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11.16.17

Links 16/11/2017: WordPress 4.9 and GhostBSD 11.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Landmark study links Tory austerity to 120,000 deaths

      The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths.

      The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels.

      On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year.

      Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • After yesterday’s mass shooting Trump tweeted condolences to wrong victims

      Trump must’ve gotten an old memo, and apparently has a short memory to boot. The people of Sutherland Springs, TX – 26 of them – were massacred by a gunman on November 5, not yesterday.

    • Russian Foreign Ministry Accuses America Of Supporting ISIS With Video Game Footage

      The history of governments attempting to demonstrate either their own military prowess or the dastardly actions of others — usually America — is long and storied. South Korea used footage from war games to show off weapons I guess it must not have, Egypt attempted to pass off game footage as Russian airstrikes against ISIL/ISIS/whatever they’re supposed to be called, and North Korea attempted to show off its nuclear capability by pinching some Modern Warfare 3 footage. Even Russia has tried its hand at this, attempting to show that America was arming Ukrainian rebels with Stinger missiles with some stills from the game Battlefield 3. That any of these countries thought they would get away with these fakes is nearly as funny as their having not considered how much international egg they’d have on their faces once they were found out.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Special Report from the Occupied Forest: Meet Activists Fighting Europe’s Largest Open-Pit Coal Mine

      Reporting from COP23 in Bonn, Germany, Democracy Now! travels to the nearby blockade of the Hambach coal mine, the largest open-pit coal mine in Europe. Activists say the mine extracts an extremely dirty form of coal called lignite, also known as brown coal, which causes the highest CO2 emissions of any type of coal when burned. For more than five years, they have been fighting to shut down the mine and to save the remaining forest from being cut down to make way for the expanding project. Only 10 percent of the ancient forest remains.

    • African Activist Slams Trump for Reversing Ban on Elephant Trophies from Hunts in Zimbabwe & Zambia

      The Trump administration will allow American trophy hunters to import the bodies of elephants they kill in Zimbabwe and Zambia, reversing a ban put in place by President Obama. The Interior Department’s rule change comes even though African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The policy could affect President Trump’s two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., who are longtime trophy hunters who have repeatedly posed for photos with dead animals they killed in Africa. A 2012 picture of Donald Trump Jr. in Zimbabwe shows him standing in front of the corpse of an African elephant, holding a knife in one hand and a severed tail in the other. We speak with Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian environmental activist and director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation.

    • US to lift ban on elephant hunting trophy imports

      The Trump administration will allow American hunters to import elephant trophies to the US, reversing an Obama-era 2014 ban, US media report.
      A federal government agency said imports could resume on Friday for elephants that are legally hunted only in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

      The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said hunting fees could aid conservation of the endangered animals.

      Experts say that populations of African elephants are plummeting.

  • Finance

    • SoftBank Plans Up to $25 Billion in Saudi Investments

      SoftBank aims to deploy up to $15 billion in a new city called Neom that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to build on the Red Sea coast, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The Japanese company’s Vision Fund also plans investments of as much as $10 billion in state-controlled Saudi Electricity Co. as part of efforts to diversify the utility into renewables and solar energy, the people said. SoftBank also will have some of its portfolio companies open offices in Neom, they said.

    • Tencent Rises After Posting Fastest Revenue Growth in 7 Years

      By getting WeChat onto almost a billion smartphones in China, Tencent has leveraged the instant message service into an entertainment and gaming platform that is driving advertising sales. Although the Shenzhen-based company remains largely absent overseas, it’s built a 12 percent stake in Snapchat-owner Snap Inc. and is exploring new sources of growth in the cloud, financial services, movies and music.

    • We should all be working a four-day week. Here’s why

      Imagine there was a single policy that would slash unemployment and underemployment, tackle health conditions ranging from mental distress to high blood pressure, increase productivity, help the environment, improve family lives, encourage men to do more household tasks, and make people happier. It sounds fantastical, but it exists, and it’s overdue: the introduction of a four-day week.

      The liberation of workers from excessive work was one of the pioneering demands of the labour movement. From the ashes of the civil war, American trade unionism rallied behind an eight-hour day, “a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California”, as Karl Marx put it. In 1890 hundreds of thousands thronged into Hyde Park in a historic protest for the same demand. It is a cause that urgently needs reclaiming.

    • Republican Sen. Ron Johnson comes out against tax bill

      Johnson also told The Wall Street Journal that he is not able to vote for the bill as it’s currently written.
      “If they can pass it without me, let them,” Johnson told the WSJ. “I’m not going to vote for this tax package.”
      Johnson has previously expressed concerns about how small businesses are treated in the Senate bill, but he had not formally announced his opposition until Wednesday.

    • US Stock-market Bubble Is About To Burst

      Instead, the Trumpists decide to give the wealthy a huge tax break permanently, ordinary people a short-term tax-break mostly but some will get an increase in taxes, and to reduce the increase in the debt they will cut out another leg from under ObamaCare causing still larger increases in premiums and loss of insurance which people need and appreciate.

    • ‘Why aren’t the other hands up?’ A top Trump adviser’s startling response to CEOs not doing what he’d expect

      President Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, looked out from the stage at a sea of CEOs and top executives in the audience Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting. As Cohn sat comfortably onstage, a Journal editor asked the crowd to raise their hands if their company plans to invest more if the tax reform bill passes.

      Very few hands went up.

      Cohn looked surprised. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” he said.

    • Trump and his family could save more than $1 billion under House tax bill

      President Donald Trump has insisted, for months, that the Republican tax plan he supports won’t benefit him.

      “It’s not good for me. Believe me,” he said at a Sept. 27 event in Indiana to sell the plan. “My plan is for the working people, and my plan is for jobs. I don’t benefit,” he also said that day.

      And earlier this month, according to NBC News, Trump told a group of Democratic senators in a phone call, “My accountant called me and said ‘you’re going to get killed in this bill.’”

    • U.K. Orders Urgent Brexit Traffic Plans as Border Tailbacks Loom
    • Mashable Agrees to Sell to Ziff Davis for Around $50 Million

      One-time digital media darling Mashable has agreed to sell itself to trade publisher Ziff Davis for around $50 million, according to people familiar with the matter, a fraction of the site’s valuation less than two years ago.

      The price is approximately one-fifth of the company’s $250 million valuation based on its last investment round in March 2016.

      It is a troubling sign for the broader outlook for digital publishers, particularly those that have embraced the “pivot to video” strategy in an effort to lure more lucrative video ad sales.

    • UK government set to reverse plan on specific Brexit date

      The UK government is on the verge of giving up on its plan to put a specific date for Brexit into domestic law, after facing a rebellion of pro-EU MPs from within prime minister Theresa May’s Conservative party.

      The government had proposed that March 29 2019 — at 11pm London time — be inserted into the EU withdrawal bill, which sets out the legal framework for Brexit. But pro-EU MPs, including more than a dozen Conservatives, opposed the idea, saying it would remove the government’s ability to extend talks with Brussels.

      On Thursday David Lidington, the justice secretary, said there had been “various constructive suggestions” on the issue, and the government would “listen to ideas”. It was the clearest hint yet that the government would climb down on the measure, which is due to be voted on next month.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Rot Inside the Republican Party

      Exhibit A of right-wing decay is Rupert Murdoch, who, more than any single individual, has plotted the course of the GOP for the past 20 years.

    • We Knew Julian Assange Hated Clinton. We Didn’t Know He Was Secretly Advising Trump.

      “The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false,” the staffers wrote then. “We were not publishing with a goal to get any specific candidate elected.”

      It is not surprising that Brown felt personally betrayed by Assange, since, as he explained on Facebook Tuesday night, “I went to prison because of my support for WikiLeaks.” Specifically, Brown said, the charges against him were related to his role in “operations to identify and punish members of the government and members of private companies that had been exposed by Anonymous hackers of my acquaintance, via email hacks, as having conspired to go after Assange, to go after WikiLeaks.”

      That sort of activism, dedicated to making public secret wrongdoing, Brown argued, is very different from “colluding with an authoritarian presidential campaign backed by actual Nazis while publicly denying it.”

      “Plainly,” he observed with bitterness, “the prospect of a Clinton in the White House was such an unimaginable nightmare scenario that all normal standards of truth and morality became moot and it became necessary to get people like Sebastian Gorka into the White House to establish order.”

      Before his private messages to Trump Jr. were leaked, Assange himself had categorically denied that he or WikiLeaks had been attacking Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump. “This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election,” he wrote in a statement released on November 8 as Americans went to the polls.

      Even though Assange had by then transformed the WikiLeaks Twitter feed into a vehicle for smearing Clinton, he insisted that his work was journalistic in nature. “The right to receive and impart true information is the guiding principle of WikiLeaks — an organization that has a staff and organizational mission far beyond myself,” Assange wrote. “Millions of Americans have pored over the leaks and passed on their citations to each other and to us,” he added. “It is an open model of journalism that gatekeepers are uncomfortable with, but which is perfectly harmonious with the First Amendment.”

    • Texas sheriff is on the hunt for driver with profane anti-Trump window sticker

      A sheriff in Texas is looking for a truck bearing a profanity-laced anti-Trump sticker and said authorities are considering charging its owner with disorderly conduct — a threat that immediately raised alarm among free speech advocates.

      Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy E. Nehls posted a photo of the truck Wednesday on Facebook after, he said, he’d received several complaints about the display from unhappy people in the Houston-area county.

      A graphic on the rear window of the GMC Sierra reads: “F‑‑K TRUMP AND F‑‑K YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM.” (The profanity is spelled out on the sticker.)

    • The most respected Supreme Court reporter of her generation slams media “objectivity”

      “The opposite of objectivity isn’t partisanship, or needn’t be,” Linda Greenhouse writes in her new book Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life, and the Spaces Between. “Rather, it is judgment, the hard work of sorting out the false claims from the true and discarding or at least labeling the false.”

    • Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It

      In December of 2006, I embarked on my ninth USO Tour to entertain our troops, my eighth to the Middle East since the 9/11 attacks. My father served in Vietnam and my then-boyfriend (and now husband, Chris) is a pilot in the Air Force, so bringing a ‘little piece of home’ to servicemembers stationed far away from their families was both my passion and my privilege.

      [...]

      I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.

      I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.

      How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?

      I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.

    • BBC accused of ‘clear manipulation’ and ‘selective editing’ over interview with John McDonnell [AUDIO]

      People who listened to Thursday morning’s Today programme on BBC Radio 4 heard Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell set out his five budget priorities. But they noticed a gap between what McDonnell said on the show and how the show reported it on Twitter.

    • More Women Accuse Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore of Sexual Misconduct

      Two more women have come forward to accuse Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or making sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers. This brings the total number of women to nine. One woman said, “I’ve known for over 20 years that he was a predator, that he preyed upon girls in the mall. It’s common knowledge.” As Moore’s approval ratings continue to fall, Republican Party leaders met Wednesday to discuss what to do about the growing crisis.

    • Judiciary Sens: Kushner was contacted about WikiLeaks, Russia ahead of election

      Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday disclosed that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner received an email about WikiLeaks in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

      The two senators sent a letter to Kushner’s lawyer Thursday demanding additional documents from Trump’s son-in-law as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation of Russia’s election interference. In the letter, Grassley and Feinstein say Kushner received an email about WikiLeaks in September 2016 that he passed on to an official within President Trump’s campaign, in addition to communication about a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.”

    • Cambodia top court dissolves main opposition CNRP party

      Cambodia’s Supreme Court has dissolved the country’s main opposition party, leaving the government with no significant competitor ahead of elections next year.
      The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) is accused of plotting to topple the government – charges it denies, and describes as politically motivated.
      More than 100 party members are now banned from politics for five years.
      Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has ruled for 32 years.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • This is why everyone is upset about Twitter’s blue check mark verification policy
    • Now universities police speech off campus

      In the old days, universities tended to deal with the ‘problem’ of controversial meetings on campus by simply banning them. Then legislation was passed in 1986 to protect free speech on campus, and this rightly made such outright bans more difficult. However, as anyone familiar with campus debates in recent years will be aware, the problem of censorship at universities hasn’t gone away. It simply takes a new form. One form is universities micromanaging what their students and staff say on and also off campus. Consider events over the past year involving Sheffield University.

    • The Honest Ads Act: Censorship or Security?

      On October 19, the bill proposed by Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar, and later supported by Republican Senator John McCain, attempts to regulate online ads in a way that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done with TV, radio and print for generations. The FCC stated that the internet is “a unique and evolving mode of mass communication and political speech that is distinct from other media in a manner that warrants a restrained regulatory approach.”

    • China cyber watchdog rejects censorship critics, says internet must be ‘orderly’

      China’s top cyber authority on Thursday rejected a recent report ranking it last out of 65 countries for press freedom, saying the internet must be “orderly” and the international community should join it in addressing fake news and other cyber issues.

    • China downplays criticism of its internet rights squeeze

      China has slammed a report criticising its tightening laws on internet censorship and control.

      The country’s government lashed out following a report that ranked it among the worst countries in the world for internet freedom.

      The country’s cyber security authority is apparently unhappy with the fact it was recently ranked as the worst country for online freedom of speech.

      According to Reuters, the country believes that the internet must be organised in an “orderly” fashion and that the international community needs to do more to tackle cyber security.

    • Ninth Circuit Lets Us See Its Glassdoor Ruling, And It’s Terrible

      Well, I was wrong: last week I lamented that we might never know how the Ninth Circuit ruled on Glassdoor’s attempt to quash a federal grand jury subpoena served upon it demanding it identify users. Turns out, now we do know: two days after the post ran the court publicly released its decision refusing to quash the subpoena. It’s a decision that doubles-down on everything wrong with the original district court decision that also refused to quash it, only now with handy-dandy Ninth Circuit precedential weight.

      Like the original ruling, it clings to the Supreme Court’s decision in Branzburg v. Hayes, a case where the Supreme Court explored the ability of anyone to resist a grand jury subpoena. But in doing so it manages to ignore other, more recent, Supreme Court precedents that should have led to the opposite result.

    • Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar: ‘S Durga’ was without censorship, ‘Nude’ not a complete film

      The controversial dropping of the two movies from the festival’s Indian Panorama section has resulted in the head of jury Sujoy Ghosh resigning from his position. The Congress has also accused the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of trying to “interfere with jury decisions”.

    • IFFI 2017: Nude is not a complete film, doesn’t have censor certificate says Goa CM Manohar Parrikar

      Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar stood by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry’s decision to exclude director Ravi Jadhav’s Nude and Sanal Sasidharan’s S Durga from being screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017.

    • EU anti-“fake news” authority prepares mass censorship

      The European Union (EU) is launching the construction of an authority to monitor and censor so-called “fake news.” It is setting up a High-Level Expert Group on the issue and soliciting criticisms of “fake news” by media professionals and the public to decide what powers to give to this EU body, which is to begin operation next spring.

      An examination of the EU’s announcement shows that it is preparing mass state censorship aimed not at false information, but at news reports or political views that encourage popular opposition to the European ruling class.

      The term “fake news” is taken from the campaign in the United States promoting unsubstantiated accusations that Donald Trump’s victory was attributable to Russian manipulation of the 2016 US presidential elections that publicized material harmful to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. This campaign has developed into ever more aggressive demands for censorship of the Internet to prevent the expression of critical views and social protests.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS TURNING PROTESTERS INTO FELONS

      “It’s crazy, a few windows got smashed,” 23-year-old Olivia Alsip said, two months after her arrest on felony riot charges. “Why are 214 people looking at ten years in prison?”

      Alsip only knew one other person at the protest march that day. The political science graduate student from the University of Chicago had met her partner in November, when the two had joined the camps at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. When they heard about calls to protest Donald J. Trump’s inauguration in D.C. on January 20th under the banner “Disrupt J20,” they felt they had to be there. “I identify as an anarchist, and I’ve been an activist for women’s and queer rights since the 8th grade,” Alsip told me over the phone from Chicago.

      [...]

      Anarchists and anti-fascist activists across the country have responded to Trump’s ascendancy, and particularly the attendant emboldening of white supremacists, with confrontational protest. Rivers of digital ink were spilled approving and denouncing the meme-friendly punch delivered to neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, as well as the militant demonstrations that prevented far right troll Milo Yiannopoulos from waxing hateful at UC Berkeley. But while scattered vandalism and punching (a neo-Nazi) were deemed headline-grabbing militancy, the media relegated the most extreme incidents involving anarchists and antifascists—namely, recent treatment of them—to footnotes.

    • US: Trial begins for first group of J20 defendants

      A trial that could send independent journalist Alexei Wood and six others to prison for decades started on Wednesday.

      When Wood, 37, travelled from his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, to Washington, DC, to cover the anti-fascist bloc demonstration against the inauguration of US President Donald Trump on January 20, he did not imagine he would wind up with a slew of felonies.

      But on that day, Wood, who livestreamed the march on his Facebook page, was kettled and arrested by police with more than 230 others, including protesters, bystanders, legal observers and medics.

      “I feel righteous in my innocence,” he told Al Jazeera the day before the trial, “but a lot is riding on it: the future of journalism and protesting.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Lawyers Investigating Whether Trump Had Undue Influence On DOJ Merger Review

      Given the Trump administration’s rubber stamping of every mono/duopolist desire (killing net neutrality, broadband privacy rules, media consolidation limits), most expected the AT&T Time Warner merger to see approval without much fuss. After all, while the problems caused by vertical integration deals like Comcast NBC Universal are very real, it didn’t seem likely that an administration running rough shod over consumer protections would give much of a damn. Especially given that Trump DOJ antitrust boss Makan Delrahim had already been on record stating he saw no problems whatsoever with the deal.

      That’s why leaked reports that the DOJ was suddenly considering blocking the deal came as such a surprise. Said reports indicated that the DOJ was considering a lawsuit to thwart the deal unless AT&T was willing to divest either CNN-owner Turner broadcasting, or DirecTV — which AT&T acquired last year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Swedish Data Authority Investigates Piracy Settlement Letters

        Letters being sent out to Internet account holders in Sweden accusing them of copyright infringement are under investigation by Sweden’s Data Protection Authority. Since the letters demand a cash payment, they could be considered a debt collection measure. If that’s indeed the case, they must comply with strict legislation.

The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) is Rightly Upset If Not Shocked at What Battistelli and Bergot Are Doing to the Office

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The shock is probably years behind as this was foreseen/expected by many insiders

A militant EPO

Summary: The EPO’s dictatorial management is destroying everything that’s left (of value) at the Office while corrupting academia and censoring discussion by threatening those who publish comments (gagging its own staff even when that staff posts anonymously)

THE EPO is racing to the bottom. It’s rushing to the very bottom of patent quality, just like in China — a recipe for plenty of litigation and trolls (threat of litigation alone can help extract ‘protection’ money).

SUEPO’s response to the EPO’s latest changes (effective weeks from now) was covered yesterday based on internal communications. These are changes which would definitely breed corruption, as we explained yesterday (as far as we are aware, we were the first to cover this).

WIPR wrote a puff piece with only quotes/comments from the patent microcosm, but the following is at least airing the response of SUEPO. To quote some portions:

In an internal memo, the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) described the move as “Kafkaesque”.

The outgoing EPO president Benoît Battistelli entered the proposal alongside the EPO’s director of human resources Elodie Bergot at the Budget and Finance Committee’s meeting on 24 October.

SUEPO revealed that the proposal was met with criticism from the budget and finance committee, particularly from representatives for Italy, the UK, Poland, and Germany.

According to SUEPO, Battistelli took issue with the criticism, intimating that “it was his prerogative to govern until the last day of his mandate”.

Battistelli is understood to have argued that the proposal had “no financial implications” and therefore he was free to push it through to the administrative council in December without the consent of the budget and finance committee.

SUEPO said that there is a “serious risk that this plan will blow up”.

[...]

The memo stated: “There will be no professional pride, no incentive to invest in quality, no stimulus to bind the employee to the EPO and keep him/her loyal and immune from temptation.”

“With a precarious future, there will be a temptation to squirrel away as much cash as possible for the post-EPO life. Some will do so honourably, others perhaps less so. Employees have access to highly confidential, sensitive industrial secrets worth hundreds of millions of euro.”

Imagine all the erroneously-granted patents and what they would cause. Innocent parties (people/firms) would be hurt. To make matters worse, Team Battistelli and Team UPC try to make it easy for trolls/aggressors to sue a lot of nations/firms in one fell swoop. They crafted the UPCA behind closed doors and are now spreading lies in a desperate effort to ratify their evil scheme as law. It is an insult to European democracy and it also corrupts European media, academia, and the rule of law.

As we explained yesterday, corruption of academia by the EPO is the latest phase. They want people with fancy titles like “professor” to say that the UPC would be good, knowing that there’s always someone out there willing to sell out.

As expected, Team UPC is all over this. Kluwer Patent Blog did this puff piece yesterday. This is probably Bristows or Pors writing anonymously (“Kluwer UPC News blogger”), in essence pushing Battistelli-generated UPC lies and anticipating backlash (hence the anonymity). Watch the comments. As one person put it: “Bearing in mind that EPO et al. will soon have to submit their comments in the German constitutional complaint proceedings, the timing and purpose of this “study” is all too obvious. Expect more along these lines in the coming weeks.”

“The full impact of the Unitary Patent system has nót been investigated,” it says. How corrupt does the EPO think it can get in an effort to force the UPC upon Europe? How much lying and even falsification is Team UPC willing to resort to? Bristows LLP’s Gregory Bacon’s blog post has just appeared in Lexology (same name, same text), which means that Bristows is now even PAYING to publish its ‘articles’ that push UPC lies, based on a ‘report’ that the EPO was PAYING academics to produce!

They are corrupting academia now. It’s appalling. To repeat: Bristows pays for just a copy of its blog (which lacks an audience) to be pushed into news feeds, spreading UPC lies which were paid for at the expense of EPO stakeholders (who are being lied to by Battistelli).

Who does one report such corruption to? Is there no ethical breach here? Should we contact the respective universities or alert the German court?

The EPO is nowadays isolating itself from everyone. Yesterday it mentioned professional representatives, but professional representatives associated with the EPO — just like EPO staff — have gotten fed up with the EPO and Battistelli’s culture.

Don’t expect to see anything about Battistelli in IP Kat. It has made it pretty clear that names cannot be mentioned and as one person put it yesterday: “I take it that comments about the comment moderation system are automatically eliminated….”

Obviously. By “eliminated” s/he means “censored” (which is why we try to preserve copies of comments which do appear and are relevant).

EPO Continues to Disobey the Law on Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eponia Star Wars
Source

Summary: Using the same old euphemisms, e.g. “computer-implemented inventions” (or “CII”), the EPO continues to grant patents which are clearly and strictly out of scope

TO say that the EPO operates as though it’s above the law would be an understatement. We have covered many dozens of examples to that effect.

Our original gripe/complaint about the EPO was solely about software patents in Europe. This actually started under Battistelli’s predecessor, more so after her “as such” debacle, but here we are almost a decade later and the EPO continues to disregard the rules. It just refers to software patents as “CII” in order to give the impression that algorithms are “inventions”.

Yesterday, the EPO’s buddies at IAM published this article which was immediately thereafter copied across from IAM to its new “partner” site. Jacobacci & Partners’ Andrea Perronance repeated the term “CII” (they don’t even want to say “software”, so they say “computer” instead) and here is the core of it. It came into effect a fortnight ago:

The European Patent Office Guidelines 2017 were recently published on the European Patent Office (EPO) website. They entered into force on November 1 2017.

Like the previous edition, this year’s guidelines include substantial, extensive and comprehensive improvements with regard to guidance on the eligibility of computer-implemented inventions (CII) parts. These parts have been discussed with the European Patent Institute (epi), in particular with the CII sub-committee of the European Patent Practice Committee.

The changes appear mainly in Parts F-IV and G-VII of the European Patent Convention Guidelines (the Patent Cooperation Treaty Guidelines are also available) and deal with the presentation of information eligibility and patentability. There is also a substantial revision of one example of eligible/non-eligible, patentable/non-patentable subject matter in CII, as asked and suggested by epi (see relevant article in epi Information 1/2017).

Why is this still even up for debate and why is the European Patent Institute there and not any software developers? It says a lot about the underlying intentions. It has nothing whatsoever to do with science or innovation. It’s just about cash for the EPO and the patent ‘industry’. This is just wrong.

Incidentally, the same site also published this take on patents in Denmark, courtesy of Accura Advokatpartnerselskab’s Morten Bruus and Christoffer Ege Andersen. Software patents are banned in Denmark, as can be expected (they’re banned in just about every European nation, as least in principle). But there are tricks around that. Remember that the DKPTO’s chief until 1.5 months ago was Battistelli’s protector, who immediately entered the private sector after he had allegedly been pushed out (maybe for conflict of interest) and turned out to have lied about retirement.

Anyway, from the relevant sections:

To what extent can inventions covering software be patented?

In general, software as such is not patentable (Section 1(2) of the Patents Act). However, it is possible to patent software as part of a patent whose subject matter is a process. Further, software is patentable if it has the potential to bring about, when run on a computer, a further technical effect that goes beyond the normal physical interactions between the program and the computer.

To what extent can inventions covering business methods be patented?

In general, business methods as such are not patentable (Section 1(2) of the Patents Act). That said, business methods can be patented as part of a patent whose subject matter is a process. However, jurisprudence shows that it is difficult to invent business methods that essentially differ from known methods, which is why patents are rarely granted for business methods.

To what extent can inventions relating to stem cells be patented?

Stem cells that have an inherent ability to create human life (so-called ‘totipotent stem cells’) cannot be patented, whereas pluripotent and multipotent stem cells can be patented, as they cannot create human life.

That last part is a reminder of the fact that, just as EPs got invalidated in bulk for being inappropriately granted (on organisms), one day EPs on software too may get invalidated in bulk. We are waiting for that day.

That same site also mentioned former French colony Tunisia, whose special arrangement with the EPO we published in full a couple of months back. Marks & Clerk, writing in Lexology, say this:

From 1 December 2017, it will become possible to validate European patents in Tunisia.

Until now, patent protection in Tunisia could only be obtained as a national patent filed directly or by national phase entry from a PCT application. From December, applicants wishing to file in Tunisia will be able to do so via a European patent application.

Who would that be useful for if not few of Battistelli’s French friends? No disrespect for Tunisia, but it’s hardly known for EPs, let alone patents in general. Such validation agreements make the EPO look feeble and pathetic. Battistelli and his cronies have already traveled to sign such deals in countries with not a single EP! What’s the point?

Links 16/11/2017: Tails 3.3, Deepin 15.5 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Navigating the Open Source Landscape

    Traditionally, the telecom industry was driven by large standards bodies such as 3GPP, ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions), the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), which defined standards for everything in telecom right down to the telephone poles. These standards bodies have had dedicated individuals from across the industry working together for years to develop industry standards that are comprehensive to meet stringent requirements across many use cases.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO Group Unveils Release 3.0

    ETSI Open Source MANO group (ETSI OSM) announces the general availability of OSM Release THREE, keeping the pace of a release every 6 months. This release includes a large set of new capabilities as well as numerous enhancements in terms of scalability, performance, resiliency, security and user experience that facilitate its adoption in production environments.

    “OSM Release THREE provides a highly functional and reliable component for NFV Orchestration that enables all industry players to accelerate their deployment plans, with no need to change their target architectures for NFV infrastructure or OSS transformation.” declares Francisco-Javier Ramón, chairman of ETSI OSM group.

  • Euro telco standards wonks publish third iteration of open source orchestrator

    The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has published the third release of OSM, its open source management and orchestration (MANO) stack for network function virtualisation.

  • SDxCentral Releases 2017 Open Source in Networking Report

    Networking has been transformed with the advent of SDN (software-defined networking) and NFV (network functions virtualizations). What has traditionally been a closed and proprietary environment dominated by a few vendors has opened up to innovation and a much more rapid pace of development than in past decades.

  • Why and How to Set an Open Source Strategy

    Open source projects are generally started as a way to scratch one’s itch — and frankly that’s one of its greatest attributes. Getting code down provides a tangible method to express an idea, showcase a need, and solve a problem. It avoids over thinking and getting a project stuck in analysis-paralysis, letting the project pragmatically solve the problem at hand.

    Next, a project starts to scale up and gets many varied users and contributions, with plenty of opinions along the way. That leads to the next big challenge — how does a project start to build a strategic vision? In this article, I’ll describe how to walk through, measure, and define strategies collaboratively, in a community.

    Strategy may seem like a buzzword of the corporate world rather something that an open source community would embrace, so I suggest stripping away the negative actions that are sometimes associated with this word (e.g., staff reductions, discontinuations, office closures). Strategy done right isn’t a tool to justify unfortunate actions but to help show focus and where each community member can contribute.

  • Pentagon spreads the open source

    The US military is set to charge ahead into open source next year after an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

    The amendment introduced by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and co-sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will mean that the Pentagon will be going open source.

  • Open Banking Starts With Opening Bank Culture
  • Banks are increasingly turning to open source projects. Here’s why.
  • Embracing Open Source will help enterprises stay ahead of the AI game

    Kingsley Wood, Director, Infrastructure Business Group, Asia Pacific – Red Hat, said, “The interesting thing about the open source approach is that many people from the community can contribute a lot of fresh ideas, which can help identify problems quicker.”

  • MNCs & product cos are leading the open source movement in India

    engaluru: Contributing code to the open source world is regarded increasingly as a badge of honour. Yet, Indian IT services companies lag in embracing the open source code culture, shows data from open source code repository GitHub.

    Among GitHub’s 75,000 engineers from India, IT services & ITES (IT enabled services) companies have the highest numbers on the platform, but most of the open source contributions were made by employees working for technology product companies and MNCs in India.

    GitHub is a platform where developers host and review codes, manage projects, and even build open source software along with other community members. Open source, which refers to software whose source code (the medium in which programmers create and modify software) is freely available on the internet, has become a major trend in software development today. It stands in contrast to proprietary commercial software whose source code is usually a closely guarded secret.

  • Events

    • Linux Developer Conference Brazil

      Last weekend I attended the first Linux Developer Conference Brazil at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp). It was an event focused on the upstream development of low level components related to Linux, such as gcc, systemtap and the Linux kernel itself. The event was organized by a few contributors of some of these upstream projects, like the kernel, and was sponsored by companies that work directly with it (among them were openSUSE and Collabora).

    • Talking at Kieler LinuxTage 2017 in Kiel, Germany

      Compared to other events, it’s a tiny happening with something between fifty and hundred people or so. I was presenting on how I think GNOME pushes the envelope regarding making secure operating systems (slides, videos to follow). I was giving three examples of how GNOME achieves its goal of priding a secure OS without compromising on usability. In fact, I claimed that the most successful security solutions must not involve the user. That sounds a bit counter intuitive to people in the infosec world, because we’re trying to protect the user, surely they must be involved in the process. But we better not do that. This is not to say that we shouldn’t allow the user to change preferences regarding how the solutions behave, but rather that it should work without intervention. My talk was fairly good attended, I think, and we had a great discussion. I tend to like the discussion bit better than the actual presentation, because I see it as an indicator for how much the people care. I couldn’t attend many other presentations, because I would only attend the second day. That’s why I couldn’t meet with Jim :-/

    • Talking at PET-CON 2017.2 in Hamburg, Germany

      A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to talk at the 7th Privacy Enhancing Techniques Conference (PET-CON 2017.2) in Hamburg, Germany. It’s a teeny tiny academic event with a dozen or so experts in the field of privacy.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The Quantum of Firefox: Why is this one unlike any other Firefox?

        The Mozilla Foundation has officially launched a radical rewrite of its browser, a major cross-platform effort to regain relevance in a world that seems to have forgotten Firefox. The much-rewritten browser claims to be 30 per cent faster with half the memory load, although this comes at the cost of compatibility, as Scott Gilbertson found here.

        The proof’s in the pudding, and this pudding doesn’t feel like the old Firefox behemoth at all. It’s long overdue.

        “Firefox is 13 years old – and very few applications have been around for 13 years without accruing technical debt,” Nick Nguyen, Mozilla’s VP of technology told us.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • Azul Systems Affirms Commitment to Open Source Embedded Java

      Azul will Provide Continued Support for Embedded builds of OpenJDK on x86, Arm and PowerPC Processors

    • How to create better documentation with a kanban board

      If you’re working on documentation, a website, or other user-facing content, it’s helpful to know what users expect to find—both the information they want and how the information is organized and structured. After all, great content isn’t very useful if people can’t find what they’re looking for.

      Card sorting is a simple and effective way to gather input from users about what they expect from menu interfaces and pages. The simplest implementation is to label a stack of index cards with the sections you plan to include in your website or documentation and ask users to sort the cards in the way they would look for the information. Variations include letting people write their own menu headers or content elements.

    • Uber Open-Sources Its AI Programming Language, Encourages Autonomous Car Development

      Uber’s self-driving car ambitions have been an open secret surrounding the company for some time now. If the ride share company’s ambitions are met, someday when you hail a ride using its app it’ll be an autonomous car that shows instead of a human looking to supplement his income. The company has been actively recruiting engineering talent toward its autonomous car program – even running into some legal trouble with Google along the way over accusations of poaching talent and technology.

    • 25 Pitfalls When Learning to Program
    • DevOps: How to avoid project death by hand-off

      There’s a notion in DevOps that our work begins when we understand the strategic business goals that we’re trying to meet, then we deliver on them. This is typically a two-step process where one team creates goals, then hands them off to another team to implement them.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open Source or Open Standards? (Yes!) The Future has Arrived

      Once upon a time – oh, say fifteen years ago – the terms open standards and open source software (OSS) were often used interchangeably. Not because they were the same thing, but because many people didn’t really know what either really was, let alone the differences between them. That was unfortunate, because at that time the two had little in common, and were developed for very different purposes.

      Recently, many people (especially OSS developers) have begun referring to the software they develop as “a standard.” This time around they’re a lot closer to being right.

      So, what’s going on here? And is it a good thing?

Leftovers

  • Twitter explains how users can lose their verified status

    Twitter warned users Wednesday that they can lose “verified” status on its platform, releasing a set of rules for keeping the “blue checkmark” that verifies their identity.

    The social media giant, in an update on the help center portion of its website, explained how users can lose the blue check marks denoting that their profiles are verified. The violations include misleading users on Twitter, as well as promoting hate and harassing others, among other types of behavior that violate Twitter’s rules.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • University could lose millions from “unethical” research backed by Peter Thiel

      In August, Kaiser Health News reported that Thiel and other conservative investors had contributed $7 million for the live-but-weakened herpes virus vaccine, developed by the late SIU researcher William Halford. The investments came after Halford and his private company, Rational Vaccines, had begun conducting small clinical trials in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. With the off-shore location, Rational Vaccines’ trial skirted federal regulations and standard safety protocols for human trials, including having approval and oversight from an institutional review board (IRB).

      Experts were quick to call the unapproved trial “patently unethical,” and researchers rejected the data from publication, calling the handling of safety issues “reckless.” The government of St. Kitts opened an investigation into the trial and reported that health authorities there had been kept in the dark.

  • Security

    • Survey of bug bounty hunters shows who pans for pwns

      Asking the crowd for help in fixing security problems is going mainstream. Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech giants have offered “bug bounties”—cash rewards or other prizes and recognition—to individuals discovering vulnerabilities in their products for years. (Ars even made it onto Google’s security wall of fame in 2014 for reporting a Google search bug, though we didn’t get a cash payout.)

    • Mother-Son Duo Fools iPhone X Face ID Like It’s No Big Deal

      Uploaded by Attaullah Malik on YouTube, the 41-second clip shows his 10-year-old son unlocking Face ID on an iPhone X which was configured to accept the mother’s face.

    • Watch a 10-Year-Old’s Face Unlock His Mom’s iPhone X

      Malik offered to let Ammar look at his phone instead, but the boy picked up his mother’s, not knowing which was which. And a split second after he looked at it, the phone unlocked.

    • This 10-year-old was able to unlock his mom’s iPhone using Face ID

      Although Apple says Face ID is more secure than Touch ID, this raises questions about the possibility of false positives not only happening with twins and siblings around the same age, but with people of different sexes and significantly different ages. It is possible that the son’s age played a role as Apple has said that the “undeveloped facial features” in those under the age of 13 could cause issues with Face ID.

    • How can airlines stop hackers pwning planes over the air? And don’t say ‘regular patches’

      At least some commercial aircraft are vulnerable to wireless hacking, a US Department of Homeland Security official has admitted.

      A plane was compromised as it sat on the tarmac at a New Jersey airport by a team of boffins from the worlds of government, industry and academia, we’re told. During the hack – the details of which are classified – experts accessed systems on the Boeing 757 via radio-frequency communications.

      “We got the airplane on September 19, 2016. Two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative, penetration,” said Robert Hickey, aviation program manager within the cyber-security division of the DHS’s science and technology directorate, while speaking at the CyberSat Summit in Virginia earlier this month.

    • Google researcher discovers 14 Linux USB vulnerabilities
    • How a cloud-based Kali Linux system helps with pen testing

      More substantial and more security minded businesses often also perform regular penetration tests to identify vulnerabilities in their systems that go beyond the reach of standard vulnerability scanners.

      When it comes to penetration testing, Offensive Security’s Kali Linux is one of the most widely used tool sets in the industry. It is a free, Debian-based Linux distribution that contains hundreds of specific penetration testing tools.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Security Jobs Are Hot: Get Trained and Get Noticed

      The demand for security professionals is real. On Dice.com, 15 percent of the more than 75K jobs are security positions. “Every year in the U.S., 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled, and employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber-security related roles, according to cyber security data tool CyberSeek” (Forbes). We know that there is a fast-increasing need for security specialists, but that the interest level is low.

    • security things in Linux v4.14
    • Schneier: It’s Time to Regulate IoT to Improve Cyber-Security

      The time has come for the U.S. government and other governments around the world, to start regulating Internet of Things (IoT) security, according to Bruce Schneier, CTO of IBM’s Resilient Systems.

      Schneier delivered his message during a keynote address at the SecTor security conference here. He noted that today everything is basically a computer, whether it’s a car, a watch, a phone or a television. IoT today has several parts including sensors that collect data, computing power to figure out what to do with the collected data and then actuators that affect the real world.

    • Shady Anti-Spyware Developer Loses Lawsuit Against Competitor Who Flagged Its Software As Malicious

      Enigma Software makes Spyhunter, a malware-fighting program with a very questionable reputation. But the company isn’t known so much for containing threats as it’s known for issuing threats. It sued a review site for having the audacity to suggest its pay-to-clean anti-spyware software wasn’t a good fit for most users… or really any users at all.

      Bleeping Computer found itself served with a defamation lawsuit for making fact-based claims (with links to supporting evidence) about Enigma’s dubious product, dubious customer service tactics (like the always-popular “auto-renew”), and dubious lawsuits. Somehow, this dubious lawsuit managed to survive a motion to dismiss. Fortunately, Bleeping Computer was propped up by Malwarebytes’ developers, who tossed $5,000 into Bleeping Computer’s legal defense fund.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S.-Backed, Saudi-Led Coalition Bombs Airport in Yemen’s Capital

      In Yemen, the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombed the main airport in the capital Sana’a Tuesday, damaging the runway and destroying navigation equipment. The attack came after Saudi Arabia shut air, land and sea routes into Yemen, drawing warnings from the United Nations that the clampdown could worsen Yemen’s massive cholera epidemic and set off the largest famine the world has seen in decades, with millions of victims. Tuesday’s attack drew condemnation from Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who tweeted, “The US/Saudi coalition took out the Sanaa airport last night. Now no humanitarian relief by air. This is barbaric.”

    • Zimbabwe’s Mugabe ‘under house arrest’ after army takeover

      Zimbabwe’s military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

      Mr Mugabe told Mr Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader’s office said.

      Troops are patrolling the capital, Harare, after they seized state TV and said they were targeting “criminals”.

    • ‘Tis The Season To Fail To Catch Contraband And Explosive Devices At TSA Checkpoints

      Just in time for the travel season to kick in, the TSA is operating at peak efficiency. Streamlining travelers’ pre-boarding procedures this year — just like every year preceding it — will be the agency’s inability to keep dangerous items from making their way onboard.

      Two years ago, the TSA’s Inspector General discovered it could sneak contraband — including explosive devices — past the agency’s pizza box recruits 95% of the time. A follow-up audit two years later was just as unimpressive. The IG’s “Red Team” audit team called it quits after sneaking 17 of 18 forbidden items past TSA screeners. At 94.4%, it’s hard to tell whether this is the TSA’s idea of improvement or just the result of a smaller sample size. (The first audit team made 70 smuggling attempts, succeeding 67 times.) Theoretically, given enough attempts, the TSA may have been able to push this number much closer to 100%.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Radioactive Cloud Wafts Over Europe, With Russia as Chief Suspect
    • Harvey-scale rains could hit Texas 18x more often by the end of the century

      Hurricanes strike the US with regularity, but there’s nothing on record that is at all like Hurricane Harvey’s pummeling of Houston. Understanding the risk of that kind of wind and rainfall happening again is critical if we intend to rebuild infrastructure that’s going to survive to its expected expiration date. But freakish storms like Harvey make risk calculations challenging. These storms have no historic precedent, so we have no idea how often they occur; and the underlying probability of these events is shifting as our planet grows warmer.

    • ‘This Is an Emergency’: 1 Million African Americans Live Near Oil, Gas Facilities

      A new analysis concludes what many in African-American communities have long experienced: Low-income, black Americans are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry.

      More than 1 million African Americans live within a half-mile of oil and natural gas wells, processing, transmission and storage facilities (not including oil refineries), and 6.7 million live in counties with refineries, potentially exposing them to an elevated risk of cancer due to toxic air emissions, according to the study.

      When the authors looked at proximity to refineries, they found that about 40 percent of all people living in counties with refineries in Michigan, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are African American, and 54 percent in Tennessee are.

      In three other states—Oklahoma, Ohio and West Virginia—they found that about one in five African-American residents statewide lives within a half-mile of an oil or gas facility.

    • Some state-level policies really do curb energy sector emissions

      Researchers studying state-level climate policy in the US confirm what high school teachers already know: if you make an assignment voluntary and offer no incentives for completing it, no one’s gonna do it.

      In an assessment of 17 climate and energy policies enacted by US states between 1990 and 2014, researchers from Emory University found that mandatory policies usually had a positive effect on emissions reduction while voluntary policies always had negligible or no effect.

      What may be more interesting, however, is to look at which policies worked best. Such an analysis has growing practical implications. This year, the Trump administration reversed many of the Obama administration’s federal emissions-reducing guidelines, rules, and regulations, meaning states that want to curb emissions are left to their own devices. Legislators who are serious about crafting good environmental policy would do well to look at what has worked for others before making proposals.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • AG Sessions Faces Perjury Claims Ahead of Congressional Testimony

      This comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is heading to Capitol Hill today to testify before a congressional hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Some Democratic lawmakers have accused Sessions of committing perjury for previously telling Congress that he was not aware of any Trump campaign official talking to the Russians. Sessions’s remark contradicts the statements of two former Trump campaign aides, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who have admitted they had contacts with Russians during the campaign. Meanwhile, Sessions has asked officials to look into whether a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the Clinton Foundation and an Obama-era deal to sell a uranium company to Russia.

    • Senate panel approves Trump Homeland Security pick
    • It’s not just Russia: Covert online tactics influenced votes in 18 countries in last year

      Elections and referendums in at least 18 countries over the past 12 months have been influenced by carefully planned “manipulation and disinformation tactics”, new research suggests.

    • Governments in 30 countries are paying ‘keyboard armies’ to spread propaganda, report says

      It found governments including Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were using “paid pro-government commentators” to shape opinions online, often to give the impression of grassroots support for government policies.

    • New Report – Freedom on the Net 2017: Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

      Governments around the world are dramatically increasing their efforts to manipulate information on social media, threatening the notion of the internet as a liberating technology, according to Freedom on the Net 2017, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of online freedom, released today by Freedom House.

    • Hey, Mark Zuckerberg: My Democracy Isn’t Your Laboratory

      My country, Serbia, has become an unwilling laboratory for Facebook’s experiments on user behavior — and the independent, nonprofit investigative journalism organization where I am the editor in chief is one of the unfortunate lab rats.

      Last month, I noticed that our stories had stopped appearing on Facebook as usual. I was stunned. Our largest single source of traffic, accounting for more than half of our monthly page views, had been crippled.

      Surely, I thought, it was a glitch. It wasn’t.

    • Oklahoma Democrats win state Senate seat in red-district special election

      Democrats in Oklahoma picked up a key state Senate seat in a Tuesday special election, marking the fourth seat Democrats have gained in special elections in the state this year.

      The Tulsa World reports Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman won a close race over Republican Brian O’Hara in Oklahoma’s Senate District 37. The race was held to fill the seat of Republican Dan Newberry, who was leaving the state Senate.

      Ikley-Freeman, a 26-year-old lesbian, defeated O’Hara by 31 votes.

    • Koch Brothers Said to Back Time Inc. Deal Talks With Meredith
    • Trump Adds to Washington’s ‘Swamp’

      President Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” was just one more empty promise as he adds to the muck with military contractors in key Pentagon jobs and other industry lobbyists at regulatory posts, says Jonathan Marshall.

    • Trump’s Debasement of Civilization

      Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment was surely a campaign gaffe, but she wasn’t wrong about Donald Trump’s exploitation of white grievances and other ugly attitudes, writes Lawrence Davidson.

    • Lawmaker Seeks Records of Lobbyist Contacts with Agriculture Official

      A House Democrat demanded on Tuesday that a former pesticide lobbyist who was appointed to the Department of Agriculture by the Trump administration release all emails she has exchanged with lobbyists or other representatives from her former industry.

    • GOP senators from NC come out against Trump EPA nominee

      North Carolina’s two Republican senators said Wednesday they oppose President Donald Trump’s pick to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency, putting his nomination at serious risk.

      Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis issued statements saying they will vote against Michael L. Dourson to serve as head of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

    • Trump Judicial Nominee Brett Talley Appears to Have Defended “the First KKK” in Message Board Post

      Brett Talley, the Alabama lawyer Donald Trump has nominated to be a federal district judge, is a 36-year-old ghosthunter who has never tried a case and who failed to disclose to the Senate that he is married to the chief of staff to the White House counsel. He also seems to have written 16,381 posts—more than 3½ per day—on the University of Alabama fan message board TideFans.com. As BuzzFeed has reported, a user who is almost certainly Talley posted for years under the handle BamainBoston. (BuzzFeed managed to identify him because BamainBoston wrote a message headlined “Washington Post Did A Feature On Me,” linking to a 2014 Ben Terris profile of Talley. BuzzFeed reported that a “Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on Talley’s behalf.”)

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • New EU law prescribes website blocking in the name of “consumer protection”

      According to the new rules, national consumer protection authorities can order any unspecified third party to block access to websites without requiring judicial authorisation.

      [...]

      Tragically, the Parliament’s negotiator, MEP Olga Sehnalová from the Czech Social Democrats (S&D group), agreed to a compromise that adopted the Council’s proposal on website blocking.

    • Get ready for a whole lot more site blocking in the EU, thanks to a new consumer protection [sic] law

      Here’s the important bit, though, in Article 9(4), which covers minimum enforcement powers

    • European Union just decided to block websites without due process “For Consumer Protection”

      In a new bill just passed by the European Parliament, the European Union decided to give Internet censorship powers to each state’s consumer protection agency, completely without judicial oversight or a court order. These are the agencies typically dealing with defective electrical products or dangerous chemicals.

    • The Pirate Bay & 1337x Must Be Blocked, Austrian Supreme Court Rules

      After a prolonged battle through every stage of the Austrian legal system, the Supreme Court has now ruled that local ISPs must prevent their subscribers from accessing The Pirate Bay. The case, filed by a collecting society representing around 3,000 artists, also involves top 10 torrent site 1337x and long defunct index h33t.to.

    • 20 Years of Protecting Intermediaries: Legacy of ‘Zeran’ Remains a Critical Protection for Freedom of Expression Online

      At the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), we are proud to be ardent defenders of §230. Even before §230 was enacted in 1996, we recognized that all speech on the Internet relies upon intermediaries, like ISPs, web hosts, search engines, and social media companies. Most of the time, it relies on more than one. Because of this, we know that intermediaries must be protected from liability for the speech of their users if the Internet is to live up to its promise, as articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in ACLU v. Reno, of enabling “any person … [to] become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox“ and hosting “content … as diverse as human thought.”

      As we hoped—and based in large measure on the strength of the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Zeran—§230 has proven to be one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet. In the past two decades, we’ve filed well over 20 legal briefs in support of §230, probably more than on any other issue, in response to attempts to undermine or sneak around the statute. Thankfully, most of these attempts were unsuccessful. In most cases, the facts were ugly—Zeran included. We had to convince judges to look beyond the individual facts and instead focus on the broader implications: that forcing intermediaries to become censors would jeopardize the Internet’s promise of giving a voice to all and supporting more robust public discourse than ever before possible.

    • Appeals Court’s Disturbing Ruling Jeopardizes Protections for Anonymous Speakers

      A federal appeals court has issued an alarming ruling that significantly erodes the Constitution’s protections for anonymous speakers—and simultaneously hands law enforcement a near unlimited power to unmask them.

      The Ninth Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Glassdoor, Inc. is a significant setback for the First Amendment. The ability to speak anonymously online without fear of being identified is essential because it allows people to express controversial or unpopular views. Strong legal protections for anonymous speakers are needed so that they are not harassed, ridiculed, or silenced merely for expressing their opinions.

    • California Appeals Court Issues A Ruling That Manages To Both Protect And Undermine Online Speech

      Earlier this year I wrote about Yelp’s appeal in Montagna v. Nunis. This was a case where a plaintiff had subpoenaed Yelp to unmask one of its users and Yelp tried to resist the subpoena. In that case, not only had the lower court refused to quash the subpoena, but it sanctioned Yelp for having tried to quash it. Per the court, Yelp had no right to try to assert the First Amendment rights of its users as a basis for resisting a subpoena. As we said in the amicus brief I filed for the Copia Institute in Yelp’s appeal of the ruling, if the lower court were right it would be bad news for anonymous speakers, because if platforms could not resist unfounded subpoenas then users would lose an important line of defense against all the unfounded subpoenas seeking to unmask them for no legitimate reason.

    • Africa’s largest TV platform has a growing free speech and censorship problem

      Africa’s largest television platform has pulled a talk show after it asked questions about police brutality and media freedom in Zambia.

      Radio and television promos for Talk With Kwangu were pulled off air after they featured a sound bite from the wife of Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, the Mast newspaper reported. The show, hosted by journalist Kwangu Liwewe, airs on M-Net’s Zambezi Magic channel in six southern African countries.

    • Rozcomnadzor’s Corruption Scandal Doesn’t Prevent The Russian Government From Empowering It To Ignore Due Process

      Reading our coverage of Rozcomnadzor, the Russian government agency tasked with keeping the internet clean of piracy, you would know that the agency has a laughably bad track record for pretty much everything. Even as ranking members of the agency have been embroiled in a corruption scandal in which they bilked Russian taxpayers by creating fake employees, the statistics out on Rozcomnadzor’s ability to carry out its stated mission — blocking sites used for piracy on the internet — are horrendous. Put simply, the agency has managed to take down 4,000 “pirate” sites through legal cluster bombs that have inflicted 41,000 sites worth of collateral damage. Any honest look at those kinds of numbers would lead a sincere government to seriously consider whether such an agency was worthy of existence at all.

    • Letter to the Editor: “On learning, student activism, and censorship”

      I am receiving messages from my family warning me not to speak up. They know all too well about the unspoken systems of white retaliation that exist in the “real world” and are afraid that I may lose school scholarships, career opportunities, or be hurt.

    • MYANMAR: HOW ART HAS SURPASSED CENSORSHIP LAWS

      With censorship so prominent in Myanmar, it is vital that artists from this country are especially applauded for their works and the challenges they faced to simply offer their perspectives. Below are a few spotlight artists that went beyond censorship limitations to share their work with the world.

    • Freedom Of Expression – Paper Looks At ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ In Latin American Context

      It’s hard to escape the watchful eye of the internet – it will follow you through life. But if something put on the internet about you is wrong, misrepresents you or even endangers you, should you have a right to remove it from the internet? A new paper from the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, DC looks at the European Union ‘right to be forgotten online’ rule and considers its applicability in Latin America.

      [...]

      According to Inter-American Dialogue, “The authors conclude with four recommendations: (1) that governments in the Americas face these questions head-on; (2) that courts and authorities throughout the hemisphere work to apply the existing and hard-fought inter-American standards protecting the freedom of expression; (3) that a transatlantic dialogue be initiated to discuss the right to be forgotten online; and (4) that governments search for alternative legal and technological mechanisms to protect privacy so as to limit the tensions while taking into account the very real concerns that the right to be forgotten attempts to address.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Shadow Brokers cause ongoing headache for NSA
    • Russian Hackers Aren’t the NSA’s Biggest Problem

      It’s hard to say which is more disturbing: Reports that hackers have obtained some of the National Security Agency’s most classified cybertools and are auctioning them off on the internet — or that, 15 months into its investigation, the agency still doesn’t know if it’s dealing with an outside hack, a leak or both.

      In short, the agency is reeling. What the NSA needs most of all — aside from finding out how the hackers, suspected to be a Russian group known as the Shadow Brokers, got the material — is a change in culture. Fortunately, there are precedents for a security agency seeking to restore its reputation and credibility: the actions taken by the FBI and CIA after the moles Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, respectively, were exposed in 2001 and 1994.

    • An NSA Breach and the New Hobbesian War on Our Privacy

      Since the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures began showing up in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the political debate over the American surveillance state has been stuck in the 20th century.

      The public has feared a secretive, all-seeing eye, a vast bureaucracy that could peer into our online lives and track the numbers our smartphones dialed. Privacy as we knew it was dead. The era of Big Brother was here.

      President Barack Obama responded to the Snowden leaks by commissioning a blue-ribbon panel that ended up concluding the way the National Security Agency did business often trampled on legitimate civil liberties concerns. The government did not need to store our metadata, or the numbers, times and dates of our phone calls.

    • First Ever En Banc FISA Court Review Gives Plaintiffs Standing To Challenge Surveillance Program Secrecy

      One more thing we can give Ed Snowden credit for: the possibility we may be seeing even more public access to FISA court opinions and other FISA docs in the future. [h/t Mike Scarcella]

      There’s still a long way to go procedurally, but this latest ruling from the FISA court will allow a First Amendment lawsuit by the ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic to move forward. Being granted the standing to actually challenge government surveillance is a rarity. The cover of national security darkness has prevented many plaintiffs from being able to allege harm, but the Snowden leaks have provided many public entities the information they need to shore up these allegations.

    • Latest DOJ WTFness: Encryption Is Like A Locked House That Won’t Let Its Owners Back Inside

      Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues his push for law enforcement-friendly broken encryption. The ultimate goal is the same but the arguments just keep getting worse. Trying to pitch worthless encryption (i.e., encryption easily compromised in response to government demands) as “responsible” encryption is only the beginning of Rosenstein’s logical fallacies.

      After a month-plus of bad analogies and false equivalents, Rosenstein has managed to top himself. The path to Rosenstein’s slaughtering of a metaphor runs through such highlights as the DAG claiming device encryption is solely motivated by profits and that this is the first time in history law enforcement hasn’t had access to all forms of evidence. It’s an intellectually dishonest campaign against encryption, propelled by the incredibly incorrect belief that the Fourth Amendment was written to provide the government with access, rather than to protect citizens from their government.

    • ‘Leaker’ behind massive NSA breach possibly still working at agency

      Around mid-2016 the United States National Security Agency (NSA) was breached – and it has been revealed the ‘leaker’ might still be at play.

      The breach was reported as ‘catastrophic’ and even more damaging than Edward Snowden’s massive data leak.

      Since August 2016, a group called the Shadow Brokers has been releasing information on NSA cyberweapons.

    • Netflix Knows Some Very Strange Things About Public Viewing Habits

      Yes, Netflix is paying attention to when, where, and how people consume TV and movies, and has actually started studying how their habits are changing.

    • Netflix finds that people who stream steamy scenes on the train aren’t usually embarrassed about it

      Of the 37,056 people Netflix polled globally between August and September, 67 percent revealed themselves to be public bingers. Most of them, 77 percent, upon noticing snoopers, refused to turn off their show or film and just casually continued watching.

    • When Bingeing Goes Public, Private Behaviors are Exposed and Social Norms are Shelved

      The survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey from August 24 – September 7, 2017 and based on 37,056 responses. The sample was balanced by age and gender and representative of an adult online population who watch movies and TV shows via streaming services in public settings in The United States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey.

    • First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’

      The patch sends the date and time of pill ingestion and the patient’s activity level via Bluetooth to a cellphone app. The app allows patients to add their mood and the hours they have rested, then transmits the information to a database that physicians and others who have patients’ permission can access.

    • Safety alert: see how easy it is for almost anyone to hack [sic] your child’s connected toys

      Watch our video below to see just how easy it is for anyone to take over the voice control of a popular connected toy, and speak directly to your child through it. And we’re not talking professional hackers [sic]. It’s easy enough for almost anyone to do.

    • Trump administation to release rules on disclosure of cybersecurity flaws: NSA

      The Trump administration is expected to publicly release on 15 November its rules for deciding whether to disclose cybersecurity flaws or keep them secret, a national security official told Reuters.

    • EFF’s Street-Level Surveillance Project Dissects Police Technology

      Step onto any city street and you may find yourself subject to numerous forms of police surveillance—many imperceptible to the human eye.

      A cruiser equipped with automated license plate readers (also known as ALPRs) may have just logged where you parked your car. A cell-site simulator may be capturing your cell-phone data incidentally while detectives track a suspect nearby. That speck in the sky may be a drone capturing video of your commute. Police might use face recognition technology to identify you in security camera footage.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • At Guantánamo, a Death Penalty Case Without a Death Penalty Lawyer

      The Guantánamo military commissions, the scheme created by the government to try 9/11 and other detainees, have devolved into an unacceptable and alarming assault on defense lawyers attempting to provide fair representation to their clients.

      A new letter, drafted by the ACLU and joined by 150 death penalty lawyers and law professors, registers the capital defense community’s outrage over the legal breakdown, which clearly violates federal and international law.

    • An Arkansas Town Agrees to Criminal Justice Reform to Ensure That the Poor Are Not Jailed

      For years, the city of Sherwood, Arkansas, home to about 30,000 people, had a practice of jailing people who could not afford to pay court costs incurred from bounced checks. Thousands of Arkansans were locked up—sometimes after bouncing checks in small amounts—when they could not pay crushing fees, fines, and other costs that compounded their debt by as much as 10 times the original amount.

    • Edward S. Herman: Master of Dissent (1925–2017)

      One of the greatest and sweetest media critics ever, Edward S. Herman, has passed away. Ed was the main author of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, written with Noam Chomsky—the 1980s masterwork that exposed how elite US media typically function as propaganda organs for US empire and militarism.

      In 1984, when I was part of a lawyers’ delegation monitoring an “election” in death squad-run El Salvador, I remember a gaggle of progressive attorneys at the Salvador Sheraton tussling with each other to get their hands on a shipment of hot-off-the-press copies of Demonstration Elections, Ed’s devastating book (with Frank Brodhead) on the US “staging” elections as PR shows to prop up repressive puppet regimes, from the Dominican Republic to Vietnam to Salvador.

    • Who Has Your Back in Colombia? Our Third-Annual Report Shows Progress

      Fundación Karisma in cooperation with EFF has released its third-annual ¿Dónde Estan Mis Datos? report, the Colombian version of EFF’s Who Has Your Back. And this year’s report has some good news.

      According to the Colombian Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies, broadband Internet penetration in Colombia is well over 50% and growing fast. Like users around the world, Colombians put their most private data, including their online relationships, political, artistic and personal discussions, and even their minute-by-minute movements online. And all of that data necessarily has to go through one of a handful of ISPs. But without transparency from those ISPs, how can Colombians trust that their data is being treated with respect?

    • EU citizens keep immigration rights in UK, court rules

      EU nationals who become British citizens do not lose the right to bring a foreign-born spouse to the UK, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

      London’s High Court referred the case of an Algerian man, who lived in the UK with his wife, but who British authorities were trying to deport.

      His wife had dual Spanish and British nationality, which gave the man a “derived” residence right, judges said.

    • Black worker says Tesla factory was a “hotbed for racist behavior”

      Tesla’s factory in Fremont is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” according to a legal complaint filed in California’s Alameda County Superior Court on Monday and reported by Bloomberg.

      Marcus Vaughn is an African-American who worked on Tesla’s factory floor from April to October of this year. Vaughn charges that workers and managers on the factory floor routinely used the n-word within his earshot. When he complained to the human resources department, Vaughn says, he was fired for “not having a positive attitude.”

      According to Bloomberg, Vaughn is seeking to be the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 black Tesla workers.

      The lawsuit was filed by Lawrence Organ, the same civil rights lawyer who sued on behalf of three other black Tesla workers for racial discrimination last month. Those men also said they routinely heard people on the factory floor using racial epithets. A third lawsuit, alleging similar facts, was filed in March.

    • DOJ: Civil Asset Forfeiture Is A Good Thing That Only Harms All Those Criminals We Never Arrest

      Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has taken a brief vacation from his “Responsible Encryption World Tour” to defend the merits of something equally questionable: civil asset forfeiture.

      [...]

      From there, Rosenstein says the expected stuff: civil asset forfeiture is just a way of crippling criminal enterprises, despite it being predicated on one-sided accusations about the allegedly illegitimate origin of seized property and tied to a judicial process that discourages citizens from attempting to reclaim their possessions.

      The opening paragraph also makes it appear as though civil asset forfeiture is often used to return unlawfully obtained assets to victims of crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. While this occasionally happens in criminal forfeiture cases, the lack of criminal charges in civil forfeiture cases makes it extremely unlikely there will be any “victims” to “return” seized assets to.

    • North Carolina Is Trying to Destroy the State’s Only Farmworkers Union. We’re Suing.

      North Carolina passed a law making it all but impossible for the state’s only farmworkers union to operate effectively.

      Dolores Huerta, the legendary civil rights icon and farmworker activist, had it right: “Organized labor is a necessary part of democracy.” Day in and day out, unions struggle to make sure that farmworkers have a voice in in their workplace and in their communities, but they face enormous obstacles.

      Farmworkers, most of whom are people of color and many of whom are in this country on temporary visas, have long been excluded from federal and state labor laws. That means they don’t enjoy many of the key protections under the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and numerous state minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and youth employment laws. As a result, they face high risks to their health and safety, substandard living conditions, and abuse and exploitation by their employers.

      Now North Carolina has mounted a direct assault on the state’s only farmworkers union, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), which works tirelessly to protect those workers. A new state law, sponsored and supported by legislators who have a financial interest in suppressing farmworker organizing, would make it all but impossible for the union to operate effectively in the state. Together with a coalition of civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the North Carolina Justice Center, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the law violates farmworkers’ constitutional and civil rights. We have also asked the court for a preliminary injunction, which would suspend the law’s operation during the course of the litigation.

    • A Heartfelt Thank You to Edward Herman

      It is with great sadness that we report the death of the brilliant and prolific Edward Herman…he was 92. He gave us a great chapter for our latest book, Censored 2018: Press Freedoms in a ‘Post-Truth’ World— “Still Manufacturing Consent: the Propaganda Model at Thirty.” He takes on critics of the Propaganda Model and argues how it continues to stand the test of time. Grateful that we got to work with him this past spring through late June during his writing of the chapter, which may be his last published work (done after his work on Fake News/Russia for Monthly Review).

      He was incredibly kind in our exchanges. When I reached out to him last spring to talk about the upcoming 30-year anniversary of his book with Noam Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent), he was a bit reluctant as he had two other chapter-length projects in the hopper (yes, into his 90s), but said he really wanted to do the retrospective on the Propaganda Model for Project Censored. He eventually wrote back and said…”I’ll do it.” We were delighted that he agreed.

    • NYT’s Campus Free Speech Coverage Focuses 7-to-1 on Plight of Right

      Over the past 18 months, the New York Times has dedicated 21 columns and articles to the subject of conservatives’ free speech on campus, while only three covered the silencing of college liberals or leftists. A review of Times articles, columns, op-eds and reports shows a clear emphasis on documenting and condemning perceived suppression of conservative voices at American universities, while rarely mentioning harassment campaigns against leftist professors and/or the criminalization of leftist causes such as the pro-Palestinian BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement.

    • Cards Against Humanity buys piece of the U.S. border so Trump can’t build his wall
    • DOJ Still Demanding Identity Of Twitter Users Because Someone They Shouldn’t Have Arrested Tweeted A Smiley Emoji

      Last month, I had two blog posts about a particularly insane lawsuit being pushed by the Justice Department against a computer security researcher, Justin Shafer. As we explained, the arrest and prosecution of Shafer appeared to be the result of a truly ridiculous vendetta against Shafer by the FBI because Shafer got angry over a previous (and totally misguided) decision to raid his home, after he properly disclosed security problems involving some dental practice software. It seems clear that Shafer never should have been arrested (and never should have had the FBI raid his house three times over just a few months). Of course, what first brought the case to my attention was an even more ridiculous part of the story, in which the DOJ had sent a subpoena to Twitter demanding basically all info on five Twitter users — even though two of them don’t hide their identity — because Shafer tweeted a smiley emoji at them.

    • Why Google should be afraid of a Missouri Republican’s Google probe

      The Republican attorney general of Missouri has launched an investigation into Google’s business practices. Josh Hawley wants to know how Google handles user data. And he plans to look into whether Google is using its dominance in the search business to harm companies in other markets where Google competes.

      “There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind,” Hawley said in a Monday statement.

    • Texas Shooting Shows Once Again That Animal Cruelty and Human Cruelty Are Strongly Linked

      What do Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Devin Kelley the Texas church killer and a host of other killers have in common? They tortured animals and delighted in the pain they inflicted.

      Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 tortured frogs and cats and decapitated dogs. He mounted their heads on sticks including his own puppy. Mass murderer Ted Bundy watched as his father tortured animals and then did the same.

      “The “Boston Strangler” Albert DeSalvo trapped dogs and cats in wooden crates and shot them with a bow and arrow, reports the New York Post. “John Wayne Gacy, who murdered 33 men and boys in his suburban Chicago home, tortured turkeys by throwing balloons filled with gasoline and then igniting the birds.”

    • U.N. Warns European Union over Dire Conditions in Libyan Migrant Camps

      In Libya, human rights monitors who toured the country’s migrant detention camps say nearly 20,000 people are enduring “horrific conditions.” This is United Nations spokesperson Jeremy Laurence.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC’s latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet access

      The Federal Communications Commission will vote Thursday on a plan that, according to Chairman Ajit Pai, will strip away regulations that prevent telcos from upgrading their networks.

      But in doing so, the Republican-controlled FCC plans to eliminate a requirement that telcos provide Americans with service at least as good as the old copper networks that provide phone service and DSL Internet. The requirement relates to phone service but has an impact on broadband because the two services use the same networks.

      As carriers like AT&T and Verizon turn off copper networks throughout much of the country, many people fear that the networks won’t be replaced with fiber or something of similar quality. That’s why the FCC in 2014 created a “functional test” for carriers that seek permission to abandon copper networks. In short, carriers have to prove that the replacement service is just as good and provides the same capabilities as what’s being discontinued.

    • AT&T Promises Your Broadband Will Suck Less…But Only If It Gets Another Massive Tax Cut

      One of the reasons for the U.S.’ pricey and mediocre broadband is our historical habit of throwing oodles of tax breaks and subsidies for fiber optic networks at giant ISPs, then letting them tap dance over and around those obligations when it comes time to deliver. Verizon, for example, has gobbled up millions in subsidies and tax breaks from cities and states up and down the Eastern seaboard for fiber optic networks it fails to fully deploy. Given the stranglehold large ISPs have on federal and state regulators and lawmakers, efforts to hold these companies accountable for any of this have been decidedly mixed.

    • Pressure grows on FCC to kill state consumer protection laws

      The broadband industry is stepping up its attack on states that dare to impose privacy or net neutrality rules on Internet service providers.

      Mobile industry lobby group CTIA urged the Federal Communications Commission to preempt state laws on privacy and net neutrality in a recent meeting and filing. Comcast and Verizon had already asked the FCC to preempt such laws; CTIA represents AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, Sprint, and other mobile companies.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • ‘Damaging’ Provisions On IP And Health Dropped From TPP Agreement, MSF Says

      Trade ministers negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the United States have dropped many problematic provisions related to intellectual property and health, Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) reported today. Also removed from the agreement appears to be the investor-state dispute settlement provisions, according to a source.

      “Ministers from the eleven countries assessing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal have suspended many of the damaging provisions that would have restricted access to medicines and vaccines, a victory for millions of people who rely on affordable medicines worldwide,” MSF said in a press release.

    • Trademarks

      • City Of Portland Still Jerking Around Local Businesses Over Trademark Of Famous City Sign

        The last time we checked in with the city of Portland, it was attempting to navigate some perilous waters regarding a trademark the city has on a famous city sign. Beer-maker Pabst, which I am to understand somehow won a blue ribbon a long time ago, built a logo for a concert series it wanted to promote in Portland that served as an homage to the famous sign, which includes an outline of the state and a stag leaping across the top of it. Because of this, the city saw fit to send a cease and desist notice to Pabst, despite beer not generally being a competitor for a city’s tourism business. When everyone pointed this out to the city, it decided to not pursue any legal action. But the city continued to threaten local businesses with its trademark, including Vintage Roadside, which sells a “Made In Portland” series of photos on Etsy, some of which included the famous sign. Vintage Roadside decided to sue the city to have the trademark declared invalid, prompting Portland officials to issue a covenant not to sue to avoid any ruling on the matter.

        You might have thought that this series of slapdowns would have deterred Portland officials from this bullying course of action, but you’d be wrong. Portland attempted to expand the trademark it has for the sign into the alcohol designation, thinking that it could license the image to beermakers and make some coin. Unfortunately for the city, a local brewery already has a trademark for the sign for the beer business.

    • Copyrights

      • ResearchGate Restricts Access to Nearly 2 Million Articles

        The dispute with ResearchGate is just the latest in a series of actions by academic publishers against websites and social networks that make copyrighted academic articles freely available to users. In 2013, Elsevier sent another paper-sharing site, Academia.edu, around 2,800 take-down notices in a single month. And earlier this week, a US judge issued an injunction that allows ACS to demand that Internet service providers block access to pirate site Sci-Hub, which hosts more than 60 million research articles.

      • Publishers push ResearchGate harder in copyright battle
      • TPP Texts Show Suspended IP Provisions

        Trade ministers negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement have released the list of provisions they have suspended, including a range of articles related to intellectual property rights, such as patentable subject matter, test data protection, biologics, copyright terms of protection, and technological protection measures.

        Ministers from the 11 countries issued a statement and the list of suspended provisions, after concluding their latest negotiations in the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Da Nang, Vietnam earlier this week.

        The ministerial statement and list of provisions are available here. The TPP is now named the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

      • US Copyright Office: Re-Registration Required For Claiming Liability Exemptions

        The United States Copyright Office has issued a reminder to all online service providers and agents that they must renew their registration with the office by end of year in order to claim liability limitations from copyright infringing content.

      • US, Canadian & Mexican Law Professors, Academics And Policy Experts: NAFTA Must Include Fair Use, Safe Harbors

        Today, over seventy international copyright law experts called for NAFTA and other trade negotiators to support a set of balanced copyright principles. The experts urge trade negotiators to support policies like fair use, safe harbor provisions, and other exceptions and limitations that permit and encourage access to knowledge, flourishing creativity, and innovation. Signatories include preeminent intellectual property professors and experts from law schools, think tanks, and public interest organizations in the US, Canada, and Mexico, as well as Argentina, Australia, China, Ireland, and Switzerland.

      • Copyright Exceptions For Libraries Widespread, Study At WIPO Shows, But Disharmony Persists

        Nobody among members of the World Intellectual Property Organization disputes the importance of the public services provided by libraries and archives. However, positions are different when it comes to providing exceptions to copyright to those entities so they can continue to dispense their services, in particular in the digital age. An updated study presented today in a WIPO committee shows that most countries have exceptions relating to libraries, but termed in very different ways, and are hesitant on how to deal with digital technologies.

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