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11.28.17

EPO Budget (Users’ Money) Has Been Corrupting Media and Academia

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money down the drain, draining everyone’s reputation

More budget cuts

Summary: EPO stakeholders (mostly users who apply for European Patents and their renewal) have inadvertently contributed to quite a disease which not only jeopardises the integrity of the Office but also the worth of patents, the integrity of media, and integrity of academia

THE EPO certainly knows how to control the media. The secret? Throw money at the media. Failing that, threaten the media.

The EPO has, for at least a decade, notoriously used IAM for all sorts of propaganda (UPC, patent ‘quality’ etc.) — to the point where IAM now seems to shy away from even covering EPO matters. It’s a sensitive relationship. Well, reposted from IAM earlier today was this article regarding “Deferral Of Examination” at the EPO — a subject previously covered here (when it was posted in IAM’s Web site and the firm’s own). There’s not much to see there because it was composed by UPC and software patents proponents. It’s one big club and litigation is its currency. And speaking of UPC (litigation), recently the EPO had two universities (academia) paid in order to promote the UPC. This means that the EPO moved on from corrupting media to corrupting academia. Some allege that this was done very specifically in order help influence the German courts system regarding the UPC (i.e. against Europe’s interests). “Read more about the impact of #patent protection on trade & FDI in innovative industries in this study,” the EPO wrote today, not quite noting who was behind this so-called ‘study’.

The EPO’s corruption of the media/public outlets, including stacking of panels and manipulation of public debates, is truly troubling. It’s like we’re dealing here with Monsanto/Bayer (a big scandal in Germany about this today), not a public institution.

And speaking of media, watch today’s terrible puff piece from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR). It’s about the interview we’ve mentioned 3 times already (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). They found a way to spin it and this spin was poorly-received (by EPO staff [1, 2]). Regarding the spin on this, one insider said: “Let me guess who’s next in-line publishing a preposterous article about the disturbed situation at the EPO? Perhaps IAM? It would add insult to injury…”

It’s a lot of gross revisionism by those willing to put their name behind their words, i.e. those who suck up to the EPO rather than risk alienation. It’s a salad of supportive words for Battistelli basically; “A spokesperson for the EPO said the office was pleased with the interview,” said the author, “which reflected the “overall support of the Council to the reforms and the acknowledgement of their very positive results, in particular in terms of quality of products and services delivered by the EPO”.”

Incredible! What a bunch of liars. Here is how it started:

Benoît Battistelli’s tenure at the European Patent Office (EPO) has been “undoubtedly positive” but there has been a “heavy-handed approach”, the chairman of the Administrative Council has said.

Christoph Ernst was interviewed in November by legal news website JUVE, which asked him the following question: “The EPO is constantly dogged by infighting between the Council’s management and its staff; the launch of the Unified Patent Court is clouded with uncertainty. The outlook is rather dismal, isn’t it?”

His response was that the situation was “certainly not as bad as that”.

Then starts a series of (almost) compliments to Battistelli. Shame on WIPR for quoting the firm the EPO sent to bully me several times. Here it is:

Joshua Marshall, associate at Fieldfisher, said: “Battistelli’s tenure has not been without its challenges. Many of the issues have been internal in terms of the EPO’s procedures and the staff which it employs.”

They are belittling the issues after Battistelli paid them to literally threaten me and try to silence Techrights (several times in fact, through several members of staff).

The EPO is a sick, sick place. Seeing it from the outside is enough to sicken. One can only imagine how dark and sickening (depressing if not leading to literal illness) it is from the inside. The sickness is infectious and now we have media and academia falling ill, too. The ‘virus’ propagates using stakeholders’ (users’) money and spreads in a fashion that severely undermines Europe’s reputation and European democracy.

Wilbur Ross, Connected to Putin’s Direct Family, Puts Iancu (Patent Microcosm) in Charge of the USPTO

Posted in America, Patents at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously: Putting Radicals and Foes of Technology in Charge of Patents

Trump commerce secretary's business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files

Summary: A government which is run by billionaires, some of whom work directly with Putin’s family (Wilbur Ross for example), is choosing for the USPTO to be run by the very industry it’s supported to govern (just like the FCC, EPA, and soon HHS, to name a few)

“President Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is doing business with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, a bombshell new report revealed Tuesday.” That’s today. The report was published just a short while ago and confirmed what was alleged before, based on leaks.

“Classic “revolving doors” example.”That’s the man who, just earlier today, put Iancu (the name is apparently Romanian, not Russian) from the patent ‘industry’ in charge of the USPTO. Classic “revolving doors” example. The new USPTO Director is Iancu, as noted 10 or so hours ago here (see direct link to the source; it’s not textual).

Who needs to “drain the swamp”? Whoever comes after Trump (and his cabal of oligarchs), who nominated Iancu after Wilbur Ross had conducted interviews. This is a Director whose view on patents we covered here before [1, 2, 3]. Truly disturbing.

Buzzwords/Terms Like “Industry 4.0” or ICT as Cover for CII (Software Patents) at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Georg Weber
Photo source

Summary: The EPO went to the “Science Days” event in Munich, wherein a proponent of software patents delivered a presentation that seems to allude to software patents (but not directly because these are not allowed)

EARLIER today the EPO linked to its site, which said (warning: epo.org link) about Munich “Science Days”: “The EPO also contributed to the event with a lecture by Director for ICT Georg Weber on “Industry 4.0 – the technology landscape of tomorrow”. Attended by some 200 people, the presentation shed light on the information side of patents and its benefits for the public, and generated numerous comments and questions from the audience.”

“Industry 4.0″ is the sort of buzzword/term that Grant Philpott, his colleague, often appears to be using when he pushes software patents. We covered some examples before.

“This is hogwash as he promotes software patents in Europe and these are notorious when it comes to crushing startups.”Earlier this year Georg Weber also openly advocated software patents in Europe (not legal as it stands, but the EPO does not obey rules anyway). EPO managers try to emulate China (SIPO), where anything goes, including any software patent.

The event’s organiser quoted George [sic] Weber as saying that the “EPO is committed to supporting #startups & #MSMEs to reducing Patent pendency, complexity & cost~”

This is hogwash as he promotes software patents in Europe and these are notorious when it comes to crushing startups.

Links 28/11/2017: Linux 4.15 RC1, Fedora 25 End Of Life, Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Officially Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 open source alternatives to Microsoft Publisher

    The paperless utopia I imagined I would be living in by now remains a work in progress. As I’ve thought more about why, I’ve decided it’s the long tail of paper that’s holding me back. Sure, almost all of my communications are electronic these days, and my scanner makes quick work of almost everything that comes to me in a dead tree format.

    But as I look around my home office and wonder why there are still stacks of paper here and there, I realize there are some things that just make more sense in physical form, at least for part of their existence. I see calendars and brochures and instruction guides. I see posters from events, and even a piece of origami. While you could argue that some of these items could be made obsolete by their digital equivalents, they haven’t been, and digitizing them myself is more work than the payoff would justify.

  • AT&T champions white box routers for open operating system

    AT&T gave a glimpse into its vision of a Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) in a recent white paper titled “Toward an Open, Disaggregated Networking Operating System” with a push toward software-defined networking (SDN) and white box hardware.

    As part of its vision, AT&T coined the term dNOS to refer to the beginning of “an industry discussion on technical feasibility, build interest in participating in the formulation of technical detail, and determine suitable vehicles (standards bodies, open source efforts, consortia, etc.) for common specification and architectural realization.”

  • Hack4Climate – Saving Climate while Sailing on the Rhine

    Everledger’s CEO, Leanne talked about women in technology and swiftly made us realize how we need equal representation of all genders to tackle the global problem. I talked about Outreachy with other female participants and amidst such a diverse set of participants, I felt really connected with a few people I met who were open source contributors. Open source community has always been very warm and fun to interact with. We exchanged what conferences we attend like Fosdem, DebConf and what projects we worked on. Outreachy current round 15 is ongoing however, the applications for the next round 16 of Outreachy internships will open in February 2018 for the May to August 2018 internship round. You can check this link here for more information on projects under Debian and Outreachy. Good luck!

  • The new workspace currency is open source

    Open source can be more than just a technology: it can be a hand up. The transparency and the community all come together to create a unique software experience. In this article, Tracy Miranda explains how she got her start in open source and how these skills have proved to be irreplaceable in her career.

  • Events

    • Death of a closed-source enterprise software salesman

      In a humorous All Things Open 2017 Lightning Talk, “Death of an Enterprise Software Salesman,” Corey Quinn calls out the slick, but not substantive, methods used to market closed-source enterprise software.

      In just under five minutes, the author of Amazon Web Services news roundup site Last Week in AWS tears apart closed-source enterprise software marketing by pretending to be a salesman. His mock presentation is filled with nonsensical business jargon and meaningless charts, but Corey’s undertone of bitng sarcasm makes his message clear: Closed-source enterprise software is successful because of its glossy image and fearmongering sales tactics, even though open source software is superior.

    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 3

      Thanks to the Student President of the School of Electric Engineering, Yelstin Soltelo, we were able to celebrated our third session as it was planned in the Wiki.

      This time we have started with the online support of Carlos Soriano with his newcomer talk to clone a GNOME project using Builder. First we needed to the check the version of Flatpak (>9.25) followed by downloading the Builder software. After that, we did clone GNOME To Do, and we were waiting for the installation of Sdk. It was taking so long because we had a bandwith speed of the 80’s. Meanwhile, Carlos was explaining the tools GNOME offer in the developed center Website, and the initiatives and to do list the some GNOME applications have in GitLab. Thanks so much Carlos Soriano!

    • Linux Foundation 2018 events list

      The Linux Foundation has released its entire 2018 events schedule.

      The nonprofit organisation insists that it maintains a mission focused on the ‘creators, maintainers and practitioners’ of open source projects.

      Looking back at the current year, the Foundation says that this years’ events attracted over 25,000 developers, sysadmins, architects, community thought leaders, business executives and other industry professionals from more than 5,000 organisations across 85 countries.

    • KDE Around the World: FOSSCOMM 2017, Greece

      On the 4th and the 5th of November, the FOSSCOMM 2017 conference took place at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. The KDE Community had a presence at the conference. Our Greek troops gave a talk on Sunday about the past, present and future of KDE, focusing on the vision of the community.

  • Web Browsers

    • Firefox Quantum Vs Chrome – Who’s The New Boss?

      Mozilla has worked for years to give back the stardom their open source web browser lost with the release of Google Chrome. Firefox’s revival journey started with the addition of multiprocess earlier this year, followed by the head-to-toe overhaul of Firefox which now uses Project Neon as its new face.

      Firefox 57 is hailed as a strong competitor to Google Chrome. Now, whether we like it or not, comparisons of the two browsers will be made. So, going along similar lines, this Firefox Quantum vs Chrome post tries to put the two web browsers in front of each other.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Is Available to Download, Final Release Coming January 2018

      That’s right, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is now available to download, and while it’s been released mostly for those involved in the bug hunting sessions arranged by The Document Foundation to triagge and resolve as many issues as possible before the final release, it can also be installed by early adopters.

      A second Beta release could arrive early next month if there’s still some critical bugs present, but the development cycle will continue in the second half of December with the first Release Candidate (RC) milestone, followed by the second and third RCs in January 2018. The final LibreOffice 6.0 release is expected at the end of January 2018.

    • Second Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0

      After the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0, which was held on October 20th 2017, we’re glad to announce the Second Bug Hunting Session on November 27th – this time being held on a Monday, for the first time!

      LibreOffice 6.0 will be announced at the end of January 2018, and so far, almost 800 bugs have been fixed in this version, with more than 700 people reporting, triaging or fixing those bugs. More info can be found here. Besides that, a large number of new features, which are summarized in the release notes, have been added.

  • CMS

    • Choosing a system for the blog

      Let me start by saying that I’m biased towards systems that use flat files for blogs instead of the ones that require a database. It is so much easier to make the posts available through other means (such as having them backed up in a Git repository) that assure their content will live on even if the site is taken down or dies. It is also so much better to download the content this way, instead of pulling down a huge database file, which may cost a significant amount of money to transfer that amount of data. Having flat files with your content with a format that is shared among many systems (such as Markdown) might also assure a smooth transition to a new system, should the change become a necessity at some point.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Bye Bye Cilk Plus: GCC Lightened By 82k L.O.C.

      Earlier this month I reported on Intel’s plans for removing Cilk Plus from GCC 8 since this parallel programming effort of theirs was depreciated in GCC 7 and hadn’t seen much adoption. It’s now official with the code being stripped out of the GCC 8 code-base.

      As of this morning, it’s official and Cilk Plus was removed. This marks an end to Cilk Plus in GCC that had only been in GCC since 5.0 and this multi-threaded parallel computing extension for C/C++ that was originally devised at MIT in the late 90′s.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM have announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the most widely-used open source software licenses, covering, among other software, critical parts of the Linux ecosystem. When GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it introduced an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a more reasonable approach to errors and mistakes, which are often inadvertent. This approach allows for enforcement of license compliance that is consistent with community norms,

      To provide greater predictability to users of open source software, Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM today each committed to extending the GPLv3 approach for license compliance errors to the software code that each licenses under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Tech leaders join forces to increase predictability in Open Source licensing
    • ‘Big four’ Linux companies shift open-source licensing policies

      The GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2) is arguably the most important open-source license for one reason: It’s the license Linux uses. On November 27, three Linux-using technology powers, Facebook, Google, and IBM, and the major Linux distributor Red Hat announced they would extend additional rights to help companies who’ve made GPLv2 open-source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GPLv2 and its close relative, GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are widely-used open source software licenses. When the GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it came with an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a way for companies to repair licensing errors and mistakes. This approach allows license compliance enforcement that is consistent with community norms.

    • Tech leaders team up to improve predictability in open source licencing

      Red Hat, Inc., Facebook, Inc., Google, and IBM Corp. are joining forces to help alleviate open source licence issues, including compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and GNU General Public Licence (LGPL) are two of the most common open source software licences, covering almost all software, including parts of the Linux system. The third version of GPL (GPLv3) includes an express termination approach that gives users the opportunities to fix errors in licence compliance in a faster and more efficient manner than before.

      Now, the trio has committed to extending the express termination feature to the previous two versions of GPL to provide better predictability to users of open source software.

    • Four companies extend terms of open source licensing

      Google, Facebook, IBM and Red Hat have taken steps to increase the predictability of open-source licensing, extending additional rights to fix open source licence compliance errors and mistakes.

      The move follows a recent announcement by many kernel developers about licence enforcement.

      The Linux kernel, which is used widely by the four companies named, is released under the GNU General Public Licence version 2.0. A later version of this licence includes an approach that offers users an opportunity to comply with the licence.

    • Adopting a Community-Oriented Approach to Open Source License Compliance

      Today Google joins Red Hat, Facebook, and IBM alongside the Linux Kernel Community in increasing the predictability of open source license compliance and enforcement.

      We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM and Red Hat team up on open-source license compliance

      “We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together,” Chris DiBona, director of open source for Google, wrote in a blog post.

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

    • Copyleft Licensing: Applying GPLv3 Termination to GPLv2-licensed Works

      Today a coalition of major companies—led by Red Hat and including Google, IBM and Facebook—who create, modify and distribute FOSS under copyleft licenses have committed to the use of GPLv3’s approach to license termination for all their works published under the terms of GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. Following last month’s statement to similar effect by the developers of the Linux kernel, the world’s most widely-used GPLv2 program, today’s announcement establishes a broad consensus in favor of the “notice and cure period” approach to first-time infringement issues that Richard Stallman and I adopted in GPLv3 more than a decade ago. This adoption of GPLv3’s approach for GPLv2 programs is an enormously important step in securing the long-term viability of copyleft licensing. All computer users who wish to see their rights respected by the technology they use are better off.

      GPLv2, which was written by Richard Stallman and Jerry Cohen, is a masterpiece of legal innovation and durability. First released in mid-1991, GPLv2 transformed thinking around the world about the viability of copyright commons, and gave birth to a range of “share alike” licensing institutions, not only for software but for all forms of digital culture. It is still in unmodified use after more than a quarter-century, attaining a degree of institutional stability more often associated with statutes and constitutions than with transactional documents like copyright licenses.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat give GPL code scofflaws 60 days to behave – or else

      The tech giants, which release a fair amount of GNU-GPL-licensed source code, have committed to extend the GPLv3′s 60-day “cure period” to license compliance errors under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat Strengthen Open Source License Protection

      Facebook, Google, IBM, and Red Hat today announced they’re going to provide greater legal protection for some of the open source code they license. The companies committed to extend more rights to cure open source license compliance errors.

      Their announcement relates to two widely used open source software licenses: The GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). The GPL version 3 (GPLv3) introduced an express termination approach that offered users an opportunity to cure errors in license compliance, especially mistakes that are inadvertent.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • 4 ways to engage your organization’s various stakeholders

      I’ve spent most of my professional life helping organizations be more open to their stakeholders. I’m a partner in a consulting company in Chile, whose typical customer is a for-profit organization wishing to develop some kind of public works project (for example, an electricity generation station, a transmission line, a mine, a road, an airport, or something similar). Projects like these typically aim to fill a social need—but they’re often intended for locations where development and operation can have negative impacts (or, in economic terms, “externalities”).

    • What ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ taught me about open scientific research

      I haven’t taken a biology class in years, but the TV show Grey’s Anatomy keeps me acquainted with some aspects of the scientific world. I never expected that an episode of the medical drama series would inspire me to explore open source principles in scientific research.

      Maybe you’ve seen the episode: the characters Derek and Callie, surgeons in neuroscience and orthopedics, are doing a research study using brain sensors to control the movement of prosthetics. When the White House recruits Derek for a brain-mapping initiative, officials mention that the sensors necessary for the work will become proprietary, available only to Derek’s project. The proprietary policy leads to an argument about ownership of the sensor technology and whose research is of greater importance.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC Lands Cannonlake, Skylake Costs; LLVM/Clang Gets Intel CET

      In addition to the GCC plugin support on Windows/MinGW, there are more compiler happenings this weekend.

      Hitting mainline GCC since that earlier post about the MinGW plugin support is this commit landing the -march=cannonlake target for these next-gen Intel CPUs. It’s among the many GCC 8 features and previously covered the Cannonlake enablement while now it’s been merged to mainline.

    • LLVM Picks Up 3DNow! Improvements In 2017

      As a flashback to the past, hitting the LLVM Git/SVN code today were improvements for those still running with processors supporting AMD’s 3DNow! extensions.

    • Why Python and Pygame are a great pair for beginning programmers

      Last month, Scott Nesbitt wrote about Mozilla awarding $500K to support open source projects. Phaser, a HTML/JavaScript game platform, was awarded $50,000. I’ve been teaching Phaser to my pre-teen daughter for a year, and it’s one of the best and easiest HTML game development platforms to learn. Pygame, however, may be a better choice for beginners. Here’s why.

    • Update to Linux perf report

      Linux perf is an immensely useful and powerful tool suite for profiling of C/C++ applications.
      I have used it extensively and successfully on various customer projects, both for desktop applications as well as automotive or industrial projects targeting low-end embedded Linux targets running on ARM hardware.

    • The big break in computer languages

      My last post (The long goodbye to C) elicited a comment from a C++ expert I was friends with long ago, recommending C++ as the language to replace C. Which ain’t gonna happen; if that were a viable future, Go and Rust would never have been conceived.

      But my readers deserve more than a bald assertion. So here, for the record, is the story of why I don’t touch C++ any more. This is a launch point for a disquisition on the economics of computer-language design, why some truly unfortunate choices got made and baked into our infrastructure, and how we’re probably going to fix them.

      Along the way I will draw aside the veil from a rather basic mistake that people trying to see into the future of programming languages (including me) have been making since the 1980s. Only very recently do we have the field evidence to notice where we went wrong.

      I think I first picked up C++ because I needed GNU eqn to be able to output MathXML, and eqn was written in C++. That project succeeded. Then I was a senior dev on Battle For Wesnoth for a number of years in the 2000s and got comfortable with the language.

    • GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.9

      About 3 months, a GStreamer Conference and two bug-fix releases have passed now since the GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.8.0. Today version 0.9.0 (and 0.9.1 with a small bugfix to export some forgotten types) with a couple of API improvements and lots of additions and cleanups was released. This new version depends on the new set of releases of the gtk-rs crates (glib/etc).

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Vulkan 1.0.66 Introduces Three New Extensions

      Vulkan 1.0.66 was released this morning as the newest version of the Vulkan 1.0 graphics and compute specification.

      Vulkan 1.0.66 has a number of fixes pertaining to the documentation as well as some clarifications. There are also three new extensions.

Leftovers

  • In pursuit of Otama’s tone

    It would be fun to use the Otamatone in a musical piece. But for someone used to keyboard instruments it’s not so easy to play cleanly. It has a touch-sensitive (resistive) slider that spans roughly two octaves in just 14 centimeters, which makes it very sensitive to finger placement. And in any case, I’d just like to have a programmable virtual instrument that sounds like the Otamatone.

  • Science

    • Actress Hedy Lamarr laid the groundwork for some of today’s wireless tech

      Throughout Bombshell, animated sketches illustrate Lamarr’s inventions, but the film doesn’t dig deep into the science. The primary focus is the tension between Lamarr’s love of invention and her Hollywood image. With commentary from family and historians, as well as old interviews with Lamarr, Bombshell paints a sympathetic portrait of a woman troubled by her superficial reputation and yearning for recognition of her scientific intellect.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicines Excitement In The Netherlands – New Health Minister Announces Firm Action On “Absurd” Medicines Pricing And Gets The European Medicines Agency

      He specifically told the Dutch parliament that he plans to “extensively explore” the use of compulsory licensing of patents of medicines that are too expensive. (See here for media coverage in Dutch). Compulsory licensing lifts the monopoly effect of a patent by allowing others to produce generic versions. The Dutch patent law provides for compulsory licensing, including for reasons of public interest, which presumably covers addressing “absurd pricing” of needed medicines. EU medicines regulations may stand in the way of the Minister’s plans when data exclusivity rules prevent the registration of the generic. For a detailed discussion of the need to ensure coherence in EU law on this matter see our paper here. He will also explore if he can authorise pharmacists to prepare medicines al lower cost for individual patients.

      The Minister follows the recommendations of the Netherlands Council for Public Health and Society, an official government advisory body, which published its report on eight November. The Council’s report – Development of new medicines: Better, faster, cheaper – outlines a number of actions the Dutch government can take to immediately address high drug pricing, including the use of compulsory licensing to strengthen the government’s position in price negotiations.

    • Access To Affordable Healthcare: A Global Wake-Up Call Fosters Coalition Of The Like-Minded

      Few topics in the global health agenda are as contentious as access to affordable medicines and medical care, and expectedly, divergent views permeated the discussions at a high-level conference in New Delhi, India last week. But if there is one thing that the three-day meet made amply clear, it was this: access to affordable healthcare has emerged as a global problem, and an emerging coalition of the like-minded, cutting across the developed and developing countries, is determined to have their voices heard in international policy circles on the issue.

      The 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was held in New Delhi from 21-23 November.

    • Creeping quackery: “Integrative” cancer care spreading in NIH-supported centers

      For instance, the number of centers providing patients with information on “healing touch”—a type of “energy medicine”—increased nearly 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. Cancer patients at 26 of the 45 government-designated comprehensive centers around the country can now learn about that hocus-pocus along with actual cancer therapies. Likewise, inclusion of Ayurveda—a pseudoscience involving herbal, mineral, and metal treatments—increased by 10 percent in the same timeframe. Now, 18 of 45 cancer centers supported by the National Cancer Institute provide patients with information on that sorcery.

      While the data may alarm evidence-based physicians and health experts, an accompanying article on the semantics of “integrative medicine” may be of more concern. In it, advocates of “integrative medicine” try to define what “integrative medicine” is, exactly. But rather than a clear definition, they create a vague and broad one that includes “mind and body practices.” It involves everything from the “medicalized” components of a healthy lifestyle (such as simple exercise) to what can charitably be described as magic.

  • Security

    • Open source nameserver used by millions needs patching

      Open source DNS software vendor PowerDNS has advised users to patch its “Authoritative” and “Recursor” products, to squish five bugs disclosed today.

      None of the bugs pose a risk that PowerDNS might itself be compromised, but this is the DNS: what an attacker can do is fool around with DNS records in various ways.

      That can be catastrophic if done right: for example, if a network is tricked into advertising itself as the whole of the Internet, it can be hosed, or if the wrong network promises it’s the best way to reach YouTube, then YouTube is blackholed.

    • Looking for scrubs? Nah, NHS wants white hats – the infosec techie kind

      The UK’s National Health Service will pay white hat hackers up to £20m to protect its IT systems, it announced today.

      NHS Digital is looking to make a deal with consultants to create a security operations centre, which it says will ensure the safety of staff and patient data nationwide.

      Speaking to The Telegraph, NHS Digital said the contract “will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team to proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities.”

      This comes against the backdrop of the Wannacry ransomware attack in May this year, which demonstrated the NHS’ lack of preparedness for dealing with a large attack across several locations at once.

    • Hackers [sic] stole information from 1.7 million Imgur accounts in 2014
    • Pentagon’s move toward open source software isn’t going to enhance security [Ed: Guy Podjarny is the CEO of Snyk who is now attacking FOSS in articles and press releases like Microsoft-connected firms do.]
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Potential impact of the Intel ME vulnerability

      Intel’s Management Engine (ME) is a small coprocessor built into the majority of Intel CPU chipsets[0]. Older versions were based on the ARC architecture[1] running an embedded realtime operating system, but from version 11 onwards they’ve been small x86 cores running Minix. The precise capabilities of the ME have not been publicly disclosed, but it is at minimum capable of interacting with the network[2], display[3], USB, input devices and system flash. In other words, software running on the ME is capable of doing a lot, without requiring any OS permission in the process.

      Back in May, Intel announced a vulnerability in the Advanced Management Technology (AMT) that runs on the ME. AMT offers functionality like providing a remote console to the system (so IT support can connect to your system and interact with it as if they were physically present), remote disk support (so IT support can reinstall your machine over the network) and various other bits of system management. The vulnerability meant that it was possible to log into systems with enabled AMT with an empty authentication token, making it possible to log in without knowing the configured password.

      This vulnerability was less serious than it could have been for a couple of reasons – the first is that “consumer”[4] systems don’t ship with AMT, and the second is that AMT is almost always disabled (Shodan found only a few thousand systems on the public internet with AMT enabled, out of many millions of laptops). I wrote more about it here at the time.

    • Chinese nationals indicted on federal computer hacking [sic] charges

      Beginning in at least 2013, the defendants “and others known and unknown to the grand jury” used spearphishing emails containing malicious attachments or customized malware to hack into networks used by U.S. and foreign businesses, according to the indictment.

    • Security firm was front for advanced Chinese hacking operation, Feds say

      Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei face federal charges that they conspired to steal hundreds of gigabytes of data belonging to Siemens AG, Moody’s Analytics, and the GPS technology company Trimble. The indictment, which was filed in September and unsealed on Monday, said the trio used spear phishing e-mails with malicious attachments or links to infect targeted end users. The defendants used customized tools collectively known as the UPS Backdoor Malware to gain and maintain unauthorized access to the targeted companies’ networks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What if This Had Happened on the Day After 9/11?
    • Pentagon likely to acknowledge 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria: U.S. officials

      The U.S. military had earlier publicly said it had around 500 troops in Syria, mostly supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces group of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State in the north of the country.

      Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon could, as early as Monday, publicly announce that there are slightly more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. They said there was always a possibility that last minute changes in schedules could delay an announcement.

      That is not an increase in troop numbers, just a more accurate count, as the numbers often fluctuate.

    • Syria: Dozens of Civilians Killed in Last 24 Hours

      In Syria, dozens of civilians have been killed in the last 24 hours by shelling and airstrikes reportedly carried out by the Syrian regime and Russia. The attacks occurred in the ISIS-controlled eastern province of Deir Az Zor and the rebel-controlled district of Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital Damascus.

    • New Drone Strikes Underscore, Again, How Much Power We Give Trump

      Residents later reported that the region spent much of the day under attack from Saudi jets and American drones, which hovered overhead and intermittently fired missiles from above.

      The attacks were described as a success in most Western newspapers. The Daily Mail in London highlighted the fact that “10 Al-Qaeda Suspects” were killed in the attacks, as confirmed by government officials.

    • The colonial roots of Trump’s discourse on Iran

      Donald Trump is unpredictable and erratic, yet the ulterior motive for a lot of his decisions seems fairly unsophisticated: as Ta Nahisi Coates points out in his brilliant piece, Trump’s ultimate motive is to obliterate the legacy of Barack Obama. The more Obama prided himself on an achievement, the more adamant Trump becomes on destroying it. The Iran deal was a policy Obama advocated passionately. No wonder Trump stubbornly pursues its destruction.

      Trump has given a few speeches about the Iran deal. He is yet to come up with any substantial argument against it. He throws in talking points and threadbare clichés about Iran, without saying anything new. Most likely without realizing it, Trump is in fact yet another figure in the long line of imperial leaders who have tapped into a certain image of Iran, without caring whether it bears any resemblance to its reality.

    • Guatemala is the Future: Neoliberal Democracy and Authoritarian Populism

      For decades the United States held itself up as Latin America’s ideal future even as it crushed post WWII nationalist projects for economic independence and social democracy. After decades of brutal counterinsurgency, the US promoted neoliberal democracy—free elections and free markets—as the path to peace and prosperity in Guatemala. Twenty years after historic peace accords, Guatemala’s democratic transition is a failure by every standard metric. Modest reforms were gutted while poverty and inequality grew worse, perpetuating the exploitation of working people and the indigenous underclass—the root causes of the armed conflict. Crime has skyrocketed. Dozens are murdered weekly in the capitol, and brutal killings of hundreds of women go uninvestigated. Gangs rule giant swaths of territory by terror. Narco-violence has killed thousands. Millions flee to the US for work and safety. Institutionalized corruption drains public coffers while infrastructure and state services decay. Food insecurity and malnutrition are epidemic. These appalling conditions are the predictable result of the violent imperialist imposition of free market reforms on a poor, unequal, and war torn country. Guatemalan society convulses in a permanent state of collapse, at war with itself, riddled with expanding zones of environmental sacrifice and social abandonment and lives in a constant state of risk and precarity, not unlike a prison or labor camp. This year, when forty-three girls died in a fire in an overcrowded and understaffed state run “safe home” for victims of violence, abuse, and abandonment, it became for many Guatemalans a perfect symbolic condensation of patriarchy, economic violence, and official negligence.

    • As Aid Groups Warn of Yemen ‘On the Brink,’ Iran Says US Just Admitted Its Complicity in ‘Atrocities’

      As the United Nations children’s fund warned Sunday that nearly every Yemeni boy and girl—that’s more than 11 million children—is in acute need of humanitarian assistance, Iran said the United States admitted its own complicity “in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia” in the warn-ravaged country.

      The comments by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, follow a statement released Friday by the White House, which said that the U.S. remains “committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law.” The statement also praised Saudi Arabia for opening the port in Hodeidah and airport in Sanaa “to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.”

      Aid groups, however, said the partial opening of the nearly three-week long blockade is “a minor and insufficient concession” that “still leave[s] the population of Yemen in a worse situation than they were two weeks ago before the blockade started” and the country still “on the brink.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fears for world’s rarest penguin as population plummets

      Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

      The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

    • Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity a year than Ireland

      According to Digiconomist the estimated power use of the bitcoin network, which is responsible for verifying transactions made with the cryptocurrency, is 30.14TWh a year, which exceeds that of 19 other European countries. At a continual power drain of 3.4GW, it means the network consumes five times more electricity than is produced by the largest wind farm in Europe, the London Array in the outer Thames Estuary, at 630MW.

    • ‘We Do Not Want That to Be Our Legacy’

      This week on CounterSpin: As Americans celebrate a fairly tale about the relationship between Native Americans and settlers, Native Americans are mourning the pollution of more of their land, and lives, by fossil fuels. The November 16 spill of more than 200,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone pipeline occurred adjacent to the South Dakota reservation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

    • Earthquake Risk Keeps Heat on Vulnerable Nuclear Reactors

      A proposal by a California administrative law judge has given safe energy advocates new hope that two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors will be shut before an earthquake on the San Andreas fault turns them to rubble, potentially threatening millions of people.

      The huge reactors—California’s last—sit on a bluff above the Pacific, west of San Luis Obispo, among a dozen earthquake faults. They operate just 45 miles from the San Andreas. That’s half the distance from the fault that destroyed four reactors in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Diablo’s wind-blown emissions could irradiate the Los Angeles megalopolis in less than six hours if an earthquake destroyed the plant.

  • Finance

    • Amazon Merchants Continue to Find Ways to Cheat

      He visited the product page on Amazon.com and suspected he was the victim of “sniping,” when one merchant sabotages another by hiring people to leave critical reviews of their goods and then voting those reviews as being helpful, making them the most prominent feedback seen by shoppers. Freelancers in China and Bangladesh willing to do this for $10 an hour are easily found online. Even though the toy has a 4.8 star rating out of 5 based on more than 1,100 reviews, shoppers first see a string of critical one-star reviews and many may get scared away.

    • A false hope for Remainers

      26th November 2017

      Since the referendum result there has been a lack of realism about Brexit by the UK government and many Leavers.

      The current difficulties about the Irish border are one of many examples.

      But lack of realism is not a monopoly of those wanting the UK to depart the EU.

      There is wishful thinking – indeed, magical thinking – by those who want the UK to remain in the EU, or at least by those who want to have a Brexit significantly “softer” than which is currently likely to happen.

      The (grim or glorious) truth is that the UK will be leaving the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019, unless something exceptional happens to change that legal position.

    • Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds

      The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    • Bitcoin cracks $9,600 just hours after breaking $9,000 level

      The largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., Coinbase, added about 100,000 accounts between Wednesday and Friday — just around Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday — to a total of 13.1 million. That’s according to public data available on Coinbase’s website and historical records compiled by Alistair Milne, co-founder and chief investment officer of Altana Digital Currency Fund. Coinbase had about 4.9 million users last November, Milne’s data showed.

    • Bitcoin Price Crosses $9,000

      While you might be still struggling to recover from all the goodies you gulped over the Thanksgiving dinner, Bitcoin has continued hustling to make its way towards the magical mark of $10,000.

    • City of London voices in unison on Brexit threat to investment

      Next week, the City of London Choir begins its Christmas season with a charity concert at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. Were it in need of an extra bass or alto, it need not look far. Because the number of City voices expressing deep concern over UK finances is fast becoming a chorus.

      In space of two days, a series of City figures have lined up to intone publicly on the impact of Brexit on inward investment. But not all expect an audience as appreciative as the choir’s.

    • Bernie Sanders hits the trail again, this time to fight GOP tax bill

      Sen. Bernie Sanders is traveling to Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania this weekend to rally against the Republican tax bill, his office told NBC News, keeping up a brisk pace of political activity since leaving the presidential race last year and ahead of a potential second one in 2020.

      Sanders, who held a similar series of rallies across the country this year to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, is using his “Protecting Working Families Tour” to pressure on-the-fence GOP senators before a vote on the tax bill, President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

    • Theresa May ‘Rigging Parliament’ With New Emergency Move To Curb Changes To Budget 2017

      Theresa May is facing fresh accusations of “rigging Parliament” with an unprecedented move to prevent MPs from changing legislation on the Budget.

      Labour attacked May’s latest “power grab” after it emerged that the Government will deploy a little-used procedural device to effectively eliminate any attempts to amend the Finance Bill.

      The tactic will severely restrict MPs’ ability to secure alternative tax measures, such as a DUP-backed plan to abolish VAT on all domestic fuel after Brexit.

      It also ensures that no backbench rebels can join Labour or other parties in ambushing the Government on particular plans – as they have in recent years on issues like the ‘tampon tax’ or taxes on solar panels.

    • Brexit and tribalism

      But Leave do not have a monopoly in their lack of realism.

      Some Remainers seem to think that the Article 50 process, once triggered, can be ended lightly.

      Just a matter of politics; just a quick fix; just some tinkering; it will all be alright in the end.

      And there is some force to this: if the politics of Brexit change, then the legal process can be ended (or paused).

      If a lever is pulled then the conveyor belt to the big industrial jagged saw will jolt and then halt.

    • British government accused of being soft on tax avoidance

      The British government has been accused of being weak on tax avoidance after failing to block the EU from taking the first step in naming and shaming its overseas territories in a tax haven blacklist.

      Ministers in recent weeks fought to prevent Brussels from sending of letters informing 12 countries that they would be listed unless they promised to change their tax rules. The final EU blacklist is due to be published on 5 December.

      The correspondence was eventually sent to the British overseas territories, but only following a ruling by members states’ experts sitting on a European council code of conduct group, which trumped the initial British protests.

    • International Court Of Justice Judges Getting Pulled Into Investor-State Cases

      According to a study by a watchdog group released this week, numerous judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have worked or are working on at least 90 investor-state dispute settlement cases, despite a prohibition on them doing work outside their ICJ duties. Fees paid to the judges ranged above USD 1 million among three judges in a number of cases.

    • British meat exports to EU set to fall by 90% in ‘hard Brexit’ scenario, report warns

      ‘Crisis – The EU Meat Industry in a Hard Brexit Scenario’ report, commissioned by Europe’s meat industry body UECBV, analyses the potential impact of a hard Brexit on the European and UK meat industry.

      It found that a ‘no-deal’ outcome would lead to a collapse in trade, with a 90% drop in beef exports and 53% drop in lamb exports from the UK to the EU.

      In this scenario, meat products would face greater burdens than almost any other sector.

      According to the report, the industry would face higher WTO tariffs than any other sector, and face additional costs of veterinary checks, in addition to the customs checks faced by all goods.

    • The EU could blacklist Britain as a tax haven after Brexit

      On Dec. 5 the EU will publish a blacklist of countries that have “harmful tax practices.” By its own criteria, that should include six EU member states, according to a report by the Tax Justice Network, an NGO.
      Those countries are Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, and the UK. The first five don’t have to worry since the EU says it won’t blacklist its own members, but when Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 it could find itself named and shamed.
      The EU has three criteria it uses to assess whether a country is a tax haven. These countries fail on “fair taxation,” which is pretty vague. The Tax Justice Network’s report is based on a (seemingly slightly playful) “best guess at what their criteria mean,” according to Alex Cobham, director of the group and co-author of the report. Britain falls short because it acts as a “tax conduit,” the report says, with low taxes on moving capital that allow multinationals to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions while paying little or nothing where it was earned.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban for Staff

      The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven’t yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president.

    • White House reportedly considering banning staff from using personal phones at work
    • Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world?

      For the time being, though, Zuckerberg’s possible political ambitions are not really the issue. Far more important is what we know already: that his power is titanic, and Facebook is shaping millions of people’s understanding of who they are and their place in the world, often in grim ways.

    • Trump’s Sinister Attacks on CNN
    • [Older] Russia used Twitter bots and trolls ‘to disrupt’ Brexit vote
    • [Older] Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows
    • [Older] Facebook Has Finally Opened The Door To Admitting Russia Meddled In Brexit
    • [Older] Here’s the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit
    • [Older] Researcher finds just 400 tweets from Russia aimed at Brexit vote

      The claims around alleged Russian meddling in British politics has been stirred by allegations that fake Twitter accounts attempted to influence the Brexit vote. But while the mere suggestion was enough to make mainstream headlines, little was said about the “infinitesimal” quantity of tweets involved.

    • No Moore Pretense

      On one side are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. They have disowned Roy Moore, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, over allegations that he targeted, and in some cases molested, minors and other teen girls. On the other side are social conservatives, including Alabama’s state auditor, who argue that courtship between an older man and a teenage girl is consensual, biblical, good for the girl, and grounded in the natural attraction of a godly man to the “purity of a young woman.” Alongside the purity camp is the tolerance camp, led by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. These Republicans don’t deny the allegations or endorse Moore’s conduct, but they support him anyway, reasoning that other issues are more important.

      Many Republicans are afraid to take sides in this debate. They want to stick with the GOP nominee, or at least avoid antagonizing voters who support him. But they don’t want to defend the sexual exploitation of minors. So they’ve staked out a neutral position: Moore is innocent until proven guilty. President Trump adopted this position on Tuesday, urging voters not to elect Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. A reporter asked Trump: “Is Roy Moore, a child molester, better than a Democrat?” The president replied: “Well, he denies it. … He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”

    • Meet the Socialist Marine & Anti-Police Brutality Protester Who Won Democratic Seats in November

      Can the emergence of non-traditional candidates help revive a faltering Democratic Party that is facing its lowest approval rating in nearly a quarter century? We speak with two Democrats who won key races with support from grassroots sources outside of the Democratic Party. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Braxton Winston is a former middle school football coach who took to the streets in 2015 along with hundreds of people to protest the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. We also speak with Lee Carter, a Democratic Socialist and former Marine who unseated the Republican majority whip of Virginia’s House of Delegates.

    • While honoring Native American veterans, Trump lobs his favorite Native American insult

      The “code talkers” were Native American soldiers who were deployed during the world wars to send messages between units using a nearly uncrackable code: their native languages. During World War II, Navajo men were recruited by the Marines and served in the Pacific theater, aiding in the defeat of the Japanese army. Their story has become well known, including being featured in a 2002 film.

    • The Right Returns to the Religion Well

      What has many observers far more concerned are connections among the new attraction’s principal funders and the right wing. Here its mission becomes suspect, more political than religious, although with the right wing, it is always difficult to separate the two, each possessing a will to dominate.

      [...]

      In the words of historian of religion Randall Ballmer, “You have a movement that has so totally embraced a particular political party that it’s willing to go along with any outrage as long as it’s within the tent of party.”

      Fortunately, there are Christians who say no. In Alabama itself, dozens of pastors signed a letter condemning Moore. It reads, in part:

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?
    • Google’s de-ranking of RT in search results is a form of censorship and blatant propaganda

      Who is the true propagandist? The man who offers you information which you can freely choose to believe or disregard — or the man who tries to control what you see, for fear you might start using your own brain to distinguish truth from lies?

      That is essentially what Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is doing when it comes to news articles from this website, RT. Schmidt was closely involved in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and in a recent interview he admitted that Google is creating special algorithms to filter RT’s news and make it appear less prominently in Google’s search results. In his own words, Google is trying to “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible.

    • A Workshop On Cartoons And Censorship In The Heart Of Westminster

      Yesterday, on a trip into London to see the Christmas lights of Regent Street and Carnaby Street, and a subsequent walk across the Thames saw me stop by the Westminster Reference Library with my two kids for a cartoon workshop as part of their Gagged exhibition on censorship, with the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation raising awareness of – and money for – cartoonists who have been fired, imprisoned or even killed for their work. It’s a subject I’d been discussing with my kids of late anyway, and it seemed a way to bring some of the realities of creativity into sharp relief.

      [...]

      A news team from Al Jazeera also popped by, so be warned, you may see our ugly mugs on a screen near you sometime. Here’s how the whole thing looked, including from my kids, Eve and Alice, who decided that their rebellion against authority – would be against me, in their collaborative alter ego, The Savage Kid.

    • The Dark Inevitability of Zionism

      Among the growing assaults on freedom of speech is an Israeli-driven campaign to criminalize a campaign to boycott Israel over its racist persecution of Palestinians, writes Lawrence Davidson.

    • Art Censorship at Guantánamo Bay

      Moath al-Alwi’s prayer rug is stained with paint. Every day, he wakes before dawn and works for hours on an elaborate model ship made from scavenged materials — one of dozens of sculptures he has created since he was first detained at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in 2002. Mr. al-Alwi is considered a low value detainee, but is being held indefinitely. His art is his refuge.

      The sails of Mr. al-Alwi’s ships are made from scraps of old T-shirts. A bottle-cap wheel steers a rudder made with pieces of a shampoo bottle, turned with delicate cables of dental floss. The only tool Mr. al-Alwi uses to make these intricate vessels is a pair of tiny, snub-nosed scissors, the kind a preschooler might use. It is all he is allowed in his cell.

      Three of Mr. al-Alwi’s model ships are currently on view in an exhibit at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, along with 32 other paintings and sculptures from other prisoners or former detainees. My colleagues and I curated this exhibit after learning that many lawyers who have worked with detainees have file cabinets stuffed full of prisoners’ art. In the atmosphere of surveillance and control that is Guantánamo, these artworks are among the only ways detainees have to communicate with the outside world.

    • We’re Being Pushed Towards Silence, Self-Censorship: Anand Gandhi

      National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi says he feels “restless” and “anxious” when he sees fundamental rights of the artistes being attacked in the country today.

      The 37-year-old director says the kind of threats, both commercial and indie projects are facing from different sections of the society, the creative freedom is at stake.

    • Johar takes middle path on censorship

      Panaji: Speaking about censorship, film producer Karan Johar said filmmakers like himself aspire for certification according to age brackets and not censorship. This, he says, will tremendously enhance the possibilities of content.

    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan against censorship of films
    • ‘Coco’ Got All Of Its Ghosts Past China’s Superstition-Hating Censors

      China’s film censorship bureau surprised practically everyone recently when it authorized Pixar’s newest animated feature, Coco, to release in Chinese theaters.

    • Author of fires report slams data protection commission ‘censorship’

      Xavier Viegas, the University of Coimbra academic who coordinated and wrote the report, said in a column published on Tuesday that “nothing justifies the decision to censor” one of its chapters and pledged to do all he could to ensure that the stories of the victims of the fires in Pedrógão Grande and Góis, in central Portugal, are known.

      The fires in Pedrógão and neighbouring municipalities that started on 17 June and burned for several days claimed 64 lives, and left 200 people injured, some seriously.

      In the opinion column in Publico newspaper, Viegas condemned the CNPD’s decision to bar the publication of parts of chapter 6 of the report, saying that in order to protect the constitutional rights to privacy and personal data of the families of the victims, only the families should see it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Age verification legislation will lead to porn habit database

      The UK powers that be consider online porn to be akin to cyber matches: you just can’t let kids play with that stuff, lest they set their eyeballs on fire.

      It’s a well-established, thoroughly legislated angst, with the most current relevant legislation tucked into the Digital Economy Act. The problem – well, one of many – is that this angst seems poised to set the adult population of the country up for Ashley Madison-esque breaches.

      The country is eager to protect children from porn. It’s a worthy goal, mind you, given that research shows that exposing kids to porn can be damaging. Unfortunately, it’s a quixotic goal, given that porn is impossible to block. Nevertheless, the UK is now on the brink of creating a database of the country’s porn habits.

      It also seems poised to hand the age verification piece of that puzzle over to an outfit that Vice refers to as “the shady company that controls the majority of free porn tube sites.”

    • Vulnerability Equities Process Gets A Facelift From The New Administration

      The Trump Administration has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process — one nominally slanted towards greater transparency and outside participation. The previous process was broken in multiple ways, not the least of which was intelligence oversight’s general belief everything was fine even though the NSA didn’t follow the previous rules, despite statements to the contrary.

      It’s unclear why this new VEP is appearing now. The new administration doesn’t seem particularly concerned about surveillance overreach or the legality of tactics deployed by the Intelligence Community. On the other hand, the up-cycling of undisclosed NSA exploits by malicious hackers has probably forced the government’s hand. It’s impossible to get ahead of criticism, especially when so many of the exploited exploits dated back several years. But perhaps it’s possible to head off future criticism with a diplomatic gesture, which is what this appears to be.

    • Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there’s still time to unplug it

      On a walk across the show floor at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed.

      As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

      But I did. I could feel it in my gut and heard it from everyone else who’d spent a career working in technology. It isn’t just that a few megacorporations nearing trillion-dollar valuations have sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, it’s that they’ve become so big they’ve started to warp the fabric of reality.

      Facebook got caught out in May using real-time emotional profiling to target vulnerable teenagers with commercial offers.

      Google was caught out last week tracking Android users even when they’re not supposed to.

    • CBP Reveals How Agents Implement New Policy Not to Access Cloud Content

      President Trump’s nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Kevin McAleenan, revealed during his confirmation process how the agency implements its new policy not to access cloud content during border searches of digital devices.

      In response to written questions for the record submitted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. McAleenan explained that in accordance with CBP’s new policy to access only information that is “physically resident” on a device, border agents must “ensure that network connectivity is disabled to limit access to remote systems” (page 92).

      While Mr. McAleenan did not provide details, disabling network connectivity can mean a few things, such as putting a phone or other device into “airplane mode,” or individually toggling off cellular data and Wi-Fi. It could also mean making sure a laptop is not connected to an Ethernet cable, or bringing a device into a SCIF-type room that blocks electromagnetic signals.

    • Facebook rolls out AI to detect suicidal posts before they’re reported

      This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.

      Facebook previously tested using AI to detect troubling posts and more prominently surface suicide reporting options to friends in the U.S. Now Facebook is will scour all types of content around the world with this AI, except in the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation privacy laws on profiling users based on sensitive information complicate the use of this tech.

    • Ex-Facebook Engineer Creates Wikipedia Dark Web Version

      Wikipedia, the internet’s free encyclopedia is accessible on the dark web. But, it isn’t track-proof as the traffic has to go outside the boundaries of the Tor network.

      Now, we have an unofficial dark web version that can help netizens use Wikipedia without someone spying on them–thanks to the ex-Facebook engineer Alec Muffet who has worked on a personal project and is the first to create the specially crafted onion website.

    • Judge Tosses Long-Running Section 215 Surveillance Lawsuit

      A federal judge has issued the final word in one long-running dragnet surveillance suit. The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman immediately after the first Snowden leak, alleged the Section 215 phone records program — targeting Verizon Business customers according to the leaked document — was unconstitutional. DC district court judge Richard Leon agreed, issuing an injunction in December 2013 demanding a cessation of the Section 215 dragnet.

      This order was immediately stayed to allow the government to appeal (and to continue harvesting domestic phone records in bulk). The Appeals Court disagreed with Leon, sending the case back for another ruling. It didn’t change anything at the lower level. Judge Leon still found the program unconstitutional and ordered the NSA to stop collecting the phone records of the two named plaintiffs.

    • FBI Leaves It To Journalists To Notify US Government Targets Of Russian Hacking

      The last year-and-a-half has provided plenty of evidence that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, most of the evidence confirming this has been delivered by entities outside the US government. The government has released reports but has omitted plenty of key details.

      This hasn’t done much for those affected by Russia’s efforts. In almost every case, individuals targeted by Russian government-directed hacking entity Fancy Bear were made aware of this by journalists, not the FBI, despite the fact both had access to the same evidence.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?

      In August 2016, a mysterious entity calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” began releasing the first of several troves of classified documents and hacking tools purportedly stolen from “The Equation Group,” a highly advanced threat actor that is suspected of having ties to the U.S. National Security Agency. According to media reports, at least some of the information was stolen from the computer of an unidentified software developer and NSA contractor who was arrested in 2015 after taking the hacking tools home. In this post, we’ll examine clues left behind in the leaked Equation Group documents that may point to the identity of the mysterious software developer.

    • Is There a Mole at the NSA, or Is It Russian Disinformation?

      Back in March, we speculated that the point behind the Russian hacks and Wikileaks document dumps during the 2016 election was to create a mole hunt in our intelligence agencies. There now are indications that our speculation was spot on.

      The New York Times recently reported that, largely as a result of Wikileaks and the publication of other documents, the National Security Agency (NSA) is in the midst of a mole hunt.That report also tends to confirm speculation which we have privately heard from people in the intelligence community: that Russia may have multiple sources within the NSA that are supplying it with some of our most closely guarded secrets.

    • Aadhaar now mandatory for Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana

      [...] Aadhaar has been made mandatory for getting benefits under the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) pension scheme, according to a notification by the finance ministry on November 20.

    • Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers

      Congress will return from its weeklong Thanksgiving break facing a rapidly-shrinking timeline to reform and renew an authority the intelligence community says is critical to identifying and disrupting terrorist plots.

      The key piece of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as Section 702 and passed in 2008, is set to expire at the end of the year. It allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant — even when the subjects communicate with Americans in the U.S.

      Throughout the fall, privacy advocates on Capitol Hill pushed for changes to the law to curtail what critics say is a violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections — a push that seemed to gain some momentum despite the objections of the Trump administration.

    • Why Tencent Could Become an Advertising Powerhouse Like Facebook

      Tencent is counting on its user data — from the music people play, the news they read and the places they go — to deliver targeted commercials and capture a bigger share of China’s 350 billion yuan ($53 billion) online advertising market. Success in games and social media has meant the company hasn’t had to rely on ads, a business that generates just 17 percent of its revenue compared with 97 percent for Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police tell one story of what happened in Barangay 19. Security cameras tell another.

      The police report was clear. Anti-drug officers shot and injured three men in this poor district of the Philippine capital, then “rushed” them to hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.

      But security camera footage obtained by Reuters tells a different story of what happened just after midday on October 11 in Barangay (district) 19. It shows that police took at least 25 minutes to haul away the men they had shot. The victims show no signs of life; police are seen carrying them by their arms and legs and loading their limp bodies onto pedicabs to take them to hospital.

      The footage casts new doubts on the official accounts of police killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s 17-month war on drugs.

    • Why We Had to Buy Racist, Sexist, Xenophobic, Ableist, and Otherwise Awful Facebook Ads

      Were these actual ads? No. And as someone who’s spent the past month on a New York City apartment hunt, I’m pretty confident that no one would mistake our “real estate company” for an actual brokerage.

      But here’s the question: could they have been real? Yes — and our ability to limit the audience by race, religion, and gender — among other legally protected attributes — points to the same problem my colleagues Terry Parris Jr. and Julia Angwin reported out a year ago, exciting much outrage from people who care about fixing discriminatory housing practices.

    • Libya “Chose” Freedom, Now It Has Slavery

      NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 has justifiably earned its place in history as an indictment of Western foreign policy and a military alliance which since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been deployed as the sword of this foreign policy. The destruction of Libya will forever be an indelible stain on the reputations of those countries and leaders responsible.

      But now, with the revelation that people are being sold as slaves in Libya (yes, you read that right. In 2017 the slave trade is alive and kicking Libya), the cataclysmic disaster to befall the country has been compounded to the point where it is hard to conceive of it ever being able to recover – and certainly not anywhere near its former status as a high development country, as the UN labelled Libya 2010 a year prior to the ‘revolution’.

      Back in 2011 it was simply inconceivable that the UK, the US and France would ignore the lessons of Iraq, just nine years previously in 2003. Yet ignore them they did, highlighting their rapacious obsession with maintaining hegemony over a region that sits atop an ocean of oil, despite the human cost and legacy of disaster and chaos which this particular obsession has wrought.

    • House Intel Committee to Subpoena Leftist Comedian and Civil Rights Activist Randy Credico in Russia Investigation

      The House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation has taken an unexpected turn, with investigators homing in on a New York City-based comedian and veteran civil rights activist named Randy Credico. Credico received a letter this month from Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Michael Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation. The lawmakers requested that Credico “participate in a voluntary, transcribed interview at the Committee’s offices” during the first half of December.

      Credico informed the House committee through his legal counsel that he would not submit to the voluntary interview. Soon after, his lawyer informed him that the committee planned to issue a subpoena to compel his presence.

      Credico is among the unlikeliest characters to have surfaced as a player in the ongoing Russiagate drama. For over two decades, he split time as a comedy professional while waging a tireless crusade against the war on drugs. The former host of a radio show on the Pacifica affiliate WBAI, Credico’s activism eventually brought him into the company of a who’s who of political dissidents. The most prominent among them was Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder accused by CIA Director Mike Pompeo of overseeing a “hostile intelligence service” and by Hillary Clinton of having collaborated with the Russian government to subvert the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

    • Support Lauri Love, Computer Expert and Activist, Who Faces Extradition to the US in a Life-Threatening Betrayal of Justice

      This Wednesday and Thursday, November 29 and 30, a hearing is taking place at the High Court in London to assess whether Lauri Love, a computer expert with Asperger’s Syndrome, should be extradited to the US for acts of online activism — allegedly targeting US government websites in the wake of the suicide of computer expert and activist Aaron Swartz in January 2013, along with many other online activists.

      There is no evidence that any harm was caused in the US, Lauri has never set foot in the US, the British government has brought no case against him in the UK, and yet, under the terms of the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty, the US is able to demand that he be sent to the US to be imprisoned (in isolation in a maximum-security prison) and subsequently tried (in a broken, punitive system in which huge pressure is exerted to accept a plea deal and a 10-20 year sentence rather than fight and lose and be imprisoned for life). Worryingly, Lauri Love has been openly stating that he could not bear punitive isolation in the US, and would kill himself rather than be extradited, and those closest to him do not dispute this intent.

      I have some experience of the chronic unfairness of the US-UK Extradition Treaty, because, back in 2012, I worked to oppose the injustice of the treaty with reference to the cases of Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad, who ended up being extradited in relation to a UK website encouraging Muslim resistance to oppression, which was run from the UK, but had, at one point, involved a server in Connecticut — enough, apparently, for extradition to take place.

      Both men had been imprisoned for six and eight years respectively in the UK, without charge or trial, while they resisted extradition, and in neither case was there any sign that they would or could have been successfully prosecuted in the UK, but in October 2012 home secretary Theresa May allowed their extradition to take place, and then boasted about it to the Conservative Party Conference.

    • My partner Lauri Love could be saving the world from cyber attacks but instead he faces a 99-year prison sentence

      Lauri Love is an activist, a physicist, a computer scientist, an angel and the person I want to spend my life with. He is stubborn and smart, near to the point of arrogance, and he fights every battle he can against injustice. Next week Lauri will be in court appealing against extradition to the United States where he faces a 99-year prison sentence on allegations British authorities investigated and decided not to charge him for.

      Lauri is a much nicer person than I am and he is a much more positive and hopeful person. Where I see climate destruction and oppressive regimes, he sees opportunities to overcome. His hacker mind is hard-wired to solve problems and this world has many.

    • Sheriff Says He Won’t Deploy Body Cameras Because He Doesn’t Want His Deputies Criticized

      Something’s very wrong with Albuquerque-area law enforcement. The Albuquerque Police Department has been described as a “criminal enterprise.” These words didn’t come from an activist group or an enraged op-ed in the local paper, but rather from a departing District Attorney in a letter to the DOJ.

      The DOJ is at least partially aware of the Albuquerque PD’s criminal activities. Its 2014 investigation concluded APD officers routinely engaged in indiscriminate force deployment. Worse, those above the officers did almost nothing to curb misconduct and brutality. Beyond shooting citizens at an alarming rate, APD officers were found to be tampering with camera footage — an accusation brought by a private employee of the department in an affidavit presented to a judge.

      It seems the APD isn’t the only law enforcement agency in the Albuquerque area prone to unchecked acts of violence. Nor is it the only one actively disinterested in any form of accountability. In the last four months, the Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department deputies have shot nine people. One deputy — Charles Coggins — shot two people in 22 days, killing one of them.

    • A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

      The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

      But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

    • Trump and Sessions Keep Trying to Institute Anti-Immigrant Policies

      Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.

      President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.

      A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.

    • EFF at Cyberspace Events in Delhi: Protecting the Public Core of the Internet

      Last week EFF attended the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) in New Delhi, India, as one of a small handful of nonprofit organizations invited to participate. This was the fifth in a series of conferences sometimes called the London Process, after the first event that was held in London in 2011. Focusing on international cybersecurity issues, it is a counterpart to other regular government-organized Internet conferences, such as the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) conference which focuses on Internet freedom and human rights, China’s World Internet Conference which focuses on the digital economy, and the International Telecommunications Union’s WSIS Forum which tracks Internet for development goals.

    • Tech Ageism and the Myth of the ‘Digital Native’

      When we think of the term ageism in the IT sector, we generally think of how employers and project managers will systematically or casually discriminate against individuals simply on the basis of their age.

    • Without Public Editor, NYT Ducks and Dismisses Criticism of Its Sympathetic Nazi Profile

      This past June, when the New York Times unceremoniously killed off its public editor position, publisher Arthur Sulzberger tried mightily to characterize the move as addition by subtraction. In a newsroom memo, he promised that a newly created “Reader Center” would make the paper’s reporting “more transparent” and its journalists “more responsive.” As FAIR (6/1/17) noted at the time, these excuses were disingenuous “rationalizations, not legitimate rationales,” and were more likely to make the paper less accountable and transparent in the long run. And this past weekend proved these fears were well-justified.

      It started on Saturday, when the Times (11/25/17) ran a naive, normalizing profile of a Nazi sympathizer from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. Almost immediately, the paper (rightly) faced outraged comments online, as serious critiques of the piece’s flawed framing rolled in. As @magi_jay wrote in a detailed Twitter thread: “The Times failed in many respects, but, above all, they failed by enthusiastically allowing [Tony] Horvater to drive the narrative of his own white supremacy.”

    • Woman reports rape to police – and is arrested on immigration charges

      A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.

      The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police.

      The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why we should be wary of ending net neutrality

      Buried in the same news dump ahead of the national holiday were further liberalisation rules for media ownership including a limit on how many homes in the US a single broadcaster can reach. At the moment the cap is set at 39%, but the FCC has indicated it might revise or scrap that limitation entirely. A second measure would also allow TV stations to use different frequency channels that count less against this overall cap on broadcasting reach.

    • Portugal’s Internet shows us a world without net neutrality, and it’s ugly

      After paying a fee for basic service, subscribers can add any of five further options for about $6 per month, allowing an additional 10GB data allotment for the apps within the options: a “messaging” tier, which covers such services as instant messaging, Apple FaceTime, and Skype; “social,” with liberal access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and so on; “video” (youTube, Netflix, etc.); “email and cloud” (Gmail, Apple’s iCloud); or “music” (Spotify, Pandora).

      Portugal isn’t the only country allowing tiering of internet services. In Britain, the internet service provider Vodaphone charges about $33 a month for basic service but offers several “passes” allowing unlimited video or music streaming, social media usage, or chat, at additional tariffs of up to $9.30 per month.

      Although both countries are part of the European Union, which has an explicit commitment to network neutrality, these arrangements are allowed under provisions giving national regulators some flexibility. These regulators can open loopholes permitting “zero-rating,” through which ISPs can exclude certain services from data caps. That’s what the Portuguese and British ISPs essentially are doing.

    • Net neutrality’s opponents are speaking up — especially tech giants

      The letter added, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.”

    • Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality

      But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire [I]nternet ecosystem.

    • Arrogant overreach: Ajit Pai’s plan to totally destroy net neutrality may doom him in court

      If Trump FCC chairman Ajit Pai had confined his attack on Net Neutrality to merely rolling back the 2015 Title II rules, he might have gotten away with it; but like the Republic plan to kill Obamacare, the Republican plan to rob the middle class to enrich billionaires, and, well, every other Republican plan in this administration, Pai’s plan is so grotesque, so overreaching, so nakedly corrupt that it is likely to collapse under its own weight.

      That’s because the Supreme Court has held that a federal agency contemplating a significant change in policy must “examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action.” But there are no new facts in evidence since the first Net Neutrality rules were enacted in 2004 to justify a change. We don’t know what evidence Pai will bring to court when it comes time to fight his plans, but the cards he’s played so far are hilariously weak: for example, he claims that the 2015 Title II rule led to a decrease in infrastructure investment by telcos. In fact, the telcos’ own filings and investor calls reveal that the reverse is true (Pai is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own fact).

    • Fake Americans Dominated the Net-Neutrality Debate

      Americans do not want internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon controlling what websites they can see, or how quickly they can load them. When pollsters ask U.S. voters whether they support net neutrality — regulations that require ISPs to treat all web traffic equally — a large bipartisan majority answers in the affirmative.

      Among Americans who care deeply about the issue, support for net neutrality is even more overwhelming. When the Federal Communications Commission considered unwinding those regulations in 2015, so many Americans posted pro-net-neutrality messages to the FCC’s webpage for public comments, the site crashed.

      The ISPs, however, are quite keen on accruing more power to curate your internet experience (a.k.a. extort content creators into paying for competitive broadband speeds). And the Trump administration’s regulatory philosophy is, ostensibly, that powerful corporations should be able to do whatever unpopular thing they want (so long as they purchase an indulgence from a Republican campaign committee).

    • Net Neutrality is necessary regulation as a short-term emergency fix to previous bad regulation

      Net Neutrality is a huge topic, again. But it’s important to realize that Net Neutrality is mostly being discussed in the United States — not because it is ahead, but because it is behind. In countries where fiber is the norm to households and they typically have 15-20 ISPs to choose from, Net Neutrality is so taken for granted, it is not a discussion at all.

    • Ajit Pai’s Big Lie

      You might think that the “Big Lie” is the idea that the 2015 rules killed investment. And that is a lie. Actual evidence from financial reports has proven that completely false repeatedly. But, that’s a smaller lie here. Ajit Pai’s Big Lie is the idea that gutting all net neutrality protections is somehow returning FCC policy to the way things were two years ago, and that “for decades” the FCC kept out of this debate. All of that is wrong. And, unlike the other lie concerning investment — where Pai and others can fiddle with numbers to make his claims look right — Ajit Pai knows that the Big Lie is false.

      Pai likes to point back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as his starting point in claiming that the internet is free from regulations, and suggests that things just changed with the 2015 FCC order. But he literally knows this is wrong. First of all, for all his talk of using 1996 as the starting date to show “decades” of supposedly unchanged FCC positions on this, he conveniently leaves out that the FCC didn’t actually classify cable broadband as an information service… until 2002. That’s from the FCC’s own announcement about it. And this was fought out in court, eventually leading to the Brand X Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that said the FCC had the right to determine if broadband was an information service or a telco service (which is why the 2015 order has been upheld).

    • NY Attorney General Investigating Why Dead People Supported The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality

      So as we’ve been noting for a while, the FCC’s policy order taking aim at net neutrality has been rife with all kinds of bizarre and fraudulent behavior, from the agency’s made up DDOS attack (apparently a ham-fisted PR attempt to downplay the “John Oliver effect”) to the numerous fake or otherwise dead people that have oddly supported the agency’s unpopular plan in the FCC’s comment proceeding. It’s clear the FCC’s plan is extremely unpopular, and it’s also clear the agency, ISPs and some policy groups have engaged in some extremely dodgy behavior to try and downplay that fact.

      The GAO is already investigating the FCC’s bogus DDOS claims, and the FCC is already being sued for turning a blind eye to the problem and ignoring FOIA requests. The fraudulent comments by fake or otherwise non-breathing individuals will surely play a starring role in the inevitable lawsuits against the agency. If evidence is found that the FCC violated procedural norms (or hey, the law), it could help to reverse the agency’s myopic and unpopular hand out to the nation’s telecom duopolies.

    • Breitbart, Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange, and Trump’s Right-Wing Base Reject Plan to Axe Net Neutrality
    • The FCC is about to repeal net neutrality. Here’s why Congress should stop them.

      On Wednesday November 22, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai published his draft order outlining his plan to undo the net neutrality protections that have been in place in the U.S. since the beginning of the Internet. His proposal would leave both the FCC and the states powerless to protect consumers and businesses against net neutrality violations by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon that connect us to the Internet.
      His plan discards decades of careful work by FCC chairs of both political parties, who recognized and acted against the danger ISPs posed to the free markets that rose out of and depend on the Internet. If his plan takes effect, ISPs would be free to disrupt how the Internet has worked for 30 years.

    • A Lump of Coal in the Internet’s Stocking: FCC Poised to Gut Net Neutrality Rules

      In a new proposal issued last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set out a plan to eliminate net neutrality protections, ignoring the voices of millions of Internet users who weighed in to support those protections. The new rule would reclassify high-speed broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” (remember, the FCC is forbidden from imposing neutrality obligations on information services). It would then eliminate the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play (as well as the more nebulous general conduct standard) in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement. In other words, your ISP would be free to set itself up as an Internet gatekeeper, as long as it is honest about it.

    • Comcast Spent Millions Repealing Net Neutrality, Now Wants You To Believe It Won’t Take Full, Brutal Advantage

      Despite the nation’s biggest ISP and cable company having spent millions of dollars and lobbying man hours on repealing broadband privacy rules and soon net neutrality protections, executives at the least-liked company in America hope you’re dumb enough to believe they won’t be taking full advantage.

      Comcast has spent months now falsely claiming that it will still adhere to “net neutrality” once the FCC’s rules are gutted by Ajit Pai. But the company’s pet definition of net neutrality is so narrow as to be effectively meaningless. For example, last week as the FCC was trying to hide its obvious handout to telecom duopolies behind the cranberry and stuffing, Comcast issued a tweet again insisting that you can trust them to be on their best behavior despite the fact there will soon be no meaningful rules holding their feet to the fire

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA Opposes Trademark Application For Dog-Walking Company Called Woof-Tang Clan

        The last time we mentioned the Wu-Tang Clan here at Techdirt, we were discussing the group’s bizarre yet inventive attempt to curtail digital music’s infinite goods problem by releasing a single copy of an entire album for $1 million. It was a creative approach, though one that likely isn’t a model that transfers well to the music industry as a whole. But it seems that the copyright arena isn’t the only intellectual property venue in which Wu-Tang wants to play, as RZA, a member of the group, has filed a trademark opposition to a dog-walking company calling itself Woof-Tang Clan.

        [...]

        All that’s left of Wu-Tang Clan is the name https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171122/10384838670/wu-tang-clans-rza-opposes-trademark-application-dog-walking-company-called-woof-tang-clan.shtml they had some good tracks (in the 90s)

    • Copyrights

      • Out of Office #15 ‘EU copyright reform: where are we now?’

        We are happy to invite you to the 15th edition of Out of Office on 8 December 2017 from 17:00 to 19:00 at Spring House. During this Out of Office we will reflect with Ms Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament, on the recent developments concerning the ongoing copyright reform in Europe. Come and join us in search of new insights, encounters and inspiration, while enjoying music, drinks and snacks!

        Julia Reda is Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group and a co-founder for the Parliament’s current Digital Agenda intergroup. She is an advocate for a free Europe with open borders, open communication structures and the relaxation and harmonisation of copyright laws. Reda will share her thoughts on the ongoing copyright reform and whether progress has been made since the DSM Directive (more info below) was proposed by the European Commission.

      • Rightscorp: Revenue From Piracy Settlements Down 48% in 2017

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has filed its latest set of financial results and they reveal yet more misery for the company. Its traditional revenue stream, comprised of cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates, is down 48% on the same period last year. This contributes to the company turning in net losses of $1.45 million for the first nine months of the year. But could value lie elsewhere?

      • Dropbox collaboration: ‘World-first’ as University of Sydney goes all in for all

        The first university in the world to deploy Dropbox wall-to-wall in what is a multi-million dollar, 67,000-user agreement and deal “to power greater collaboration” is the University of Sydney.

      • Court: Accused Pirate Doesn’t Have to ‘Spy’ on Family Members

        A German court has ruled that a man, whose Internet connection was used to share pirated films, cannot be required to ‘spy’ on his family members. The law firm representing the Internet subscriber stresses that these kinds of investigations violate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects respect for private and family life.

With Oil States Case Heard in the US Supreme Court, a New Justice’s (Neil Gorsuch) Positions on Patents Expressed

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform

Neil Gorsuch
Reference: Neil Gorsuch

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is being decided on at the highest level (US Supreme Court) and the new arrival at the court weighs in on the subject, based on reporting and transcript from inside the court (the case officially began yesterday)

TODAY’S US Supreme Court is pro-patent reform. We have seen many decisions to that effect, especially in recent years, and with Scalia’s death we have a Trump nominee/appointee added to the mix. Not much is known about him as far as patents go, so people are left to mostly speculate/interpolate based on past judgments.

Oil States (a PTAB case dealing with the abilities, such as inter partes reviews, to thwart or ‘steal’ so-called ‘property’ like patents) officially began yesterday as far as hearings go. There’s no set deadline for this case’s decision, but it is not imminent.

The corporate media (even in London) took note of it yesterday and so did Wall Street media. The coverage, however, isn’t exactly great. It’s not too accurate and may sometimes seem one-sided. Susan Decker’s premise, for example (one she put right in her headline), is an old and famous lie. It says that PTAB controversy is about “tech versus pharma” rather patent trolls/lawyers (with low-quality patents) versus the rest of us. We recently saw this same falsehood disseminated by the corporate media of London [1, 2], which the EPO had incidentally paid. To quote Decker:

Tech companies like Google and Apple Inc. cheered in 2011 when Congress created a review system for deciding whether the federal agency that issues patents is getting it wrong.

Thousands of invalidated patents later, the Supreme Court is considering whether Congress got it wrong.

The high court hears arguments Monday on whether to put a halt to a system that lets companies go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to challenge patents rather than relying only on courts. It’s designed to be a low-cost alternative to lawsuits, and the review system is popular with tech companies and retailers that get sued often by patent owners.

Critics call the review board a “death squad” because it uses a different legal standard than courts and is more likely to cancel a patent. Drugmakers such as AbbVie Inc., which rely on patents to fend off competitors, say the system violates their constitutional right to a jury trial.

The misleading and offensive term “death squad” (comparing judges on patent matters to executioners) is believed to have come from a disgraced/corrupt judge, Mr. Rader. Why does the media keep repeating this term? Decker even put it right inside her headline (“Patent ‘Death Squad’ Pitting Tech and Pharma Heads to Supreme Court”).

Do we want a serious debate about this? One in which patents don’t get “killed” or “survive”? One in which patents are not being called “property” which is “owned” or whatever? The article was composed using the terminology of the patent ‘industry’. It impacts the readers’ (mis)understanding of the subject at hand.

Looking directly at blogs of the patent ‘industry’, we are starting to see clues about where the hearings are going. The patent ‘industry’ will attempt “trial by media”, so we need to watch and counter any falsehoods. According to Patently-O, finally we can see where Gorsuch stands on patents (he is relatively young and has no prior experience in this area). He said: “[W]e have a number of cases that have arguably addressed this issue already, like McCormick, for example, in which this Court said the only authority competent to set a patent aside or to annul it or to correct it for any reason whatever is vested in the courts of the United States.”

Well, PTAB is a bit like a court, in a similar sense that BoA at the EPO has the authority to deliver enforceable decisions. PTAB has a chief judge, just like BoA has various technical judges. So what’s the issue? Gorsuch should know that the issue at stake here is whether the government can, in general, regard patents to be “property” and then assert that it can violate so-called ‘property’ ‘rights’ (patents are neither, contrary to how Patently-O tries to spin it).

Patently-O has also just published this reasonably long article from Dmitry Karshtedt, who concluded as follows (with highlight on Gorsuch):

Returning to the public-private rights debate, Chief Justice Roberts discussed the Schor test and whether the multi-factor analysis of Schor is conducive to investment backed-expectations. Mr. Stewart contended that, whatever the test, PTAB adjudicates private rights because liability for past money damages are not involved. The question then came up whether the PTAB can adjudicate infringement, to which Mr. Stewart responded that probably not because money damages are involved. Justice Gorsuch then asked whether the PTAB can perhaps declare non-infringement, to which Mr. Stewart responded that there is no tradition of the PTO’s making that determination. Justice Gorsuch asked about the PTO’s tradition of cancelling patents, and Mr. Stewart’s response was that the issue is really about deciding patentability, which the PTO has been doing since 1836.

In rebuttal, Ms. Ho reiterated her point that Congress cannot condition a grant of a patent on taking away litigants’ structural rights and reinforced the point that appeals are not a sufficient form of Article III supervision. She ended with the point that, again, IPRs resolve disputes between two private parties.

There’s so much spin there and the problem is often ill-defined. They try to assert that patents are a “property” (they are not) and that determining patentability is equivalent to verifying one’s guilt in a scene of a crime. That’s nonsense!

In the USPTO, based on another new article, PTAB says it “will not place the burden of persuasion on a patent owner [sic] with respect to the patentability” and instead leave petitioners/challengers to do so. To quote what is outside the paywall:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board confirms that In light of the Aqua Products decision it will not place the burden of persuasion on a patent owner with respect to the patentability of substitute claims presented in a motion to amend

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has released guidance in light of the Federal Circuit’s en banc Aqua Products opinion.

The very concept of amending patents that have already been granted seems odd to us. Once a patent has been granted, it is what it is. It can then either be defended or invalidated, not edited. In any event, PTAB bashers will throw at PTAB anything they can in an attempt to discredit it and thus influence the judges, especially Justices.

Pressure is Growing for Christoph Ernst to Stop Destruction of Career System Ahead of Arrival of Campinos as EPO President

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Campinos is coming within 7 months, but will much talent be left to welcome him?

Carrer

Summary: As one last ‘gift’ from Battistelli, EPO examiners are put closer to the door (exit) and in order for Campinos to have any prospects of saving the EPO the Council led by Christoph Ernst must stop it

A COUPLE of news sites have already written about the new “career system” (which is anything but, for it actively eliminates careers). Yesterday afternoon Dugie Standeford from IP Watch wrote about it as well. He later changed his headline (“More Patent Grants” became “More Productivity” later in the day) and here are some excepts:

Fear is a “real factor,” as numerous staff members are being investigated and disciplined, he said.

Another problem is that training for new examiners has decreased in quality compared with 10 years ago, the source said. The past system was based on seeking to recruit the very best applicants with the highest skills for this specific job, who speak several languages and have a desire to serve the public, he said. New recruits are placed on time-limited contracts that require them to learn their jobs in one year, and are given production targets that are far too high for newcomers so soon after recruitment, he said. Examiners who aren’t fully trained in the need for thorough prior art searches can’t do them properly, he said, adding that makes patent quality the “elephant in the room.”

The chronic state of pressure means staff members feel unwell; and staff surveys organised by the employee representatives and a consultant in the field of psycho-social risks at work show significant deterioration in morale and health, said the source.

[...]

Campinos is still many months from taking office. In a 23 October letter to Campinos (available here), USF said it and its affiliated SUEPO branches are “looking forward to substantial improvements especially on social dialogue, rule-of-law and employment stability issues during your mandate.”

In a 3 November response (also available on Kluwer Patent Blog), Campinos wrote: “In the different managerial positions on my career path, and especially in my current tenure as Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, I have always prioritised human resources matters and have developed an open and fruitful relationship with the representatives of the staff and their associations. In this sense, I look forward to continuing the cooperation between the EPO and the Union Syndicale Fédérale once I take up my duties as president of the European Patent Office next year.”

EPSU’s Goudriaan said he read Campinos’ statement “as a start of a more constructive dialogue in which the issues that have been raised by the staff and their union can be addressed and dealt with. There are quite a few and you have inherited a rather unfortunate situation which included a hostile approach towards the union and its delegates.”

The way things are currently going, we are growingly pessimistic about any prospects of a turnaround under Campinos. There will be nothing left for him to save if this brain drain continues and quality of EPs declines this low, populating the pool of EPs with so many dubious patents. The system is being flooded with patents that are granted too quickly by people who are decreasingly experienced. This is a recipe for disaster.

What makes us ever more concerned about brain drain is the plan of making staff more sackable, or simply out of work by virtue of a contract expiring. Sent 5 days ago was this letter [PDF] that SUEPO describes as a “[l]etter from the European Public Service Union to Mr. Christoph Ernst, Chair of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office.”

Here is the full text:

Ref : JWG/cb
Brussels, 23 November 2017
Chair person of the Administrative Council of the
European Patent Office

Mr. Christoph ERNST
ernst-ch@bmjv.bund.de
council_secretary@epo.org
Subject: Employment Framework at EPO

Dear Mr. Ernst,

We have been informed by our colleagues of USF, our affiliate in the European institutions, agencies andinternational organisations, that the current management of EPO has proposed the introduction of a new Employment Framework. This framework would recruit EPO staff on the basis of fixed-term contracts. This is again a proposal that is not discussed and negotiated with the unions. It increases precariousness, insecurity and has negative consequences for the well-being of workers. Employers and unions as well as the European Commission and Member States have committed to fight against precariousness and have high standards regarding health and safety of workers. This was recently confirmed again by the EU social summit in Gothenburg and the EU pillar of social rights signed there.

A new employment framework that takes into account the needs of workers, their rights and improves health and safety and well-being, and at the same time seeks to strengthen the work of EPO might well be worthwhile. This is best done through social dialogue and negotiations rather than impose precariousness.

As a Federation with affiliates across Europe and including in public administrations and agencies (8 million members in 260 affiliated unions) we find the proposed model of putting workers on fixed term contracts dubious. It increases the risks of corruption, of revolving doors and of mixed interests. This undermines EPO as part of the European public service in which people in Europe can have confidence for its expertise, high standards and independence. It might make it even more difficult to ensure a geographically well-balanced organization.

We ask you and the EPO Council therefore not to adopt this framework.

On a more personal note: introducing such a comprehensive reform just before the new Director Mr. Campinos takes office smells of bad administration, and frankly of cynicism. It makes the work of Mr. Campinos more difficult to have a proper social dialogue almost setting him up for failure. We look forward to your answer. As previous correspondence has not always been answered, I would appreciate if you can inform us of the standards for response to letters. Those of the European Commission (response within 20 days) seem reasonable as the European Ombudsman has indicated.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Willem Goudriaan
EPSU General Secretary

cc. Commissioner Thyssen cab-thyssen@ec.europa.eu; Agnes Jongerius (MEP) agnes.jongerius@europarl.europa.eu ,
Mr. Battistelli council@epo.org , USF usf@unionsyndicale.eu Bernd.Loescher@consilium.europa.eu

So they too have noticed the changes or spoke to SUEPO about these. It’s not hard to see the writings on the wall. Will Dr. Ernst see these too? Certainly he’s smart enough to know what is happening, so the question is, will he care? There are many comments being posted about him right now. It’s based on a JUVE interview. We wrote about this interview twice before (on Saturday and on Sunday). The comments were recommended by SUEPO, which said: “We strongly suggest you to read also the comment section!”

If SUEPO recommends these, then they must be good. People rightly point out Ernst’s hypocrisy or opportunism:

Well, for years Christoph Ernst was head of the German delegation to the Administrative Council of the EPO. Did he there oppose any of the controversial measures pushed through by Battistelli, including various attacks against union members, or any of the series of AC decisions which stroke a – probably – fatal blow to the independence of the Boards of Appeal?

The Boards of Appeal are grossly understaffed and have already lost a judge whom Battistelli illegally attacked, then defamed.

As we noted earlier this morning, Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić continue to bully this judge. If Christoph Ernst wanted to put an end to all this, he probably could, but he uses evasive language in his JUVE interview. He is just slightly better than Jesper Kongstad in that regard, but both are complicit by inaction (Kongstad previously became complicit in this case by taking action against the judge, requesting his removal).

See why the EPO is in such a sordid mess? Everyone’s hands (at the top) are dirty and people just use one dirty hand to wipe another, then save face (otherwise they would actually touch their face and the dirt become frontally visible).

The second comment is very long and informative:

It is a bit easy to complain about the present president a few months before he leaves.

For a start I doubt very much that the present tenant of the 10th floor has strengthened the position of the EPO. I even have strong doubts. Future will tell if the patents granted in last five years will have the same resiliency as those before he started his crusade against staff. That things could and even should change at the EPO is not part of the debate. What is however tragic and should not have happened is the way things have been made to change. It boils down to consider that EPO staff was a lazy bunch which only deserved a kick somewhere. This is the idea with which the present president came to the EPO. In this endeavour he got all the support from the AC, and Mr Ernst is not a member of the AC since last year.

Mr Ernst did not oppose a lot of the amendments introduced in the staff regulations. he positively voted much of them, even when other big countries were much more reserved on the issue. He did oppose a few, and as far as is known, the changes in status of the Boards of Appeal. But not much more.

Mr Ernst would be more credible now, had he requested systematically a vote with a qualified majority. This would have avoided that when voting over some very important changes, that the votes of some small countries to have a much higher weight than they actually deserve. I have nothing against small countries, but the tenant of the 10th floor knows how to make small countries vote his way. And this not with his own money, but that of the users of the system.

When one sees for instance, that the changes for the Boards, especially sending them to Haar in order to improve the perception of their independence (sic), were voted mainly by countries having hardly an application going at the EPO, one wonders whether he was as concerned at the time as he makes out now. In spite of what Mr Ernst claims, the Boards of Appeal have not gained in independence. In order to receive a further 5 year contract, a member must have produced enough. In which judiciary system is the continuation of the work as judge subjected to quantitative constraints? In the past the Praesidium of the Boards could propose its rules of procedure. Nowadays, it is heard, but the rules of procedure are decided by the Boards of Appeal Committee. I could go on.

When looking at what happened in the AC, it was at least for the last 5 years the tail wagging the dog. The president was controlling the AC and not the AC controlling the president. Let’s see if Mr Ernst has the real will and power to revert to the former situation. In older times it even happened that the AC refused to accept the budget of the president…..

The first exercise when Mr Ernst can show whether he wants the Council to control the Office and not the other way round, is whether the present tenant of the 10th floor will manage to get the most stupid reform he thought off through: 5 years contracts for examiners as off 01.01.2018.

If Mr Ernst, and other members of the Administrative Council of the EPO wants an organisation which is not just a bunch of mercenaries for a short length of time, but rather wants a perennial organisation, the AC will have to oppose strongly such a move. If this move is approved 6 months before the arrival of a new president, then it is not only to despair from the AC and its members, but it will also be a blow in the face of the incoming president.

If people stay for 5 or 10 years, then there is clearly no chance that they get involved in union matters or the like. But is then the EPO still in a position to deliver the quality of work which has made its reputation?

When the Principal Directors began to get 5 years contracts, the effect was clearly to be seen. From 3 ½ years onwards, the thought was only: what can I do to get my renewal? This is the best way to stifle critics, but the damages brought about through the attitude “Yes prime minister”, leads in general to a cultural collapse. Is this the future the member states wish to the EPO? Then they will be killing the cash cow.

Let’s hope Mr Ernst realises well the immense responsibility he has taken over, and that he will bring back to the institution the urgently needed peace and quiet.

The next couple of comments say:

So, Herr Ernst sees a need for improvement in the “social culture” prevailing under President Battistelli at the EPO. I suppose the AC’s lengthy complicity in the culture of Battistelli leaves Herr Ernst unable to call it how it really is, in the area of employee relations at the EPO. Ever the optimist, I will suppose that Herr Ernst well knows already, and here is alluding to, Team Battistelli’s utter contempt for what we in Europe are most proud of, namely, due process, a fair trial and The Rule of Law. That, gentle readers, is a disgrace, an embarrassment for Western European civilisation and social values. The sooner M. Battistelli (and his flunkeys and hangers-on, one floor down from the President’s penthouse) are out on the street, the better. I await for the AC (and the incoming President) to set a good example to the rest of the world. It is not as if the EPO can’t afford to treat its employees fairly, is it?

I understand that the document concerning contract staff has recently been removed from the AC December meeting, after the meeting of the Board 28 which organises the agenda. The Budget and Finance Committee had recently not decided on the document. At the moment contracts unde this scheme cannot begin on 01.01.2018.

In reply to the above:

Believing in fairy tales is a dangerous thing given the current brutal regime and in particular the pronounced taste of PD HR to pick on those who work hard to pay her salary.

The situation is a little more subtle than what you present here:

a) the point is still is still on the agenda of the December AC for information
b) the “cunning plan” of Mrs Bergot (after her debacle during last AC meeting with a pathetic presentation of it lacking any substantive work) is to review her deficient document and have it back for the March 2018 Council for decision

So much for “off the table”

On Monday evening someone wrote:

That the document about the 5 years contracts for examiners has been removed from the agenda of the AC is a good thing. It is to be hoped that this document has disappeared for good!

But if the AC would have done his job, such a document would never have been submitted. It is only since the AC gave the present tenant of the 10th floor the freedom to fool around that such an action was even thought of.

It shows clearly and abundantly that some people claiming to be “managers” in the higher ranks of the EPO have not the faintest idea what the work of examiners consists of. If they had inquired, they would have realised how stupid this proposal is. That the top management of DG1, or its new form (Super PDs), did not even try to dissuade HR to present such a document is certainly not to be put to its credit. But they want their contract to be renewed….

As far as Mr Ernst is concerned, did he oppose the way the president blatantly disregarded separation of powers between the Boards of Appeal and the management of the EPO? Did he also forward the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of the AC to the Enlarged Board so that the latter was merely invited to rubber stamp this decision, what it refused to do? If this is the case, his words are shallow.

As a lawyer working in the Ministry of Justice of the largest contracting state of the EPO one can suppose that Mr Ernst should know what separation of powers means, and what respect this notion deserves. He should also know that a mere quantitative assessment of the work done by a judge is not a way on deciding on the career of a judge.

And later that evening someone added:

My comment was purely intended to be factual. No spin intended.
However, I now understand that a replacement/amended ‘ orientation’ document has been tabled for December for ‘opinion’ rather than decision or information. The document has limited some aspects e.g. a maximum percentage of contract staff and a maximum number of renewals. It is explained as being as a result of comments previously made.

We certainly hope that Dr. Ernst is reading these comments. His interview with JUVE does not allow comments (it’s in paper form only, or online PDF) and only 2 months after he began his work people aren’t exactly pleased. He’s like a gentle form of Kongstad. We expect Campinos, Battistelli’s choice for President, to also be a gentler form of Battistelli. Battistelli was (and still is) a politician, whereas Campinos is a former banker. The EPO was supposed to revolve around science, but nowadays it’s pure politics and lies are so habitual that it often resembles the White House in 2017. Europe can do better than that.

EPO is Already Going ‘Dark’ Like in China

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 3:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When corruption becomes the norm journalism becomes an enemy

SIPO and Battistelli
Reference: Loose Patent Scope Becoming a Publicity Nightmare for the EPO and Battistelli Does a China Outreach (Worst/Most Notorious on Patent Quality)

Summary: The already-opaque EPO continues to be getting more secretive and the main strategic ally seems to be China, best known for low patent quality and a wealth of frivolous litigation

“Last week was case law conference,” a source told us. “In [the] past it was always recorded and could be seen on the EPO’s web site. Not this time. Because of many questions expected to criticise reform? Attorneys are not happy.”

This isn’t the first time the EPO reduces transparency while Battistelli boasts about “transparency” in his so-called ‘blog’. The only ‘transparency’ we now have at the EPO is leaks. People from the inside take great risks to expose the rot and the abuses. A lot of things that the EPO used to publish (e.g. salary of the President) are now secret, yet Battistelli has the audacity to speak about “transparency”.

“A lot of things that the EPO used to publish (e.g. salary of the President) are now secret, yet Battistelli has the audacity to speak about “transparency”.”Published yesterday in Battistelli’s ‘blog’ (warning: epo.org link) and then promoted by the PR team was the assimilation to SIPO, which is no accomplishment. It was also covered on the same day by the Chinese state media, noting that the EPO is now similar to China’s SIPO. Is Battistelli so proud to be emulating China? Where people are put in prison for exposing corruption? Where patent quality has sunk to bottom low? Where litigation is soaring to the point where patent trolls flock there and based on last night’s article from Managing IP, patent litigation has just become an ‘app’? China seems very eager to help patent extortion and patent trolls and “[t]o facilitate the use of mediation and minimise its caseload, the Beijing IP court has launched a “Faxin WeSue” platform. The platform operates via a mini programme, an app built into WeChat – China’s popular messaging service…”

Coming soon to the EPO? An ‘app’ for making demand of payments using dubious European Patents (EPs)? Whatever happens with the UPC (or doesn’t happen), things look grim for 'SIPO Europe'.

French Stress Levels at the EPO and Replacement of Patent Quality With ‘Autopilot’ (Like INPI, France)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mafia Battistelli

Summary: Concerns expressed not only about the management style of Benoît Battistelli but also his disregard/disdain for science (or patent assessment)

YESTERDAY, somebody wrote to us regarding the EPO. It was about stress as measured among French workers. There are various but few French companies where the working conditions were reported to be notoriously toxic like at the EPO (including suicides).

Here is the message in question:

I have found this article in the morning news:

Un quart des salariés français sont dans un “état d’hyperstress

The title translates “one fourth of the French employees are in an hyperstress condition”.

I hope you understand the French content. It is remarkable to see that it applies to 100% to the brave new EPO. Are these kinds of managerial skills taught at the ENA? This is an excellent perspective for the next employer of Monsieur Battistelli, his curriculum fits perfectly.

As we noted earlier this month, Battistelli and his colleagues in politics are notorious in their own town, too. There are press articles about it (in French). They’re considered to be tyrannical.

In Battistelli’s mind, based on the latest proposed ‘reforms’ (to be covered shortly), the goal it to make examiners obsolete (along with patent quality).

4 days late this comment was approved by IP Kat (only yesterday it appeared, but it was posted 5 days ago):

Well , it may help not to mix technologies, functionalities and examiner targets. Ansera uses off the shelf technologies for performing searches, nothing that Google has not been doing for ages or any modern data retreival system. Not sure the EPO can seriously pretend to be a reference in searches while keeping technology of the 80’s. What is different in Ansera from say Google, is that it supports the query language unique to the EPO and yes , surprise surprise, searching with classes. I think that by now everybody knows that ANYTHING is used as an excuse for higher targets.

SUEPO has been warning about this for years. These things do not work well. In fact, it’s incredible that decisions on these matters are made without consulting examiners who understand the technicalities. Who knows how low a quality European Patents (EPs) from the past few years might be. It remains to be learned from statistics about litigation, and that may take years if not a decade to become visible.

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