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11.29.17

IAM Celebrates (With the Patent Cartel) a System of Unjust Monopolisation of Industry Standards Through Unethical Patent Thickets

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents, RAND, Standard at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many of these are software patents

ITU Microsoft

Summary: Once again, quite frankly as usual, lobbying by large corporations pays off and companies that are not multi-billion dollar entities will suffer for they cannot participate in the market (anticompetitive patent thickets)

THE policy regarding patents in China has made Asia increasingly friendly to patent trolls. Korean and Japanese companies, for example, are being dragged into Chinese courts (much of their production was outsourced to factories in mainland China).

Days ago we saw IAM saying that “NPEs [patent trolls] armed with former [Chinese] Huawei and [European patent troll] Sisvel patents attack [Korean] Samsung in China, in possible privateering campaigns”. Well, “privateering” is putting it far too politely. The word they’re looking for is trolling. The patent arsenal from Europe now travels to China, the most fertile ground for patent trolls, in order to attack Samsung, one of the world’s biggest technology companies. “An article published in China,” IAM writes, “has turned up two previously unreported patent infringement suits against Samsung in the country’s courts, both filed this year. In one case, an apparent Chinese NPE is asserting a patent formerly owned by Huawei against the South Korean company. In the other, a Texas NPE is suing Samsung with a former Sisvel patent. Taken together, the cases indicate that there may be much more NPE activity – foreign and domestic – than meets the eye in China.”

Further down SIPO is mentioned. To quote: “Li further reports that Samsung challenged both patents before SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board (PRB), which evidently upheld the Dunjun patent, while invalidating the Dual Sim patent. Both decisions can, of course, be appealed.”

What we are seeing here is actualisation of our predictions. Does China want to be known for patent trolls or for manufacturing (or both)?

Meanwhile, the Japanese government, according to this IAM blog post, recognises the problem with SEPs (standard-essential patents), not just with trolls. One should refrain from using the terms FRAND or SEP. They basically masquerade or conceal an anticompetitive injustice that’s hinged on patents. Here is what IAM wrote:

The ADR scheme was also described by the government as a “licensing award system for SEPs”. In short, it proposed that when two parties could not agree on an SEP licence agreement, the prospective licensee would be able to request mediation by the JPO, which would determine a FRAND royalty rate in a mandatory process, “with due care of not unfairly haring the interests of the patent holders”. Major global rights owners raised numerous objections, branding it as a form of compulsory licensing.

This has become a hot topic because companies like Qualcomm, which IAM again glorified a few days ago, want to create industry standards everyone must pay Qualcomm to merely implement. There are many software patents in the mix, even though such patents are no longer potent anywhere but China.

As Benjamin Henrion stated earlier today: “After the glyphosate, another vistory of (patent) lobbyists is to remove the “licence for all” from the Commission FRAND paper, and to insult Open Source licensing…”

The context to all this was a stream of IAM tweets that said: “Commission Communication on SEP licensing has now been published. On a first, skim, read it looks like SEP owners have got most of what they could have reasonably hoped for [] There doesn’t seem to be any prescriptions about what kind of licensing approach should be followed – ie no mention of the “license for all” regime that implementers were calling for. This is crucial. Looks like SEP owners have got their way. [] If detailed reading of the SEP licensing Communication confirms the initial impression, there has bene a big turnaround in the Commisison [sic] over th elast two weeks. SEP owners will be celebrating.”

IAM’s chief, Joff Wild, later wrote this blog post about it (updated throughout the evening). It is very disappointing that the European Commission seems to be in bed with the patent cartel/thickets, basically the likes of Qualcomm which it’s supposed to investigate. To quote Wild:

The European Commission’s long-awaited Communication on the licensing of standards essential patents was finally published this morning and, on an initial read, it looks like SEP owners have a fair amount to be pleased about – especially given how things were looking a couple of weeks back, when it seemed as if extensive lobbying from the implementer side was about to bear fruit. A subsequent delay in agreeing the final text of the Communication provided a hint that implementers might not get all they were after and today’s publication seemingly confirms that.

[...]

My guess is that SEP owners are going to be feeling a great deal of relief today. The Commission has acknowledged that while the rapid and efficient diffusion of technology at the lowest cost possible is vital, those who do the innovating need to be incentivised to carry on – and that means they have to feel they will receive adequate reward for the investments they make.

Is this any worse than the Commission turning a blind eye to EPO abuses?

Writing behind a paywall IP Watch has covered this as well (under the headline “European Commission Announces Guidance On Copyright Enforcement, SEP Licensing”).

To quote:

The European Commission today announced plans to ratchet up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and to introduce more clarity in licensing standard-essential patents (SEPs). The first involves guidance on the 2004 EU directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED); the second recommendations for making the relationship between patent owners and technology users more “balanced and efficient.”

The likes of Qualcomm certainly got their way here; interesting timing given the immense scrutiny this company comes under. Earlier today we learned that Apple has just countersued Qualcomm for patent infringement [1, 2, 3], further escalating a long battle against the SEP cartel set up by Qualcomn. It is very disappointing to see that in addition to the constant deception from sites like IAM we have public officials who play along with patent cartels and protectionism. They really ought to know better. Corporate lobbyists got their way again. IAM gave them a platform (we covered that).

PTAB Will Survive the Supreme Court, Admit Even Foes of PTAB Based on This Week’s Hearings

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “swamp” is sinking again

Paul Morinville sickened

Summary: Having found themselves in quicksand, the few people who care enough to try to undermine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), refuse to let go and are going under

THE Supreme Court case which we have dealt with the most recently is Oil States. We write about it, on average, about once a day. It’s an important case.

As one PTAB foe put it today (with direct link to the original PDF), the annual report says PTAB should “remain vigilant in ensuring fair and transparent processes and proceedings in order to render wellgrounded decisions.”

So they expect it to remain.

Here is the part that touches on software patents (or abstract patents more generally):

Regarding Section 101: the USPTO should (a) continue to update the stakeholder community and examiner corps on recent jurisprudence and where appropriate, continue to issue memoranda that describes the relevant court decision; (b) finalize the MPEP updates in Section 2106 directed to “Patent Eligible Subject Matter,” so the stakeholder community has one central repository on the USPTO’s website to receive the latest updates; and (c) should continue stakeholder outreach programs and workshops on Section 101 developments due to the critical nature of this area.

The subject of software patents and the USPTO will be covered separately later this week. As things stand, patent quality in the USPTO is rising and lawsuits over software patents aren’t being filed every single day like they used to. “Thanks to PTAB,” says this new tweet, “companies no longer have to pay ransom to make lawsuits based on questionable patent claims go away.” This links to an article from the New York Times. It’s a week old.

At the start of the week we observed the views of the new Justice, Mr. Gorsuch (Trump nominee and appointee). As Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer‏ put it a short time ago: “Are we surprised that the new judge takes a Pro-patent position?”

Not surprising to us. At all. But it could be worse. We thought he could be a lot more blatant about it; he had been more or less a blank slate in the domain/area of patents.

Tim B. Lee, who has covered software patents for many years, reports from a position closer to the action. He wrote that the “Supreme Court seems reluctant to blow up a key weapon against patent trolls” and here are his opening words:

In Supreme Court oral arguments on Monday, justices seemed skeptical of arguments that a patent office process for challenging patents runs afoul of the Constitution.

The issue matters because the challenged process—which was created by the 2011 America Invents Act—has emerged as a key weapon against patent trolls wielding low-quality patents. Overall, defending a patent lawsuit can easily cost millions of dollars. By contrast, the new process, known as inter partes review, allows a patent to be invalidated for a sum in the low six figures.

Lee later added: “I will be very surprised if the Supreme Court pulls the trigger here, because ruling for Oil States would have sweeping consequences. [] If they say “court-like” administrative procedures are unconstitutional, they’re going to face an avalanche of litigation arguing that procedures in other areas of law are too court-like. [] If they straight up say that patents are private property, it could substantially strengthen patent rights across the board, the opposite of the recent trend by the Supreme Court.”

Patents are certainly not property; it’s an old lie that’s being pasted into the media by the patent microcosm.

Based on the above, PTAB will be fine. Moreover, based on PTAB bashers, the Supreme Court has just rejected cases with a potential to broaden patent scope. To quote:

The Supreme Court has denied Openet’s petition for writ of certiorari in Openet v. Amdocs. The petition asked “whether the Federal Circuit erred by looking beyond the claims to the patent specification to assess patent eligibility?” The court also denied certiorari in the pro se case of Poniatowski v. Matal.

Better this way.

Want to see something funny? Watch IAM’s one-sided coverage of the case.

Some father and his kids, who barely know what patents are, are not really staging a ‘protest’ but engaging in a publicity stunt. There are a few tweets about it (with photos). Basically, daddy has a bunk patent which PTAB is probably going to invalidate, so the kids will hold a sign daddy made with a MAGA-inspired slogan. Marvelous! Parents who exploit their kids for patent propaganda might seem about as ‘professional’ as “US Inventor” — basically a cowboy hat-wearing, MAGA-inspired lunatic from Watchtroll, whom the media mistakes for a group. His infamous, long-planned ‘protest’ attracted less than a dozen people.

The above was barely a protest, except in IAM’s mind. Here is how IAM put it:

Even though patent cases have become a regular feature of the Supreme Court’s docket in recent years, for the IP community there was an extra buzz about the place yesterday as the justices heard two disputes concerning inter partes review (IPR).

For starters, around 20 protesters from the small inventor community, who remain bitterly opposed to IPRs, were gathered on the courthouse steps brandishing signs such as “the PTAB killed my start-up”. The protest may have been relatively small and well behaved, but its impact could be heard inside the court’s press room where seasoned Supreme Court reporters got perhaps their first glimpse at just how deep feelings run on this issue. “Protesters? For a patent case!” one of them muttered.

Then inside the courtroom there was a smattering of the great and the good from the IP stakeholder community, including USPTO acting head Joe Matal, Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) David Ruschke and his number two Scott Boalick, several aides who helped author the America Invents Act (AIA), leaders from the various IP law associations and numerous members of the patent bar from private practice.

“Around 20 protesters,” says IAM. That’s generous. Based on the photos, it’s not even that. At the end, however, IAM cares enough to admit that this case is dead in the water. PTAB will endure and IPRs shall overcome!

EPO Spreads Two Lies Today, One About Patent ‘Production’ and Another About ‘Quality’

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Measuring what’s not immeasurable using false yardsticks

Calipers

Summary: Today’s face-saving lies from the EPO focus on the very serious scandals that worry stakeholders while at the same time distracting from ongoing attacks on EPO staff and basic rights

THE EPO tries hard to distract from the latest scandals. Today it was recycling an old EU-IPO ‘study’, then returned to its daily repetition of the pro-UPC nonsensical ‘study’ and daily repetition of the “SME” thing. None of this is new. It’s weeks old.

Also today, the EPO issued two “news” items, which is unusual (sometimes it goes on for a month with not even one). Both regurgitate familiar propaganda. The first notes that the EPO has been granting lots of crappy patents (too fast, too leniently, which necessarily means decline in patent quality). The global patent bubble grows bigger, but the EPO is a large contributor to this bubble, having experienced ‘growth’ four times higher than the IP5 average (top five patent offices). When it comes to patents, quality should matter, not quantity, but watch what the EPO wrote: (warning: epo.org link)

To cope with increasing demand, the EPO has put in place a series of quality [sic] and efficiency measures, which in 2016 led to an 8.5% rise in products (completed searches, substantive examinations and oppositions), and 40% more patents granted.

Terrible. Nothing to be proud of. Never mind the fact that they’re rapidly running out of ‘stock’. They have been granting, among other things, patents on algorithms and patents on life (these later turned out to be null and void). This leads us to the second “news” item, which is more of the old CPVO spin (CPVO is not what many people assume it to be). Read the “quality” nonsense further down (including the heading which precedes it). To quote the “news”: (warning: epo.org link)

Martin Ekvad, CPVO President, emphasised the importance of formalising cooperation in an agreement concluded last year between the EPO and CPVO…

[...]

At the EPO less than one in three patent applications in biotechnology becomes a European patent, while the overall grant rate in all fields of technology is around 48%.

That says almost nothing and fails to account for what happened earlier this year. Many patents on life/organisms were instantaneously invalidated. How about that? Why were these granted in the first place? The sentence above, along with that paragraph, is constructed to help Battistelli lie about patent quality. Who does he need to lie to? Gullible people like Dr. Ernst, who continues to publicly deny the issue (even when directly challenged by concerned users of the patent system).

Ernst has done far too little to earn trust from SUEPO (judging by the tone of the site) and every comment about him in Kluwer Patent Blog has been negative. Here are the latest two. They’re about the expectation that he will go along with Battistelli and again punish all the workers:

dear you two again : the document is NOT OFF THE TABLE at all.

DG 4 submits it for information in December with changes : from 100% contracts to (only) 40 % (which will put the entire structure under even more production pressure than it is now) and, cherry on the cake, now they introduce the option to transform the contract into a permanent one after FIFTEEN YEARS (…or not).

This document will be submitted for decision in March 2018.

so please stop doing as if it was off the table since this new proposal is equally bad as the previous one, totally non adapted to a stable international organisation like the EPO, the aim of which being to serve the PUBLIC on the long run and certainly not to produce cash surplus for its Member States (surplus which nowadays fall in their (deficit) national budgets) this at the expenses of the health of staff hundreds of employees who go burned-out, in-treatments, in depressions, or even commit suicide when they cannot cope any more (6 non-investigated suicides over the past 5 years, a 7th miraculously avoided for 3 months).

I want to make one thing clear: the documents on 5 years contracts for EPO staff should end up in the bin. I have never had a different opinion on it.

The new proposal is even more ludicrous. Even if after 15 years there is a possibility to get a permanent job, which person sound in its mind would leave its national security and social protections systems to hire at the EPO? Such a stupid idea can only germ in the minds of people who are playing manager, but do not really know what it means to manage in the interest of the body they rule. It makes me sad to see that a reputable office like the EPO is run by such people.

The net result will be more younger people at the EPO, as I do not know anybody having a stable job for a few years leaving this in order to hire at the EPO. There will be also more Germans in Munich and more Dutch in The Hague, trends which are already existing today.

Here Mr Ernst has to resist the fools running the office by not putting such a proposal on the agenda of the AC.

If a measure with such a long term effect is decided three months before a new president comes, then it shows the esteem shown to his successor by the present holder of the function. As another commenter said it makes you want to puke.

Several days ago a reader told us that the EPO had adopted a notorious French model which makes workers very stressed (sometimes/often suicidal) and as of today there’s this ruling from the French Supreme Court about public mockery of patent infringers. It’s not very new, but this was covered some hours ago by IP Kat, which said:

The French Supreme Court last month affirmed that a patentee is free to publish a decision of patent infringement on their website. In doing so, the patentee neither tarnishes the name of the defendant nor breaches any other principle of tortious liability towards the defendant.

This is a matter of free speech; we recently covered the matter in relation to the EFF getting sued repeatedly for mocking patents. At the EPO workers get in a lot of trouble if they say that patent quality is declining. We covered examples of such incidents earlier this year.

Links 29/11/2017: Lakka 2.1, Huge Apple Flaw

Posted in News Roundup at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 open source technology trends for 2018

    Technology is always evolving. New developments, such as OpenStack, Progressive Web Apps, Rust, R, the cognitive cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and more are putting our usual paradigms on the back burner. Here is a rundown of the top open source trends expected to soar in popularity in 2018.

  • Open Source Software Developers Find A Home At Gitcoin

    Open source software is often the ugly stepchild of technology development. Because developers are largely donating their time and efforts, progress lags on building better versions of apps, blockchains and other software. That stifles progress, and leaves advancement in the hands of for-profit ventures, many of them without the public’s best interests at heart.

  • Open source grows up, needs to learn to play with others

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are expanding their presence within service provider environments, emerging as a critical solutions set for operators looking to drive agility and cost efficiency in their infrastructure through automation and digitalisation. That role will only increase with technologies like containers, MEC and 5G come online to drive up demands on the network and deliver new service architectures and capabilities. But even as OpenStack matures inside service provider environments, it must now learn to play with others that form the greater service provider ecosystem, including other open source communities like ONAP and ETSI NFVI, says Ericsson’s Susan James.

  • Will Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?

    To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of yesteryear, which attempted to gain dominion over the emerging online world by pushing exclusive use of its Windows OS and for-pay Internet Explorer browser.

    “Microsoft was wrong for a long time,” says Ault, who is Senior Research Engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Group at Purdue University. “They wanted to own the internet. Now they’re a huge open-source shop” — joining what Ault calls the “business model of success” found today at Android, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

    Agricultural technology needs a similar open-source awakening, Ault says. The current state of ag data, he says frankly, “stinks.” Most farmers don’t share their data, and often justify their stance by noting there’s not much data out there anyway so what does it matter. And because the little data that is out there isn’t used much, a perception lingers that it doesn’t have to be particularly good data.

  • Inocybe aims to take complexity out of open source

    Anyone who’s trying to navigate the telecom waters that are open source these days may appreciate that there are entities out there that want to help.

    Montreal, Canada-based Inocybe is targeting Tier 2 and 3 wired/wireless service providers globally and enterprises to talk open source. The company has been involved with OpenDaylight since the beginning and is one of its top five contributors, and it wants to help entities that don’t have the type of resources the bigger Tier 1 operators have to devote to open-source projects, of which there are many.

  • Events

    • From 0 to Kubernetes

      Although you hear a lot about containers and Kubernetes these days, there’s a lot of mystery around them. In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “From 0 to Kubernetes,” Amy Chen clears up the confusion.

      Amy, a software engineer at Rancher Labs, describes containers as baby computers living inside another computer that are suffering an “existential crisis” as they try to figure out their place in the world. Kubernetes is the way all those baby computers are organized.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s WebRender Making Good Progress, Can Be Tested On Firefox Nightly

        Mozilla engineers aren’t letting up after their Quantum work in Firefox 57 that made the browser much faster. Next they have been improving WebRender and can be tested easily with Firefox Nightly.

        WebRender as a reminder is Mozilla’s GPU-based renderer used currently within the Servo engine and has also been fitted into Firefox with Gecko. Those unfamiliar with WebRender can learn more about its architecture on their GitHub Wiki and this Mozilla Hacks blog post from last month.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Is Now Available on Flathub, the Flatpak App Store

      Its arrival allows anyone running a modern Linux distribution to install the latest stable release of LibreOffice in a click or two, without having to hunt down a PPA, tussle with tarballs or wait for a distro provider to package it up.

      A LibreOffice Flatpak has been available for users to download and install since August of last year and the LibreOffice 5.2 release.

      What’s “new” here is the distribution method. Rather than release updates through their own dedicated server The Document Foundation has opted to use Flathub.

    • Dialog Tunnelling

      I’m simply going to talk about what I’ve been currently working on in Collabora Online or LibreOffice Online, as part of my job at Collabora.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital To Begin Shipping Devices Using RISC-V

        RISC-V has a big new hardware backer… Western Digital.

        Western Digital just announced at the RISC-V Workshop conference that they will be getting behind RISC-V for the next generation of big data and fast data. They plan to switch over “one billion cores per year to RISC-V.” By the time their transition is complete, they anticipate to be shipping two billion RISC-V cores per year.

      • SiFive and Microsemi Expand Relationship with Strategic Roadmap Alignment and a Linux-Capable, RISC-V Development Board

        SiFive, the first fabless provider of customized, open-source-enabled semiconductors, and Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC), a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, at the 7th RISC-V Workshop today announced the companies have formed a strategic relationship to meet the growing interest and demand in the RISC-V instruction set architecture. The companies have previously collaborated to provide RISC-V soft CPU cores for Microsemi’s PolarFire® FPGAs, IGLOO™2 FPGAs, SmartFusion™2 system-on-chip (SoC) FPGAs and RTG4™ FPGAs, currently available as part of the Microsemi Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem.

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 best practices for getting started with DevOps

      DevOps often stymies early adopters with its ambiguity, not to mention its depth and breadth. By the time someone buys into the idea of DevOps, their first questions usually are: “How do I get started?” and “How do I measure success?” These five best practices are a great road map to starting your DevOps journey.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Judge rules against 84-year-old doctor who can’t use a computer

    A New Hampshire state judge has dismissed a case brought by an elderly doctor who recently gave up her medical license following a handful of allegations against her.

    Among other accusations, Dr. Anna Konopka, 84, has refused to use a computer and participate in the state’s new law for an online opioid monitoring program.

    “The Court has admiration for Dr. Konopka’s devotion to her patients,” Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger wrote in his Monday order to dismiss the case, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Seven Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves From Outrageous Medical Bills

      A doctor offers a surgical add-on that leads to a $1,877 bill for a young girl’s ear piercing. A patient protests unnecessary scans to identify and treat her breast cysts. A study shows intensive-care-level treatment is overused.

      ProPublica has been documenting the myriad ways the health system wastes money on unnecessary services, often shifting the costs to consumers. But there are ways patients can protect themselves.

      We consulted the bill-wrangling professionals at Medliminal, one of a number of companies that negotiate to reduce their clients’ charges for a share of the savings. After years of jousting with hospitals, medical providers and insurers, their key advice for patients and their families is to be assertive and proactive.

    • A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much.

      Her daughter emerged from surgery with her tongue newly freed and a pair of small gold stars in her ears.

      Only months later did O’Neill discover her cost for this extracurricular work: $1,877.86 for “operating room services” related to the ear piercing — a fee her insurer was unwilling to pay.

      At first, O’Neill assumed the bill was a mistake. Her daughter hadn’t needed her ears pierced, and O’Neill would never have agreed to it if she’d known the cost. She complained in phone calls and in writing.

    • How Patents Have Contributed To The Opioid Crisis

      Over at Quartz, there’s a very interesting article about how patents may have contributed to the opioid crisis in the US. It’s based on a recent paper, May Your Drug Price Be Ever Green, by law professor Robin Feldman (who has done lots of great work about problems in our patent system) and law student Connie Wang.

      For many years, we’ve written about how the pharmaceutical industry has become so overly reliant on patents for their business model, that’s it’s become destructive. We’ve argued that the misaligned incentives of the patent system, especially in pharmaceuticals has so distorted incentives that the big drug companies basically have become focused solely on keeping exclusivity that it has lead to a lot of tragic game playing, where the cost has literally been people’s lives. This went into overdrive a decade or so ago when big pharma realized that many of their biggest sellers had patents expiring, and their pipeline had failed to come up with new drugs to replace the monopoly rents of the old. This resulted in all sorts of gamesmanship designed to allow big pharma to retain monopoly rights even after a drug should have gone off patent. This included pay for delay schemes, whereby big pharma effectively paid off generic makers to keep them out of the market for longer.

    • Expert panel recommends that the WHO move forward on transparency and delinkage

      On Monday, 27 November 2017, the WHO published the recommendations of the overall programme review of the global strategy and plan of action on public, health innovation and intellectual property (EB142/14). The full report of the overall programme review (OPR) will be published on Tuesday, 28 November 2017. The mandate for this work is provided resolution WHA68.18 (2015) which requested the Director-General to establish a “panel of 18 experts” to conduct an OPR of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property. (Source: EB142/14). The composition of this expert panel can be found here: http://www.who.int/medicines/innovation/gspa-review/members-list/en/

      The expert panel provided 33 recommendations which included 17 forward looking”high-priority actions” including on transparency and delinkage.

    • TWN – Proposed WHO Criteria On Medicines In Transit Open Door For Seizures
    • WHO Issues Two Reports Detailing Global Problem Of Substandard And Falsified Medicines

      WHO launched its Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medicines, vaccines and in-vitro diagnostic tests in July 2013. This first report is based on data collected during the first 4 years of operation up to 30 June 2017.

      The second report is a study on the public health and socioeconomic impact of substandard or falsified medical products conducted by WHO and the Member State Mechanism

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • British support of Saudi Arabian military should shame us all, says SNP MP

      BRITISH support of the Saudi Arabian military “should appal us all”, according to the SNP’s spokesman for international affairs, amid claims that Scottish regiment has been training a Saudi unit in Yemen.

      The role of the UK armed forces in the conflict has come under scrutiny after a picture was posted on a Scottish battalion Facebook page which appeared to members of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) helping to train Saudi troops.

      The battalion are said to be teaching Irregular Warfare (IW) techniques to officers from the Royal Saudi Land Forces Infantry Institute.

    • US gun violence spawns a new epidemic: conspiracy theorists harassing victims

      Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friend’s chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.

      Cronk’s story of surviving the worst mass shooting in modern US history went viral, but many people online weren’t calling him a hero. On YouTube, dozens of videos, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, claimed Cronk was an actor hired to play the part of a victim in the Las Vegas mass shooting on 1 October.

    • The Latest: Pentagon believes NK launched ballistic missile

      The Pentagon says it detected and tracked a single North Korean missile launch and believes it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

      Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Tuesday that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

      Manning says the Pentagon’s information is based on an initial assessment of the launch. He says a more detailed assessment was in the works.

    • Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya

      Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

      The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are being sold in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

      In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Moammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the Qadhafi government’s ability to resist rebel forces. American and European leaders initially claimed the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons, but political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy, 3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

    • Saudi Arabia’s Mysterious Upheaval

      Change is clearly afoot in Saudi Arabia — with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) engineering the dubious resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and arresting some of the kingdom’s richest businessmen and rivals within the royal family on charges of corruption — but exactly what it foretells is hard to read.

      The Saudis also are reeling from the apparent defeat of Saudi-backed Sunni jihadists in Syria, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. So what are the consequences for Saudi Arabia and its regional allies?

      On Nov. 20, after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left Saudi Arabia and resurfaced in France, I spoke with Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. (Hariri has since returned to Lebanon where he remains prime minister at least for the time being.)

    • After two months of quiet, North Korea launches another ballistic missile [Updated]

      In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan [Province], to the east direction. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the US side.”

      The US Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have made an initial assessment that the missile was an ICBM, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesperson Col. Robert Manning. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers, flew over Japan, and landed in the sea east of Japan within its exclusive economic zone.

      The launch comes as South Korea is preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. South Korean officials had hoped that North Korea would forego any further provocations in hopes of an “Olympics of Peace.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA and NSA codes are on the web, and the leakers could be in the agencies

      WikiLeaks published new information thought to be from the CIA in mid-November, releasing source code from a tool known as “Hive,” which allows operators to control malware. The dump, dubbed Vault 8, marked the first time WikiLeaks has released source code for a CIA spying tool.

      In a post on its website, WikiLeaks said: “This publication will enable investigative journalists, forensic experts and the general public to better identify and understand covert CIA infrastructure components. Source code published in this series contains software designed to run on servers controlled by the CIA. Like WikiLeaks’ earlier Vault 7 series, the material published by WikiLeaks does not contain 0-days or similar security vulnerabilities which could be repurposed by others.”

      Over the past several months, WikiLeaks has released information detailing the extent and sophistication of the CIA’s offensive cyberspace efforts. Despite countless hours searching, investigators still don’t know who is behind the CIA leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Radioactive land around Chernobyl to sprout solar investments

      A mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the damaged reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a one-megawatt, $1.2 million solar panel installation will likely be commissioned next month, according to Bloomberg. Back in summer 2016, the Ukrainian government said it was eager to get solar projects on the 1,000 square miles of radioactive land, and Ukrainian engineering firm Rodina Energy Group appears set to be an early arrival on the scene.

    • Jonathan Bartley: HS2 is an environmental disaster – we have to stop it in its tracks

      As the co-leader of the Green Party, I’ve seen some pointless environmental destruction in my time. But I’m starting to think that HS2 might be this government’s most outrageous attack on our natural world yet.

      A high speed rail link might sound like a sensible enough idea – or a benign extravagance at worst. But the truth is that it’s environmental vandalism of the highest order, and it has to be stopped.

  • Finance

    • The early history of the 58 Brexit sector analyses

      This post tells the early story, based on public domain sources, of the UK government’s 58 analyses of sectors which will be affected by Brexit.

      There has now been a binding vote by the House of Commons for the government to provide these panalyses to Parliament.

    • What the Tax Bill Would Look Like for 25,000 Middle-Class Families

      The tax bill being debated in the Senate this week would affect nearly every American. Numerous analyses have estimated the average impact of the bill on household finances, and advocates on both sides have produced examples of “typical” families that would win or lose under the plan.

      Such analyses, however, tend to gloss over the remarkable diversity of Americans’ financial situations. In truth, there is no “typical” American household. Even families that look similar on the surface can differ in ways that radically alter their situation come tax season.

      The 25,000 dots on the chart above each represent an American household in the broadly defined middle class. The vertical axis represents income; the horizontal axis represents how big a tax cut (or tax increase) each household would get under the bill in 2018, according to a New York Times analysis using the open-source tax-modeling program TaxBrain. (For details on how we did this analysis, including how we defined the middle class, see the note at the end of this article.)

    • The Hidden Hazards of GOP’s Tax-Cut Plan

      The Democrats and the entire progressive community are up in arms about the Republican tax-cut plans, which budget experts say will shower the wealthy with tax breaks while raising taxes on some middle- and working-class families. The plans also could flood the federal debt with another $1.5 trillion in red ink over the next decade.

    • How bitcoins became worth $10,000

      On Tuesday evening, the value of one bitcoin shot above $10,000. It has been a remarkable run for a currency that was only worth about $12 five years ago.

      The run has been particularly remarkable because it’s still not clear what Bitcoin is useful for. During its early years, the cryptocurrency garnered a lot of optimistic talk about how it would disrupt conventional payment networks like MasterCard or Western Union. But almost nine years after Bitcoin was created, there’s little sign of it becoming a mainstream technology. Few people own any bitcoins at all. Even fewer use it as a daily payment technology.

      Yet that hasn’t prevented the cryptocurrency’s value from zooming upward. One factor driving Bitcoin’s growth has been the emergence of a broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin serves as the reserve currency for the Bitcoin economy in much the same way that the dollar serves as the main anchor currency for international trade.

    • CFPB’s ‘NSA-like’ surveillance in limbo with leadership tussle

      The ongoing fight for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have significant effects on the bureau’s mass acquisition of private financial records, according to privacy advocates.

      The CFPB pools vast quantities of data for research purposes, including millions of Americans’ credit card records, which it says are anonymized, commercially available and tracked to help consumers, not to spy on them.

      Critics doubt the adequacy of safeguards, however, and liken the credit data-collection to the National Security Agency’s monitoring of internet and phone records under laws that allow tracking of spies and terrorists.

    • Strip away the layers and Brexit becomes ever more murky

      I clearly remember pondering, on 24 June 2016, why there was not more public and political outrage at the idea of a British government putting itself above the law, and using the royal prerogative to execute the referendum result. I find myself in exactly the same mindset in terms of the potential undermining of our democracy, government and sovereignty by a hostile foreign power – Russia – in what appears to be a secretive coup.

      As a transparency campaigner and a passionate believer in our British values, as well as political and democratic systems, I am worried. People were told that walking out of the EU would liberate us from the clutches of unaccountable bureaucrats and would allow us to “take back control”. Auberon Waugh’s “junta of Belgian ticket inspectors” would be sent packing, the British people would reclaim sovereignty and British courts would decide British law for British people. The fog of bureaucracy would be blown away by the accountability and transparency that we supposedly enjoyed in the days before 1973.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Democrats Rely on Blame-Shifting

      Victories in state-level elections in New Jersey and Virginia on Nov. 7 have buoyed Democratic hopes for an anti-Trump wave among the population that will lead to a big victory in next year’s mid-term elections, and permanently damage President Trump heading towards 2020. Yet there is significant risk in hoping that anti-Trump sentiment will be enough for the Democrats to return to power.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • To Protect our Democracy, We Need to Protect Anonymous Low-Cost Online Political Speech

      As Congress and the Federal Elections Commission explore ways to counter foreign influence in U.S. elections through greater campaign finance disclosures, EFF has filed comments reminding policy makers of the danger of going too far. While the FEC’s goals are understandable, it must take care not to undermine the right of ordinary Americans to speak anonymously about political issues. What we need is transparency from Internet companies about their advertising practices across the board—not laws that strip ordinary people of their constitutional rights and undermine our democratic values.

      For everyday Americans, the Internet offers one the most effective and inexpensive ways to make their voices heard in our nation’s political debate. It’s also a way to do so without fear of retaliation if your voice offers an unpopular view. An LGBTQ individual who is not “out” to their family or employer may fear ostracism, harassment, or threats of violence if they openly purchase a small ad on a social media platform advocating for a candidate who supports federal legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And a conservative person living in a small liberal community may fear social or professional harm if they openly spent a small sum to amplify on social media their support for a conservative local political candidate. But today both people can avoid that retaliation by purchasing these small ads anonymously.1

      The FEC should not prevent that choice. Anonymous speech is a critical component of our online political debate. Not only do we need to protect it, we need to be doing more as a society to bolster the power of those who lack access to resources to make their voices heard.

      What we really need is for Internet companies to provide more transparency regarding the mechanics of how and why all manner of advertisements are targeting them, and to give users greater control over the data collected about them and how it is used.

    • Proposed “Right to Know Act” Would Empower Users of Digital Devices to Decline NYPD Searches

      New York City is considering a range of legislative measures to increase civilian control over the New York Police Department (NYPD). Earlier this year, EFF endorsed the proposed Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act to increase transparency into the NYPD’s acquisition of surveillance technology, such as license plate readers and cell site simulators. Now EFF also supports the proposed Right to Know Act to guard the digital rights of New Yorkers and visitors impacted by so-called “consent” searches of their digital devices during stop and frisks.

      The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department, with global operations and an unfortunately long history of acting outside its authority. Given its size and presence among domestic law enforcement agencies, NYPD policies can set national norms, which are why its abuses—and policies enacted to curtail them—are important not only to New Yorkers but all Americans.

      In New York, the frequency of racially disparate detentions and searches of innocent New Yorkers exploded under an era of “broken windows policing” championed by former police commissioner Bill Bratton. (Bratton also worked in similar capacities in Boston and in Los Angeles, where his record prompted sustained criticism from local residents and communities.) “Broken windows policing” encourages police to aggressively pursue low-level crimes, driving NYPD officers to issue 1.8 million summonses between 2010 and 2015 for quality-of-life misdemeanors and infractions such as public drinking.

    • Twitter’s fight to kill Uncle Sam’s censorship of spying numbers edges closer to victory

      In October 2014, the microblogging and incitement platform filed a lawsuit against the Feds for permission to publish, as part of its government surveillance transparency report, the number of secret court orders it received seeking twits’ data.

      In the US, authorities can slap companies with National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders for information that prohibit recipients from telling anyone about the demand, based on the claim disclosure would harm national security.

    • “Upload A Selfie” — Facebook May Soon Ask For Your Picture To Confirm You’re Not A Robot

      The social networking giant Facebook is testing a new type of captcha to verify your identity. According to a report, the company may soon ask you to upload your picture to prove you’re not a robot.

      As per a screenshot shared on Twitter, this new selfie upload prompt says — “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face.” The prompt also promises to check the picture and permanently erase it from the servers. In a somewhat similar story, Facebook had already suggested asked users to upload their nude photos to fight revenge porn.

    • The Struggles of ‘A Good American’

      A new documentary tells the story of ex-NSA official William Binney and his fight to get the federal bureaucracy to accept an inexpensive system for detecting terrorists while respecting the U.S. Constitution, writes James DiEugenio.

    • Treasury Department Report Shows ComputerCOP Used Bogus Endorsement Letter To Get Police To Distribute Keylogger

      There are enough problems with police these days and how they interact with the public. They shouldn’t be contributing to making computer security worse by handing out dangerous software.

    • Yet Another Legal Action By Dogged Privacy Activist Brings Good News And Bad News For Facebook In EU’s Highest Court

      The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has appeared a few times on Techdirt, as he conducts his long-running campaign to find out what Facebook is doing with his personal data, and to take back control of it. In 2011, he obtained a CD-ROM (remember those?) containing all the information that Facebook held about him at that time. More dramatically, in 2015 Schrems persuaded the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the Safe Harbor framework for transferring personal data from the EU to the US was illegal under EU laws because of the NSA’s spying, as revealed by Edward Snowden. As Schrem’s detailed commentary (pdf) on that CJEU judgment explains, the case was specifically about Facebook, although it applied much more generally. Last month, we wrote about another case, currently being referred to the CJEU, concerning Facebook’s use of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) (pdf), also known as “model clauses”. It’s an alternative legal approach for transferring data across the Atlantic, and if the CJEU rules against Facebook again, it could make things rather difficult for the big US Internet companies (but ordinary businesses won’t be affected much.)

    • Navy Officer Tried To Use The NSA To Tap Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      A curious Navy officer on deployment in Iraq in 2011 got in hot water with the National Security Agency when she used a top-secret NSA signals intelligence database to snoop on the prepaid-phone habits of boyfriend’s son, according to a just-released, heavily redacted NSA inspector general’s report.

    • NSA Caught Navy Officer Illegally Trying To Pry Into American’s Phone

      A Navy officer stationed in Iraq “deliberately and without authorization” used an NSA database to try to pry into the mobile phone of her boyfriend’s son, according to a top secret NSA inspector general report obtained by BuzzFeed News.

      The 2014 report — one of dozens the NSA just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how the spy agency responded to an instance of illegal surveillance on an American citizen.

      The Navy officer did not access the information on the phone — she was halted by a warning signal. But the inspector general’s report says the officer, whose name was redacted, violated federal regulations and a presidential executive order designed to protect Americans from being spied on by intelligence agencies without a warrant.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Good Technology Collective

      The Good Technology Collective (GTC), a new European think-tank addressing ethical issues in technology, will officially open its doors in Berlin on December 15th. The grand opening will kick off at 7:30PM (CET) at Soho House Berlin and I shall be one of the guest speakers.

    • Court Says Cop’s Theft Of Evidence Shouldn’t Have Any Effect On Man’s 15-Year Drug Sentence

      How do we get to 26 kilos from less than a gram of actual cocaine? It happens like this…

      Martin Pena needed money for rent. He agreed to meet some other men at a taqueria to run some sort of an errand for $500. One of the men took Pena’s car and returned with it a short while later. When he returned, there was a black ice chest in Pena’s car. Pena was instructed to drive it to another location and park his vehicle, leaving the keys inside.

      Pena was pulled over by Houston police officers who arrested him for an outstanding warrant. The vehicle was impounded and an inventory search performed. The 26 kilos of “cocaine” in the ice chest were discovered and Pena was convicted of transporting 400 grams of cocaine — enough to trigger a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.

    • Uber Waymo Trial Delayed After Justice Department Jumps In, Unprompted, To Tell Judge That Uber Was Withholding Evidence

      So lots of people were gearing up for the Waymo/Uber trial starting next week over Uber’s alleged efforts to get Waymo’s (Google’s self-driving car project) trade secrets. There are a whole bunch of issues around this case that are interesting — from questions involving what really is a trade secret to where the line is between controlling former employees and allowing people to switch jobs within an industry. But… all of that has been completely tossed out the window as more and more evidence piles up that beyond those key legal issues, Uber sure did some shady, shady stuff. This morning, the latest bombshell (in a long line of bombshells) is that the judge has delayed the trial after the Justice Department got involved, totally unprompted. No, really.

    • Oklahoma Looks To Clamp Down On Uninsured Driving With Traffic Cams And Perverse Incentives

      Oklahoma is home to a large percentage of uninsured drivers. Nearly a quarter of the state’s drivers get behind the wheel as latent threats to insured drivers’ insurance rates. The state thinks it’s found a solution to this problem — one that will net a private company and the state’s district attorney offices lots of money.

    • Judge delays trial after ex-Uber employee describes rogue behavior

      US District Judge William Alsup has delayed an upcoming trial, Waymo v. Uber, in which Alphabet’s self-driving car division has accused Uber of massive data theft.

      The postponement came as a former Uber security employee, Richard Jacobs, made startling accusations in court Tuesday about his former colleagues’ tactics of what he dubbed “overly aggressive and invasive” actions, including seeking code accidentally made available on GitHub and internal use of “ephemeral and encrypted” communications including through Wickr and “non-attributable machines.”

    • ‘We, Too, Are Survivors.’ 223 Women in National Security Sign Open Letter on Sexual Harassment
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal

      For years, Comcast has been promising that it won’t violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn’t block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn’t create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

      This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn’t necessary because ISPs won’t violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 145: Tom Wheeler Reacts To Trump’s FCC

      If you’re a Techdirt reader or just a general regular on the ol’ internet, our topic this week — the current situation with net neutrality and the FCC — needs little introduction. And we’ve got two very special guests joining us to discuss it: former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler (author of the rules that Ajit Pai is currently undoing) and his former advisor Gigi Sohn (who joined us on the podcast in February to predict pretty much exactly what is now happening). There are few people as qualified to talk about these issues, so enjoy this week’s episode looking at Trump’s FCC and the future of the internet as we know it.

    • Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support

      Internet users have made it clear to US telecom regulator Ajit Pai that his proposal to scrap net neutrality rules is unpopular with the masses. But with two weeks left before the Federal Communications Commission votes to eliminate net neutrality rules, Pai today blamed actress/singer Cher and other celebrities for boosting opposition to his plan.

    • Judge Backs AT&T, Comcast Nuisance Suit Against Google Fiber In Nashville

      There’s numerous methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why Americans pay more money for slower broadband than most developed nations. Keeping this dysfunction intact despite a growing resentment from America’s under-served and over-charged broadband consumers isn’t easy, and has required decades of yeoman’s work on the part of entrenched duopolies and their lobbyists.

      Case in point: Google Fiber recently tried to build new fiber networks in a large number of cities like Nashville and Louisville, but ran face first into an antiquated utility pole attachment process. As it stands, when a new competitor tries to enter a market, it needs to contact each individual ISP to have them move their own utility pole gear. This convoluted and bureaucratic process can take months, and incumbent ISPs (which often own the poles in question) often slow things down even further by intentionally dragging their feet.

    • Comcast throttling BitTorrent was no big deal, FCC says

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has consistently argued that FCC regulation of net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.”

      Pai’s claim is frequently countered with the actual history of Internet service providers blocking or throttling Internet traffic or applications. The most prominent example is Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing. Pai thus had to contend with these real-world examples in his new proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules.

    • Looking Towards A Retrospective Future

      The Internet hasn’t been healthy for a while. Even with net neutrality rules in the United States, I have my Internet Service Provider neutrally blocking all IPv6 traffic and throttling me. As you can imagine, that now makes an apt update quite a pain. When I have asked my provider, they have said they have no plans to offer this on residential service. When I have raised the point that my employer wants me to verify the ability to potentially work from home in crisis situations, they said I would need to subscribe to “business class” service and said they would happily terminate my residential service for me if I tried to use a Virtual Private Network.

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