threats keep changing, but election IT sadly stays the same

      The outcome of the 2016 presidential election is history. But allegations of voter fraud, election interference by foreign governments, and intrusions into state electoral agencies’ systems have since cast a pall over the system that determines who makes the laws and enforces them in the United States. Such problems will not disappear no matter what comes out of a presidential commission or a Congressional hearing.

      “Amazon will not go out of business because one percent of its transactions are fraudulent,” said David Jefferson, a visiting computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chairman of the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-governmental organization working toward accuracy, integrity, and verifiability of elections. “That’s not the case for elections.”

    • Here’s How Congress Should Respond to the Equifax Breach

      There is very little doubt that Equifax’s negligent security practices were a major contributing factor in the massive breach of 145.5-million Americans’ most sensitive information. In the wake of the breach, EFF has spent a lot of time thinking through how to ensure that such a catastrophic breach doesn’t happen again and, just as importantly, what Congress can do to ensure that victims of massive data breaches are compensated fairly when a company is negligent with their sensitive data. In this post, we offer up some suggestions that will go a long way in accomplishing those goals.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war against it

      Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of what it described as aggression against the Kingdom by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.

    • Trump dismisses question on extreme vetting for gun ownership

      President Donald Trump said Tuesday “there would have been no difference three days ago” in the deadly Texas shooting if an extreme vetting policy for gun ownership had been in place.
      “If you did what you’re suggesting there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun in his truck and shoot him, and hit him and neutralize him,” Trump said responding to a question during a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Ecosystem is Breaking Down

      The ecosystem is the quintessential essence of life on our planet, and this crucial life system is showing signs of breaking down. It is likely a more pressing problem than climate change. Time will tell but time is short.

      The ecosystem consists of all living organisms that interact with nonliving components like air, water, and soil contained within the biosphere, which extends from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains. Although unannounced by authorities or professional orgs, it is already becoming evident that the ecosystem is breaking down. Alas, it’s our only ecosystem.

      [...]

      All of which begs the question: What does it take to determine when the ecosystem is losing it? After all, it surely looks like it is doing exactly that. For example, the loss of 75% of insect abundance in a landmark study in Germany (referenced in prior articles) released only last month is enough, all by itself, to indicate an extinction event is in the works. That is a monstrous wake up call.

    • Cost of wind keeps dropping, and there’s little coal, nuclear can do to stop it

      Though a lot has changed since 2016, not much has changed for energy economics in the US. The cost of wind generation continues to fall, solar costs are falling, too, and the cost of coal-power energy has seen no movement, while the cost of building and maintaining nuclear plants has gone up. And none of those conclusions reflect subsidies and tax credits applied by the federal government.

  • Finance

    • Paradise Papers: Apple secretly moved to tax haven Jersey after Ireland crackdown

      However, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s vehement proclamation of Apple not stashing cash “on some Caribbean island,” the Paradise Papers leaked documents apparently reveal how the tech giant responded to the international tax pressure by shopping for a new island haven.

    • Report: Apple shifted assets to island to evade tax scrutiny
    • After a Tax Crackdown, Apple Found a New Shelter for Its Profits

      Apple, for example, pays taxes at a small fraction of that rate on its offshore profits, according to calculations by The Times based on the company’s securities filings. Apple reports that nearly 70 percent of its worldwide profits are earned offshore.

    • Apple says no operations were moved from Ireland

      Tax reduction strategies have been employed for decades by companies including Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

    • When Apple soured on Irish tax laws, it turned to a tiny English Channel island

      According to newly-leaked documents, in recent years, Apple used a Bermuda-based law firm to take advantage of highly-advantageous (though legal) tax arrangements in Jersey to mitigate its tax burden as much as possible.

    • The Queen of the Cayman Islands

      “The Falklands”, they said, “are British”. They are so British that we went to war for them. We also went to war for Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the British Overseas Territories on Cyprus. That’s where Saddam Hussein was supposedly able to get his weapons of mass destruction to within 45 minutes. And, less than a year ago, we were measuring ourselves up against Spain when they were threatening Gibraltar.

      The Cayman islands are British, too. And Bermuda. And the British Virgin Islands – they even put it in the name.

      Specifically, they are British Overseas Territories, the last vestiges of empire. Their citizens are entitled to British passports. They are, as much as English or Scottish or Welsh or Northern Irish people, subjects of Queen Elizabeth II.

      [...]

      It’s the part which led the Tax Justice Network to rank the UK as the world’s most important player in tax havens. It’s the part which famously led the top mafia expert, Roberto Saviano, to call the UK “the most corrupt country on earth”. It’s the bit which ensured that more than half of the companies in the infamous Panama Papers were registered in Britain or its Overseas Territories. It’s the section which helped ensure a trillion dollars have been stolen from African countries since the UK and other European countries ended formal colonisation in the 1960s and ‘70s.

    • How the DPRK Riddle is Freaking out the US Establishment

      The 19th Party Congress has made it very clear that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” – as codified by President Xi Jinping – is China’s roadmap ahead. Not only the strategy graphically eschews those much-lauded “Western values”; it will, in Xi’s own words, offer “a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.”

      Xinhua even dared to venture, “the 21st century is likely to see capitalism lose its appeal while the socialist movement, led by China, rapidly catches up”.

      To say this won’t go down very well in the West, especially in the US, may be the understatement of the century – even considering that the Chinese system is more like “neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics.”

    • With deletion of one wallet, $280 M in Ethereum wallets gets frozen

      Digital currencies and the wallets that hold them have become an increasingly attractive target for digital pickpockets,resulting in millions of real dollars worth of lost currency. A $50 million heist of Ethereum currency last year exploiting weaknesses in the crypto-currency’s underlying software threatened to break the Bitcoin competitor. But a new security bug in a popular Ethereum wallet platform has caused what amounts to a bank freeze on scores of high-value wallets. Today, Parity Technologies Ltd., the developer of cryptographic “wallets” for the digital currencies Bitcoin and Ethereum, announced that an “accidental” triggering of a bug affecting certain Parity wallets had broken them, making it impossible to transfer Ethereum funds out of them.

    • [Older] Why Are Betsy DeVos and Bill Gates Afraid of This Grandmother?

      The war on public education, like the war in Vietnam, is being prosecuted on the basis of propaganda. In the 1960’s it was the myth of the threat of communism toppling one nation after another like dominos. It wasn’t true and it certainly wasn’t implicit or explicit in the conflict between South and North Vietnam.

      Now, in the 21st century, the war on education is being prosecuted in the name of another set of myths: that public schools are failing – they are not; that school choice gives families more opportunity – it does not; that teachers unions serve only to protect incompetence – a vile, unsupportable lie; and that competition and free markets can deliver everything, including education, with greater quality and efficiency – a heroically grandiose and inaccurate assertion.

      The other striking facet of the wars that bookend my adult life is the way in which the least advantaged among us are used as fodder for the ambitions of those most privileged.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Billionaire Destroyed His Newsrooms Out of Spite

      The DNAinfo-Gothamist announcement sparked a zealous anti-union campaign: Management threatened employees by saying that Joe Ricketts might shut the whole place down if it unionized. Nevertheless, employees last week voted 25-2 in favor of unionization. And on Thursday, Mr. Ricketts abruptly shut the whole place down.

    • Trump’s secret weapon for 2020 is quietly gathering steam

      Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quietly voted along party lines to eliminate its “main studio rule,” which mandated that local news stations maintain offices within the communities they serve. Without the main studio rule, Sinclair is free to consolidate and centralize local news resources in its roughly 190 stations across the country, eliminating the “local” element of local news as much as possible.

    • [Old] A Trump Surrogate Drops the Mic: ‘There’s No Such Thing as Facts’ [iophk: "modern 'business' is a LARP using real money as counters"]

      Is there such a thing as truth? The past 18 months posed this seemingly absurd question. It’s not whether something Donald Trump says is true, but about whether anyone even cares. Trump’s campaign made a bet that enough voters didn’t (or couldn’t) tell the difference in a deluge of information, and that bet paid off. Trump won the most important election in decades. His surrogate Scott Nell Hughes explicitly confirmed that whole strategy yesterday.

    • Trump’s Blocking People From His Twitter Account Violates the First Amendment, EFF Tells Court

      Agencies’ and Officials’ Social Media Posts Are Vital Communications That Can’t Be Denied to People Whose Views Officials Don’t Like

      New York, New York—President Donald Trump’s blocking of people on Twitter who criticize him violates their constitutional right to receive government messages transmitted through social media and participate in the forums created by them, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a court today.

      Public agencies and officials, from city mayors and county sheriff offices, to U.S. Secretaries of State and members of Congress, routinely use social media to communicate opinions, official positions, services, and important public safety and policy messages. Twitter has become a vital communications tool for government, allowing local and federal officials to transmit important information when natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires strike, hold online town halls, and answer citizens’ questions about programs.

      President Trump’s frequent use of Twitter to communicate policy decisions, air opinions on local and global events and leaders, and broadcast calls for congressional action has become a hallmark of his administration. In July, the Knight First Amendment Institute filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging the president and his communications team violated the First Amendment by blocking seven people from the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account because they criticized the president or his policies. The seven individuals include a university professor, a surgeon, a comedy writer, a community organizer, an author, a legal analyst, and a police officer.

    • Political Cartoonists Talk Twitter, Censorship, MAD Magazine, and How to Draw Trump

      I would say that the most cheerful people in America right now are the political cartoonists, who met last week at Hofstra University for the annual gathering of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), except that these are people who as a matter of personal inclination and professional pride are not cheerful. They spend much of their time on that very fine line between skepticism and cynicism as they perform artistic alchemy, turning the baser materials of the news into insightful and often comic gold, and working in four professions at once: journalist, columnist, satirist, and artist.

      [...]

      The sessions began with discussions of the Supreme Court decisions that give cartoonists the right to engage fearlessly with the people they cover. Roslyn Mazer, the lawyer who represented the AAEC as “a friend of the Court” (amicus) in the defamation suit over an unabashedly offensive satirical piece about Jerry Falwell in Hustler magazine. Mazer told the group that many of the more established media companies did not want the suit to go to the Supreme Court, urging that they “fight another day with a more attractive litigant.”

    • Woman Fired For Flipping Off Donald Trump’s Motorcade

      The picture, snapped by a White House photographer traveling with the president as he left his golf course in Sterling, Va., went viral almost immediately. News outlets picked up the story when it appeared in a White House pool report. Late-night talk show hosts told jokes about the encounter and people on social media began hailing the unidentified woman as a “she-ro,” using the hashtag #Her2020.

      The woman’s name is Juli Briskman. Her employer, government contractor Akima LLC, wasn’t so happy about the photo. They fired her over it.

      In a Saturday interview with HuffPost, Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two, said she was stunned that someone had taken a picture of her giving Trump the middle finger.

    • Trump’s Misplaced Love for Gitmo Trials

      Donald Trump’s tweets in response to the terrorist attack along a bike path in Manhattan demonstrated some of what we already knew all too well about Trump, but they also reflected more widely shared and counterproductive American ways of thinking about counterterrorism. Among the Trumpian habits exhibited is the inclination to use any occasion, no matter how solemn or tragic, to excoriate or smear political opponents.

    • Woman who flipped off Trump got fired from government contracting firm

      Last month, Juli Briskman, 50, flipped off the presidential motorcade passing her as she bicycled in Northern Virginia. A photo of Briskman’s gesture went viral and last week she was fired from her job at Akima LLC, a government contracting firm. Even though she wasn’t at work or wearing clothing that linked her to the company, her bosses claimed that she violated their social media policy…

    • NSA Critic Bill Binney Says Trump Pushed Meeting With CIA’s Pompeo
    • Trump sent CIA chief to meet ex-NSA official who claims DNC hack was inside job: report
    • CIA Director Met Advocate of Disputed DNC Hack Theory — at Trump’s Request
    • Report: Trump Urged CIA Director To Meet With Fringe Russia Hack Skeptic
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Taylor Swift threatens to sue blogger who connected her to white supremacists

      Lawyers representing pop star Taylor Swift sent a cease-and-desist letter to a politics and culture blog, demanding the retraction of an article tying Swift to white supremacist culture. But instead of removing the article, PopFront editor Meghan Herning called the ACLU, which wrote back to Swift’s lawyers defending Herning’s right to free speech.

      The back-and-forth was revealed yesterday by the ACLU’s Northern California branch, which published the retraction demand letter (PDF). The ACLU did so despite the demand by Swift’s lawyers that their threats be kept secret because publishing the letter without permission would be “a violation of the Copyright Act.”

      “Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable,” said ACLU attorney Matt Cagle in a statement. “Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech.”

    • Taylor Swift’s Legal Rep Tries To Kill Critical Blog Post With Bogus Defamation, Copyright Claims

      Taylor Swift’s legal representation is busy again. Really, her reps are never not busy, thanks to her desire to capture the entirety of the Taylor Swift market, but this particular legal threat — aimed at a blogger — oversteps its bounds egregiously.

      PopFront editor Meghan Herning wrote a post detailing Swift’s unofficial position as a white supremacist hero. While there’s nothing in the post claiming Swift has directly encouraged this subset of her following, it did point out that she’s remained curiously silent on race issues, as well as made use of Nazi-esque imagery in her videos.

    • Indonesia threatens WhatsApp blockage as Afghanistan backs down from its threat

      The reasons for these shutdown attempts are varied, though they all point to the same basic issue: the supposed negative effect of unfettered communication on social order. So let’s examine these recent incidents more closely, starting with the latest threat.

    • LA Times barred from press-screenings of Disney movies after reporting on corporate welfare in Anaheim

      Disney CEO Bob Iger is said to have ordered the retaliatory measure against the LA Times, and is also thought to be considering a 2020 presidential bid, which augurs poorly for his approach to the free press.

    • How one election changed Disneyland’s relationship with its hometown

      Last year, Disney contributed $1.22 million to 10 PACs that were involved in the November election, more than any other company or single individual, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosures by The Times. Those PACs received funds from multiple sources and most also spent money on elections outside of Anaheim.

    • When has censorship ever worked?

      Where are the good examples from history to show that this works well?

    • This lawsuit against a Cosby rape documentary is why fair use exists

      The production company that made The Cosby Show has sued the BBC (.pdf) over a documentary the British network aired about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Carsey-Werner, the production company that is the plaintiff in the case, says that the documentary is infringing its copyright because it uses eight audiovisual clips and two musical cues from The Cosby Show.

      The documentary, titled Bill Cosby—Fall of an American Icon, was broadcast on a BBC channel in the United Kingdom on June 5 of this year. That was the same day that Cosby’s prosecution for one assault began in Pennsylvania. (The trial ended in a hung jury.) The UK production company that made the documentary, Sugar Films, is also named as a defendant in the case.

    • Cynical Politicians Turn #FakeNews Into a Rallying Cry for Censorship

      Who knew the republic was so vulnerable that our elections could be monkeywrenched by Russian dirty-tricksters spending their office coffee budget on a motley collection of social media ads that would make the authors of Nigerian prince scam emails wince at their clumsiness?

      Or, more likely, cynical politicians are making much ado about Putin and company’s low-rent effort to make themselves look relevant in order to justify government interference in political speech. Just consider Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) threat to Facebook, Google, and Twitter during Senate hearings over the clumsy Russky meddling: “You created these platforms, and now they’re being misused. And you have to be the ones who do something about it—or we will.”

    • Universities are part of the solution to dysfunctional Brexit debates

      We live in febrile times. Two weeks ago government whip Chris Heaton-Harris unleashed a wave of academic consternation when it was discovered that he had written to every university in the UK to ask what they were teaching about Brexit and which of their professors were involved.

      Heaton-Harris gave no reason for the request, but the nationwide reach of his probe and its targeting of individual teachers was chilling. The MP beat a hasty retreat in the face of the outraged reaction, taking to Twitter to declare his belief in free speech in universities. Jo Johnson, the minister responsible for universities, had to go on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to publicly reaffirm the government’s commitment to the autonomy of universities, lately enshrined in the 2017 Higher Education and Research Act.

      The fuss may be a fading memory but the episode epitomises the uncertainty of the times in which Brexit Britain finds itself. The ground has shifted in all sorts of strange directions.

      In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, while I hoped we would decide to remain in the EU, I thought that even in the event of a vote to leave, the country would play true to type and engineer a great British fudge that would seek to protect the advantages accrued over the decades-long development of our relationship with our European neighbours.

    • ESPN Joins List Of Companies Enforcing Stringent Social Media Policies, Which Is Both Bad And Stupid

      In these times in which I have spent many words and more calories lamenting the hyper-partisan uber-politicization of, well, pretty much everything, I have tended to focus on the primary effects of that silliness. It makes for bad elections, and therefore bad democracy. It grinds any kind of progress in government to a halt. It results in too many people making too little time to actualy listen to those that might not think as they do, instead devolving entirely too many conversations into soundbite name-calling, as though we were all participating on some national cable news roundtable.

      But the secondary effects of all of this are both important and terrible as well. An example of this can be found in major media companies responding to this partisanship, and particularly the silly amount of noise being made about how media itself is partisan, by instituting social media policies that are both draconian and stupid on the business side. And, if this sort of thing makes you feel any better, it happens on both sides of the political aisle. In recent weeks, for instance, both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have rolled out social media policies disallowing their respective journalists from publishing anything partisan.

    • The Case Of Glassdoor And The Grand Jury Subpoena, And How Courts Are Messing With Online Speech In Secret

      In my last post, I discussed why it is so important for platforms to be able to speak about the discovery demands they receive, seeking to unmask their anonymous users. That candor is crucially important in ensuring that unmasking demands can’t damage the key constitutional right to speak anonymously, without some sort of check against their abuse.

    • US judge says “global de-indexing order” against Google threatens free speech

      A US federal judge has stopped a ruling from the Canadian Supreme Court from going into effect in the US. The Canadian order would have ordered Google to de-index all pages belonging to a company called Datalink, which was allegedly selling products that violated the IP of Vancouver-based Equustek.

    • Opinion: Fight scientific censorship
    • Google unblocks Russian news agency
    • Russian Media Outlet Accuses Google News of Political Censorship
    • How The Internet Association’s Support For SESTA Just Hurt Facebook And Its Users
    • IPA protests ‘ham-fisted censorship’ of Zuma book
    • SAWOC slams bid to muzzle author of #PresidentsKeepers
    • SSA DG’s family out to sue Jacques Pauw over new book
    • South African security services move to ban exposé of Jacob Zuma government
    • Dear Senators Portman & Blumenthal: What Should Blogs Do If SESTA Passes?

      So we’ve spent some time talking about why SESTA is such a bad bill even in its updated form (which fixes just a tiny sliver of the overall problems). And we may have some more soon about other problems with the language in the bill, but for now I want to make this even more real and ask Congress — and SESTA authors Senators Rob Portman and Richard Blumenthal, specifically, what they think bloggers, independent journalists, citizen journalists and anyone who hosts comments on their site should do if SESTA passes. Because all these sites are platforms protected by Section 230 of the CEA and, as SESTA is written, parts of it are so unclear that it could introduce significant legal liability, or at least uncertainty over whether or not they’re liable for the comments readers post on their sites and articles.

      One thing we’ve heard over and over again from SESTA supporters is that the bill won’t have any impact on most sites because (they claim) “no one accidentally facilitates sex trafficking.” We wonder how they can be so certain. Ignoring, for the moment, that all sorts of important speech can be branded as speech related to trafficking, even for speech we all agree is problematic, it is not clear what the Congressional authors of the bill, and SESTA’s staunchest advocates, think smaller sites, like ours, should do to ensure that none of that content ever sneaks through and ends up in our comment sections. To use us as an example: we’re a small site, with a small team and limited resources. But we do allow comments on our posts, because we think community is an important aspect of a modern media site — and we get a lot of comments, to the point that it is literally impossible for us to review every single comment on the site. We also, obviously, get a fair number of spam comments, and have put in place spam filters. The spam filters are pretty good, but they will make a few Type I and Type II errors at times (i.e., accidentally holding a legit comment and accidentally letting through a spam comment).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Don’t Buy Gifts That Snoop: Introducing Mozilla’s Holiday Buyers’ Guide

      Is your smart toaster spying on you? Does your toddler’s new toy have an easily-hackable microphone or camera?

      This holiday season, don’t buy your loved ones an Internet-connected gadget that compromises their privacy or security — no matter how nifty or cute that gadget may be.

      Today, Mozilla is publishing *Privacy Not Included — a shopping companion to help consumers identify Internet-connected products that meet their privacy and security needs.

    • Referendum likely on Dutch ‘tapping’ law

      Digital privacy advocates who hope to force the repeal of a law giving Dutch intelligence agencies new surveillance powers said on Monday they have gathered enough signatures to demand a referendum.

      A range of activists, politicians and media groups oppose the law, which passed by a healthy margin in July and gives agencies the power to gather data covertly from large groups of people at once.

      The petition for a referendum must now be submitted to the Voting Commission to vet whether it has met the 300,000 signature threshold.

      If it has, the government is obliged to hold a non-binding referendum on whether the law should be upheld, likely together with municipal elections on March 21.

    • UK: Landmark surveillance case to be heard in Strasbourg tomorrow

      The European Court of Human Rights will hear a landmark case on surveillance tomorrow (7 November) as part of a challenge to the lawfulness of the UK’s surveillance laws and its intelligence agencies’ mass surveillance practices.

      The case, described by campaigners as a “watershed moment for people’s privacy and freedom of expression across the world”, is being brought by Amnesty International, Liberty, Privacy International, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and ten other human rights groups – as well as two individuals – based in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

    • Why we’re part of a coalition of human rights organisations taking on the UK Government’s mass surveillance regime

      Next week brings a watershed moment in the battle to protect our privacy rights and the rule of law against mass government surveillance.

      Liberty – along with Amnesty International, Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union and groups from Pakistan, South Africa and Egypt – will be in the European Court of Human Rights challenging the lawfulness of the UK Government’s surveillance regime.

    • UK Intelligence Agencies Face Mass Action in European Court of Human Rights

      A dectet of civil rights groups has brought the first major legal challenge since Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations against the UK’s assorted intelligence agencies, in the European Court of Human Rights.

      The first major challenge to the legality of UK intelligence agencies intercepting private communications in bulk is due to be heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in three separate cases brought by civil rights groups, including Liberty, Amnesty International, Privacy International and the American Civil Liberties Union.

    • US Senate hearing confirms Facebook is the perfect surveillance machine: what can we do about it?

      That is, the advertising industry in Europe is saying it has a fundamental right to spy on the people who view its ads, and that it is inconceivable to show ads without tracking. It is this mindset that drives Facebook to gather as much information about its users as it can. The more detailed and intimate the data, the better the targeting, and the more it can charge for those who wish to advertise. When it unveiled its record third-quarter profits recently, Facebook boasted that the average price paid per ad had risen by 35% year-on-year, a huge jump.

    • GCHQ bulk surveillance challenged in European Court of Human Rights
    • UK spies face landmark challenge over mass surveillance in human rights court
    • UK surveillance laws to be challenged in European Court of Human Rights
    • ECHR to weigh up lawfulness of UK’s ‘wide-ranging’ surveillance powers
    • London’s top barristers descend on Strasbourg as government surveillance case reaches European court
    • Facebook offers mobile payments in UK
    • UK intelligence agencies face surveillance claims in European court

      The first major challenge to the legality of UK intelligence agencies intercepting private communications in bulk, following Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations, is due to be heard by the European court of human rights (ECHR).

      Three separate British cases brought by civil rights groups will be considered together by seven judges in Strasbourg on Tuesday, raising questions about the way GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 share surveillance material with the United States and other foreign governments.

      One of the claims, brought by an alliance of 10 human rights organisations, has been considered by the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) in London, which takes some of its evidence in secret.

    • PRESS RELEASE: LANDMARK UK SURVEILLANCE CASE TO BE HEARD IN STRASBOURG TOMORROW

      The European Court of Human Rights will hear a landmark case on surveillance tomorrow (7 November) as part of a challenge to the lawfulness of the UK’s surveillance laws and its intelligence agencies’ mass surveillance practices.

    • EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS TO HEAR CHALLENGE TO UK GOVERNMENT MASS SURVEILLANCE TUESDAY
    • UK NGOs CHALLENGE UK GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE AT THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
    • An AT&T drone is now providing cellular service to people in Puerto Rico

      AT&T is using an LTE-equipped drone to reconnect some Puerto Ricans who lost wireless service after Hurricane Maria.

      This obviously isn’t a permanent fix for Puerto Rico, where 48 percent of cell sites are still out of service more than a month after the hurricane wrecked telecom infrastructure on the island. But the drone—AT&T calls it a Flying COW (Cell on Wings)—is providing wireless connectivity in an area of up to 40 square miles.

      “As we work to permanently restore our network, this experimental technology is providing data, voice, and text services to customers,” AT&T said in an announcement today. “This is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster.”

    • Ex-spies ran black ops on Rose McGowan for Harvey Weinstein

      In the massive national conversation about sex crimes that has ensued as a result of the remarkable investigative reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s decades of misconduct, one question recurs: Why do women so often keep silent about having been the target of a sexual offense?

      Even if they haven’t personally suffered an attack, many women can supply an answer. Because you don’t know whom to trust. Because you fear that anything you reveal about your attack or yourself may be used against you.

      In the latest in his deep-dive reporting on the disgraced former Hollywood studio head, Ronan Farrow, writing in the New Yorker, has provided a mind-boggling account of just how well-founded those fears are.

    • Comcast Urges FCC To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Privacy, Net Neutrality

      If you’re playing along at home, you might have noticed that the Trump administration has so far been little more than a glorified rubber stamp for the whims of major broadband mono/duopolies like Comcast. But while ISPs have had great luck convincing the federal government to weaken broadband deployment standards, protect uncompetitive business broadband monopolies, kill broadband privacy protections, defend price-gouging prison phone monopolies and axe net neutrality — a growing number of states have proven less susceptible to Comcast lobbying charms.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • EXCL Emily Thornberry says Boris Johnson must quit if Nazanin Ratcliffe is jailed for five years

      The Shadow Foreign Secretary said Mr Johnson should “take full responsibility in both a moral and political sense” for his remarks to MPs last week.

      Mr Johnson is under intense pressure after he mistakenly told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that Ms Ratcliffe was “simply teaching people journalism” when she was detained by the Iranian authorities 18 months ago.

    • Fears for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after Boris Johnson remark

      A charity fears a British-Iranian woman held in Iran could have her prison sentence doubled following remarks made by the foreign secretary.

      Boris Johnson told a Commons committee that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested at Tehran Airport in 2016, was “teaching people journalism”.

      The Thomson Reuters Foundation said she was seeing family and urged Mr Johnson to correct his “serious mistake”.

      [...]

      Four days later, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to court where the foreign secretary’s comments were cited as evidence against her.

      At this hearing she was accused of engaging in “propaganda against the regime”.

    • Cop Loses Immunity After Shooting, Headstomping Gravely-Injured Suspect

      Court decisions stripping officers of immunity for civil liberties violations are still mostly an anomaly. But we’ll take what we can get. This immunity-stripping decision by the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court appears to have been aided by the police department’s own dashcam video, which helped dispel some of the “our word against yours” haze that clouds excessive force cases.

    • NYPD Cop Acquitted on Charges of Murdering Delrawn Small in 2016

      Meanwhile, New York police officer Wayne Isaacs has been found not guilty on charges of murdering Delrawn Small in 2016.

      Small, who is African-American, was driving with his girlfriend and two children on the 4th of July when the off-duty officer reportedly cut him off. Grainy, black-and-white surveillance video shows Small, who was unarmed, approaching Officer Isaacs’s car. Officer Isaacs then opens fire with his police gun within one second. As Small stumbles away and collapses on the street between two parked cars, Officer Isaacs then gets out of his car, appears to tuck his gun into his waistband and then walks away.

    • New Jersey and Virginia Can Show What Resistance In the States Looks Like

      If all eyes aren’t on New Jersey and Virginia today, they should be. As the one-year anniversary of the election of President Donald J. Trump approaches, our states become the first in the Trump era to elect new governors.

      As the federal government abandons its traditional role of protecting civil rights and enforcing anti-discrimination laws, state and local policymakers are more important than ever in defending and expanding constitutional rights. The next governors of the Garden State and the Old Dominion must take that burden to heart.

      With no incumbents in either state, the next governors will start fresh. That comes with an obligation to show what America looks like at its best — a hopeful counterpoint at a moment dominated by the legacy of America’s impulses at our worst.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Competition Dodges A Bullet As T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Dies
    • All of this just to play with toy cars…

      La Quadrature du Net republishes below an op-ed by Oriane, President of the French Federation of associated providers of internet access, regarding the European Electronic Communications Code and its political implications. This op-ed was originally on her blog (in French).

      First reading notes on the Telecoms Package.
      As you may know, I have made a cursory reading of the European Telecommunications Code (Telecoms Package). Here are my first impressions, taken from my reading notes. They’re a little late, they’re mostly about the text’s introduction, but it’s better than nothing.

      [...]

      The introduction goes wrong at the very start, when it largely focuses on technology to set the context of this regulation. Naturally, the Commission then doesn’t aim any further than facilitating the use of technical elements across the European territory. What a waste, a text pretending to be this great Code of Telecommunications, only to actually seriously lack ambition. These observations focus on means instead of ends, and that is why they lack vision.

      Yet, with an opening sentence on how much the world has changed “since 2009″, we could have expected a more general picture of what Europe has become, thanks to digital technology. A picture of what has been made possible thanks to the democratisation of access and of technical equipment. Which is not exactly what we find here. Moreover, we are promised “more innovation” in the future. But innovation isn’t a value in itself or a plan for society. Improving mobility between Member States and communications between citizens to strengthen their ties, that’s a project, that’s an end. The means would for instance be abolishing roaming. In that case, you can see what the means and what the end is.

    • Comcast Tries To Stop Colorado City From Even Talking About Building Its Own Broadband Network

      We’ve noted for years how giant ISPs have literally written and purchased protectionist laws in more than twenty states restricting towns and cities from building their own broadband networks. Many of these laws even go so far as to restrict these towns from striking public/private partnerships with companies like Google Fiber, often one of the only options for areas incumbent ISPs have declared not-profitable enough to serve. In this way giant ISPs get their cake and eat it too: they don’t have to expand service, but make sure nobody else can either.

      Colorado’s SB 152 is one such law. SB 152 was a 2005 product of lobbying from Comcast and CenturyLink, and required communities jump through numerous hoops should they want to simply make decisions regarding their own, local infrastructure. Like all such laws the ISP pretense was that they were simply looking to protect taxpayers from financial irresponsibility (an idea often lacking in ISPs’ daily business efforts), though it’s abundantly clear the real goal was to prop up and protect the dysfunctional broadband duopoly status quo from anything vaguely resembling change or competition.

    • FCC tries to help cable companies avoid state consumer protection rules

      The Federal Communications Commission is intervening in a court case in order to help Charter Communications avoid utility-style consumer protections related to its phone service in Minnesota. The FCC and Charter both want to avoid a precedent that could lead other states to impose stricter consumer protection rules on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service offered by cable companies.

      The FCC has never definitively settled the regulatory status of VoIP. By contrast, traditional landline phone service and mobile phone service are both classified as “telecommunications services” by the FCC, a distinction that places them under the same Title II common carrier regulatory framework that applies to broadband Internet access. But the FCC has never decided whether VoIP services offered by cable companies are telecommunications or “information services,” which aren’t as heavily regulated.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Village Hotels Bullies Small Pub Into Changing Its Name By Brandishing Its ‘Village’ Trademark

        Seeing trademark bullies in operation, particularly when a large entity bullies a small business, will never cease being a source of frustration for me. That said, my frustration gets supercharged when the trademark being wielded as a bullying weapon is laughably generic and clearly should never have been granted in the first place. And when the bully is attacking a company that it doesn’t even compete with, that’s the anger-cherry on top of the hate-sundae.

    • Copyrights

      • Judge Ignores Congress, Pretends SOPA Exists, Orders Site Blocking Of Sci-Hub

        Last month, we wrote about the strange and unfortunate decision by a magistrate judge in the copycat lawsuit by the American Chemical Society against Sci-Hub, the “renegade” online repository of academic knowledge. As we’ve discussed for years, the copyright attacks on Sci-Hub are silly, given the entire stated purpose of copyright is supposed to be to increase “learning” (and there’s rarely a monetary incentive to the scholars writing academic articles). Copyright in academic papers is silly for a whole host of reasons, and then using copyright law to take down what is effectively an incredibly useful library of academic knowledge seems to run entirely counter to the basis of copyright law.

      • Piracy site for science research dinged again in court—this time for $4.8M

        First came the $15 million fine a New York federal judge imposed on Sci-Hub, a scientific research piracy site that has freed tens of thousands of research papers from behind paywalls. That was in June, and the site’s overseas operator, Alexandra Elbakyan, said she’d never pay plaintiff Elsevier or stop the infringing behavior.

        [...]

        The order came three weeks after the tech sector, represented by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), told the court that it would be illegal to issue this type of wide-ranging order that the American Chemical Society wanted.

        [...]

        In an Ars profile of the Sci-Hub dispute, we likened Elbakyan’s mission to liberate research to the ideals of Aaron Swartz, who believed that knowledge shouldn’t be behind paywalls. Elbakyan has liberated hundreds of thousands of academic papers that have been downloaded for free from the Sci-Hub site. Swartz was notoriously charged as a hacker for trying to free millions of articles from popular academic hub JSTOR. At age 26, he committed suicide just ahead of his federal trial in 2013.

      • US Judge grants “unprecedented” injunction which forces search engines and ISPs to block site over copyright case

        A US Judge has granted an injunction that forces search engines and internet service providers (ISPs), not just domain registrars, to block Sci-Hub. Sci-Hub is a free, online archive that shares research articles; it was founded by Alexandra Elbakyan. The site, which hosts many academic papers which are otherwise behind paywall, has faced fire from the publishers of said papers. Though some claim that such research papers should be out in the open because it was paid for by tax payer dollars.

      • US Court Grants ISPs and Search Engine Blockade of Sci-Hub

        Sci-Hub, often referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” has suffered another blow in a US federal court. The American Chemical Society has won a default judgment of $4.8 million for alleged copyright infringement against the site. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction which requires search engines and ISPs to block the platform.

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