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12.28.17

UPC IT Working Group is Chasing Rainbows and Unicorns

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team UPC continues dumping money into software that won’t be used by anybody

Unitary Patent unicorn

Summary: Bristows, one of the most misleading parties among Team UPC, maintains the illusion that Unitary Patent is just around the corner; in reality, the whole thing comes tumbling down along with the EPC

“On 22 December 2017,” Bristows’ Luke Maunder wrote today about the dead-end UPC, “Dario Pizzolante, the Coordinator of the IT Working Group, reported by email on its work on establishing the Unified Patent Court (UPC) IT system.”

But what kind of progress can there possibly be when the UPC is stuck in the middle of nowhere? He says work “will continue during 2018 in preparation for the opening of the Court.”

Got to maintain the illusion of “progress”…

“They might as well stop development and cease investment of money in it as nobody is going to use it.”Someone must be delusional because, as we explained yesterday, it’s unlikely that any concrete progress will be made next year. They might as well stop development and cease investment of money in it as nobody is going to use it. There’s a very serious constitutional complaint in Germany right now and the latest scandal implicating Battistelli and the Boards of Appeal will certainly reinforce this complaint. Earlier this week someone wrote: “I’m not sure if the EPC says what happens if the President disobeys an order (eg to publish a decision) from the Enlarged Board.”

Soon came this reply: “The President did not disobey any order. It was the AC that decided that there would be no publication.”

If true, it’s another new scandal in the making. As another comment put it today:

Interesting. Is there any publicly available documentation that can confirm your assertion?

Another question: what authority does the AC have to overrule (or to permit the President to ignore) a decision of the Enlarged Board? I cannot see anything in the EPC that grants the AC such sweeping powers.

The EPC is long forgotten and abandoned. We have given many examples where Battistelli blatantly violated the EPC and the AC allowed him to get away with it. Under such unacceptable circumstances it’s only rational to conclude that the constitutional complaint in Germany remains in fact, will go ahead, and will postpone things another 2-3 years if not indefinitely.

Raw: Lies Inside the EPO Gazette

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: Clarification on untrue allegations in the July issue of the Gazette [PDF]

Meetings with Élodie Bergot

Summary: Élodie Bergot’s imaginary events and statements which “are neither true nor [..] bear any resemblance to the facts.” (it happened on other occasions)

Raw: EPO Stonewalled Staff Committee, Failing to Reply to About 30 Letters in Succession

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: Letter from the Central Staff Committee [PDF]

Stonewalling the Central Staff Committee

Summary: Desmond Radford, the Chairman of the Central Staff Committee at the time, explained how one-sided dialogue with Battistelli really was for a number of years (Battistelli did not respond, instead he had spread highly misleading messages to staff, e.g. [1, 2])

Raw: Battistelli Threatened EPO Staff Representatives as They Walked Out

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: Document from the EPO’s Central Staff Committee [PDF]

Threat to staff representatives

Summary: EPO staff representatives complained about “intrusive Investigation Guidelines, contempt for Internal Appeal Committee’s recommendations, censorship, attacks on freedom of association, curtailment of strike rights, and threats to hundreds of staff.”

Raw: “A Vote on Strike Action Has Turned Into a Vote of Non-Confidence.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: SUEPO on LIFER initiative [PDF]

EPO strike numbers

Summary: The high levels of dissatisfaction among EPO staff, including managers who voted in favour of a strike

Raw: Bergot and Topić Sent Threats to Hundreds of EPO Staff as Far Back as Half a Decade Ago

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MoU signed by Bergot

Summary: As little as a few months after Topić had been brought to the EPO (along with the incredible promotion to grade A6 of the wife of Battistelli’s longtime colleague) a campaign of intimidation began at the EPO

Date: 08.10.2013

Meeting with the President on 10 October 2013

Dear Mr Battistelli,

An overwhelming majority of Staff has voted in favour of the strikes, as called for in the LIFER initiative. You have now published the relevant information on intranet. In case this is not already being organized, we take the liberty of reminding you to activate the online DG4 strike registration, too.

The CSC, and the local Staff Committees, were not responsible for the LIFER initiative. We have only seen it as our duty under Art. 34 to channel to you the concerns of staff, and forward to you the letter of the LIFERs (whose call for strike has been supported by 4181 staff, i.e. more than 90% of the voters).

Please understand that neither the CSC nor any of the local Staff Committees have a mandate to represent the LIFER people in this matter. Contrary to what you state, we did not “propose to represent the staff in leading the actions related to the strike”. We have to decline any negotiating role on behalf of LIFER, but we will continue to do our best to contribute to the smooth running of the office, as is our duty under Art. 34.

It will not have escaped your attention that the LIFER claims overlap with those of an independent union, SUEPO. This is not a coincidence: it is a clear expression of a problem. The CSC itself has attempted on several occasions to address the matter with you (in particular in respect of free

The CSC cannot speak for LIFERs or represent independent Unions, but on behalf of the EPO staff we would be willing to exchange views on the problems underlying the staff discontent, which has attained a level unprecedented in the history of the EPO. Be aware, though, that


discussing with us will not mean that the LIFER claims are met, and that Staff will no longer have cause to strike. If you want to avoid strikes, you have to meet all of their claims. Previous actions have been called by SUEPO and their termination would have to be negotiated with SUEPO.

We note your invitation to a meeting on 10 October. Questions of representation aside, we remind you that it is impossible for us to discuss serenely and freely as long as threats of disciplinary actions sent to hundreds of staff (letters of Ms Bergot of 9.7.2013) and staff representatives (letters of Mr Topic 19.7.2013) are not withdrawn, and that normal communication channels between staff and their elected representatives are resumed (cf. our three last letters to you).

Does your invitation mean that you grant these requests? We look forward to your confirmation so that we can make the necessary arrangements to meet you. As soon as we have your confirmation, we will send you the list of the participants.

Yours sincerely,

[omitted]

Raw: LIFER Strike at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hope

Summary: Before the escalation of EPO scandals Battistelli “threatened anew to restructure the Staff Representation challenging its functioning,” says the Central Staff Committee

Meeting with the President

The President invited a delegation of the CSC to discuss the conflict issues underlying the current planned strike actions.

The meeting began in a tense atmosphere maintained so until the end. The President addressed the five strike issues covered by the acronym LIFER (Legal Protection – Investigation Guidelines – Fair Strike Regulations – E-mail freedom to communicate – Repair the career system by removing the bottleneck to promotions). No single concrete progress can be reported on any of the above five issues.

The proposal of the SR to withdraw or suspend any of the contentious decisions was rejected by the President. In respect of the Investigation Guidelines and the Legal Protection issues the President dismissed the proposal by the SR to set up independent committees of legal experts entrusted to review the existing provisions. He also refused to withdraw the disciplinary threats against staff and their representatives. Furthermore, he threatened anew to restructure the Staff Representation challenging its functioning.

The only move which can be reported is a proposal from the President to discuss individual provisions of the current strike regulations. Unfortunately he is neither prepared to propose amendments to the Council nor to suspend the effects of Circ. 347.

We regret that the President seems to not have understood the clear message of staff.

Your Delegates of the Central Staff Committee

Links 28/12/2017: Jailhouse 0.8, Linux Lite 3.8 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 12:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • BlueZ 5.48 Brings New Features

    he BlueZ Linux Bluetooth stack is out with a new feature update before ending out the year.

    BlueZ 5.48 is the new release and aside from some fixes there are also new Bluetooth features supported. BlueZ 5.48 tacks on support for service-side AcquireWrite/AcquireNotify, support for providing address type information, cable-based authentication and pairing, Bluetooth Low-Energy battery service support, BTP client for qualification testing, additional Mesh control features, and the advertising manager APIs are now deemed stable.

  • Edward Snowden Launches Open Source Safe Room App

    As with any beta rollout, there are bugs to be found, and that’s why the code has been released open source. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to making the application that much more secure and usable, rather than just a way to pick up loud noises.

  • Edward Snowden’s new app helps ward off computer hijackers

    The world’s most famous whistleblower is turning his focus to personal computer security. In partnership with the Freedom of the Press Foundation and a developer collective known as The Guardian Project, Edward Snowden has announced a new open source app that can turn your Android phone into a digital watchman to guard your laptop, computer, or any other device or object that can be tampered with when you’re not looking.

    “Haven turns any spare Android phone into a safe room that fits in your pocket,” Snowden says in the app’s launch video. “Haven does more than watch your back, it gives you peace of mind.”

  • Edward Snowden’s Haven app ‘catches spies’

    The software uses sensors – including a phone’s camera, microphone, gyroscope and accelerometer – to detect intruders tampering with someone’s possessions.

    It is open source, meaning its code can be inspected.

    It is designed to be used on a “second” smartphone that can be left with the possessions a user wishes to monitor.

  • Apple’s Lisa Operating System To Be Released For Free As Open Source In 2018

    More than three decades ago, Apple unveiled the Apple Lisa. It turned out to be one of the biggest flops of Apple, selling only 10,000 units; Apple spent a mammoth $150 million on R&D. Lisa, one of the first commercial computers with a GUI, also set the stage for a conflict between CEO John Sculley and Cofounder Steve Jobs. For those who don’t know, LISA stood for Local Integrated System Architecture.

  • 8 resources for understanding the open source cloud in 2017

    Looking back will always cause you to reflect upon the change you’ve seen, and this is certainly the case with this year in open source cloud and enterprise infrastructure software. When many of us first became aware of OpenStack, we saw it largely as just a new way to deploy and manage virtual machines. It was interesting, but it was a natural progression from the tools that came before it. But its potential would be much, much more.

  • Red open-source project goes on blockchain: a new full-stack toolchain for smart contract development
  • Apple to Release Lisa Operating System For Free As Open Source in 2018
  • Source Code for Apple’s Lisa Operating System to be Released for Free in 2018
  • Apple’s Lisa Operating System Going Open Source
  • Apple Lisa OS code will be made open source next year
  • One of Steve Jobs’ most famous Apple flops will be released for free in 2018

    Next year, the Computer History Museum plans to release the Apple Lisa operating system for free, as open source.

  • Small Open-Source OSs for Small IoT Devices

    A range of open-source operating-system solutions are available for those confined to scaled-down dimensions—homing in on the best option does require some research, though.

  • How to Maintain the Spirit of Open Source

    When open source established itself as mission critical to the enterprise 15 years ago, it was a victory for the idea that an open developer community can create amazing technology with the right support. Today’s thriving communities in enterprise open source are not lacking in resources, yet unprecedented interest poses a new set of challenges for our industry.

    When I speak to my industry peers, we often talk about the balance between collaboration and governance, establishing guidelines while encouraging contributions. As our communities grow and prosper financially, this balance becomes more complex, creating an industry that strays from its founding principles, or defines new principles altogether. Both are necessary for our industry to evolve – but we must also remember the fundamentals that got us here.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Extensions for New Year’s Resolutions

        It’s that time of year again where we endeavor to improve ourselves, to wash away poor habits of the past and improve our lot in life. Yet most of us fall short of our yearly resolution goals. Why? Maybe we just haven’t found the right Firefox extensions to assist our annual renewals…

      • This Week in Rust 214

        Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

      • Zeeshan Ali: My journey to Rust

        As most folks who know me already know, I’ve been in love with Rust language for a few years now and in the last year I’ve been actively coding in Rust. I wanted to document my journey to how I came to love this programming language, in hope that it will help people to see the value Rust brings to the world of software but if not, it would be nice to have my reason documented for my own sake.

  • CMS

    • Whitehouse.gov Moves From Drupal to WordPress in CMS Shift

      Eight years ago, the Obama administration chose an open-source content management system to power the whitehouse.gov website. In 2017, the Trump administration also chose an open-source CMS, albeit a different one from what has been in use since 2009.

      In October 2009, the open-source Drupal CMS was chosen to power the whitehouse.gov website, a move that was heralded at the time as a big win for both Drupal and open source. With relatively little fanfare, the whitehouse.gov website was relaunched on Dec. 15 using a WordPress CMS, instead of Drupal.

  • Funding

    • NodeSource Raises $17.5M For Enterprise Open-Source Tech

      NodeSource announced news on Monday (Dec. 25) that it raised $17.5 million in venture capital to continue expansion of its open-source technology for the enterprise.

      The company said in a press release that the Series B funding was led by Silicon Valley Bank, Industry Ventures and existing backers Crosslink Capital and RRE Ventures. NodeSource said it will use the funds to expand its engineering, support and go-to-market teams.

      The company provides Node.js open-source technology for the enterprise. Its flagship product is N|Solid, a Node.js platform to manage enterprise apps and the security of company systems.

  • BSD

    • Intel Icelake Support Gets Further Into Shape For LLVM Clang 6.0

      LLVM’s Clang compiler support for the Intel Icelake processors that succeed Cannonlake is getting into better shape ahead of the LLVM/Clang 6.0 feature freeze in January.

      Last month -march=icelake was added to LLVM Clang but it mostly mirrored the Cannonlake behavior. Fortunately, now more of the Icelake bits are being filled on the LLVM/Clang side, similar to all the Icelake-related happenings that occurred in the GCC 8 code-base over the past several weeks.

    • LLVM 6.0 Is Being Branched In One Week, LLVM 7.0 Development To Begin

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg is moving ahead with plans to branch the LLVM 6.0 code and its components earlier than anticipated.

      In early December the LLVM 6.0 release proposal was laid out and it included branching two weeks earlier than is traditionally done, due to an unnamed large LLVM consumer of the code requesting the change to better align with that company’s internal testing. So now the LLVM 6.0 branching will happen on 3 January, but it will be treated as a “slow start” with no release candidates coming for the first two weeks but developers can begin testing and nominating patches.

    • NetBSD 7.1.1 Released

      The first point release to NetBSD 7.1 is now available as this BSD operating system ends out 2017.

    • NetBSD 7.1.1 released

      The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 7.1.1, the first security/critical update of the NetBSD 7.1 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons.

      Complete source and binaries for NetBSD 7.1.1 are available for download at many sites around the world. A list of download sites providing FTP, AnonCVS, SUP, and other services may be found at https://www.NetBSD.org/mirrors/. We encourage users who wish to install via ISO or USB disk images to download via BitTorrent by using the torrent files supplied in the images area. A list of hashes for the NetBSD 7.1.1 distribution has been signed with the well-connected PGP key for the NetBSD Security Officer: https://ftp.NetBSD.org/pub/NetBSD/security/hashes/NetBSD-7.1.1_hashes.asc

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The interesting and complex legal issues of 2017

      Other widely read articles focused on nuts-and-bolts open source licensing topics, such as what every technologist should know and open source license management rules for startups. More philosophical pieces also captured readers’ attention, covering topics from economically efficient open source license compliance to the difference between free and open source software to free vs. freedom.

      Finally, there we some reactions to a specific license proposed by Facebook, both criticizing its React license and arguing that we not over-React.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open access in Germany: the best DEAL is no deal

        In the worldwide campaign to shift academic publishing to open access, the Germans are fighting a major battle. To many, they look like heroes.

        “Projekt DEAL” is the name of a German national consortium that includes university libraries and scientific organisations. The consortium has been working towards an agreement with Elsevier that, if the Germans have their way, would make papers by German authors in journals published by Elsevier freely available (open access), at a substantially lower rate than Elsevier is currently charging.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The Five Most Amazing Things That Were 3-D-Printed This Year

        Additive manufacturing has been hyped for years. But in 2017 much of its promise materialized: 3-D printing took a series of big steps out of the realm of niche prototyping and into the world of mass manufacturing. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive things 3-D printers made this year, as well as what their creations portend for the future.

  • Programming/Development

    • Best Programming Languages To Learn In 2018

      Programming is growing as one of the most sought-after profession unlike olden times when software making was limited to just a handful of programming languages. Today we have a large variety of choices when it comes to programming languages. With the cross-platform support growing, most programming languages can be used for multiple tasks. Here let us have a look at some programming languages that you might want to learn in 2018 if you have not already.

Leftovers

  • Anti-adblock is a lot more common than anyone thought, but it’s not hard to defeat

    In a new paper, researchers from the University of Iowa and UC Riverside reveal that anti-adblock is much more common than previously thought — the majority of anti-adblock is silent: publishers detect adblock, then silently log its existence and sometimes rewrite the page.

  • Let’s demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas: sharing

    Questions of global injustice and ecological imbalance may seem far removed from our daily lives, but everyone who participates in modern consumerist society is conjointly responsible for perpetuating destruction on an international scale. Our frenzied spending around Thanksgiving and Christmas is a case in point, further preventing us from embracing the radical transformations required in the transition to a post-growth world. What, then, should we do?

  • Science Friday’s “File Not Found”

    Clearly, increasing public attention to the problem of preserving digital information is a good thing, but I have reservations about these posts. Below the fold, I lay them out.

  • Science

    • Dude, you broke the Future!

      We’re living in yesterday’s future, and it’s nothing like the speculations of our authors and film/TV producers. As a working science fiction novelist, I take a professional interest in how we get predictions about the future wrong, and why, so that I can avoid repeating the same mistakes. Science fiction is written by people embedded within a society with expectations and political assumptions that bias us towards looking at the shiny surface of new technologies rather than asking how human beings will use them, and to taking narratives of progress at face value rather than asking what hidden agenda they serve.

    • Plants Are Better at Complex Decision-Making Than We Ever Realised

      We know that plants can learn, and make decisions, and we now have a new level of insight into the decision-making process plants go through when put under pressure, vying with competitors for limited access to sunlight.

      It turns out our flora friends can react to the size and strength of their nearby neighbours, deciding how best to survive considering what’s happening around them, according to a new study.

  • Hardware

    • The latest abuse by Apple: Deliberately slowing iPhone performance

      Surprise, Surprise, Apple has done it again: controlling iPhones, fundamentally changing the way they work, and further eroding user control.

      Earlier this week, Primate Lab’s founder, John Poole, reported an unprecedented degradation in older iPhones’ performance. Originally attributed to the age of these phones’ batteries, it is now clear that Apple intentionally added an anti-feature in its newest update: iOS now throttles phones when there is exceptional performance demand.

      Apple claims this is not planned obsolescence, rather it is meant to prevent iPhones from shutting down when they’re overtaxed or too cold. The company claims decreasing performance “smooths out” “peak current demands,” which become more common — and problematic — in cold conditions or with older batteries. Apple calls this a feature — but we call it a violation of user freedom.

    • Updating Flash vs. Hard Disk
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Some Doctors Still Billing Medicare for the Most Complicated, Expensive Office Visits

      Thousands of times a year, Medicare patients file into Dr. Mark Roberts’ family practice clinic in rural Evergreen, Alabama, for standard office visits.

      And almost every time they did in 2015, Roberts billed Medicare for the most complex, and most expensive, type of office visit — one that typically takes 40 minutes and for which Medicare reimbursed him an average of $94. He billed for 4,765 such high-level visits that year, according to federal data, more than any other doctor in the country. And for that, he collected nearly $450,000 from Medicare.

    • How Hospitals Are Failing Black Mothers

      When Dacheca Fleurimond decided to give birth at SUNY Downstate Medical Center earlier this year, her sister tried to talk her out of it.

      Her sister had recently delivered at a better-rated hospital in Brooklyn’s gentrified Park Slope neighborhood and urged Fleurimond, a 33-year-old home health aide, to do the same.

      But Fleurimond had given birth to all five of her other children at the state-run SUNY Downstate and never had a bad experience. She and her family had lived steps away from the hospital in East Flatbush when they emigrated from Haiti years ago. She knew the nurses at SUNY Downstate, she told her sister. She felt comfortable there.

      She didn’t know then how much rode on her decision, or how fraught with risk her delivery would turn out to be.

    • Americans are dying younger than people in other rich nations

      American lives are shorter on average than those in other wealthy nations, and the gap is growing ever wider, according to the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      As recently as 1979, the typical American could expect to live roughly 1.5 years longer than the average resident of one of the other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — a group of 35 wealthy, predominantly Western nations.

      The typical American baby born in 1979 could expect to live about 73.9 years, while the typical baby born in one of the other 34 OECD countries would live roughly to age 72.3.

    • War at Home

      The United States has built the most powerful military in the world. That strength has come at a largely unknown cost. The testing and disposal of the nation’s weapons here in the U.S. have poisoned drinking water supplies, rendered millions of acres of land unsafe or unusable, and jeopardized the health of often unwitting Americans.

  • Security

    • Lack of IT staff leaving companies exposed to hacker attacks [iophk: "very few companies even have an IT staff, usually just Microsoft resellers"]

      According to a recent survey of recruitment agencies, 81% expect a rise in demand for digital security staff, but only 16% saw that the demand would be met.

    • DARPA Triggers Development of The ‘Unhackable’ Computer Morpheus With $3.6 Million

      DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency), who gave us the early version of the internet is now trying to fix a major problem – computers vulnerable to cyber attacks.

    • Securing the internet of things will be no easy task

      As I testified before House Oversight’s IT subcommittee in early October, many recent, major breaches could have been eliminated or dramatically reduced if some fundamental principles of cyber hygiene had been followed, including constant patching, least privileged, encryption, micro-segmentation and multi-factor authentication.

    • How I Got Paid $0 From the Uber Security Bug Bounty

      So now it’s a completely verified critical security vulnerability, with working POC that will harvest usernames and passwords from an Uber mobile endpoint, and SSL-protected with Uber’s signed certificate. The Uber development team gets involved, and additionally verifies that yes, they can execute arbitrary JavaScript code from any *.cloudfront.net host, so these are three distinct critical severity security issues: reflected XSS, HTML content injection, and a CSP that allows execution of arbitrary JavaScript from any *.cloudfront.net host.

      [...]

      Followed by locking and then closing without payment all of my submitted security reports, so that they can’t be viewed or publicly disclosed.

    • Nation-State Hacking: 2017 in Review

      If 2016 was the year government hacking went mainstream, 2017 is the year government hacking played the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s not Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear making headlines. This week, the Trump administration publicly attributed the WannaCry ransomware attack to the Lazarus Group, which allegedly works on behalf of the North Korean government. As a Presidential candidate, Donald Trump famously dismissed allegations that the Russian government broke into email accounts belonging to John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, saying it could easily have been the work of a “400 lb hacker” or China. The public calling-out of North Korean hacking appears to signal a very different attitude towards attribution.

      Lazarus Group may be hot right now, but Russian hacking has continued to make headlines. Shortly after the release of WannaCry, there came another wave of ransomware infections, Petya/NotPetya (or, this author’s favorite name for the ransomware, “NyetYa”). Petya was hidden inside of a legitimate update to accounting software made by MeDoc, a Ukrainian company. For this reason and others, Petya was widely attributed to Russian actors and is thought to have primarily targeted Ukrainian companies, where MeDoc is commonly used. The use of ransomware as a wiper, a tool whose purpose is to render the computer unusable rather than to extort money from its owner, appears to be one of this year’s big new innovations in the nation-state actors’ playbook.

    • North Korea asks US for proof of WannaCry claim [iophk: "caused by Microsoft bug doors"]

      A North Korean diplomat has asked the US to provide evidence for its claim that the WannaCry ransomware was created and spread by Pyongyang.

    • Transport-Layer Encryption vs End-to-End Encryption – GIF

      During the course of a digital security training, participants often learn that they should encrypt their information in transit, like emails, chats, messages, and cloud storage. Learners come away from a training with an appreciation for encryption. However, they may not come away learning that there are different ways of using encryption.

      It’s also important for learners to be able to distinguish what the encryption they are using to protect their information does and does not protect against. One way to clarify this conversation is to point out two different types of encryption for their information in transit: transport-layer encryption, and end-to-end encryption.

      HTTPS and VPNs are examples are of transport-layer encryption, which is a way of encrypting data in transit.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Even With the Cloud, Client Security Still Matters
    • Using Thunderbird? Update if you haven’t already [Ed: actually a Windows problem]

      If you’re using Thunderbird for your email needs, make sure you’re on version 52.5.2. Mozilla recently released the new version, which has patches that squash a handful of bugs.

    • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #139
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Kashmir: Indian Soldiers Kill Alleged Militant, Amid Deadliest Year in a Decade in Disputed Territory

      In the disputed territory of Kashmir, Indian troops have killed a man they claim was the commander of a Pakistan-based militant group. The news of the killing sparked protests in which at least six protesters were injured by Indian soldiers firing tear gas and pellet guns. This year has been the deadliest year in a decade in Kashmir, with at least 350 people killed amid India’s military offensive, dubbed “Operation All Out.”

    • Finnish woman launches fundraiser for British wheelchair-bound Turku defender

      Sonya Höstman, a resident of Vaasa on Finland’s west coast, has set up a fund to help Swedish resident Hassan Zubier, who lost his mobility after he rushed to the assistance of victims targeted during a knife attack in Turku in August.

      Zubier suffered a severed spinal cord and severe nerve damage during the gruesome attack. The assailant was later neutralised by police with a single shot to the leg, before being taken away in an ambulance.

      Höstman told Svenska Yle that she was moved by a previous report that indicated that Zubier’s heroic act meant that he likely be confined for a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

    • Reverberations from Trump’s Jerusalem Move

      The U.N. General Assembly’s rebuff of overt threats of economic retaliation from President Trump — in the overwhelming repudiation of his decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — marked a rare show of independence from Washington. Despite President Trump’s threats, the vote against the U.S. position was 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump’s Five Biggest Energy Blunders in 2017

      Before Donald Trump had even unpacked at the White House, his administration was making it clear he intended to follow through on campaign pledges to unravel climate regulations (see “President Trump Takes Immediate Aim at Obama’s Climate Action Plan”).

    • Mother Nature just dumped 53 inches of snow on one US town in only 30 hours

      Snow and Christmas go hand-in-hand, but sometimes Mother Nature goes a little over the top. A dusting of the frosty white stuff is fine — even a few inches isn’t a big deal, as long as you have a shovel and a bit of salt to keep it in check — but Erie, Pennsylvania, is dealing with record-breaking snowfall that would bring any city to its knees.

      According to the National Weather Service, Erie has endured an incredible 53 inches of snowfall within 30 hours, shattering all previous records and shutting down everything from local businesses to the airport.

  • Finance

    • Investor-state dispute system called “toxic provision” in KORUS FTA

      Following a National Assembly report on Dec. 18, the administration plans to finish domestic implementation procedures for the negotiations and begin discussions with the US on the date for beginning talks. The administration has said it plans to hold “a first round of negotiations in late 2017 or early 2018, with follow-up negotiations at three- to four-week intervals.” Following a National Assembly report on Dec. 18, the administration plans to finish domestic implementation procedures for the negotiations and begin discussions with the US on the date for beginning talks. The administration has said it plans to hold “a first round of negotiations in late 2017 or early 2018, with follow-up negotiations at three- to four-week intervals.”

    • One-Third of Puerto Rico Won’t Have Christmas Tree Lights Because They Still Don’t Have Power

      Periodically, we’ve looked at the situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: Roads, power, water, and money, PROMESA (the Obama plan that imposed an austerity regime on the island), and vulture capitalists squabbling over Puerto Rico’s body.

    • Philip Hammond urged to publish Treasury’s Brexit impact studies

      Philip Hammond has come under pressure to publish another set of hidden documents relating to how a series of possible Brexit outcomes, including no deal, will impact on the economy.

      Twenty-five Labour MPs have written to the chancellor demanding that he release the studies, which have so far been kept confidential, after he told a select committee that the work had been done.

      “The public have a right to know what the impact of Brexit will be for them and for their families,” the politicians, who all support the Open Britain campaign, claimed.

      The move comes after a similar suggestion by David Davis that his Brexit department had carried out 58 sectoral analyses resulted in immense pressure to publish the findings.

    • ‘Nobody Thought It Would Come to This’: Drug Maker Teva Faces a Crisis

      To the rest of the world, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is simply one of the world’s biggest makers of generic drugs. In Israel, it is the corporate version of a national celebrity.

      The first homegrown, global success story and one of Israel’s largest employers, Teva is both a source of pride and a symbol of the country’s financial ambitions. Its place in the Israeli public’s imagination is similar to the one General Motors, in its heyday, occupied in America — but in a nation with a population about the size of New York City’s. The company’s shares are owned by so many pension funds that it is known informally as the people’s stock.

    • AT&T sheds 1,000 employees after touting GOP tax plan, giving out bonuses

      The telecom titan recently announced $1,000 bonuses for 200,000 U.S. employees, while others were laid off
      Charlie May2017-12-27T21:33:33Z•2017-12-27T21:33:33Z
      0 Comments

      After announcing that the majority of its United States employees would receive a $1,000 holiday bonus as a result of the new GOP tax plan, AT&T quietly laid off more than 1,000 employees.

      The telecom giant announced that 200,000 U.S. employees who are union members would receive a special $1,000 bonus and that the company would also reinvest more than $1 billion in its workforce.

    • Who Would Pay $26,000 to Work in a Chicken Plant?

      The first week Yongho Yeom worked on the chicken line at the House of Raeford poultry plant was like nothing he had ever imagined as a computer engineer in South Korea.

      Supervisors clocked him as he rapidly maneuvered scissors again and again to cut bones out of raw chicken thighs. The plant was cold to prevent spoilage. And the slaughtering of chickens created an awful stench.

      “It hurt a lot,” Yeom said. “All of the Korean workers, we all had some sort of chronic symptoms or pain, and some would lose their nails.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Vietnam Deploys 10,000 Cyber Warriors to Fight ‘Wrongful Views’

      Facebook this year removed 159 accounts at Vietnam’s behest, while YouTube took down 4,500 videos, or 90 percent of what the government requested, according to VietnamNet news, which cited Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan last week. The National Assembly is debating a cybersecurity bill that would require technology companies to store certain data on servers in the country.

    • Revealed: The Secret KGB Manual for Recruiting Spies

      This is the first of a three-part series based on never-before-published training manuals for the KGB, the Soviet intelligence organization that Vladimir Putin served as an operative, and that shaped his view of the world. Its veterans still make up an important part of now-Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power base. All were trained in the same dark arts, and these primers in tradecraft are essential to an understanding of the way they think and the way they operate.

    • Obama-era plans to ‘zap’ Russian [astroturfers] collapsed under Trump
    • Kremlin [astroturfers] burned across the Internet as Washington debated options

      But for U.S. officials, the real wake-up call came in early 2014 when the Russians annexed Crimea and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. An intercepted Russian military intelligence report dated February 2014 documented how Moscow created fake personas to spread disinformation on social media to buttress its broader military campaign.

    • What Putin Really Wants

      Over the past year, Russian hackers have become the stuff of legend in the United States. According to U.S. intelligence assessments and media investigations, they were responsible for breaching the servers of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They spread the information they filched through friendly outlets such as WikiLeaks, to devastating effect. With President Vladimir Putin’s blessing, they probed the voting infrastructure of various U.S. states. They quietly bought divisive ads and organized political events on Facebook, acting as the bellows in America’s raging culture wars.

      But most Russians don’t recognize the Russia portrayed in this story: powerful, organized, and led by an omniscient, omnipotent leader who is able to both formulate and execute a complex and highly detailed plot.

      Gleb Pavlovsky, a political consultant who helped Putin win his first presidential campaign, in 2000, and served as a Kremlin adviser until 2011, simply laughed when I asked him about Putin’s role in Donald Trump’s election. “We did an amazing job in the first decade of Putin’s rule of creating the illusion that Putin controls everything in Russia,” he said. “Now it’s just funny” how much Americans attribute to him.

      A businessman who is high up in Putin’s United Russia party said over an espresso at a Moscow café: “You’re telling me that everything in Russia works as poorly as it does, except our hackers? Rosneft”—the state-owned oil giant—“doesn’t work well. Our health-care system doesn’t work well. Our education system doesn’t work well. And here, all of a sudden, are our hackers, and they’re amazing?”

    • Brexit: Corbyn is playing a clever long game that could benefit us all

      Remainers are a largely harmonious community. While most harbour ultimate dreams of staying inside the EU (and regard Brexit as a nightmare), a majority seem prepared to settle for a compromise of soft Brexit inside the single market and customs union. But one issue divides them more than any other: the Brexit stance of the Labour party. For some pro-EU advocates, Labour is a hard Brexit party and Jeremy Corbyn is as culpable as Theresa May. Others are prepared to give Labour the benefit of the doubt, and their votes. Here’s why I fall into the latter category – and why Brexit could be Labour’s prize to take.

      For the best part of a year, Labour’s Brexit stance was profoundly disappointing. Corbyn’s traditional Bennite Euroscepticism was nothing new, but many progressives found his failure to resist May’s hardline stance on the single market and customs union shocking, particularly as the poorest in society stand to suffer the most. The three-line whip over February’s Article 50 vote – which Corbyn hadn’t even applied when opposing the bombing of Syria – represented a particular low point.

    • Trump’s legal team preparing for offensive against ex-NSA Flynn

      Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation plans to undermine Flynn’s credibility by projecting him as a liar.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Alt-right utilizes bitcoin after crackdown on hate speech
    • Hotel That Charged Guest $350 For A Negative Review Now Facing A Lawsuit From State Attorney General

      The American Dream: own your own business… be your own boss… run your reputation into the ground… charge people’s credit cards $350 for negative reviews… get sued by the government. Welcome to Nashville, Indiana, home of the Abbey Inn, whose absentee ownership, lack of on-duty staff, and hidden clauses have led to a precipitous decline in brand health, along with the opportunity to defend itself against a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general.

    • Denied PayPal account, Amos Yee seeks direct donations

      Amos Yee, the controversial Singaporean blogger who is now living in the United States, has requested everyone to contribute money to him so that he can move to Los Angeles with his girlfriend.

      The revelation about his new relationship was not well received in the past by social media, and people started trolling him. In his new Facebook post, however, Lee shared his financial troubles with netizens.

    • Empire star Jussie Smollett talks art and censorship during recent trip to South Africa

      Channel24 sat down with the actor and musician as he spoke out against Africa’s rising TV censorship and didn’t just share inspiring and powerful messages for young people who dream of becoming artists, but also emphasised the importance of art in helping to change lives.

    • Readers are voters, too, writer warns against book censorship

      BOOK censorship is a form of oppression and the reading community must oppose it by voting against the ruling government in the next election, said lecturer and writer Dr Faizal Musa.

      Society must reject “the troubling trend of oppression” that takes the form of book bans, to shape critical and free thinking, said Faizal, who goes by the pen name Faisal Tehrani.

      “The parties that are banning (books) have no consideration whatsoever for the rights of others, which are the readers, to think and to self interpret.

    • Dear Barstool Sports: No You Cannot Sue The NFL For Its Non-Infringing Merchandise. Also, Relax.

      It has certainly been a turbulent year for the NFL. The league is reeling from ratings declines, accusations of political bias, its own versions of the #MeToo wave that has collided with our larger culture, and a seemingly never ending controversy over how players comport themselves during the National Anthem that essentially works as a feedback loop of outrage on every side helped along by the man holding the highest public office in our union. With that in mind, relatively small intellectual property dust-ups may seem low on the eyeball list for those following the league, but it’s still worth pointing out when the league gets IP questions wrong, as it often does.

      Yet not every accusation lobbed in its direction is valid and the rather over the top response from one online outlet over the branding of some t-shirts is one that is not. The background on this is that Barstool Sports is a part humor, part satire, part sports blog with a turbulent relationship with Roger Goodell and the NFL. The Boston iteration of the site has been a particularly virulent thorn in the NFL’s side and made much of its name when the league suspended Tom Brady for deflating some footballs. The site also pitches a line of t-shirts with the phrase “Saturdays are for the boys” on them, which I suppose is some kind of a nod to college football. Well, the NFL recently came out with a line of “Sundays are for the [blank]” line of shirts, with the blank being each of the 32 NFL teams that famously play games on Sundays. This did not escape Barstool Sports’ attention.

    • Facebook is censoring people the US government sanctions

      When the US government sanctioned Chechnya’s despotic leader Ramzan Kadyrov for human rights abuses Dec. 20, he seemed pleased, calling it an “award” from America and declaring himself “a great man.”

      “I’ve said before, but I’ll repeat for the especially forgetful, that I wouldn’t go to the US even if they promised me all the country’s foreign currency reserves as prizes,” he wrote on his Instagram account.

    • China’s censors have taken down 13,000 websites in 3 years

      It’s no secret that China is fond of censorship. Now, however, the country has divulged numbers that give a sense of that crackdown’s scale. A report from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has revealed that China has either shut down or revoked licenses for more than 13,000 websites since the start of 2015, or just under 3 years ago. It had also prompted the closure of nearly 10 million internet accounts (most likely social network accounts). To no one’s surprise, there’s a heavy amount of spin on the reasons these sites and accounts were taken down.

      The state-backed media outlet Xinhua said these closures were meant to protect the “party’s long-term hold on power, the country’s long-term peace and stability, socio-economic development and the people’s personal interests.” Of course, it’s that first part that China’s officials are really concerned about. While the country has fought against porn, rumors and terrorism, a large amount of its energy has been spent on preventing residents from seeing uncensored news and communicating privately online.

      Accordingly, officials added that over 10 million accounts had been suspended due to people refusing to use their real names. China had ostensibly implemented the measure to curb rumors and salty language, but it’s widely believed to be an effort to silence dissent by making it easy to identify political opponents.

    • China’s internet “clean-up” has closed over 13,000 illegal websites since 2015
    • Universities Are Raising a Generation of Trumplets
    • Leave CDC’s scientists to do their work
    • Local, national alarm over CDC censorship
    • DIAMOND Accused of Nazi Swastika Censorship; Responds and Explains
    • Gay Filmmaker and Activist Fan Popo Lashes Out at Facebook Over Censorship of Porn Shoot Post
    • Facebook just banned Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in compliance with U.S. sanctions

      Facebook must comply with U.S. sanctions administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Department of State.

    • Russia calls for answers after Chechen leader’s Instagram is blocked

      Kadyrov has accused the US government of pressuring the social networks to disable his accounts, which he said were blocked on Saturday without explanation. The US imposed travel and financial sanctions on Kadyrov last week over numerous allegations of human rights abuses.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DHS’s New Airport Face-Scanning Program Is Expensive, Flawed, And Illegal

      We, the people, are going to shell out $1 billion for the DHS to scan our faces into possibly illegal biometric systems. Those are the conclusions reached by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology. A close examination the face scanning system the DHS plans to shove in front of passengers of international flights shows it to be a waste of money with limited utility.

    • Maybe Russia is Hacking the FBI and Stealing Our Biometric Data, Exhaustive Report Says

      Biometric data belonging to millions of Americans may or may not be at risk—it is frankly unclear—based on a BuzzFeed report published Tuesday. At least two experts are concerned anyway, according to the site.

      The full story, well-sourced and exhaustively reported, details how code developed by a Russian company found its way into fingerprint-recognition software reportedly used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the TSA PreCheck program, as well as some 18,000 other American law enforcement agencies including the New York City Police Department.

    • FBI Software For Analyzing Fingerprints Contains Russian-Made Code, Whistleblowers Say
    • Russia Might Be Hacking FBI And Stealing Fingerprints Of Millions, Says Report
    • Peter Thiel: the “libertarian” who loves mass government surveillance, monopolies, and censorship
    • The Libertarian Logic of Peter Thiel
    • Germany Accuses Chinese Intelligence Services Of Using Fake LinkedIn Profiles To Recruit Informants And Extract Sensitive Information

      Over the last year, the scale of Russia’s disinformation activities has become clearer. Its Internet Research Agency has deployed an astonishing range of sophisticated techniques, included accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and hiring activists within the US without the latter being aware they were working for the Russian government. We also now know that the same organization has been buying Facebook ads on a large scale that were seen by over a hundred million US citizens. But it would be naïve to think that Russia is the only foreign power engaged in this kind of activity. In fact, it would be surprising if any intelligence agency worth its salt were not carrying out similar activities around the globe. The first detailed information about China’s use of fake social media accounts to recruit informants and extract sensitive information has just been published by the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence service.

    • Tech companies luring would-be spies away from GCHQ

      The next generation of spies and codebreakers are being lured away from jobs at GCHQ to tech companies and banks, leading to an extreme hiring shortage.

      Prolonged security clearance and a rigorous vetting process is required before a potential candidate can be considered to work at the UK’s intelligence and security organisation, leaving many enticed by the high levels of pay offered by Facebook, Google and other tech companies and city firms.

    • How Big Tech Is Going After Your Health Care

      When Daniel Poston, a second-year medical student in Manhattan, opened the App Store on his iPhone a couple of weeks ago, he was astonished to see an app for a new heart study prominently featured.

      People often learn about new research studies through in-person conversations with their doctors. But not only did this study, run by Stanford University, use a smartphone to recruit consumers, it was financed by Apple. And it involved using an app on the Apple Watch to try to identify irregular heart rhythms.

      Intrigued, Mr. Poston, who already owned an Apple Watch, registered for the heart study right away. Then he took to Twitter to encourage others to do likewise — suggesting that it was part of a breakthrough in health care.

      “It’s not inconceivable, by the time I graduate from medical school,” Mr. Poston said, “that the entire practice of medicine can be revolutionized by technology.”

    • Russia Plans National Biometric Database Starting Next Year

      The law will take effect six months after it is officially published. The database could also be expanded for use by microfinance organizations and government services, the central bank said.

    • Surveillance advocate Eric Schmidt is stepping down as head of Google parent company Alphabet

      Distressingly, Schmidt will remain active in Google’s divisions that work on smart cities, healthcare, and AI — areas of business where indifference to privacy concerns has the potential for catastrophic fallout to the world and the business.

    • The Library of Congress will no longer archive every tweet

      The LOC first announced its plans to create a single searchable archive of every public tweet more than seven years ago, but the project has stalled for a few years. In 2013, the organization published a white paper attributing the delay to budget issues and a lack of software. Twitter’s terms of agreement also prohibits “substantial proportions” of its website from being made downloadable.

    • Library of Congress Gives Up Collecting All Tweets Because Twitter Is Garbage [iophk: "always have been"]

      In 2010, the Library of Congress started archiving every single public tweet that was published on Twitter. It even retroactively acquired all tweets dating back to 2006. But the Library of Congress will stop archiving every tweet on December 31, 2017. Why is it stopping? Because tweets are trash now.

    • Library of Congress will no longer collect every public tweet

      In a white paper released on Tuesday, the library said that the shift is due in part to Twitter’s recent decision to double the character limit on tweets and to the increased volume of posts since the agreement was first reached.

    • Snapchat to push content outside of app
    • WhatsApp to cease support for older smartphones on New Year’s Eve
    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (7/21): Analog Libraries Were Private Searches for Information

      In the analog world of our parents, their Freedom of Information was sacramount: their innermost thirst for learning, knowledge, and understanding. In the digital world of our children, their corresponding innermost thoughts are instead harvested wholesale and sold off to market random trinkets into their faces.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Confessions of a Digital Nazi Hunter

      You probably haven’t heard of these trolls, but that is precisely why they are so pernicious. These bigots are not content to harass Jews and other minorities on Twitter; they seek to assume their identities and then defame them.

    • Texas: Sheriff’s Deputy Kills 6-Year-Old Boy Kameron Prescott

      Back in the United States, in Texas, police shot and killed a 6-year-old child only days before Christmas. The boy, Kameron Prescott, was killed when a stray bullet shot by a sheriff’s deputy tore through the wall of his family’s mobile home in a small city outside San Antonio. The sheriff says the officers were at the mobile home park after receiving a call about a stolen vehicle. There, deputies encountered a suspect, a 30-year-old woman, and opened fire, killing her and the 6-year-old boy. The woman was unarmed except for a small pipe. The sheriff calls the killing of the child a tragic accident but claims the deputies followed departmental policies. The Washington Post’s database says at least 952 people have been killed by police so far this year in the United States.

    • The year everything was politicised

      Perhaps it’s a sign of the times. So much of political debate has been reduced to shallow virtue-signaling and narcissistic moralism, so celebrities find themselves perfectly placed to pitch in. In turn, political commentators have become strangely captivated by the the stars of sport, TV and music. There’s always been celebrities who like to flaunt their respectable views. But this year was different: culture became so thoroughly politicised that stars were considered morally reprehensible if they simply didn’t want to join in.

    • When the Baltimore Police Locked Down Several Blocks of a Black Neighborhood

      The ACLU of Maryland is seeking officers’ body cam footage to investigate what happened at the cordon.

      On Nov. 15, Detective David Bomenka of the Baltimore Police Department reported that his partner, Detective Sean Suiter, had been shot by an unknown assailant whom Suiter had stopped in a vacant lot in the city’s Harlem Park neighborhood. In response, the department did something that had never been done before and is constitutionally suspect: it completely shut down several blocks in the community, which is virtually all Black, with a police cordon.

      For six days, police restricted all vehicles and pedestrians from entering, barred all non-residents, and forced residents to show ID and get permission at the cordon to enter or leave. Press reports also indicate that some residents were told that they could not leave their homes, and were subjected to questioning, frisks, and searches at the cordon. The department’s sole stated rationale for this extreme action was the need to preserve a crime scene.

    • Minnesota Prosecutor Hits Teen With Child Porn Charges For Taking Explicit Photos Of Herself

      This is clearly a ridiculous reading of Minnesota’s law. The law can’t “protect” Jane Doe from taking sexually explicit photos of herself — not unless this is the prosecutor’s idea of “protection.” If anyone else had taken the photos, Jane Doe would be the victim of child pornography production.

    • ‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’

      On Nov. 17, 2012, Tyler Haire was arrested in Vardaman, Mississippi, for attacking his father’s girlfriend with a knife. Tyler, 16, had called 911 himself, and when they arrived, the local police found him seated quietly on a tree stump outside the home on County Road 433. The boy alternately said he could remember nothing and that they had the wrong man.

    • Video: ‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’
    • Doing Less With Less: Mental Health Care in Mississippi

      The state of mental health care in Mississippi has been in freefall for years.

      As a consequence of the ripple effects of the financial crisis, Mississippi saw its state support for mental health care slashed by $42 million from 2009 to 2011, roughly 15 percent of the Department of Mental Health’s budget.

      The state, which had 1,156 psychiatric beds in 2010, has just 486 today.

      In 2016, after years of failing to heed warnings from federal prosecutors, Mississippi was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for failing to deliver adequate care to its residents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Internet Governance Forum – An Encyclopaedic Endeavour

      The 12th Internet Governance Forum has closed its doors and sent home the last of the more than 2,000 die-hard internet governance adepts from 142 countries who stayed until a mere three days before Christmas in the halls of the United Nations in Geneva. Asking the adepts and the critics about what has changed in the forum that started because governments just could not agree on how critical internet infrastructures should be managed during the 2005 UN World Summit on Information Society, the first answer always is just “big”.

      With originally 3,000 registered, it is the biggest international internet politics conference. But “big” is not only the size of the meeting, it is also the number of workshops, panels, best practice forums and bi-, pluri- and (nearly) multi-lateral meetings taking place over the five days. So this year Intellectual Property Watch, having participated substantively all week, decided to make an encyclopaedic endeavour to bring you the first IGF dictionary (or to make a dictionary about that encyclopaedic endeavour) in an effort to give credit to the richness of the forum, but highlight some problems, too.

    • Comcast Busted For Signing People Up For Services They Didn’t Want, Never Asked For

      Earlier this year Washington State sued Comcast for routinely ripping off its customers. The original complaint (pdf) argued that Comcast violated Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA) by misrepresenting its “Service Protection Plan,” which lets users pay a $5 per month additional fee to cover “all” service calls. But the investigation found that Comcast not only over-stated what the plan covered, but routinely signed customers up for the plan who never asked for it, resulting in an additional $73 million in subscription fees over the last five years for what the State AG called a “near-worthless” plan.

      The original complaint found that Comcast reps repeatedly sold the plan as being “comprehensive,” covering all service calls, including those related to inside wiring, customer-owned equipment connected to Comcast services and “on-site education about products.” But when customers subscribed to the plan called up thinking they’d then get a break from Comcast on service charges, the company would routinely bill customers anyway for all manner of services and repairs that should have been covered under the plan.

    • Comcast’s Tax-Cut Investment ‘Increase’ Is A Giant Nothingburger

      A common lobbying tactic in the telecom sector is to take something you were already planning to do anyway, then when it happens claim it only could have occurred thanks to “X” policy or lobbying favor. For example you’ll recall that every time AT&T wants a merger approved, the company will promise to “expand” broadband into areas it already planned to service. Regulators are frequently all-too-happy to let this disingenuous nonsense slide because (thanks to an unskeptical media) it helps portray them as having held a company’s feet to the fire — even if nothing is actually changing.

    • FCC Announces National Roll Out Of Amber Alerts But For Cops

      Warning people about violent suspects in their area is somewhat useful — a severe weather alert but for crime.

    • New York State Eyes Its Own Net Neutrality Law

      Numerous states say they’ll be crafting their own net neutrality protections in the wake of the FCC’s recent vote to dismantle the rules. ISPs of course predicted this, which is why Comcast and Verizon successfully lobbied the FCC to include provisions in its “Restoring Internet Freedom” order that bans states from protecting consumers from privacy and net neutrality violations, or other bad behavior by incumbent ISPs. In ISP lobbying land, stopping states from writing protectionist law is an assault on “states rights,” but when states actually try to help consumers you’ll note the concern for states rights magically disappears.

      Regardless, New York State, California and Washington have all indicated that they will attempt to test the FCC’s state preemption authority on this front in the new year by crafting their own net neutrality legislation. You’ll recall that the FCC already had its wrist slapped by the courts for over-reach when it tried to preempt states from passing anti-community broadband laws, quite literally written by large ISPs, intended to hamstring creative solutions (including public/private partnerships) for the telecom industry’s broadband competition logjam.

    • The catastrophic consequences of the non-Neutral Net will be very hard to spot, until it’s too late

      The Pai rules allow ISPs to block rival services, but the real impact is likely to be much more subtle (and thus harder to spot in the moment and stop while there’s still time).

    • Minnesota AG to sue FCC over net neutrality repeal
  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Diego Gomez Is Safe, But His Legal Battle Demonstrates How Copyright Policy Creates Dangers To Research

        In 2011, Colombian graduate student Diego Gómez did something that hundreds of people do every day: he shared another student’s Master’s thesis with colleagues over the Internet. He didn’t know that that simple, common act could put him in prison for years on a charge of criminal copyright infringement.

        After a very long ordeal, we can breathe a sigh of relief: a Colombian appeals court has affirmed the lower court’s acquittal of Diego.

        How did we get to the point where a student can go to prison for eight years for sharing a paper on the Internet?

        Diego’s case is a reminder of the dangers of overly restrictive copyright laws. While Diego is finally in the clear, extreme criminal penalties for copyright infringement continue to chill research, innovation, and creativity all over the world, especially in countries that don’t have broad exemptions and limitations to copyright, or the same protections for fair use that we have in the United States.

      • 10 Best Torrent Sites Of 2018 To Download Your Favorite Torrents

        We are about to enter the next calendar year in less than a week’s time. The chances are high that the loyal members of the BitTorrent community have already started to look for the best torrent sites for 2018.

        The rise in legal actions against many torrent websites can be thought of as one significant reason the list of the top torrent sites might change more frequently than it did a few years ago. Regular users of the BitTorrent network might very well remember how the torrent-giant KickAss went down.

        Another factor is the increase in the adoption of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime which might have made a dent in BitTorrent’s popularity after their expansion in more than 100 countries. Nonetheless, the people who are committed to the BitTorrent network will continue using it, and some top torrent sites suggestions might be helpful to them.

      • China based apparel firm files case against Apple for copyright infringement

        hina based clothing enterprise KON in a recent engagement has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Apple under the aegis of copyright infringement.

        KON in the suit has claimed that Apple’s logo that it uses for its official App store is a replica of the clothing firm logo. In this regard, the clothing firm is demanding a monetary compensation of over 15,000 dollars along with a public apology from Apple.

      • EU Commission Hid Yet Another Report That Showed Its Assumptions About Copyright Were Wrong

        For many years we’ve criticized copyright policymakers who rely on “faith-based” policymaking. That is, they believe that copyright is inherently “good” and refuse to consider any evidence showing harms from copyright that is too strong, or refuse to concede that there may be better ways to create incentives or to remunerate creators beyond copyright. The idea of actually having evidence-based copyright has long seemed like a pipedream — and apparently the EU Commission would like to keep it that way. Back in September, we wrote about how the EU Commission spent $400,000 on a study that showed unauthorized downloads had little impact on sales — and then refused to release the report, recognizing that it would undermine the narrative they were pushing in trying to expand anti-piracy laws.

        And, now, another such “buried” report has been discovered. As with the last one, this new report was discovered by Pirate Party EU Parliament Member Julia Reda, though she used the standard EU Freedom of Information process that anyone else could have used. After discovering that last report, she made a request for all copyright related studies that the EU Commission had requested since 2013, even if they were unpublished. That initial request listed out some papers that were still in progress — including the one that Reda has now released. This study is one that a lot of news publishers almost certainly wished would have never seen the light of day — which might explain why the EU Commission kept it buried.

      • Keeping Copyright Site-Blocking At Bay: 2017 In Review

        In 2017, major entertainment companies continued their quest for power to edit the Internet by blocking entire websites for copyright enforcement—and we’ve continued to push back.

        Website blocking is a particularly worrisome form of enforcement because it’s a blunt instrument, always likely to censor more speech than necessary. Co-opting the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) as a tool for website blocking also threatens the stability of the Internet by inviting ever more special interests and governments to use the system for censorship.

        This year, we’ve kept pressure on ICANN, the nonprofit body that makes domain name policy, to keep copyright enforcement out of their governing documents. And we’ve called out domain name registry companies who bypassed ICANN policy to create (or propose) their own private copyright enforcement machines. Public Interest Registry (PIR), the organization that manages the .org and .ngo top-level domains, announced in February that it intended to create a system of private arbitrators who would hear complaints of copyright infringement on websites. The arbitrators would wield the power to take away a website’s domain name, and possibly transfer it to the party who complained of infringement. The Domain Name Association (DNA), an industry trade association, also endorsed the plan.

      • A Christmas Carol – When Piracy Became Irrelevant

        There once was a time when people needed at least five subscription services to watch their favorite movies and TV shows. Hollywood bosses like Walter Scroogle believed that exclusivity was the key to wealth and success, but they were wrong.

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