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11.18.17

Links 18/11/2017: Raspberry Digital Signage 10, New Nano

Posted in News Roundup at 7:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Future of Marketing Technology Is Headed for an Open-Source Revolution
  • Events

    • Edging Closer – ODS Sydney

      Despite the fact that OpenStack’s mission statement has not fundamentally changed since the inception of the project in 2010, we have found many different interpretations of the technology through the years. One of them was that OpenStack would be an all-inclusive anything-as-a-service, in a striking parallel to the many different definitions the “cloud” assumed at the time. At the OpenStack Developer Summit in Sydney, we found a project that is returning to its roots: scalable Infrastructure-as-a-Service. It turns out, that resonates well with its user base.

  • Web Browsers

  • CMS

    • Short Delay with WordPress 4.9

      You may have heard WordPress 4.9 is out. While this seems a good improvement over 4.8, it has a new editor that uses codemirror. So what’s the problem? Well, inside codemirror is jshint and this has that idiotic no evil license. I think this was added in by WordPress, not codemirror itself.

      So basically WordPress 4.9 has a file, or actually a tiny part of a file that is non-free. I’ll now have to delay the update of WordPress to hack that piece out, which probably means removing the javascript linter. Not ideal but that’s the way things go.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 DevOps leadership priorities in 2018

      This week, DevOps professionals gathered in San Francisco to talk about the state of DevOps in the enterprise. At 1,400 attendees, the sold-out DevOps Enterprise Summit has doubled in size since 2014 – a testament to the growth of the DevOps movement itself.

      With an ear to this event and an eye on the explosion of tweets coming out of it, here are five key priorities we think IT leaders should be aware of as they take their DevOps efforts into the new year.

    • NumPy Plan for dropping Python 2.7 support

      The Python core team plans to stop supporting Python 2 in 2020. The NumPy project has supported both Python 2 and Python 3 in parallel since 2010, and has found that supporting Python 2 is an increasing burden on our limited resources; thus, we plan to eventually drop Python 2 support as well. Now that we’re entering the final years of community-supported Python 2, the NumPy project wants to clarify our plans, with the goal of to helping our downstream ecosystem make plans and accomplish the transition with as little disruption as possible.

    • Google SLING: An Open Source Natural Language Parser

      Google Research has just released an open source project that might be of interest if you are into natural language processing. SLING is a combination of recurrent neural networks and frame based parsing.

      Natural language parsing is an important topic. You can get meaning from structure and parsing is how you get structure. It is important in processing both text and voice. If you have any hope that Siri, Cortana or Alexa are going to get any better then you need to have better natural language understanding – not just the slot and filler systems currently in use.

    • GNU Nano Latest Version 2.9.0

      GNU nano 2.9.0 “Eta” introduces the ability to record and
      replay keystrokes (M-: to start and stop recording, M-;
      to play the macro back), makes ^Q and ^S do something
      useful by default (^Q starts a backward search, and ^S
      saves the current file), changes ^W to start always a
      forward search, shows the number of open buffers (when
      more than one) in the title bar, no longer asks to press
      Enter when there are errors in an rc file, retires the
      options ‘–quiet’ and ‘set quiet’ and ‘set backwards’,
      makes indenting and unindenting undoable, will look in
      $XDG_CONFIG_HOME for a nanorc file and in $XDG_DATA_HOME
      for the history files, adds a history stack for executed
      commands (^R^X), does not overwrite the position-history
      file of another nano, and fixes a score of tiny bugs.

    • GNU Nano Text Editor Can Now Record & Replay Keystrokes

      GNU Nano 2.9 is now available as the latest feature release of this popular CLI text editor and it’s bringing several new capabilities.

      First up, GNU Nano 2.9 has the ability to record and replay keystrokes within the text editor. M-: is used to start/stop the keystroke recording session while M-; is used to playback the macro / recorded keystrokes.

    • 2018′s Software Engineering Talent Shortage— It’s quality, not just quantity

      The software engineering shortage is not a lack of individuals calling themselves “engineers”, the shortage is one of quality — a lack of well-studied, experienced engineers with a formal and deep understanding of software engineering.

    • HHVM 3.23

      HHVM 3.23 is released! This release contains new features, bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places, however we have rotated the GPG key used to sign packages; see the installation instructions for more information.

    • Facebook Releases HHVM 3.23 With OpenSSL 1.1 Support, Experimental Bytecode Emitter

      HHVM 3.23 has been released as their high performance virtual machine for powering their Hack programming language and current PHP support.

      As mentioned back in September though, Facebook will stop focusing on PHP 7 compatibility in favor of driving their own Hack programming language forward. It’s after their next release, HHVM 3.24, in early 2018 they will stop their commitment to supporting PHP5 features and at the same time not focus on PHP7 support. Due to the advancements made by upstream PHP on improving their performance, etc, Facebook is diverting their attention to instead just bolstering Hack and thus overtime the PHP support within HHVM will degrade.

Leftovers

  • Conspiracy Theory

    Conspiracy or not, the infrastructure for electronic experimentation is rapidly evaporating. Brick and mortar parts suppliers are scarce, and finding parts for existing devices is often frustrating.

  • A Great Use For Artificial Intelligence: Scamming Scammers By Wasting Their Time

    When you send emails to Re:Scam, it not only ties up the scammers in fruitless conversations, it also helps to train the underlying AI system. The service doesn’t require any sign-up — you just forward the phishing email to me@rescam.org — and there’s no charge. Re:Scam comes from Netsafe, a well-established non-profit online safety organization based in New Zealand, which is supported by government bodies there. It’s a nice idea, and it would be interesting to see it applied in other situations. That way we could enjoy the benefits of AI for a while, before it decides to kill us all.

  • Science

    • To think critically, you have to be both analytical and motivated

      In a world where accusations of “fake news” are thrown around essentially at random, critical thinking would seem to be a must. But this is also a world where the Moon landings are viewed as a conspiracy and people voice serious doubts about the Earth’s roundness. Critical thinking appears to be in short supply at a time we desperately need it.

      One of the proposed solutions to this issue is to incorporate more critical thinking into our education system. But critical thinking is more than just a skill set; you have to recognize when to apply it, do so effectively, and then know how to respond to the results. Understanding what makes a person effective at analyzing fake news and conspiracy theories has to take all of this into account. A small step toward that understanding comes from a recently released paper, which looks at how analytical thinking and motivated skepticism interact to make someone an effective critical thinker.

    • Tax bill that passed the House would cripple training of scientists

      Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed its version of a tax bill that would drop corporate tax rates and alter various deductions. While most of the arguments about the bill have focused on which tax brackets will end up paying more, an entire class of individuals appears to have been specifically targeted with a measure that could raise their tax liability by 300 percent or more: graduate student researchers. If maintained, the changes could be crippling for research in the US.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • First-ever marijuana overdose death? Let’s review what “potential link” means

      The US Drug Enforcement Administration plainly reports that no death from an overdose of marijuana has ever been reported—a tidbit often repeated by cannabis enthusiasts when discussing the potential harms of the popular drug. But this week, many news outlets coughed up headlines saying that the famous fact had gone up in smoke.

      Those media reports dubbed the death of an 11-month-old Colorado boy as the first marijuana overdose death ever reported. They based that startling stat on a case report published in the August edition of Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine.

      But that’s not what the case report said—at all. And the doctors behind the report (who likely spent the week with their palms on their faces) are trying to set the record straight.

    • What’s worse? Doctors who believe homeopathy or just use it for placebo effect

      It’s hard to predict which would be more disconcerting: finding out that your doctor believes in notions that defy basic science—like, the pseudoscientific doctrine of homeopathy—or that they’ll prescribe you something they know doesn’t work in hopes you’ll be tricked into believing you’re better—achieving nothing more than a placebo effect.

      It might be a toss-up of which is worse. And if you get a homeopathic prescription in Switzerland, it’s also a toss-up of which kind of doctor you’re dealing with.

    • Feds indict AlphaBay’s alleged PR man

      A 24-year-old man from Illinois has been accused by federal prosecutors of being the spokesman for AlphaBay, the now-defunct online drug marketplace.

      On Wednesday, Ronald L. Wheeler III of Streamwood, Illinois, was charged in federal court in Atlanta with “conspiracy to commit access device fraud,” according to the Associated Press.

  • Security

    • Open Source Threat Modeling

      Application threat modeling is a structured approach to identifying ways that an adversary might try to attack an application and then designing mitigations to prevent, detect or reduce the impact of those attacks. The description of an application’s threat model is identified as one of the criteria for the Linux CII Best Practises Silver badge.

    • Oracle rushes out 5 patches for huge vulnerabilities in PeopleSoft app server

      Oracle issued a set of urgent security fixes on Tuesday that repair vulnerabilities revealed today by researchers from the managed security provider ERPScan at the DeepSec security conference in Vienna, Austria. The five vulnerabilities include one dubbed “JoltandBleed” by the researchers because of its similarity to the HeartBleed vulnerability discovered in OpenSSL in 2014. JoltandBleed is a serious vulnerability that could expose entire business applications running on PeopleSoft platforms accessible from the public Internet.

      The products affected include Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, Human Capital Management, Financial Management, and Supply Chain Management, as well as any other product using the Tuxedo 2 application server. According to recent research by ERPScan, more than 1,000 enterprises have their PeopleSoft systems exposed to the Internet, including a number of universities that use PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to manage student data.

    • Man gets threats—not bug bounty—after finding DJI customer data in public view

      DJI, the Chinese company that manufactures the popular Phantom brand of consumer quadcopter drones, was informed in September that developers had left the private keys for both the “wildcard” certificate for all the company’s Web domains and the keys to cloud storage accounts on Amazon Web Services exposed publicly in code posted to GitHub. Using the data, researcher Kevin Finisterre was able to access flight log data and images uploaded by DJI customers, including photos of government IDs, drivers licenses, and passports. Some of the data included flight logs from accounts associated with government and military domains.

    • New Study Finds Poorly Secured Smart Toys Lets Attackers Listen In On Your Kids

      We’ve long noted how the painful lack of security and privacy standards in the internet of (broken) things is also very well-represented in the world of connected toys. Like IOT vendors, toymakers were so eager to make money, they left even basic privacy and security standards stranded in the rear view mirror as they rush to connect everything to the internet. As a result, we’ve seen repeated instances where your kids’ conversations and interests are being hoovered up without consent, with the data frequently left unencrypted and openly accessible in the cloud.

      With Luddites everywhere failing to realize that modern Barbie needs a better firewall, this is increasingly becoming a bigger problem. The latest case in point: new research by Which? and the German consumer group Stiftung Warentest found yet more flaws in Bluetooth and wifi-enabled toys that allow a total stranger to listen in on or chat up your toddler:

    • How to fix a program without the source code? Patch the binary directly
    • Senator urges ad blocking by feds as possible remedy to malvertising scourge

      A US Senator trying to eradicate the Internet scourge known as malvertising is proposing that all federal agencies block ads delivered to worker computers unless advertisers can ensure their networks are free of content that contains malicious code.

      In a letter sent today, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden asked White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce to begin discussions with advertising industry officials to ensure ads displayed on websites can’t be used to infect US government computers. If, after 180 days, Joyce isn’t “completely confident” the industry has curbed the problem, Wyden asked that Joyce direct the US Department of Homeland Security to issue a directive “requiring federal agencies to block the delivery to employees’ computers of all Internet ads containing executable code.”

      “Malware is increasingly delivered through code embedded in seemingly innocuous advertisements online,” Wyden wrote. “Individuals do not even need to click on ads to get infected: this malicious software, including ransomware, is delivered without any interaction by the user.”

    • Weekend code warriors prepare to clash in Codewarz

      If you didn’t have any weekend plans yet—or maybe even if you did—and you’re interested in scratching your programming itch, there’s something to add to your calendar. Codewarz, a programming competition that presents participants with 24 coding challenges, is running its first live event starting at 1pm Eastern on November 18 and ending at 9pm on November 20.

      This is not a hacking competition—it’s strictly coding. Participants can use their language of choice as long as it’s one of the 15 supported by the event: the various flavors of C, Python, Node.js, Scala, PHP, Go, Ruby, and even BASH. (Sorry, no one has asked them to support ADA or Eiffel yet.) There’s no compiling required, either. Each submitted solution is run in an interpreted sandbox on a Linux machine for evaluation and scoring. And the challenges run the gamut from beginner (things like text parsing, math and basic networking) to advanced (more advanced parsing and math, hashing, cryptography, and forensics challenges).

    • Amazon Key flaw makes entering your home undetected a possibility
    • ​Google Home and Amazon Echo hit by big bad Bluetooth flaws
    • Amazon security camera could be remotely disabled by rogue couriers

      However, researchers from Rhino Security Labs found attacking the camera’s Wi-Fi with a distributed denial of service attack, which sends thousands of information requests to the device, allowed them to freeze the camera. It would then continue to show the last frame broadcast, rather than going offline or alerting the user it had stopped working.

    • Pentagon contractor leaves social media spy archive wide open on Amazon

      A Pentagon contractor left a vast archive of social-media posts on a publicly accessible Amazon account in what appears to be a military-sponsored intelligence-gathering operation that targeted people in the US and other parts of the world.

      The three cloud-based storage buckets contained at least 1.8 billion scraped online posts spanning eight years, researchers from security firm UpGuard’s Cyber Risk Team said in a blog post published Friday. The cache included many posts that appeared to be benign, and in many cases those involved from people in the US, a finding that raises privacy and civil-liberties questions. Facebook was one of the sites that originally hosted the scraped content. Other venues included soccer discussion groups and video game forums. Topics in the scraped content were extremely wide ranging and included Arabic language posts mocking ISIS and Pashto language comments made on the official Facebook page of Pakistani politician Imran Khan.

    • Pirated Microsoft Software Enabled NSA Hack says Kaspersky

      Earlier reports accused Kaspersky’s antivirus software which was running on the NSA worker’s home computer to be the reason behind the Russian spies to access the machine and steal important documents which belonged to NSA hacking unit, Equation Group.

    • Iconic hacker booted from conferences after sexual misconduct claims surface

      John Draper, a legendary figure in the world of pre-digital phone hacking known as “phreaking,” has been publicly accused of inappropriate sexual behavior going back nearly two decades.

      According to a new Friday report by BuzzFeed News, Draper, who is also known as “Captain Crunch,” acted inappropriately with six adult men and minors between 1999 and 2007 during so-called “energy” exercises, which sometimes resulted in private invitations to his hotel room. There, Draper allegedly made unwanted sexual advances.

      As a result of the new revelations, Draper, 74, is now no longer welcome at Defcon. Michael Farnum, the founder of HOU.SEC.CON, told Ars on Friday afternoon that Draper, who had been scheduled to speak in April 2018, was disinvited.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Strange Twists in the Hariri Mystery

      The strange case of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his surprise resignation, delivered in Saudi Arabia, has developed international overtones with rumors about his possible kidnapping by the Saudis and France extending an invitation for him to come to Paris before possibly returning to Lebanon.

    • Russian military cites game screenshot as “evidence” of US ISIS support

      In now-deleted social media images, the Russian Ministry of Defense used what is almost certainly a screenshot from a mobile game as part of its supposed evidence that the United States military was supporting ISIS troops in Syria.

      The posts, which went up on Facebook and Twitter Tuesday morning, included pictures that the text described as “irrefutable evidence” of “direct cooperation and support provided by the US-led coalition to the ISIS terrorists.” But as Kings College research associate Elliot Higgins noted on Twitter one of those pictures matches precisely with images found in an online trailer for AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron, a little-known mobile game from Byte Conveyor Studios. A warning from that trailer that the video was “Development footage / This is a work in progress / All content subject to change” was only partially cropped out of the Ministry of Defense posts, helping highlight the original source.

    • US Navy: Penis in sky drawn by jet trail was ‘unacceptable’

      US Navy officials have said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that one of their pilots used a jet’s contrail to draw a penis in the sky.

      The phallic outline over Okanogan County in the western US state of Washington provoked much mirth online.

      But commanders at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island did not see the funny side and have ordered an inquiry.

      A spokesman for the airbase confirmed that the aircraft involved was one of its Boeing EA-18G Growlers.

    • Saudi Arabia Pursues Cash Settlements as Crackdown Expands

      Authorities in Saudi Arabia are widening a corruption probe that has reached the upper echelons of the royal family and entangled prominent businessmen who are now being asked to surrender assets in exchange for their freedom, according to two people familiar with the matter.

      At least two dozen military officers, including multiple commanders, recently have been rounded up in connection to the Saudi government’s sweeping corruption investigation, according to two senior advisers to the Saudi government. Several prominent businessmen also were taken in by Saudi authorities in recent days.

      It isn’t clear if those people are all accused of wrongdoing, or whether some of them have been called in as witnesses. But their detainment signals an intensifying high-stakes campaign spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

    • NO ONE MAN SHOULD BE ABLE TO TRIGGER NUCLEAR WAR

      Amidst the rising clamor in the US over groping and goosing, America’s Congress is beginning to fret about President Donald Trump’s shaky finger being on the nation’s nuclear button.

      The air force officer that dutifully trails the president carries the electronic launch codes in a black satchel that could ignite a world war that would largely destroy our planet. This is rather more serious than groping and pinching.

      The inexperienced Trump has talked himself into a corner over North Korea. He thought bombastic threats and a side deal with China could force the stubborn North Koreans to junk their nuclear weapons. Anyone with knowledge of North Asia could have told him this plan would not work.

    • We Supported Their Dictators, Led the Failed ‘War on Drugs’ and Now Deny Them Refuge

      President Donald Trump has tied his executive order giving Congress six months to “fix” DACA to constructing a wall between the US and Mexico as well as a rapid and massive deportation of unaccompanied children and families entering the US without a visa.

      Trump claims this will stop Central American and other undocumented immigrants from entering the United States. These policies might make it more difficult, but they will not stop the flow of migration because the United States is not the pull factor of migration. Violence in Central American countries is the push factor today, just as it was in the late 20th century.

      For much of the 20th century, the US has made strategic decisions that have brought great harm to Central Americans — siding with dictators in the 1980s as our Cold War proxy to “fight communism,” and siding with corrupt national governments in the 21st century to “fight drug traffickers.”

    • Thank an Anti-War Veteran

      Repeat a lie often enough, the conventional Nazi propaganda wisdom ran, and it will become an accepted truth.

      This last Veterans Day weekend, I couldn’t watch a sporting event, listen to a car radio, or even go shopping at the local grocery store without hearing a Great American Lie repeated over and over.

      Sports announcers, radio talk-show hosts, commercials, and even a recorded voice blasted into the aisles of the HyVeee supermarket told me again and again that I owed my great American “freedom” to veterans and current enlistees of the U.S. military – in other words, to the Pentagon.

      We are free to attend football and basketball games, I was told, because of our military veterans, thanks to the U.S. military.

    • Is the Trump Administration Planning a First Strike on North Korea?

      Ever since the Trump administration began a few months ago to threaten a first strike against North Korea over its continued missile tests, the question of whether it is seriously ready to wage war has loomed over other crises in US foreign policy.

      The news media have avoided any serious effort to answer that question, for an obvious reason: The administration has an overriding interest in convincing the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un that Trump would indeed order a first strike if the regime continues to test nuclear weapons and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Therefore, most media have shied away from digging too deeply into the distinction between an actual policy of a first strike and a political ruse intended to put pressure on Pyongyang.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Signs of U.K. Misconduct in Assange Case

      A British court proceeding on a freedom of information request regarding how the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dealt with the case of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has revealed that CPS deleted relevant emails from the account of a now-retired CPS lawyer, Paul Close.

      However, one email that wasn’t destroyed shows the CPS lawyer advising Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny not to interview Assange in London, a decision that has helped keep Assange stuck for more than five years in Ecuador’s London embassy where he had been granted asylum. Finally, in late 2016, after Swedish prosecutors did question Assange at the embassy, they dropped sex abuse allegations against him, but he still faces possible arrest in the U.K. as well as potential extradition to the U.S., where officials have denounced him for releasing classified material.

      Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who has worked on WikiLeaks disclosures as a media partner since 2009, has made freedom of information requests in several countries regarding the Assange case. On Monday, I spoke with Estelle Dehon, a lawyer for Maurizi and Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Converting natural gas to hydrogen without any carbon emissions

      The boom in natural gas production has been essential to the drop in carbon emissions in the US, as methane, the primary component of natural gas, releases more energy for each carbon atom when burned than other fossil fuels. But there’s still a carbon atom in each molecule of methane, so switching to natural gas will eventually lead to diminishing returns when it comes to emissions reductions. To keep our climate moderate, we’ll eventually need to move off natural gas, as well.

      But two new papers out this week suggest we could use natural gas without burning it. They detail efficient methods of converting methane to hydrogen in ways that let us capture much or all of the carbon left over. The hydrogen could then be burned or converted to electricity in a fuel cell—including mobile fuel cells that power cars. The supply obtained from methane could also be integrated with hydrogen from other sources.

    • Bayou Bridge Pipeline Opponents File to Intervene in Hearing for Private Security Firm in Louisiana

      A broad base of advocacy groups opposed to Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline continue to pressure officials in Louisiana to deny the remaining permissions the company needs to build the pipeline.

      The groups are also trying to stop TigerSwan LLC, one of the security firms that ETP worked with in North Dakota, from obtaining a permit to operate in Louisiana.

      ETP, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, intends to build a 162-mile pipeline across southern Louisiana. If built, the Bayou Bridge will be the last leg, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana.

  • Finance

    • What Does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?

      Not surprisingly, the Teamsters are skeptical. “It’s not just job loss,” Sam Loesche, a legislative representative for the Teamsters, told WIRED in September. “It’s also what happens to the working conditions of the person who remains in the cab. How do we protect the livelihood of the driver who may be pushed to operate on a 24-hour continual basis because the company is claiming he’s in the back of a cab?” The union, which represents almost 600,000 truck drivers, is also concerned that that lower demand for actual, human workers could mean lower wages overall.

    • With so much behind-the-scenes Samsung drama, NBC may make a TV series

      Real-life Samsung has long been run by the Lee family, and the Lee family has long been involved in some very public issues. Current Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been in the position since 1987, when his father (company founder Lee Byung-chul) passed away. Lee Kun-hee was convicted of bribery in 1996 and of tax evasion and breach of trust in 2009, but in both cases he was never arrested and never served jail time. Later, his criminal record was erased through presidential pardons.

    • Covert Cryptocurrency Miners Quickly Become A Major Problem

      As websites increasingly struggle to keep the lights on in the age of ad blockers, a growing number of sites have increasingly turned to bitcoin miners like Coinhive. Such miners covertly use visitor CPU cycles to mind cryptocurrency while a user is visiting a website, and actively market themselves as a creative alternative to the traditional advertising model. And while this is certainly a creative revenue generator, these miners are increasingly being foisted upon consumers without informing them or providing an opt out. Given the miners consume user CPU cycles and a modest amount of power — that’s a problem.

    • Bitcoin is hitting new highs—here’s why it might not be a bubble

      In early September, one Bitcoin was worth almost $5,000. Then the Chinese government cracked down on cryptocurrency investments, and Bitcoin’s value plunged 40 percent in a matter of days, reaching a low below $3,000.

      But Bitcoin bounced back. By early November, one Bitcoin was worth almost $8,000. Then last week, a controversial effort to expand the Bitcoin network’s capacity failed. Within days, Bitcoin’s price had plunged 25 percent, while the value of a rival network called Bitcoin Cash doubled.

    • Bitcoin breaks $8,000 barrier amid speculation over spin-off

      Bitcoin’s value is regularly volatile but despite several steep falls this year it has now surged tenfold from around $800 at the beginning of 2017 to more than $8,000 in the early hours of Friday morning.

    • Corporate Power, E-Commerce, and the World Trade Organization

      Today, the biggest corporations are also seeking to lock in rights and handcuff public interest regulation through trade agreements, including the WTO. But today, the five biggest corporations are all from one sector: technology; and are all from one country: the United States. Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, with support from other companies and the governments of Japan, Canada, and the EU, are seeking to rewrite the rules of the digital economy of the future by obtaining within the WTO a mandate to negotiate binding rules under the guise of “e-commerce.”

    • Poverty in the U.S.? Yes — and it’s a digital rights issue

      In the United States, just like anywhere else, it’s the people in marginalized and oppressed groups who suffer the most acute violations of digital rights, while the wealthy and privileged are protected against those same risks. Access Now is calling on Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to investigate this digital divide during his official country visit to the U.S. in December.

      There are 45 million people, including one in five children, living in poverty in the U.S., according to the government’s own figures. The true number may be even larger, since the U.S. defines poverty solely by using an individual’s or family’s yearly income, ignoring other factors in play.

      To inform the Special Rapporteur’s investigation, we provide evidence to show that violating the digital rights of marginalized people can contribute to impoverishment and can exacerbate poverty’s impact. Our submission is listed here alongside others on the U.N. website.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Republicans in Congress Think You’re an Idiot

      At a time when we desperately need to rebuild America, Republicans have ignored real, pressing unmet public needs to shovel more money to the rich and corporations. If this bill becomes law, it will force immediate cuts across the board, including a $25 billion cut to Medicare. As soon as they finish raiding the Treasury for the big corporations and the wealthy, Republicans will start railing about deficits and push for more cuts in everything from education to Head Start. That isn’t just corrupt. It is criminal.

    • Trump lies 9 times a day on average lately

      Over the last 35 days, Trump has been even more dishonest than usual, upping his daily average to 9 lies every 24 hours. Thanks to the extra effort he’s put into misleading the country on a diversity of topics in recent weeks, he’s likely to reach “peak liar” status by January 20. “That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month,” the Post notes.

    • Trump’s USDA: Industry Insiders, Swamp Dwellers and Know-Nothings

      To be perfectly honest, most of us would be hard-pressed to have a handle on the range of the myriad of functions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We would likely get the part about meat and poultry inspections, and maybe the fact that the agency oversees the food stamp program, but otherwise we would be pretty unclear about the scope of the agency’s work. As Michael Lewis reports in the December issue of Vanity Fair, most of what the USDA does “has little to do with agriculture,” as it spends only a “small fraction” of its $164 billion budget (2016) on farmers.

      Among other things, the USDA “runs 193 million acres of natural forest and grasslands [and] It is charged with inspecting almost all the animals people eat.” The agency runs a “massive science program; a bank with $220 billion in assets; plus a large fleet of aircraft for firefighting,” There’s more; it finances and manages numerous programs in rural America, “including the free school lunch for kids living near the poverty line.”

      A Vanity Fair USDA Organizational Chart has the Secretary and Deputy Secretary up top, and seven Undersecretaries: National Resources and Environment; Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; Rural Development; Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services; Food Safety; Research, Education and Economics (Science); and, Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

    • Roy Moore’s Wife Says ‘He Will Not Step Down’

      Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.

      One said Moore tried to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.

      “I have not found any reason not to believe them. … They risked a whole lot to come forward,” Payne said of the accusers.

    • In Pitch-Perfect Retort, New Zealand PM Told Trump: ‘No One Marched When I Was Elected’

      U.S. President Donald Trump and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a group photo last week with fellow APEC leaders in Da Nang, Vietnam. (Photo: EPA)

      New Zealand’s progressive new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern strongly rejected President Donald Trump’s assessment of her recent rise to power, according to her account of their first in-person meeting at the East Asia Summit last week.

      After Trump said Ardern’s win had “upset” many New Zealanders, the Labor Party leader remarked that “nobody marched” in response to her victory, as millions did all over the globe when Trump was inaugurated in January.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitter crackdown sparks free speech concerns

      Twitter’s “blue checkmark” verification program is meant to authenticate the identities of high-profile users. But it’s also come to be seen as an endorsement or mark of approval from Twitter, sparking outrage when the checkmarks were bestowed on white nationalists like Richard Spencer or Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler.

    • Falling for the joke: the risk of using Twitter as a news source

      Parody accounts are not entitled to the Twitter verification mark, which is supposed to help users understand whether accounts are genuine or not. But this policy can create confusion with the inconsistent way it is applied. The official WikiLeaks account on Twitter is verified, for example, while Julian Assange’s personal account remains without the blue mark.

    • Facebook users are complaining that they can’t delete their posts anymore
    • Jim Killock reacted to Prince William’s comments suggesting that anonymity online is dangerous

      “Anonymity online can be very important, for instance for whistleblowers, journalists and people seeking to read banned information where facts and opinions are censored.

      “Without anonymity there would be no Paradise Papers. I’m sure Prince William did not mean to suggest that we should undermine the right to know about the excesses of the super rich and the corrupt, but that needs to be understood when we think about how and when anonymity is necessary.”

    • Film censorship

      This is a completely pointless step, because in the age of the internet banning a film from releasing in cinemas doesn’t stop anyone from watching it. People will just watch it on the internet. People will also watch it on pirated DVD’s.

    • ‘Rape is a rampant issue’; taboo drama Verna battles the censors in Pakistan

      In recent years, Pakistan has seen a huge resurgence of its film industry, which has emerged from the shadow of Bollywood to find its own identity, one at the forefront of the battle between a growing conservatism in the country and an emboldened youth hungry for change. There’s a notable trend towards female-led narratives, which are not only setting new standards in storytelling, but also challenging taboos around the treatment of women in society.

    • Supreme Court decision maintains judicial censorship of Brazilian blog

      A decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil (STF for its acronym in Portuguese) maintained the censorship of the blog of carioca journalist Marcelo Auler. Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes denied the continuation of a complaint filed by the journalist, who requested an injunction to suspend a sentence that prevents the publication of two of his reports.

    • Laurier university accused of censorship after TA reprimanded for playing gender pronoun debate clip

      Lindsay Shepherd, a graduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, is speaking out after the school accused her of violating their policies of trans-phobia for playing a TVO segment featuring featuring polarizing University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson.

    • Facebook is still struggling with the difference between hate speech and censorship

      On Nov. 11, thousands of people marched in the streets of Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the country’s Independence Day. The march attracted racist and neo-fascist groups as well as individuals from all over Europe emboldened by the global rise of the far right. International news was flooded with images of the more menacing attendees: young men bearing signs that proclaimed white supremacy, engulfed in a sea of red flares and smoke.

    • Court Denies Government’s Demasking Demands In Inauguration Protest Case

      Nine months after the DOJ’s Facebook search warrants targeting Trump inauguration protesters were approved, the DC District court has finally issued a ruling restricting how much the government can actually obtain.

      The original warrants were broad, seeking communications from every Facebook user who had interacted with DisruptJ20′s Facebook page. If these hadn’t been challenged, the government would have had access to the entire contents of more than 6,000 Facebook users’ accounts. The warrant also came with an indefinite gag order, something the DOJ dropped on the eve of oral arguments, perhaps sensing it wouldn’t be allowed to keep it.

    • Sheriff Thinks He Can Use Bogus Disorderly Conduct Charges To Shut Down Speech He Doesn’t Like

      It is highly doubtful the Sheriff has “received numerous calls” about a window decal. Even given the sorry state of Americans’ understanding of the First Amendment, most people would realize a sweary decal is not a law enforcement issue. More likely, the Sheriff or one of his deputies spotted it and took a photo or, at best, a concerned citizen sent it to the apparently pro-Trump Sheriff in hopes that he would abuse the law to shut down protected speech. (If so, well played, citizen. Everyone loves an American who believes in less rights for people they don’t agree with.)

      Next, the “discussion” proposed by the Sheriff is a bait-and-switch. Unlike most bait-and-switch purveyors, Sheriff Nehls is too excited about prosecution to allow the bait to do its work. By pitching it as a voluntary interaction, Nehls covers his ass on official oppression. But he immediately uncovers it by referring to a prosecutor just dying to punish protected expression with a bogus disorderly conduct charge.

    • Taipei to probe censorship of ROC flag

      The Taipei City Government said it would investigate after users of Chunghwa Telecom’s multimedia-on-demand (MOD) service recently complained that Republic of China (ROC) national flags had been censored in a documentary on the Taipei Summer Universiade shown on the service.

      The “behind the scenes” documentary film was commissioned by the city government’s Department of Information and Tourism at a cost of NT$5.88 million (US$195,342) and was shown on the National Geographic Channel through MOD.

    • The Solution to YouTube’s Payments Problem Is a Brand-New Cryptocurrency

      He’s not alone. Several high-profile YouTubers, including Philip DeFranco, have called out YouTube’s rampant demonetization problem.

    • YouTube Adpocalypse Gets Blockchain Solution
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Wireless Industry Lobbies To Ban States From Protecting Your Privacy, Net Neutrality

      In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to gut modest FCC consumer privacy protections and net neutrality rules, telecom lobbyists are working overtime trying to stop states from filling the void. In the wake of the FCC’s wholesale dismantling of consumer protections, states like California have tried to pass their own laws protecting your broadband privacy rights online, only to find the efforts scuttled by AT&T, Verizon and Comcast lobbyists, who’ve been more than happy to spread all manner of disinformation as to what the rules did or didn’t do.

      Worried that states might actually stand up for consumers in the wake of the looming attack on net neutrality, both Verizon and Comcast have been lobbying the FCC to ban states from protecting your privacy and net neutrality. The two companies were also joined this week by the wireless industry’s biggest lobbying and policy organization, the CTIA

    • Defense Department Spied On Social Media, Left All Its Collected Data Exposed To Anyone

      There are two big WTFs in this story. First, the Defense Departments Central Command (Centcom) was collecting tons of data on social media posts… and then the bigger one, they somehow left all the data they collected open on an Amazon AWS server. This was discovered — as so many examples of careless data exposure on Amazon servers — by Chris Vickery and UpGuard, who have their own post about the mess. You may recall Vickery from such previous stories as when the GOP left personal data on 200 million voters on an open Amazon server. Or when Verizon left private data available on millions of customers. Or when a terrorist watch list was left (you guessed it) on an open server. Or when he discovered that Hollywood studios were leaving their own screeners available on an open server. In short, this is what Vickery seems particularly good at: finding large organizations leaving sensitive data exposed on a server.

    • Surveillance Fans Angry Journalist Used Metadata, Contact Chaining To Out Comey’s Secret Twitter Account

      Earlier this year, journalist Ashley Feinberg outed then-FBI Director James Comey’s secret Twitter account, using nothing more than the “harmless” metadata people like James Comey have said no one needs to worry about. The secret account was sniffed out through something the Intelligence Community likes to call “contact chaining.” The path ran through Comey’s children’s Instagram accounts and one conspicuous follower of Comey’s previously-secret account: Lawfare writer, surveillance apologist, and personal friend of Comey’s, Benjamin Wittes.

      For some reason, months after the fact, Wittes has decided the route to unmasking Comey’s Twitter account was more like stalking than journalism. Wittes objected to the “use” of Comey’s children — the seemingly-unrelated contacts who Feinberg chained together to reach her conclusion. This was weird because, as Marcy Wheeler points out, Comey seemed to be impressed by the journalist’s work. Even weirder is the fact Wittes (and former IC attorney/Lawfare editor Susan Hennessey) didn’t see the obvious parallels between Feinberg’s detective work and the FBI’s own use of metadata, contact chaining, and working its way towards targets through vast amounts of unrelated data.

    • Most Senate Intelligence Committee Members Are Fine With Domestic Surveillance By The NSA

      The Senate Intelligence Committee has released its report [PDF] on its Section 702 reauthorization plan. Rather than adopt any serious reforms — like those proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden — the SIC plans to move ahead with its non-reform bill, one that’s actually weaker than the watered-down offering from the House.

      The bill remains pretty much as bad as it was when it was first introduced. It still allows the NSA to start up its “about” collection again, although it does require approval from the FISA court first and contains a safety valve for introduction of legislation forbidding this collection. (I guess Wyden’s reform bill doesn’t count.)

      Other than that, it’s still just bad news, especially on the Fourth Amendment front, as it allows both the collection of wholly domestic communications and backdoor searches of NSA data stores. The upshot of the report is this: eleven senators are perfectly fine with domestic surveillance.

    • The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act Restricts Congress, Not Surveillance

      The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017—legislation meant to extend government surveillance powers—squanders several opportunities for meaningful reform and, astonishingly, manages to push civil liberties backwards. The bill is a gift to the intelligence community, restricting surveillance reforms, not surveillance itself.

      The bill (S. 2010) was introduced October 25 by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) as an attempt to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. That law authorizes surveillance that ensnares the communications of countless Americans, and it is the justification used by agencies like the FBI to search through those collected American communications without first obtaining a warrant. Section 702 will expire at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes it.

      Other proposed legislation in the House and Senate has used Section 702’s sunset as a moment to move surveillance reform forward, demanding at least minor protections to how 702-collected American communications are accessed. In contrast, Senator Burr’s bill uses Section 702’s sunset as an opportunity codify some of the intelligence community’s more contentious practices while also neglecting the refined conversations on surveillance happening in Congress today.

      Here is a breakdown of the bill.

    • Senators propose ‘USA Liberty Act’ to reauthorize NSA surveillance

      Even with that, there are critics saying it doesn’t go far enough. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that most importantly, it doesn’t stop the NSA from collecting data on innocent people.

    • Senate bill would impose new privacy limits on accessing NSA’s surveillance data

      A pair of senators on Friday released their bipartisan proposal to renew a powerful surveillance authority for collecting foreign intelligence on U.S. soil, but with a new brake on the government’s ability to access the data.

      The bill from Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) would require government agencies to obtain a warrant before reviewing communications to or from Americans harvested by the National Security Agency under the surveillance authority known informally as Section 702.

    • NSA Leaker Still Possibly Working At Agency

      The former CIA director Michael Morell has admitted that the leaker involved in the NSA Shadow Brokers leak might still be at work in the agency as, 15 months after the leak first occurred, they are still uncertain of what was stolen and whether there is more to come. Piers Wilson, Head of Product Management at Huntsman Security commented below.

    • The Vanishing State of Privacy

      “The reason that we are subject now to more surveillance than there was in the Soviet Union is that digital technology made it possible,” he says. “And the first disaster of digital technology was proprietary software that people would install and run on their own computers, and they wouldn’t know what it was doing.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • They confessed to minor crimes. Then City Hall billed them $122K in ‘prosecution fees’

      Garcia, 41, a longtime desert resident, had been snared by the lowest level of the eastern Coachella Valley’s criminal justice system, where homeowners who commit some of the smallest crimes can be billed for the cost of their own prosecution. [...] Garcia signed a plea agreement [...]

    • Burmese Military Accused of Widescale Rape Against Rohingya

      Human Rights Watch has accused the Burmese military of committing widespread rape against women and girls as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims. Human Rights Watch spoke to 52 Rohingya women and girls who fled to Bangladesh. Twenty-nine of them said they were raped. Some of the rape victims agreed to speak on camera.

    • ‘Tolerance of Violence in Homes Is the Necessary Precursor to Public Violence’

      After the Sutherland Springs, Texas, mass shooting, media picked up the familiar threads on gun violence and mental health, but some also took up the less commonly explored—though established—connections between mass shootings and domestic violence.

      And not just whether those with records of domestic violence, as the Texas shooter had, should be able to buy guns, but the bigger problem of how domestic violence is portrayed—you might say “dismissed,” including by media—as a private problem, rather than a societal one.

      We talked about this last June, after the mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Writer and activist Soraya Chemaly directs the Women’s Media Center Speech Project and is organizer of the Safety and Free Speech Coalition. She had just written about domestic violence and the Orlando shooting for Rolling Stone.

    • ‘Only God can save us’: Yemeni children starve as aid is held at border

      Abdulaziz al-Husseinya lies skeletal and appears lifeless in a hospital in Yemen’s western port city of Hodeidah. At the age of nine, he weighs less than one and a half stone, and is one of hundreds of thousands of children in the country suffering from acute malnutrition.

      Seven million people are on on the brink of famine in war-torn Yemen, which was already in the grip of the world’s worst cholera outbreak when coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia tightened its blockade on the country last week, stemming vital aid flows.

      Al-Thawra hospital, where Abdulaziz is being treated, is reeling under the pressure of more than two years of conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels. Its corridors are packed, with patients now coming from five surrounding governorates to wait elbow-to-elbow for treatment.

      Less than 45% of the country’s medical facilities are still operating – most have closed due to fighting or a lack of funds, or have been bombed by coalition airstrikes. As a result, Al-Thawra is treating some 2,500 people a day, compared to 700 before the conflict escalated in March 2015.

    • If NYPD cops want to snoop on your phone, they need a warrant, judge rules

      A New York state judge has concluded that a powerful police surveillance tool known as a stingray, a device that spoofs legitimate mobile phone towers, performs a “search” and therefore requires a warrant under most circumstances.

      As a New York State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn ruled earlier this month in an attempted murder case, New York Police Department officers should have sought a standard, probable cause-driven warrant before using the invasive device.

      The Empire State court joins others nationwide in reaching this conclusion. In September, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals also found that stingrays normally require a warrant, as did a federal judge in Oakland, California, back in August.

      According to The New York Times, which first reported the case on Wednesday, People v. Gordon is believed to be the first stingray-related case connected to the country’s largest city police force.

    • Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of names to quash sex scandal

      The Observer has gained access to a secret hitlist of almost 100 prominent individuals targeted by Harvey Weinstein in an extraordinary attempt to discover what they knew about sexual misconduct claims against him and whether they were intending to go public.

      The previously undisclosed list contains a total of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers and others working in the film industry, all of whom Weinstein allegedly identified as part of an extraordinary strategy to prevent accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims against him.

      The names, apparently drawn up by Weinstein himself, were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women.

      The document was compiled in early 2017, around nine months before the storm that blew up on 5 October when the New York Times published a series of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

      Individuals named on the list were to be targeted by investigators who would covertly extract and accumulate information from those who might know of claims or who might come forward with allegations against the film producer. Feedback was then to be relayed to Weinstein and his lawyers.

    • As Powerful Men Fall, Renewed Focus on Trump’s Many Accusers and His Disgusting Admission

      As the floodgates have certainly opened in positive ways over recent weeks in terms of women feeling more empowered and secure in speaking publicly about the men—often those in positions of power—who have sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years, the wave of revelations have also brought re-newed focus on the previous and numerous accusations levied against the nation’s most powerful man: President Donald J. Trump.

    • Christian Fundamentalist Pastor Has a Major Meltdown Defending Roy Moore

      “Did you stop beating your wife, yes or no? Did you stop beating your wife, yes or no? Did you stop beating your wife? Answer, yes or no!”

      The brain of Rev. Flip Benham, leader of the extremist Christian fundamentalist group “Operation Save America,” based in North Carolina, seemed to be stuck on repeat, and he couldn’t stop berating a reporter in Alabama with the same nonsensical question. Or, as right-wing commenters like to say, he was triggered.

    • Confronting Zero Tolerance in the Workplace

      Bosses are in love with zero tolerance policies. One arbitrator calls them “the last refuge of weak managers.”

      Zero tolerance policies authorize employers to discharge workers who commit specified infractions without consideration of the surrounding circumstances, length of service, or the employee’s lack of prior discipline.

    • Walking While Black

      The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office issues hundreds of pedestrian citations a year, drawing on an array of 28 separate statutes governing how people get around on foot in Florida’s most populous city. There is, of course, the straightforward jaywalking statute, barring people from crossing against a red light. But in Jacksonville, pedestrians can also be ticketed for crossing against a yellow light, for “failing to cross a street at a right angle,” for not walking on the left side of a road when there are no sidewalks, or alternatively for not walking on a sidewalk when one is available.

    • How We Calculated the Risks of Walking While Black

      A Florida Times-Union/ProPublica analysis showed that law enforcement in Duval County, Florida, gives black people a higher proportion of pedestrian tickets than does any other large county in the state. Black pedestrians are nearly three times as likely to receive a ticket as nonblack pedestrians. Our analysis also showed that residents in the three poorest ZIP codes in Jacksonville (Duval County’s largest city) were nearly six times as likely to receive a ticket as were residents of the city’s 34 other ZIP codes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ignored By Big Telecom, Detroit’s Marginalized Communities Are Building Their Own Internet

      Take Detroit, where 40 percent of the population has no access to the internet—of any kind, not only high speed—at home, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Seventy percent of school-aged children in the city are among those who have no [I]nternet access at home. Detroit has one of the most severe digital divides in the country, the FCC says.

    • All signs point to December vote to kill net neutrality rules, reports say

      The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on whether to overturn its own net neutrality rules next month.

      FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will unveil his final proposal next week, setting up a vote at the commission’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on December 14, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters. The FCC hasn’t publicly confirmed the December vote, but Bloomberg and Reuters say the timeline was confirmed by people familiar with Pai’s plans.

    • FCC Moves To Gut Rules Protecting Broadband Users Telcos No Longer Want

      As AT&T and Verizon shift their focus from fixed-line broadband to the more sexy world of Millennial advertising (often quite poorly), they’ve effectively decided to hang up on millions of unwanted DSL users they refuse to upgrade and no longer want. This has often involved imposing relentless rate hikes on service speeds straight out of 2003, or in many cases simply refusing to repair these lines. They’ve also convinced state after state that if they gut consumer protections keeping these lines intact, better, faster broadband connections will miraculously spring from the sidewalks.

      AT&T and Verizon argue that state and federal guidelines on this front are just outdated regulations preventing them from building the next-generation networks of tomorrow. Fiber is more reliable and wireless is more flexible, they argue, making older lines irrelevant. That, however, ignores these companies’ refusal to actually fully deploy fiber, the fact that pricey & capped wireless isn’t a suitable replacement for unlimited DSL, that these lines were taxpayer subsidized, or that many of these DSL and POTS (plain old telephone service) services are still very much in use by the elderly and under-served.

    • Sorry, poor people: The FCC is coming after your broadband plans

      Poor people may soon find it more difficult to purchase subsidized broadband plans, and many of them could even be forced to find new carriers. That’s thanks to changes pushed through today by the Federal Communications Commission’s Republican majority.

      The FCC voted 3-2 to scale back the federal Lifeline program that lets poor people use a $9.25 monthly household subsidy to buy Internet or phone service. The FCC proposed a new spending cap that potentially prevents people who qualify for the subsidies from actually receiving them. The FCC is also taking steps to prevent resellers—telecom providers that don’t operate their own network infrastructure—from offering Lifeline-subsidized plans.

    • Comcast wants to get bigger, again, has begun talks with 21st Century Fox

      Comcast and Verizon have each, separately, approached 21st Century Fox about buying part of the company, according to several news reports.

      Comcast already owns NBCUniversal and numerous regional sports networks. Adding part of 21st Century Fox would give Comcast even more programming to pair with the nation’s largest cable broadband and TV network.

      21st Century Fox owns Fox Broadcasting Company as well as various cable networks, broadcast stations, and film producers and distributors. 21st Century Fox also owns 39 percent of Sky, a European broadcaster.

  • DRM

    • Offering Good Legal Options Works: Interest In Netflix Outpaces Pirate Options In Brazil

      If you were to have asked anyone in the film industry or the MPAA about the country of Brazil within the past decade, it’s quite likely that they would have thrown their hands into the air and told you what a detestable hotbed of piracy and copyright infringement the nation was. And, hey, they would have been right. The simple fact of the matter is that there are some countries where the downloading and streaming of films and television is more common than others. The obvious next question to ask for any business interested in reversing this trend would be: why? The answer always seemed obvious to me: there is a customer demand that the legitimate options are not fulfilling. Many in film and television instead decried a lack of strict copyright enforcement and everybody wanting everything for free, instead.

    • Intel Planning To End Legacy BIOS Support By 2020

      By 2020 they are said to be “removing legacy BIOS support from client and data center platforms.” Based on the timing, it’s then looking like for Intel Tiger Lake or Sapphire Rapids where they may cut off the legacy BIOS support.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Good Ruling: Court Affirms Fox’s Victory In Trademark Suit From Empire Distribution Over Its Hit Show ‘Empire’

        In far too many trademark disputes, including those that actually reach the courthouse, there is far too little in the way of nuance when it comes to ruling. While I’ve long complained about a lack of focus on some of the higher-level concepts within trademark law, such as how the overall focus should be on public confusion and the simple fact that the category designations within the USPTO are far too broad, there is typically not enough recognition in the real minutia within the law as well.

    • Copyrights

      • Legal to share more than 3000 movies listed on IMDB?

        A month ago, I blogged about my work to automatically check the copyright status of IMDB entries, and try to count the number of movies listed in IMDB that is legal to distribute on the Internet. I have continued to look for good data sources, and identified a few more. The code used to extract information from various data sources is available in a git repository, currently available from github.

      • Judge Halts Copyright Troll’s Lawsuit Against A Now-Deceased Elderly Man With Dementia And An IP Address

        Stories about copyright trolls issuing questionable settlement demands and lawsuits using laughably flimsy evidence with no regard to mitigating circumstances are somewhat common around here. The most egregious cases range from trolls sending threat letters to the elderly to flat out suing the innocent. This sort of thing is essentially inherent in a business model that closely apes an extortion ring, and here’s another quintessential example of that.

        It all started when Venice PI sued a man for being part of a torrent swarm offering the movie Once Upon a Time in Venice. The judge in the case has put the proceedings on hold, noting rather harshly that Venice PI’s evidence sucks, and that the man in question had severe enough dementia that his family says he couldn’t even have operated a computer as described in the lawsuit and, at age 91, has died.

      • Studies Presented At WIPO To Better Understand Limitations To Copyright

        With no consensus on conducting normative work at the World Intellectual Property Organization on the limitations to copyright for certain actors such as persons with disabilities, educational institutions, and museums, the committee on copyright had agreed on several studies so the issues are better understood. This week, several of those studies were presented to the committee and generated discussion.

        The 35th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) took place from 13-17 November. Intellectual Property Watch will publish a report on the final outcome of the meeting shortly.

      • How did the free sharing of scientific knowledge and culture become the worst crime our justice systems could think of?

        Sci-Hub is starting to get judgments and censorship applied against it. It’s noteworthy that not even murder or genocide is considered cause for such Internet censorship as is now being applied to Sci-Hub. How and when did the free sharing of scientific knowledge become the worst conceivable crime?

      • Ares Kodi Project Calls it Quits After Hollywood Cease & Desist

        The Ares Project, the group behind the hugely popular Ares Wizard and Kodi repository, has thrown in the towel. Like several other projects this week, Ares was threatened by the MPA-led anti-piracy coalition Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. Speaking with TorrentFreak, its operator warns that those behind similar projects should exercise caution.

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    An optimistic note regarding the relatively low-temperature legal landscape surrounding advanced automobiles, even though patents are being amassed on software in that domain



  24. The Federal Circuit Rules (Again) in Favour of Section 101/Alice, Koch-Funded CPIP Tries to Overturn Alice at the Supreme Court

    The US Supreme Court's decision on Alice continues to have a profoundly positive impact (except for trolls) and Koch-funded academics try hard to compel the US Supreme Court to reverse/override Alice (so far to no avail)



  25. Next Director of the USPTO Parrots Talking Points of Patent Extremists and Their Lobbyists

    The next USPTO boss (still subject to official confirmation) may be little more than a power grab by the litigation and patenting 'industry', which prioritises not science and technology but its own bottom line



  26. Raw: Three Years for 'Justice' (to be Disregarded by Benoît Battistelli) at ILO and Over a Decade at the EPO

    The delays associated with ‘justice’ at the EPO (usually neither justice nor compliance with rulings) have become so extraordinary that immunity should long ago have been stripped off and Battistelli et al been held accountable



  27. Raw: Scuttling of the General Advisory Committee and Battistelli Stacking the Deck to Have 'Yes Men' as Representatives

    How the EPO broke down resistance to Battistelli’s oppressive policies not only at the Council, disciplinary committees and auditory divisions but also staff representation (symptomatic of Battistelli’s notion of justice)



  28. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Will Endure Supreme Court Test and Overcome the Tribal Immunity “Scam”

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), based on the latest news, is still winning the argument and justifying its existence/importance



  29. Phones/Mobility (Trillion-Dollar Market) May Have Become Infested and Encumbered by Aggressive, Dying Companies

    The tough reality that new entrants/entrepreneurs are facing now that a few dying giants look to "monetise" their patents rather than create anything



  30. Links 9/12/2017: Mesa 17.3, Wine 3.0 RC1, New Debian Builds

    Links for the day


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