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12.12.17

Links 12/12/2017: New BlackArch ISO and Stable Kernels

Posted in News Roundup at 1:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Dedoimedo interviews: Tuxmachines

    Dedoimedo prowls the many corners of the Web, searching for textogenic faces for a fresh new interview. Truth to be told, finding the candidate for today’s slot wasn’t too difficult. Roy Schestowitz is a familiar name round the Tux block. Nowadays, you will most likely find him on tuxmachines.org, a community-driven news site.

    News aggregation can be tricky; finding the right balance of quality content isn’t easy, but even with the relatively recent change of ownership, tuxmachines marches on with solid consistency, ardently trying to offer its readers the best the open-source world has to report. I have always been a great fan and supporter, and I approached Roy for an interview. He agreed.

  • Desktop

    • System76 Enables HiDPI Support on All of Their Linux Laptops and Desktops

      We reported last week on the upcoming support for HiDPI displays coming to System76′s for its Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS Linux distro, and it didn’t take long for them to release the new daemon that would enable HiDPI support on all of its laptops and desktops where Ubuntu or Pop!_OS Linux is installed.

      HiDPI support was becoming an urgent necessity for System76 as more and more customers started asking for assistance in setting up their displays. And while the Wayland display server isn’t yet mature enough to be adopted by all GPU vendors and completely replace X.Org, there was a need for a compromise.

  • Server

    • With OPNFV, Orange Plans a Full-Scale Rollout of Network Functions Virtualization

      Over the past few years, the entire networking industry has begun to transform as network demands rapidly increase. This is true for both the technology itself and the way in which carriers — like my employer Orange, as well as vendors and other service providers — adapt and evolve their approach to meeting these demands. As a result, we’re becoming more and more agile and adept in how we virtualize our evolving network and a shifting ecosystem.” keep up with growing demands and the need to virtualize.

    • Oracle joins the serverless fray with Fn

      With its open source Fn project, Oracle is looking to make a splash in serverless computing.

      Fn is a container native serverless platform that can be run on-premises or in the cloud. It requires the use of Docker containers. Fn developers will be able to write functions in Java initially, with Go, Ruby, Python, PHP, and Node.js support planned for later. Applications can be built and run without users having to provision, scale, or manage servers, by using the cloud.

    • DevOps, Docker, and Empathy

      Just because we’re using containers doesn’t mean that we “do DevOps.” Docker is not some kind of fairy dust that you can sprinkle around your code and applications to deploy faster. It is only a tool, albeit a very powerful one. And like every tool, it can be misused. Guess what happens when we misuse a power tool? Power fuck-ups. Let’s talk about it.

      I’m writing this because I have seen a few people expressing very deep frustrations about Docker, and I would like to extend a hand to show them that instead of being a giant pain in the neck, Docker can help them to work better, and (if that’s their goal) be an advantage rather than a burden in their journey (or their “digital transformation” if we want to speak fancy.)

    • This open-source, multicloud serverless framework claims faster-than-bare-metal speed

      The move toward fast, serverless computing technology got a boost this month from Iguazio Systems Ltd. The data platform company (named from the Iguazu waterfalls in South America) announced the release of Nuclio, an open-source, multicloud serverless framework that claims faster-than-bare-metal speed.

      “We provide one platform, all the data services that Amazon has, or at least the ones that are interesting, serverless functions, which are 100 times faster, and a few more tricks that they don’t have,” said Yaron Haviv (pictured), founder and chief technology officer of Iguazio Systems. “We do fewer services, but each one kicks ass; each one is much faster and better engineered.”

    • CORD Says It’s the De Facto Choice for Edge Computing

      The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) today released 4.1 of its Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) code. CORD has only been around as an independent project within ONF for about a year and a half, but with this release a couple of things have gelled for the project. First, it has merged its residential-CORD, mobile-CORD, and enterprise-CORD into one overarching project. Secondly, the ONF has realized CORD’s relevance in edge computing and edge cloud data centers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.14.5
    • Linux 4.9.68
    • Linux 4.4.105
    • Linux 3.18.87
    • Four stable kernel updates
    • SysAdmins and Kernel Developers Advance Linux Skills with LiFT

      The annual Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) Scholarships provide advanced open source training to existing and aspiring IT professionals from all over the world. Twenty-seven recipients received scholarships this year – the highest number ever awarded by the Foundation. Scholarship recipients receive a Linux Foundation training course and certification exam at no cost.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD Moving Forward In Their RadeonSI Support For ARB_gl_spirv

        AMD open-source developer Nicolai Hähnle has spent the past few months working on the ARB_gl_spirv extension as mandated by OpenGL 4.6. Some of the prep work for supporting that extension has landed in Mesa 17.4-dev Git.

        ARB_gl_spirv is about bringing SPIR-V support to OpenGL drivers, the IR shared by Vulkan and OpenCL 2.1+. ARB_gl_spirv allows for loading SPIR-V modules into OpenGL programs and allows for GLSL to be a source language in creating SPIR-V modules. This is basically for creating better interoperability between OpenGL and Vulkan/SPIR-V.

      • Mesa Glthread Gets Adds Another Game, AMDGPU Winsys Gets Performance Workaround

        This week has started off to being another busy time in Mesa Git just ahead of the holidays.

        First up, Mount & Blade: Warband is the latest game to be white-listed by the Mesa glthread functionality for enabling OpenGL threading on this Steam Linux game. Mount & Blade: Warband was actually whitelisted back in July but then disabled a few days later as it turned out not to be working.

      • VESA Rolls Out DisplayHDR As Its Latest Standard

        VESA has rolled out DisplayHDR 1.0 as its newest standard. As implied by the name, the standard is in regards to specifying HDR (High Dynamic Range) quality for displays.

      • VC5 OpenGL & Vulkan Driver Advancing

        Broadcom developer Eric Anholt has offered an update on the state of the VC5 Gallium3D driver for OpenGL support as well as the work being done on the “BCMV” Vulkan driver. Additionally, the VC4 Gallium3D driver for existing Raspberry Pi devices continues to get better.

      • Initial Tessellation Shader Support For RadeonSI NIR

        The RadeonSI Gallium3D driver’s NIR back-end is moving one step closer to feature parity with the existing OpenGL capabilities of this AMD GCN graphics driver.

        Timothy Arceri working for Valve has been focusing on the NIR back-end recently for RadeonSI. This NIR intermediate representation handling is being driven in order to add SPIR-V ingestion support to RadeonSI with code sharing for RADV’s existing NIR-based infrastructure.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux 4.15 I/O Scheduler Tests: BFQ, CFQ, Kyber

        With some BFQ performance fixes included as part of Linux 4.15 along with other I/O scheduler work and block improvements for this latest Linux kernel series, here are some fresh benchmarks of the different I/O scheduler options using the Linux 4.15 Git kernel.

      • Is PowerTop / TLP Still Useful To Save Power On Linux Laptops?

        This system was running Ubuntu 17.10 and the configurations tested included:

        - Ubuntu 17.10 in a “stock” or “out of the box” experience when using its Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 with Wayland, and Mesa 17.2.2 atop an EXT4 file-system.

        - Upgrading the Ubuntu 17.10 system to Linux 4.15 Git for showing the power consumption when using the very latest kernel cycle.

        - This Ubuntu 17.10 + Linux 4.15 system then with Intel PowerTop installed and changing all the tunables to their “good” values for maximum power-savings.

        - Installing TLP and using its default power-saving options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Looking Back at Randa Meetings 2017: Accessibility for Everyone

        Randa Meetings are a yearly collection of KDE Community contributor sprints that take place in Randa, Switzerland. With origins dating back to a Plasma meeting in 2009, Randa is one of the most important developer-related events in the community.

      • KDE Edu Sprint 2017

        Two months ago I attended to KDE Edu Sprint 2017 at Berlin. It was my first KDE sprint (really, I send code to KDE software since 2010 and never went to a sprint!) so I was really excited for the event.

        KDE Edu is the an umbrella for specific educational software of KDE. There are a lot of them and it is the main educational software suite in free software world. Despite it, KDE Edu has received little attention in organization side, for instance the previous KDE Edu sprint occurred several years ago, our website has some problems, and more.

        Therefore, this sprint was an opportunity not only for developers work in software development, but for works in organization side as well.

        In organization work side, we discuss about the rebranding of some software more related to university work than for “education” itself, like Cantor and Labplot. There was a wish to create something like a KDE Research/Science in order to put software like them and others like Kile and KBibTex in a same umbrella. There is a discussion about this theme.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • New Antivirus Live CD Release Is Out Now Based on 4MLinux 24.0 and ClamAV 0.99.2

        Every time a new major 4MLinux release is being prepped, Antivirus Live CD gets updated with the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source components that have been included in the respective 4MLinux release. As such, Antivirus Live CD 24.0-0.99.2 is based on 4MLinux 24.0 and ClamAV 0.99.2 open-source antivirus software toolkit.

        “Antivirus Live CD is an official 4MLinux fork including the ClamAV scanner. It’s designed for users who need a lightweight live CD, which will help them to protect their computers against viruses,” said Zbigniew Konojacki in the release announcement‏. “The latest version 24.0-0.99.2 is based on 4MLinux 24.0 and ClamAV 0.99.2.”

      • BlackArch Linux Ethical Hacking OS Gets Linux Kernel 4.14.4, Updated Installer

        Coming hot on the BlackArch Linux 2017.11.24 ISO snapshot released two weeks ago with more than 50 new hacking tools, the BlackArch Linux 2017.12.11 ISO images are now available to download incorporating the latest version of the BlackArch Installer utility, which fixes a few critical bugs.

        The bugs were related to a login loop and the supported window managers, and they are now fixed in BlackArch Installer 0.6.2, which is included in the BlackArch Linux 2017.11.24 ISO snapshot. Also included is the Linux 4.14.4 kernel and many of the latest system updates and security patches released upstream.

      • BlackArch 2017.12.11

        Today we released new BlackArch Linux ISOs. For details see the ChangeLog below.

        Here’s the ChangeLog:

        update blackarch-installer to version 0.6.2 (most important change)
        included kernel 4.14.4
        updated lot’s of blackarch tools and packages
        updated all blackarch tools and packages
        updated all system packages
        bugfix release! (see blackarch-installer)

      • Latest Linux Distribution Releases (The Always Up-to-date List)
    • Arch Family

      • If You’re Ready for Arch, ArchMerge Eases the Way

        Newcomer ArchMerge Linux offers a big change for the better to those switching from the Debian Linux lineage to the Arch Linux infrastructure.

        ArchMerge Linux is a recent spinoff of ArchLabs Linux. I recently reviewed Archlabs and found it to be a step up from most Arch Linux offerings in terms of installation and usability. Arch Linux distros, in general, are notorious for their challenging installation and software management processes.

        ArchMerge Linux brings a few extra ingredients that make trying it well worth your while if you want to consider migrating to the Arch Linux platform. Still, no Arch Linux distro is a suitable starting point for Linux newcomers. That reality does not change with ArchMerge, although it helps ease the process considerably for those who are ready for it.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Devuan ASCII sprint — 15-16-17 Dec. 2017
      • Systemd, Devuan, and Debian
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Devs Work on Demoting Python 2 to “Universe” Repo for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            Canonical’s Matthias Klose informed the Ubuntu community in a mailing list announcement last week that getting the Python 2 interpreter demoted from Ubuntu has been an ongoing task for the last few releases, and that Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) is the first to ship with a Desktop ISO image that doesn’t contain Python2.

            However, the next step for them is to prepare to move the Python 2 packages to the “universe” repository in the next few months before the release of the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system in April 2018. While Python 2 will be supported for only two more years, Ubuntu 18.04 is an LTS (Long Term Support) release supported for five years, until 2023.

          • Spaceman Shuttleworth Finds Earthly Riches With Ubuntu Software

            He’s best known for being the world’s first “Afronaut,” but since returning to Earth from his 2002 trip on Russia’s Soyuz TM-34 rocket ship, Cape Town native Mark Shuttleworth set about with the conquest of a much more lucrative universe: the internet-of-things.

            Shuttleworth created Ubuntu, an open-source Linux operating system that helps connect everything from drones to thermostats to the internet. His company, Canonical Group Ltd., makes money from about 800 paying customers, including Netflix Inc., Tesla Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG, which pay for support services. Its success has helped boost his net worth to $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

            “It’s destructive to be too focused on that,” Shuttleworth said of his wealth in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Boston. “It’s just a distraction from whether you have your finger on the pulse of what’s next.”

          • Rocket.chat communication platform enables simplicity through snaps

            Created in Brazil, Rocket.Chat provides an open source chat solution for organisations of all sizes around the world. Built on open source values and a love of efficiency, Rocket.Chat is driven by a community of contributors and has seen adoption in all aspects of business and education. As Rocket.Chat has evolved, it has been keen to get its platform into the hands of as many users as possible without the difficulties of installation often associated with bespoke Linux deployments.

          • The Silph Road embraces cloud and containers with Canonical

            The Silph Road is the premier grassroots network for Pokémon GO players around the world offering research, tools, and resources to the largest Pokémon GO community worldwide, with up to 400,000 visitors per day

            Operating a volunteer-run, community network with up to 400,000 daily visitors is no easy task especially in the face of massive and unpredictable demand spikes, and with developers spread all over the world.With massive user demand and with volunteer developers located all over the world, The Silph Road’s operations must be cost-effective, flexible, and scalable.

            This led the Pokémon GO network first to cloud, and then to containers and in both cases Canonical ’s technology was the answer.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Mint 18.3: The best Linux desktop takes big steps forward

              I run many operating systems every day, from macOS, to Windows 7 and 10, to more Linux desktop distributions than you can shake a stick at. And, once more, as a power-user’s power user, I’ve found the latest version of Linux Mint to be the best of the best.

              Why? Let’s start with the basics. MacOS has been shown to have the worst bug I’ve ever seen in an operating system: The macOS High Sierra security hole that lets anyone get full administrative control. Windows, old and new, continues to have multiple security bugs every lousy month. Linux? Sure, it has security problems. How many of these bugs have had serious desktop impacts? Let me see now. None. Yes, that would be zero.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is a blockchain smart contract?

    Now, in a blockchain, the important thing is that once the state has changed, you then ensure it’s recorded on the blockchain so that it’s public and nobody can change or challenge it. But there are other uses for blockchain technology, as I explained in “Is blockchain a security topic?” Permissionless systems, often referred to as distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are a great fit for non-transactional state models, largely because the sort of people who are interested in them are closed groups of organisations that want to have complex sets of conditions met before they move to the next state. These aren’t, by the tightest definition, blockchains. Banks and other financial institutions may be the most obvious examples where DLTs are gaining traction, but they are very useful in supply chain sectors, for instance, where you may have conditions around changing market rates, availability, and shipping times or costs, which may all play into the final price of the commodity or service being provided.

  • Running a successful open source project

    Running an open source project is easy. All you have to do is make your source code available and you’re open source, right? Well, maybe. Ultimately, whether or not an open source project is successful depends on your definition of success. Regardless of your definition, creating an open source project can be a lot of work. If you have goals regarding adoption, for example, then you need to be prepared to invest. While open source software is “free as in beer”, it’s not really free: time and energy are valuable resources and these valuable resources need to be invested in the project.

    So, how do you invest those resources?

  • New package repositories are now enabled by default

    During this year’s coding sprint in Toulouse (which I was able to attend, thanks to being in Europe on a study-abroad program), I spent a lot of time massaging HaikuPorts to generate a consistent-enough state of packages for us to switch to them by default, and then making the in-tree changes necessary for the switch. Thanks to this and mmlr’s comprehensive overhaul of the HaikuPorter Buildmaster over the past couple months, we have finally switched to the new repositories by default as of hrev51620. If you’ve installed a nightly image from after this, you should be able to just pkgman full-sync and upgrade away.

  • Haiku OS Is Very Close To Their Long Awaited Beta, New Repository Working

    The BeOS-inspired Haiku operating system should be issuing its long-awaited beta release by early 2018.

    For months there has been talk of the long-awaited beta for Haiku OS while it looks like roughly within the next month we should be actually seeing this milestone.

  • DeepVariant: Tool to call out variants in sequencing data goes open source

    Megan Molteni, Wired, decoded, at least, the very nature of the challenge to know more about our human puzzle. “Today, a teaspoon of spit and a hundred bucks is all you need to get a snapshot of your DNA. But getting the full picture—all 3 billion base pairs of your genome—requires a much more laborious process. One that, even with the aid of sophisticated statistics, scientists still struggle over.”

    DeepVariant was developed by researchers from the Google Brain team, focused on AI techniques, and Verily, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on life sciences.

    It is based on the same neural network for image recognition, but DeepVariant, is now making headlines not for cat IDs but as a way to scan a genetic code for mutations. DeepVariant has gone open source. The GitHub definition of DeepVariant: “an analysis pipeline that uses a deep neural network to call genetic variants from next-generation DNA sequencing data.”

  • Open source VPN clients vs VPN provider apps: which is better?

    Power users love open source software for its transparency and flexibility – but what about open source VPN software? Are there any open source VPN clients that can stand up to being compared with the more popular VPN apps from premium providers like ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, IPVanish or NordVPN?

    The short answer is… not really. But the long answer depends a lot on your level of technical know-how, patience, and where you’re willing to place your trust.

  • Events

    • Coreboot Conference 2017 Videos Now Available

      For those interested in the open-source Coreboot project that serves as a replacement to proprietary UEFI/BIOS, the videos from their European Coreboot Conference are now available.

      The European Coreboot Conference 2017 (ECC’17) was held in Bochum, Germany back at the end of October.

    • Election night hackathon supports civic engagement

      On November 7, 2017, members of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) community came together for the annual Election Night Hackathon held in the Simone Center for Student Innovation. This marked the seventh anniversary of a civic tradition for the FOSS @ MAGIC community, in which students and faculty analyze civic problems in the local community, state, or country and propose a project to address them. MAGIC Center faculty and event organizers are on hand to help students choose open source licenses and publish and share their code.

    • Namaste ! (on the road to Swatantra 2017)

      I’ll have the pleasure to give a talk about GCompris, and another one about Synfig studio. It’s been a long time since I didn’t talk about the latter, but since Konstantin Dmitriev and the Morevna team were not available, I’ll do my best to represent Synfig there.

    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 4

      We celebrated yesterday another session of the local challenge 2017-2 “PeruRumboGSoC2018”. It was held at the Centro Cultural Pedro Paulet of FIEE UNI. GTK on C was explained during the fisrt two hours of the morning based on the window* exercises from my repo to handle some widgets such as windows, label and buttons.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 63 revamps Bookmark Manager w/ Material Design on Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS

        Chrome 63 began rolling out to Android and desktop browsers last week with the usual security fixes and new developer features. On the latter platform, this update introduces Material Design to the Bookmark Manager.

        Several versions ago, Google began updating various aspects of the browser with Material Design, including History, Downloads, and Settings.

        Like the Flags page for enabling experiments and in-development features, which Google also revamped in version 63, the Bookmark Manager (Menu > Bookmarks > Bookmark Manager) adopts the standard Materials UI elements. This includes an app bar that houses a large search bar. It adopts the same dark blue theme and includes various Material animations and flourishes.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Coming Soon to openSUSE Tumbleweed, Along with KDE Apps 17.12

      A total of six snapshots have been released to the public this month, as OpenSuSE Project’s Dominique Leuenberger announced this past weekend, and they brought lots of goodies, along with some of the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source software components. But first, there’s been a bunch of more python2->python3 conversions lately that you should know about.

      “For the ones that don’t know yet, the python2 -> python3 switches are especially of interest to SLE/Leap 15,” said Dominique Leuenberger. “Minimizing the support surface for Python 2 in favor of Python 3 will lead to a much stronger, supportable product for the future. As Tumbleweed is the leading and trendsetting product, it is but natural that we get those changes as well.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNUstep Takes Another Step Forward For Implementing Apple’s Cocoa Frameworks

      GNUstep is the long-standing free software project working to implement Apple’s Cocoa Objective-C frameworks used by macOS. The GNU project has made new releases of their GUI and Back libraries.

      GNUstep GUI 0.26 is out this morning as the latest update to their graphical user-interface library. GNUstep GUI 0.26 has a number of compatibility improvements, translation updates, mouse tracking logic improvements, bug fixes, and other work.

    • New format in GIMP: HGT

      Lately a recurrent contributor to the GIMP project (Massimo Valentini) contributed a patch to support HGT files. From this initial commit, since I found this data quite cool, I improved the support a bit (auto-detection of the variants and special-casing in particular, as well as making an API for scripts).

      So what is HGT? That’s topography data basically just containing elevation in meters of various landscape (HGT stands for “height“), gathered by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) run by various space agencies (NASA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, German and Italian space agencies…).

  • Programming/Development

    • CSR devices now supported in fwupd

      The BlueCore CSR chips are used everywhere. If you have a “wireless” speaker or headphones that uses Bluetooth there is a high probability that it’s using a CSR chip inside. This makes the addition of CSR support into fwupd a big deal to access a lot of vendors. It’s a lot easier to say “just upload firmware” rather than “you have to write code” so I think it’s useful to have done this work.

    • Skylake Server Scheduler Model Updated In LLVM 6.0 Along With Other Intel CPU Updates
    • Most Software Code Will Be Written By Machines By 2040, Researchers Predict

      Imagine a scenario where a programmer needs to follow a couple of tried and tested procedures to write code that becomes a part of a bigger program that needs some insightful contribution from another programmer. So, is the first programmer really needed? Can’t we find a robotic replacement for the same?

      In the past, GitHub CEO had already made a prediction which says that future of coding is no coding at all. A similar speculation has been made by the researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, who have said that machines will write most of their own code by 2040.

    • Hazelcast joins Eclipse, JCache is key focal point

      Open source In-Memory Data Grid (IMDG) company Hazelcast has joined the Eclipse Foundation – and it has done so for a reason.

      Hazelcast’s primary focus will be on JCache the Eclipse MicroProfile and EE4J.

      In particular, Hazelcast will be collaborating with members to popularize JCache, a Java Specification Request (JSR-107).

      So what place does JCache fill in the universe then?

    • Fruit of an acquisition: Apple AI software goes open

      Apple’s joined other juggernauts of the tech sector by releasing an open source AI framework.

      Turi Create 4.0, which landed at GitHub recently, is a fruit of its 2016 US$200 million acquisition of Turi.

      As the GitHub description explains, it targets app developers that want custom machine learning models but don’t have the expertise to “add recommendations, object detection, image classification, image similarity or activity classification” to their apps.

    • Apple Releases Turi ML Software as Open Source

      Apple last week released Turi Create, an open source package that it says will make it easy for mobile app developers to infuse machine learning into their products with just a few lines of code.

      “You don’t have to be a machine learning expert to add recommendations, object detection, image classification, image similarity, or activity classification to your app,” the company says in the GitHub description for Turi Create. “Focus on tasks instead of algorithms.”

Leftovers

  • Amendment​ ​to​ ​Clause ​173​ ​:​ ​Supporting​ ​Consumer ​Rights ​for ​All

    Open Rights Group campaign for a world where we each control the data our digital lives create, deciding who can use it and how, and where the public’s rights are acknowledged and upheld. With these principles in mind, Open Rights Group calls for amendments to Clause 173 to strengthen enforcement of data subjects rights in the Data Protection Bill.

  • Collective Redress: Cheatsheet
  • Helping kids play with danger: crowdfunding a log-splitter, designed for children

    Risky play is good for kids: it lets them test their boundaries in an exhilarating, vivid way — and it’s been all but entirely engineered out of contemporary child-rearing.

    That’s where Monte Sheppard’s University of Technology Sydney Integrated Product Design honors research comes in: it’s a log-splitter designed for small children to use.

  • Security

    • Script Recovers Event Logs Doctored by NSA Hacking Tool

      Security researchers have found a way to reverse the effects of an NSA hacking utility that deletes event logs from compromised machines.

      Last week, Fox-IT published a Python script that recovers event log entries deleted using the “eventlogedit” utility that’s part of DanderSpritz, a supposed NSA cyber-weapon that was leaked online by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.

      According to Fox-IT, they found a flaw in the DanderSpritz log cleaner when they realized the utility does not actually delete event log entries, but only unreferences them, merging entries together.

    • Pre-Installed Keylogger Discovered on Hundreds of HP Laptop Models

      A keylogger that can help record pretty much every keystroke on the computer has been discovered on HP’s devices, with a security researcher revealing that hundreds of laptop models come with this hidden software pre-installed.

      Michael Myng says in an analysis of the keylogger that the malicious code is hiding in the Synaptics Touchpad software and he actually discovered it when looking into ways to control the keyboard backlight on his laptop.

      According to his findings, the keylogger isn’t activated by default, but it can be turned on by any cybercriminals that get access to the system. The list of affected models includes hundreds of laptops like EliteBook, ProBook, Spectre, Zbook, Envy, and Pavilion.

    • Laptop touchpad driver included extra feature: a keylogger [Ed: This is the second time in recent times HP gets caught with keyloggers; This is no accident, it's intentional.]

      Flaws in software often offer a potential path for attackers to install malicious software, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect a hardware vendor to include potentially malicious software built right into its device drivers. But that’s exactly what a security researcher found while poking around the internals of a driver for a touchpad commonly used on HP notebook computers—a keystroke logger that could be turned on with a simple change to its configuration in the Windows registry.

    • Microsoft Needed 110 Days to Fix Critical Security Bug After First Ignoring It

      Microsoft needed more than 100 days to fix a critical credential leak in Dynamics 365 after the company originally ignored the bug report and only reacted after being warned that details could go public.

      Software engineer Matthias Gliwka explains in a long blog post that he discovered and reported a security flaw in Microsoft’s Customer Relationship Manager and Enterprise Resource Planning software in August, but the software giant refused to fix it on claims that administrator credentials would be required.

      Gliwka says he came across a wildcard transport layer security (TLS) certificate that also included the private key, which would in turn expose communications by anyone who could decrypt traffic. The developer says that extracting the certificate grants access to any sandbox environment, with absolutely no warning or message displayed to clients.

    • UK Spy Agency Finds Severe Flaw in Microsoft Antivirus in Kaspersky Bye-Bye Push
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Open Source Patch Management: Options for DIYers [Ed: "Linux comes with patch management," it says, which defeats much of the point of this article...]

      CVE-2017-5638 is the code vulnerability that will long live in the corporate memory of Equifax, the credit ratings agency. A simple patch management system might have kept that vulnerability from turning into one of the most high-profile data breaches in recent memory.

      CVE-2017-5638 is a remote code execution bug that affects the Jakarta Multipart parser in Apache Struts, an open source application framework for developing Java EE web applications. Remote code execution bugs are generally extremely serious, and for that reason, when the vulnerability was discovered, the Apache Foundation recommended that any developers or users of affected versions of Struts upgrade to later versions that had been patched to close the vulnerability.

    • HP laptops found to have hidden keylogger

      HP said more than 460 models of laptop were affected by the “potential [sic] security vulnerability”.

      [...]

      In May, a similar keylogger was discovered in the audio drivers pre-installed on several HP laptop models.

    • Fingerprinting MySQL with scannerl

      The goal here is to identify the version of MySQL running on a remote host.

    • What You Need To Know About The Intel Management Engine

      Over the last decade, Intel has been including a tiny little microcontroller inside their CPUs. This microcontroller is connected to everything, and can shuttle data between your hard drive and your network adapter. It’s always on, even when the rest of your computer is off, and with the right software, you can wake it up over a network connection. Parts of this spy chip were included in the silicon at the behest of the NSA. In short, if you were designing a piece of hardware to spy on everyone using an Intel-branded computer, you would come up with something like the Intel Managment Engine.

      Last week, researchers [Mark Ermolov] and [Maxim Goryachy] presented an exploit at BlackHat Europe allowing for arbitrary code execution on the Intel ME platform. This is only a local attack, one that requires physical access to a machine. The cat is out of the bag, though, and this is the exploit we’ve all been expecting. This is the exploit that forces Intel and OEMs to consider the security implications of the Intel Management Engine. What does this actually mean?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Hurricane Maria Exposed the U.S.’s Long Neglect of Puerto Rico

      The United Nations’ poverty expert will visit Puerto Rico today to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the structural issues it unveiled. The storm exposed the brutal and historic neglect of the island and its 3.5 million U.S. citizens.

      The ACLU and other organizations advocated for the U.N. to visit the island and submitted a letter urging them to do so back in early October. The U.N. poverty expert will meet with communities, local groups, and government officials on the ground in Puerto Rico. He will report back his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

  • Finance

    • Fed set to raise rates as Yellen gives final news conference

      Investors seem certain about this: The Federal Reserve is going to raise interest rates this week for the third time this year.

      They’re less sure about what the central bank might have in store for 2018, and they will look to Janet Yellen’s final news conference as Fed chair Wednesday for any clues.

      Will the Fed’s policymaking change once Yellen steps down in February and is succeeded by Jerome Powell? Powell was a Yellen ally who backed her cautious stance toward rate hikes in his five years on the Fed’s board. Yet no one can know how his leadership or rate policy might depart from hers.

      What’s more, Powell will be joined by several new Fed board members who, like him, are being chosen by President Donald Trump. Some analysts say they think that while Powell might not deviate much from Yellen’s rate policy, he and the new board members will adopt a looser approach to the regulation of the banking system.

    • Bitcoin fees are skyrocketing

      The cost to complete a Bitcoin transaction has skyrocketed in recent days. A week ago, it cost around $6 on average to get a transaction accepted by the Bitcoin network. The average fee soared to $26 on Friday and was still almost $20 on Sunday.

      The reason is simple: until recently, the Bitcoin network had a hard-coded 1 megabyte limit on the size of blocks on the blockchain, Bitcoin’s shared transaction ledger. With a typical transaction size of around 500 bytes, the average block had fewer than 2,000 transactions. And with a block being generated once every 10 minutes, that works out to around 3.3 transactions per second.

    • ZeMarmot project got a Liberapay account!

      We were asked a few times about trying out Liberapay. It is different from other recurring funding platforms (such as Patreon and Tipeee) that it is managed by a non-profit and have lesser fees (from what I understand, there are payment processing fees, but they don’t add their own fees) since they fund themselves on their own platform (also the website itself is Free Software).

    • WaPo Nostalgic for Good Old Days of Trump Campaign Tax Lies

      A Washington Post article (12/9/17) on the Republican tax proposals being considered by Congress implies that they are a sharp departure from the plans Donald Trump put forward in the campaign in the benefits they provides to the rich. The headline is “As Tax Plan Gained Steam, GOP Lost Focus on the Middle Class.”

      This description is pretty much 180 degrees at odds with reality. While Donald Trump always promised to help the middle class, the proposals he put forward during his campaign were hugely tilted toward the rich. The Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the last tax cut plan he proposed before the election showed 50 percent of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent of the population.

    • Fears grow across the Atlantic over Brexit fallout

      Its report argues that Brexit was likely to have a “mostly negative effect” on American interests in Europe, given the UK is a firm ally of the US in security matters and a supporter of free markets.

      “An EU without the UK may be more willing to create barriers for non-EU companies, to the detriment of US companies and the American economy,” the report says.

      “In the development of EU defence policy, for example, the UK aim was often to ensure that EU measures did not undermine NATO and the strong transatlantic partnership.”

      That approach could change once Britain has left the EU.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • National Democrats Resist Reforms

      Still refusing to face why Donald Trump and the Republicans won in 2016, the national Democratic Party rebuffs proposals from progressives to make the party more democratic and less corporate-dominated, writes Norman Solomon.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook, Google, Twitter’s ‘Censorship of Christian, Conservative Speech’ Tackled in NRB Initiative

      National Religious Broadcasters has launched an online effort seeking to highlight what it says is censorship of Christian and conservative speech by online media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple.

      “It is unacceptable for these titans to discriminate against users just because their viewpoints are not congruent with ideas popular in Silicon Valley,” said Jerry A. Johnson, NRB’s president & CEO, on Thursday when announcing the Internet Freedom Watch initiative.

      The website for the initiative, which documents cases of alleged censorship, states that “chillingly, a growing censorship of Christian and politically conservative viewpoints on the internet is happening in America and across the globe.”

    • Letter: The First Amendment applies to government censorship

      Forum opinion columnist Rob Port wrote a blog post Dec. 8 about the decision by Concordia College to rescind funding for an appearance by conservative provocateur Ben Shapiro. Port stated his opinion that this amounts to censorship and seemingly some sort of First Amendment issue since the First Amendment protects controversial forms of speech.

      The problem with this viewpoint is that while Port is correct in that the First Amendment does protect the most controversial forms of speech, but it has no bearing on private entities such as a private university. The First Amendment only serves to protect us from government censorship. If this situation would have occurred at one of our local public institutions, there would possibly be First Amendment implications. But definitely not when it comes to a private institution.

      Port would do well to learn exactly what the First Amendment does and does not do. Especially since his very livelihood as a political commentator is provided by the protections established in that amendment.

    • Video: How the Court System Is Abused to Chill Activist Speech

      One of the most pernicious forms of censorship in modern America is the abuse of the court system by corporations and wealthy individuals to harass, intimidate, and silence their critics.

      We use the term “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” more commonly known as a “SLAPP,” to describe this phenomenon. With a SLAPP, a malicious party will file a lawsuit against a person whose speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment. The strategy isn’t to win on the legal merits, but to censor their victims through burdensome, distracting, and costly litigation. SLAPP suits often make spurious defamation claims and demand outrageous monetary penalties to bully their enemies.

    • Criticizing Balthus Isn’t Censorship

      Imagine that a painting—say, a 1938 painting by Balthus hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—was revealed as a forgery. Nothing has changed about the painting except that it isn’t authentic. The curators decide to remove it from the museum’s wall. Is this censorship?

      Just about everyone would answer this question negatively. Curators are expected to evaluate the historical and aesthetic quality of the work they put on their walls. Museum space is limited; you can’t show everything, or even everything in the collection, all at once. Deciding to take down a painting if new information becomes available about its provenance is a non-controversial decision.

      The Balthus painting in question, Therese Dreaming, is not a forgery. But many people have argued that it should be taken off the Met’s wall. Mia Merrill is a New Yorker who started a petition asking the Met to consider removing the painting—or provide additional context in the wall text. The petition has garnered some 9000 signatures.

    • Censorship using defamation law escalates under NLD: report

      Myanmar’s notorious online defamation law remains the tool of choice for powerful people in Myanmar who seek to punish those who are trying to hold them accountable, and the amendment of the law in August has had “no discernible impact” on this, says a new report by the rights groups Free Expression Myanmar (FEM).

    • Apple, Google attend China internet conference that promotes control and censorship

      CEOs from Google and Apple participated last week in China’s World Internet Conference, bringing what critics called “credibility” to an annual event used by the country’s Communist government to promote a more controlled and censored internet globally.

      Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook went as far as praising the Communist country during his keynote speech at the conference, saying that China’s vision of cyberspace as promoted by the conference “is a vision we at Apple share.”

    • Interview: Rise Against Talk Politics And Censorship

      Yeah, let me try to sum it up as short as possible. We had a video shoot that we had decided to film on location in Virginia, where a presidential theme park had existed, but after it went out of business the huge statues of the president’s heads, just the busts, just their faces, were moved out to a field somewhere, but they were all falling apart. They were all just haphazardly strewn around this field. So we thought this would be a great place to make the video for ‘The Violence’, and we’d have these symbols of power and also show you all these different things our country had survived, all these people in power that had just come and gone. And everything was going fine, but as we approached video day we were told a board of directors, who owned the field collectively I guess, and somebody decided to look up our band and see what we’re all about and they decided that we were not the right fit for their field of weathered heads. I think the words “anti-government” were thrown around. I wish I had a better explanation as to why they shut us down, but I don’t know what “anti-government” means. I don’t know if they thought we were some of of Lord Of The Flies anarchists. I feel like anybody who’s trying to hold the government accountable for what they do could come down on either side of the argument. But regardless, the thing happened, and it kind of illustrated how polarised America is right now too, where were being shut down because of our message and who we are as a band, it brings up questions around freedom of speech, somewhat at least. But it also made me proud of Rise Against as well. That 18 years later, what we do is still something that the other side considers dangerous.

    • Politicising film censorship

      The Punjab Censor Board’s decision to ban Verna last month made little sense. Most of all because it lasted a day, and all it could achieve was spoil the film’s premiere on Thursday.

      It has since been revealed that the issues the Censor Board officials had was not that it narrated the story of a rape survivor – as had been earlier reported – but the fact that politicians and officials were being targeted. For instance, the Governor, Interior Minister, IG Police were mentioned.

    • Australian charities ‘self-censoring’ political advocacy out of fear of retribution

      Australian charities are avoiding political advocacy and “self-silencing” out of a fear that dissent will attract political retribution, a new report has found.

      Published by Pro Bono Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre, the Civil Voices report found that charities and non-government organisations operate in an “insidious” environment where “self-censorship” is rife because of funding agreements, management pressure and the “implied repercussions” of political speech.

      One of the report’s co-authors, University of Melbourne associate professor Sarah Maddison, said the findings were “fairly insidious”.

    • Amended Version of FOSTA Would Still Silence Legitimate Speech Online
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The throwaway Netflix tweet that reveals a chilling secret

      The streaming service, which has 109 million subscribers, might regret making their anonymising data collection habits public knowledge.

      The fact is Netflix watches you watching it. It’s the trade-off for having a massive online library of film and TV at your fingertips, presented to you as per your viewing habits and preferences.

      The uncomfortable truth remains that if Netflix wants to snoop into your viewing habits, or make a personal point about them, it can.

    • Inside the secret world of the corporate spies who infiltrate protests

      It was perhaps not the most glamorous assignment for a spy. Toby Kendall’s mission was to dress up as a pirate, complete with eye-patch, bandana and cutlass, and infiltrate a group of protesters.

      The campaigners had organised a walking tour of London to protest outside the premises of multinational firms, objecting to what they believed was the corporate plunder of Iraq.

    • Surveillance firms spied on campaign groups for big companies, leak shows

      British Airways, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Porsche are among five large companies that have been identified as having paid corporate intelligence firms to monitor political groups that challenged their businesses, leaked documents reveal.

      The surveillance included the use of infiltrators to spy on campaigners.

      The targets included the grieving family of Rachel Corrie, a student protester crushed to death by a bulldozer, as well as a range of environmental campaigns, and local campaigners protesting about phone masts.

      The leaked documents suggest the use of secretive corporate security firms to gather intelligence about political campaigners has been widespread. However, police chiefs have in the past raised a “massive concern” that the activities of the corporate firms are barely regulated and completely uncontrolled.

    • Battle lines have been drawn over the Data Protection bill.

      The Government have introduced an exemption into the Data Protection Bill that would remove the rights of individuals subject to an immigration procedure to discover what personal data companies and public authorities hold on them.

      The exemption if allowed to pass would set aside fundamental rights such as individuals access to personal data about them, the right to erasure, and the right to rectification, among others. With mistakes commonplace in immigration procedures, it is vital the law retains the power for individuals to hold to account those who collect and process personal data in immigration procedures.

    • FBI Director Complains About Encryption, Offers To Sacrifice Public Safety In The Interest Of Public Safety

      FBI Director Christopher Wray offered testimony to the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing entitled “Oversight of Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Not much in terms of oversight was discussed. Instead, Wray took time to ask for a reauthorization of Section 702 before using several paragraphs of his prepared comments to discuss the “going dark” problem.

      It picks up where Wray left off in October: offering up meaningless statistics about device encryption. Through the first eleven months of the fiscal year, the FBI apparently had 6,900 locked phones in its possession. Wray claims this number represents “roughly half” of the devices in the FBI’s possession. The number is meaningless, but it serves a purpose: to make it appear device encryption is resulting in thousands of unsolved crimes.

    • How Email Open Tracking Quietly Took Over the Web

      According to OMC’s data, a full 19 percent of all “conversational” email is now tracked. That’s one in five of the emails you get from your friends. And you probably never noticed.

    • The Grand Tor: How to Go Anonymous Online

      Tor protects your identity online—namely your IP address—by encrypting your traffic in at least three layers and bouncing it through a chain of three volunteer computers chosen among thousands around the world, each of which strips off just one layer of encryption before bouncing your data to the next computer. All of that makes it very difficult for anyone to trace your connection from origin to destination—not the volunteer computers relaying your information, not your [I]nternet service provider, and not the websites or online services you visit.

    • Facebook Messenger for six-year-olds: need I say why that’s a bad idea?

      Facebook promises that the collection children’s data on Messenger Kids will be limited. But limited to what, and to what end? The company owes parents a much more detailed explanation of what type of data it will be collecting on this app, and how it will be used. Not to generate ads, the company promises (at least for now). OK, but then what kind of data, exactly, will a six-year-old be providing Facebook that it needs to gather?

    • Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society

      Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

    • Facebook is ‘destroying how society works’, former executive says
    • The Hellish Reality Of Working At An Overseas ‘Click Farm’

      They Make Thousands Of Fake Facebook Accounts

      To generate thousands upon thousands of unique clicks/views/likes a day, you’re going to need a lot of accounts. This requires new names, new emails, new passwords, etc. That’s a significant effort, and it’s a big part of what Albert and his colleagues were paid to do. “Before we had technicians [farmers] here, who all they did was create accounts, we would need to create them on the spot.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (2/21): The analog, anonymous letter

      There is no reason for the offline liberties of our parents to not be carried over into the same online liberties for our children, regardless of whether that means somebody doesn’t know how to run a business anymore.

    • France to ban mobile phones in schools from Sept

      The French Government has announced that it will ban the use of mobile phones in primary, junior and middle schools from September next year.

    • France to ban mobile phones in schools from September

      Children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, but not allowed to get them out at any time until they leave, even during breaks.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Court Holds NYPD In Contempt For Refusing To Hand Over Documents Related To Black Live Matter Surveillance

      The NYPD continues to extend a middle finger to every entity that isn’t the NYPD. The department’s long history of doing everything it can to thwart public records requesters has been discussed here several times. It’s not on much better terms with its oversight, which it routinely ignores when directed to do something about its officers’ routine rights violations and deployment of excessive force.

      If it’s not going to be accountable to the public — either via FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) compliance or respecting the decisions of its oversight — it’s certainly not going to let the judicial branch push it around.

    • Suspect Evidence Informed a Momentous Supreme Court Decision on Criminal Sentencing

      More than 30 years ago, Congress identified what it said was a grave threat to the American promise of equal justice for all: Federal judges were giving wildly different punishments to defendants who had committed the same crimes.

      The worries were many. Some lawmakers feared lenient judges were giving criminals too little time in prison. Others suspected African-American defendants were being unfairly sentenced to steeper prison terms than white defendants.

      In 1984, Congress created the U.S. Sentencing Commission with remarkable bipartisan support. The commission would set firm punishment rules, called “guidelines,” for every offense. The measure, signed by President Ronald Reagan, largely stripped federal judges of their sentencing powers; they were now to use a chart to decide penalties for each conviction, with few exceptions.

    • We Can’t End Mass Incarceration Without Ending Money Bail

      Whether or not you are in jail should not depend on your ability to pay for your freedom. Yet that’s the way our current money bail system works. It is one of the most corrupt and broken parts of our justice system.

      Close to half a million people are in jail today awaiting trial, many of them incarcerated because they are too poor to afford cash bail. The time has come to abolish this system. The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is launching a nationwide campaign today to end this injustice of wealth-based incarceration, deploying all of our tools from our nationwide state affiliate structure to our strategic litigation, communication, and legislative advocacy to support bail reform movements and our partners in states across the country.

      The original purpose of bail was to serve as an incentive to return to court when a person is arrested, released, and their case proceeds. However, the current money bail system has little to do with this original intent. Rather it has mutated into a way to separate people who have money from those who don’t. People with money can almost always buy their way to freedom, regardless of the charges against them. Yet people without access to cash too often end up in jail simply because they cannot afford bail, or alternatively they must take out loans from bail companies that charge exorbitant fees.

    • EFF to Court: Accessing Publicly Available Information on the Internet Is Not a Crime

      EFF is fighting another attempt by a giant corporation to take advantage of our poorly drafted federal computer crime statute for commercial advantage—without any regard for the impact on the rest of us. This time the culprit is LinkedIn. The social networking giant wants violations of its corporate policy against using automated scripts to access public information on its website to count as felony “hacking” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1986 federal law meant to criminalize breaking into private computer systems to access non-public information.

      EFF, together with our friends DuckDuckGo and the Internet Archive, have urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject LinkedIn’s request to transform the CFAA from a law meant to target “hacking” into a tool for enforcing its computer use policies. Using automated scripts to access publicly available data is not “hacking,” and neither is violating a website’s terms of use. LinkedIn would have the court believe that all “bots” are bad, but they’re actually a common and necessary part of the Internet. “Good bots” were responsible for 23 percent of Web traffic in 2016. Using them to access publicly available information on the open Internet should not be punishable by years in federal prison.

    • Tory MP’s aide ‘raped woman in boss’s office’ after night drinking in parliamentary bar, court hears

      A Tory MP’s aide raped a woman in his boss’s office after a night of drinking in a parliamentary bar, a court heard.

      Samuel Armstrong, 24, the chief of staff to South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, is accused of carrying out the attack on October 14 last year.

      The distressed woman later found and told parliamentary cleaners after wandering the corridors of Westminster, it was alleged.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC chair still refuses to help investigate net neutrality comment fraud

      The Federal Communications Commission has again refused to help New York’s attorney general investigate impersonation and other fraud in public comments on the FCC’s net neutrality repeal.

      For the past six months, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been “investigating who perpetrated a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC’s notice and comment process” by filing fraudulent comments under real people’s names. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s office has “refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession,” Schneiderman wrote in an open letter to Pai last month.

    • The Free Market Argument For Net Neutrality

      On Thursday of this week, the FCC will vote to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order. While the FCC insists that this will just be bringing back the internet to the regulatory framework it had prior to 2015, that is not true. It will be changing the very basis for how the internet works and doing so in a dangerous way. Starting on Tuesday, a bunch of organizations are teaming up for a massive #BreakTheInternet protest. Please check it out. The post below is designed to answer many of the questions we’ve received about “free markets” v. “regulations” on net neutrality, and why we believe that the 2015 rules are consistent with the beliefs of those who support free market solutions.

      I’ve already written about some of the reasons why I changed my mind about net neutrality rules, in which I mentioned that my standard position is to be pretty skeptical of government intervention in innovative markets. But many of the people I know who are opposing net neutrality — including FCC Chair Ajit Pai — like to couch their opposition in “free market” terms. They talk about the “heavy hand of regulation” and “getting government out” of the internet and stuff like that. But as far as I can tell, this is a twisted, distorted understanding of both the telco world and how free markets operate. So, for those folks, let’s dig in a bit and explore the free market argument for net neutrality. And, I should note, this is clearly not the argument that many people supporting net neutrality are making, but this is why I think that even those of us who still believe in free markets helping innovation should still support rules for net neutrality.

    • Congress Took $101 Million in Donations from the ISP Industry — Here’s How Much Your Lawmaker Got

      It’s impossible to quantify the overall influence of this powerful industry, but we can chart some of it. Below you will find contributions to individual members of Congress, and those members’ leadership PACs, from 1989 to the present day. This money came from the telecommunication industry’s own PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. This data was prepared for The Verge by The Center for Responsive Politics: an independent, non-partisan nonprofit research group that tracks money in US politics and its effect on elections and public policy.

    • Web pioneers plead to cancel US net vote

      “It is important to understand that the FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of internet technology,” the open letter read.

    • How You Can Help Save Net Neutrality

      Battle For The Net notes that writing to Congress will hopefully recruit “more members of Congress onto ‘Team Internet,’” particularly Republicans, who currently hold the majority. Since net neutrality has always been a key operating principle of the web, Battle For The Net says it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Showing widespread public support, the organization says, will hopefully inspire legislators to push back against powerful lobbyists.

    • Vint Cerf, Steve Wozniak, and other tech luminaries call net neutrality vote an ‘imminent threat’

      The list includes some of the people responsible for creating the internet as we know it. That includes Steven Bellovin, a former FTC chief technologist who helped develop Usenet; Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; Vinton Cerf, who co-created the internet’s underlying TCP/IP protocol; Steve Crocker, who helped develop the protocols for internet predecessor ARPANET; and Stephen Wolff, who helped transform the military ARPANET into a civilian research and communications network.

      Other signatories include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mozilla Foundation executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, and Betaworks CEO John Borthwick.

    • Net neutrality: ‘father of internet’ joins tech leaders in condemning repeal plan

      “The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to repeal net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped,” said the technology luminaries in an open letter to lawmakers with oversight of the Federal Communications Commission on Monday.

    • GitHub’s Santa wishlist: secure infrastructure workflows & net neutrality

      It’s that ‘wonderful’ time of year, when people all across the land exchange presents, meal invitations and predictions for what the open source landscape might look like in the months ahead according to our current understanding of time in relation to space and the wider universe.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Wins: Australia To Carve Google And Facebook Out Of Its Expanded Safe Harbor Provisions

        Back in November, we discussed some reforms Australia was looking to make to its copyright laws. Chiefly at issue was how safe harbors were incorporated into the law, with those provisions applying only to primary service providers like ISPs due entirely to what appears to be a simple poor choice of words in the law. Under strict reading of the law as written, websites, libraries, and schools that allow internet users to create their own content and engage online would not be subject to safe harbor provisions, unlike the country’s American counterpart. The government initially signaled that it wanted to harmonize its law with EU and American law, before the lobbying dollars of the entertainment industry sprung into action, causing the government to walk this back a bit.

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    In spite of fee hikes, introduced by Iancu's interim predecessor, petitions (IPRs) at the PTAB continue to grow in number and the patent maximalists are losing their minds over it



  19. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Ending Software Patents One Patent at a Time

    At an accelerating pace and with growing determination, PTAB (part of AIA) crushes patent trolls and software patents; the statistics and latest stories speak for themselves



  20. Academics and Think Tanks for Patent Maximalism

    Right-wing think tanks and impressionable academics continue to lobby for patent maximalism, rarely revealing the funding sources and motivations; in reality, however, such maximalism mainly helps large (already-wealthy) corporations, monopolists, and law firms



  21. Killing Patent Quality and Encouraging 'Covert' Software Patents Using the Buzzwords Du Jour

    The epidemic of buzzwords and/or hype waves that are being exploited to dodge or bypass patent scope/limitations, as seen in Europe and the US these days



  22. Crisis of Quality at the EPO Extends to Staff (Notably Examiners) and Management as Institutional Integrity is Severely Compromised

    A rather pessimistic but likely realistic outlook for the European Patent Office (EPO), which seems unable to attract the sort of staff it attracted for a number of decades



  23. The 'Blockchaining' of Software Patents (to Dodge the Rules/Guidelines) Now Coming to Europe

    A lot of software patents are being declared invalid (or not granted in the first place); having said that, using all sorts of hype waves (like calling databases “blockchains”) firms and individuals manage to still be granted software patents and sometimes patent trolls hoard these



  24. Links 14/4/2018: Wine 3.6, KDE Elisa 0.1

    Links for the day



  25. East Asia Should Have Adopted the Patent Strategy of South Asia, Notably India

    China seems to be so interested in patent maximalism that it has lost sight of the effect on foreign investment, e.g. US/European/Taiwanese/Japanese/Korean firms operating/manufacturing in mainland China



  26. Samsung is the 'New IBM', Sans the Trolling With Patents

    The 'relic' company, IBM, loses its patent leadership (as measured using some yardstick) to Samsung, a company which is relatively calm when it comes to patent activity (unless/only when sued, as happens a lot nowadays)



  27. David Barcelou May or May Not be a Patent Troll, But He is Certainly a SLAPPing Bully and Watchtroll is Fine With It

    Like a thin-skinned person/entity (which many in the patent microcosm are), David Barcelou and Automated Transactions (“ATL”) SLAPP their critics and surprisingly enough it's Watchtroll, who has been threatened by WIPO, coming to the bully's rescue (double standards)



  28. Links 12/4/2018: Stable New Kernels, Neptune 5.1

    Links for the day



  29. The USPTO Has a Nepotism and Lobbying Problem That Jeopardises the Rationality of US Patent Law

    The influence games of Washington are spilling over to the US patent office and poisoning/harming its ability to conduct professional operations without corporate influence (from either side, both corporations and law firms)



  30. Patent Trolls in the United States Show the Importance of Stopping Software Patents (Trolls' Favourite) Worldwide

    The abundance of entities that exist for no purpose other than to initiate lawsuits is a contagious threat to real innovation (or science and technology being practiced); a new jury verdict (record-breaking $500,000,000) is a reminder of this


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