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01.18.18

Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Reliance Jio and global tech leaders come together to push Open Source in India

    The India Digital Open Summit which will be held tomorrow at the Reliance Corporate Park campus in Navi Mumbai -is a must-attend event for industry leaders, policymakers, technologists, academia, and developer communities working towards India’s digital leadership through Open Source platforms.

    The summit is hosted by Reliance Jio in partnership with the Linux Foundation and supported by Cisco Systems.

  • Open-source software simulates river and runoff resources

    Freshwater resources are finite, unevenly distributed, and changing through time. The demand—and competition—for water is expected to grow both in the United States and in the developing/developed world. To examine the connection between supply and demand and resulting regional and global water stresses, a team developed Xanthos. The open-source hydrologic model is available for free and helps researchers explore the details and analyze global water availability.

    Researchers can use Xanthos to examine the implications of different climate, socioeconomic, and/or energy scenarios over the 21st century. They can then assess the effects of the scenarios on regional and global water availability. Xanthos can be used in three different ways. It can operate as an independent hydrologic model, driven, for example, by scenarios. It can serve as the core freshwater supply component of the Global Change Assessment Model, where multiple sectors and natural systems are modeled simultaneously as part of an interconnected, complex system. Further, it can be used by other integrated models and multi-model frameworks that focus on energy-water-land interactions.

  • “The Apache Way” — Open source done well

    I was at an industry conference and was happy to see many people stopping by the Apache booth. I was pleased that they were familiar with the Apache brand, yet puzzled to learn that so many were unfamiliar with The Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

    For this special issue, “All Eyes On Open Source”, it’s important to recognize not just Apache’s diverse projects and communities, but also the entity behind their success.

    Gone are the days when software and technology, in general, were developed privately for the benefit of the few. As technology evolves, the challenges we face become more complex, and the only way to effectively move forward to create the technology of the future is to collaborate and work together. Open Source is a perfect framework for that, and organizations like the ASF carry out a decisive role in protecting its spirit and principles.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Telemetry Use Counters: Over-estimating usage, now fixed

        Firefox Telemetry records the usage of certain web features via a mechanism called Use Counters. Essentially, for every document that Firefox loads, we record a “false” if the document didn’t use a counted feature, and a “true” if the document did use that counted feature.

      • Firefox 58 new contributors
      • Giving and receiving help at Mozilla

        This is going to sound corny, but helping people really is one of my favorite things at Mozilla, even with projects I have mostly moved on from. As someone who primarily works on internal tools, I love hearing about bugs in the software I maintain or questions on how to use it best.

        Given this, you might think that getting in touch with me via irc or slack is the fastest and best way to get your issue addressed. We certainly have a culture of using these instant-messaging applications at Mozilla for everything and anything. Unfortunately, I have found that being “always on” to respond to everything hasn’t been positive for either my productivity or mental health. My personal situation aside, getting pinged on irc while I’m out of the office often results in stuff getting lost — the person who asked me the question is often gone by the time I return and am able to answer.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Trishul Goe

        Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Trishul Goel! Trishul first became involved with Mozilla five years when he was introduced to the Firefox OS smartphone. As a JavaScript developer with an interest in Mozilla’s mission, he looked for opportunities to get involved and began contributing to SUMO, L10n, and the Firefox OS Marketplace, where he contributed code and developed and reviewed apps.

        After Firefox OS was discontinued as a commercial product, Trishul became interested in contributing to Mozilla’s add-ons projects. After landing his first code contributions to addons.mozilla.org (AMO), he set about learning how to develop extensions for Firefox using WebExtensions APIs. Soon, he began sharing his knowledge by leading and mentoring workshops for extension developers as part of Mozilla’s “Build Your Own Extension” Activate campaign.

      • Making WebAssembly even faster: Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler

        People call WebAssembly a game changer because it makes it possible to run code on the web faster. Some of these speedups are already present, and some are yet to come.

        One of these speedups is streaming compilation, where the browser compiles the code while the code is still being downloaded. Up until now, this was just a potential future speedup. But with the release of Firefox 58 next week, it becomes a reality.

        Firefox 58 also includes a new 2-tiered compiler. The new baseline compiler compiles code 10–15 times faster than the optimizing compiler.

      • Firefox 58 Bringing Faster WebAssembly Compilation With Two-Tiered Compiler

        With the launch of Mozilla Firefox 58 slated for next week, WebAssembly will become even faster thanks to a new two-tiered compiler.

      • New Kernel Releases, Net Neutrality, Thunderbird Survey and More

        In an effort to protect Net Neutrality (and the internet), Mozilla filed a petition in federal court yesterday against the FCC. The idea behind Net Neutrality is to treat all internet traffic equally and without discrimination against content or type.

        Make your opinions heard: Monterail and the Thunderbird email client development team are asking for your assistance to help improve the user interface in the redesign of the Thunderbird application. Be sure to take the survey.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • LLVM 6.0-RC1 Makes Its Belated Debut

      While LLVM/Clang 6.0 was branched earlier this month and under a feature freeze with master/trunk moving to LLVM 7.0, two weeks later the first release candidate is now available.

      Normally the first release candidate comes immediately following the branching / feature freeze, but not this time due to the shifted schedule with a slow start to satisfy an unnamed company seeking to align their internal testing with LLVM 6.0.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Hackers can’t dig into latest Xiaomi phone due to GPL violations

      Yet another Android OEM is dragging its feet with its GPL compliance. This time, it’s Xiaomi with the Mi A1 Android One device, which still hasn’t seen a kernel source code release.

      Android vendors are required to release their kernel sources thanks to the Linux kernel’s GPLv2 licensing. The Mi A1 has been out for about three months now, and there’s still no source code release on Xiaomi’s official github account.

    • 2017 – The Year in Which Copyright Went Beyond Source Code

      2017 was a big year for raising the profile of copyright in protecting computer programs. Two cases in particular helped bring attention to a myth that was addressed and dispelled some time ago but persists in some circles nonetheless. Many lawyers hold on to the notion that copyright protection for software is weak because such protection inheres in the source code of computer programs. Because most companies that generate code take extensive (and often successful) measures to keep source code out of the hands of third parties, the utility of copyright protection for code is often viewed as limited. However, copyright also extends to the “non-literal elements” of computer programs, such as their sequence, structure and organization, as well as to things such as screen displays and certain user interfaces. In other words, copyright infringement can occur when copying certain outputs of the code without there ever having been access to the underlying code itself.

  • Programming/Development

    • Git v2.16.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.16.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 509 non-merge commits since v2.15.0, contributed by 91 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.16 Released

      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has released version 2.16.0 of this distributed revision control system.

    • Announcing The Node.js Application Showcase

      The stats around Node.js are pretty staggering. There were 25 million downloads of Node.js in 2017, with over one million of them happening on a single day. And these stats are just the users. On the community side, the numbers are equally exceptional.

      What explains this immense popularity? What we hear over and over is that, because Node.js is JavaScript, anyone who knows JS can apply that knowledge to build powerful apps — every kind of app. Node.js empowers everyone from hobbyists to the largest enterprise teams to bring their dreams to life faster than ever before.

    • Google AutoML Cloud: Now Build Machine Learning Models Without Coding Experience

      Google has been offering pre-trained neural networks for a long time. To lower the barrier of entry and make the AI available to all the developers and businesses around, Google has now introduced Cloud AutoML.

      With the help of Cloud AutoML, businesses will be able to build machine learning models with the help of a drag-and-drop interface. In other words, if your company doesn’t have expert machine-learning programmers, Google is here to fulfill your needs.

    • Re-imagining beta testing in the ever-changing world of automation

      Fundamentally, beta testing is a test of a product performed by real users in the real environment. There are a number of names for this type of testing—user acceptance testing (UAT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), customer validation and field testing (common in Europe)—but the basic components are more or less the same. All involve user testing of the front-end user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX) to find and resolve potential issues. Testing happens across iterations in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), from when an idea transforms into a design, across the development phases, to after unit and integration testing.

    • IBM code grandmaster: what Java does next

      Reports of Java’s death have been greatly exaggerated — said, well, pretty much every Java engineer that there is.

      The Java language and platform may have been (in some people’s view) somewhat unceremoniously shunted into a side ally by the self-proclaimed aggressive corporate acquisition strategists (their words, not ours) at Oracle… but Java still enjoys widespread adoption and, in some strains, growing use and development.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Announcing WebBook Level 1, a new Web-based format for electronic books

      Eons ago, at a time BlueGriffon was only a Wysiwyg editor for the Web, my friend Mohamed Zergaoui asked why I was not turning BlueGriffon into an EPUB editor… I had been observing the electronic book market since the early days of Cytale and its Cybook but I was not involved into it on a daily basis. That seemed not only an excellent idea, but also a fairly workable one. EPUB is based on flavors of HTML so I would not have to reinvent the wheel.

      I started diving into the EPUB specs the very same day, EPUB 2.0.1 (released in 2009) at that time. I immediately discovered a technology that was not far away from the Web but that was also clearly not the Web. In particular, I immediately saw that two crucial features were missing: it was impossible to aggregate a set of Web pages into a EPUB book through a trivial zip, and it was impossible to unzip a EPUB book and make it trivially readable inside a Web browser even with graceful degradation.

      When the IDPF started working on EPUB 3.0 (with its 3.0.1 revision) and 3.1, I said this was coming too fast, and that the lack of Test Suites with interoperable implementations as we often have in W3C exit criteria was a critical issue. More importantly, the market was, in my opinion, not ready to absorb so quickly two major and one minor revisions of EPUB given the huge cost on both publishing chains and existing ebook bases. I also thought – and said – the EPUB 3.x specifications were suffering from clear technical issues, including the two missing features quoted above.

Leftovers

  • Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0

    Bernstein offers three answers to these questions, and also warns of three distractions: things that we believe are making things better, but may actually be making things worse. It seems a good time to revisit them. Let’s get the distractions out of the way first.

  • Science

    • Crowds within crowd found to outperform ‘wisdom of the crowd’

      A team of researchers affiliated with institutions in Argentina, the U.S. and Germany has found that there is a way to improve on the “wisdom of the crowd”—separate the people in a given crowd into smaller groups and let them talk about an issue at hand before an answer is given. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes an experiment they carried out with a large crowd of volunteers, and what they learned from it.

      Most people have heard of the “wisdom of the crowd,” in which individuals in a crowd are privately asked to give an answer to a question, such as how many jelly beans are in a jar. When averaged together, the answer given by the crowd will generally be better than for any given individual. Now, it appears there may be a way to improve the accuracy of a crowd.

    • The Physics of the 69-Degree Intersection That Kills Cyclists

      In short, the problem comes about because of the angle of the intersection (it’s not perpendicular) and the angle of the blind spot in the car from its front pillar.

    • A material that superconducts continuously up to extreme pressures

      Researchers have discovered a metal alloy that can conduct electricity with zero resistance, or superconduct, from ambient pressure up to pressures similar to those that exist near the center of the Earth. The material, which is likely the first to show this kind of robust superconductivity, is described in a paper in the December 12, 2017, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

      The material is a member of a new family of metal alloys known as high-entropy alloys (HEAs), which are composed of random atomic-scale mixtures of elements from the block of “transition metals” on the periodic table. HEAs are interesting in multiple ways, including structurally. They have simple crystal structures, but the metals are arranged randomly on the lattice points, giving each alloy the properties of a both a glass and a crystalline material.

    • Study: Pulsating dissolution found in crystals

      When German researchers examined time-lapse images of dissolving crystals at the nanoscale, they found a surprise: Dissolution happened in pulses, marked by waves that spread just like ripples on a pond.

      “What we see are waves or rings,” said lead investigator Cornelius Fischer, who conducted this research at the University of Bremen in the group of Prof. Andreas Lüttge. “We have a pit in the middle, and then around these pits are rings of mass removal.” The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fischer and Lüttge specialize in studying minerals-fluid interactions, and have collaborated for more than 15 years in the US and Germany.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

      This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that was made from soybean oil. They’re doing it, though, not because it’s cheaper or better, but because they’re required to, by law.

      The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it’s the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it’s a wasteful misuse of resources.

    • MEAT AND THE H-WORD

      I am going to beg you. I am going to desperately plead with you. Let me say the word, and let me say why I’m saying the word, and then let’s have a discussion about it. I know that for some people, even to suggest that the word might apply to this case is tantamount to denialism. Just to have the conversation is to dishonor the victims. I realize, too, that I don’t strictly need this word, of all words, in order to discuss the subject. I have been advised that it is counterproductive: feelings about the word are so fraught that the offense caused will outweigh any good I could possibly do, and will cause me to be far less persuasive than I otherwise would be. And isn’t this about persuasion, ultimately? But I can’t help it: every time I examine the facts, I can’t stop thinking the word. If I’m being honest with you, and I want to be, I need to be able to tell you the question that I’m stuck on, and the question contains the word.

      The word is “holocaust” and the question is this: “Given the amount of suffering and death that it entails, why is it improper to describe the mass slaughter of animals for human consumption as a holocaust?”

      I appreciate why people react badly to any description of the loss of non-human life as a holocaust. One of the most disturbing features of the capital-H Holocaust was the dehumanization process. David Livingstone Smith, in Less Than Human, describes how a common prerequisite to atrocities is reconfiguring perceptions of a group, to make them seem not just metaphorically but literally “subhuman.” We all know that the Nazis described the Jews as rats and the Hutus describe the Tutsis as cockroaches. “Comparing people to animals” is such a common feature of organized brutality that any argument to draw parallels between animal-victims and people-victims can be seen as partly replicating the very thought process that led to the actual Holocaust.

    • Global Summit On IP And Access Discusses Impact Of TRIPS-Plus Measures On Public Health

      A network of civil society organisations chose the birthplace of the World Trade Organization, Marrakesh, to hold a global summit on intellectual property and access to medicines this week. Part of the summit focused on stringent IP measures in free trade agreements in particular with the European Union, introducing patent term extension and data exclusivity periods.

    • Dangerous Deliveries

      Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

    • Supermarkets under pressure to reveal amount of plastic they create

      Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.

      Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

      However, the system is shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian asked leading retailers to reveal the exact amount of waste they are responsible for, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Lidl all refused, saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Latvia’s e-health system hit by cyberattack from abroad

      Latvia said its new e-health system was on Tuesday hit by a large-scale cyberattack that saw thousands of requests for medical prescriptions pour in per second from more than 20 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the European Union.

      No data was compromised, according to health officials, who immediately took down the site, which was launched earlier this month to streamline the writing of prescriptions in the Baltic state.

      “It is clear that it was a planned attack, a widespread attack—we might say a specialised one—as it emanated from computers located in various different countries, both inside the European Union and outside Europe,” state secretary Aivars Lapins told reporters.

      “We received thousands of requests in a very short space of time. That’s not the normal way the system works,” he said, adding that an investigation is under way.

    • Linux Lite Developer Creates Automated Spectre/Meltdown Checker for Linux OSes

      The developer of the Ubuntu-based Linux Lite distribution has created a script that makes it easier for Linux users to check if their systems are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws.

      As we reported last week, developer Stéphane Lesimple created an excellent script that would check if your Linux distribution’s kernel is patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month and put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Purism Releases Meltdown and Spectre Patches for Its Librem Linux Laptops

      Purism, the computer technology company behind the privacy-focused, Linux-based Librem laptops and the upcoming smartphone, released patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

      The company was one of the first Linux OEMs and OS vendor to announce that it’s working on addressing both the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits on his Linux laptops. Meltdown and Spectre have been unearthed in early January and they are two severe hardware bugs that put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Facebook Awards Security Researchers $880,000 in 2017 Bug Bounties

      Facebook is hardly a small organization, with large teams of engineers and security professionals on staff. Yet even Facebook has found that it can profit from expertise outside of the company, which is why the social networking giant has continued to benefit from its bug bounty program.

      In 2017, Facebook paid out $880,000 to security researchers as part of its bug bounty program. The average reward payout in 2017 was $1,900, up from $1,675 in 2016.

    • Multicloud Deployments Create Security Challenges, F5 Report Finds
    • Will U.S. Corporations Ever Take Cybersecurity Seriously?

      It’s another month, and another major IT-related security problem has been uncovered. The latest, the security flaws discovered in Intel, AMD, and AMR chips that can allow the bypassing of operating system security protections are a bit different than most vulnerabilities. They are hardware rather than software-based, and their impacts are exceptionally widespread, impacting nearly every Intel processor made since the mid-1990s. Billions of chips in total could be affected.

    • Spectre Mitigation Updates Available for Testing in Ubuntu Proposed
    • What is Mirai Okiru? New botnet found targeting billions of ARC-based IoT devices worldwide

      ARC-embedded processors are found in a wide range of internet-connected devices including cars, mobiles, TVs and cameras and are reportedly shipped in more than a billion products every year.

    • Hospital pays $55,000 in bitcoin to hackers [sic] after ‘SamSam’ ransomware locks systems [iophk: "hospital + Microsoft financing more crime"]

      Last Thursday (11 January), staff at Hancock Regional Hospital, Indiana, found their computers had been infected with malware, which was demanding bitcoin to regain access. As reported, the hack [sic] impacted emails and health records, but no patient data is believed stolen.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Assange recalls fake reporting on Turkish defeated coup

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pointed out the fake news regarding defeated coup in Turkey was not mentioned in U.S. President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “Fake News Awards”.

      “The most serious case of recent fake news is not on Trump’s #FakeNewsAwards list. NBC substantially assisted the military coup in Turkey which killed hundreds,” Assange wrote on his official Twitter account.

      Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 others injured.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fracking Lobbyists Plan to Spend Big at Trump Hotel

      FRACKING FIRMS HAVE had much to celebrate over the last year, as the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have moved swiftly to approve pipeline projects, roll back environmental regulations, and expand drilling access on public lands.

      It may come as no surprise, then, that the fracking lobby is the latest industry to return the favor by spending thousands of dollars at a Trump family property.

      The Independent Petroleum Association of America will hold its 2018 “Congressional Call-Up” lobbying event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. from March 5 to 7. The agenda, which is publicly available, includes a meeting with officials in Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as meetings for conference attendees that will take place at the hotel.

    • Europe will hike climate finance spending, insists Cañete

      The EU’s climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete has vowed to increase the bloc’s funding for climate change adaption, pledging that 20% of the EU’s foreign spending would be allocated to climate-related projects.

      Speaking at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on Wednesday (17 January), Cañete, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action, insisted that EU-provided climate finance to developing countries would increase in 2018.

      However, he warned that public money could not form the main contribution to the $100 billion annual target which wealthy countries have promised to invest in renewable energy and climate change mitigation projects in developing countries.

  • Finance

    • Apple to pay $38 billion in US taxes on overseas cash

      Apple didn’t have a choice about this. Under the new tax bill, all overseas cash is subject to a one-time 15.5 percent tax whether Apple leaves it overseas or moves it to the United States.

    • Apple to repatriate overseas cash stash, invest heavily in US

      Apple will pay taxes of about US$38 billion in order to repatriate the US$246 billion in cash it holds overseas, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • Homeland Security’s Over Obsession With Counterfeits Now Harming Innocent Buyers Of Counterfeit Goods Online

      For many years we’ve talked about the kind of derangement that happens among many — especially among those working for Homeland Security’s Customs and ICE divisions — considering the supposed “dangers” of counterfeit goods. Over and over again we’ve pointed to studies that have shown that the “harm” of counterfeits is massively overblown. And these are not just random studies picked out of a hat. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the OECD have put out studies on this. When you look at the details, you quickly learn that while there are a few cases of people tricked by counterfeit goods — and a vanishingly small number of cases where people are put at risk due to counterfeits — in many, many cases, no one is actually losing out due to counterfeits. They are frequently an aspirational buy. That is, the buyer knows they’re buying a counterfeit good, but are doing so because they so appreciate the real version, but can’t afford it. And studies show that buyers of counterfeits quite frequently buy the real deal later when they’re able to afford it. Thus, counterfeits often act as marketing for the original.

      But, for whatever reason, Homeland Security likes to play up the “threats” of counterfeits and makes lots of noise about how many counterfeit things it seizes at the border every year (or… not at the border — such as the time it raided a lingerie store to get “counterfeit” panties advertising sports teams). And sure, Homeland Security really really wants you to believe it’s protecting the public with this kind of thing.

    • 5 key reasons bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies have lost a stunning $370 billion in 10 days

      The No. 1 digital currency and its cohort continued to unravel Wednesday, extending a downturn that has seen the entire sector cough up a whopping $370 billion since Jan. 7, or more than 40% of their total value.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Art of State Trolling – a Growing Market

      Last week, while I was doing a number of talks for Funzing.com in London, I was invited into RT to discuss a new report about the US military advertising for programmers who could develop software that targeted Iranian, Chinese and Russian audiences via social media.

      The timing proved interesting. Only days before, it was revealed by @musalbas at the CCC and then via Wikileaks that the UK government listening post, GCHQ, had apparently been doing the same thing since 2009.

    • Porn Star Stormy Daniels to In Touch: Trump Said I Was “Just Like His Daughter”

      Although Donald Trump is alleged to have paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about a reported affair that took place 10 years previously, In Touch Weekly has published an interview with Daniels from 2011, before the signing of any NDA, in which she spills intimate details of meeting the then-Apprentice host at a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe.

      A frequent theme throughout the interview concerns Trump being taken aback by how smart and business savvy Daniels was, with Trump going so far as to tell Daniels that he wanted to put her on The Apprentice. One of Daniels’s quotes on the subject which In Touch published in the print edition of the story but not online, is particularly striking.

    • “It’s Even Worse Than You Think”: David Cay Johnston on Trump’s First Year in Office

      Uninformed. That was the word White House Chief of Staff John Kelly used to describe his boss, President Trump, on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that some of Trump’s hardline immigration policies—including his call to build a wall along the entire southern border— were “uninformed.” Kelly said, “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed.” Well, today we spend the hour looking at Trump’s first year in office with David Cay Johnston, a journalist who has been covering Donald Trump since 1988. He is out this week with a new book titled “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube to manually review popular videos before placing ads

      Previously, creators could join YPP if they had more than 10,000 views over the lifetime of their activity on the site. Now, however, they will need 1,000 subscribers to their channel, and a total of 4,000 hours of video viewed over the previous 12 months.

    • Quack Doctor Treating Cancer With Baking Soda Sues Skeptic For Questioning Her Cancer Treatment Methods

      Very little attracts legal threats faster than someone calling a quack a quack. If it energizes tap water like a duck and promotes off-label use of dangerous drugs like a duck, it’s probably a duck. The legal history of “alternative” medical practices is littered with cease-and-desist orders and failed lawsuits. The legal present is just as cluttered.

      Blogger/skeptic Britt Hermes could have gone down the road to quack infamy. She was on the “naturopathic” career path when she came to the realization the whole things was horseshit. Rather than exploit the horseshit to make sick people sicker, Hermes decided to let the world know just how much horseshit her former colleagues were peddling.

    • Psychiatrist Drops His Lawsuit Against Critic Who Left Wordless One-Star Review

      It looks like the psychiatrist who sued a pseudonymous reviewer over a wordless one-star review has finally decided to stop digging this particular hole. Since news broke of psychiatrist Mark Beale’s defamation suit against “Richard Hill,” Beale has amassed a great many one-star reviews by non-patients. There’s no telling if Beale will be seeking to file an en masse lawsuit against these Does (taking a page out of copyright trolls’ handbooks), but this cannot possibly be what he envisioned when he decided the original one-star review was worth suing over.

      Unbelievably, Beale managed to convince a judge to allow him to seek the real identity of “Richard Hill” in order to continue with his lawsuit. Not only did the judge give enough credence to Beale’s argument that a one-star review was per se defamatory, but the judge granted the unmasking order, calling a review of business “commercial speech” — something given less protection under the First Amendment.

    • David North, Chris Hedges and WSWS.Org on Organizing Against Internet Censorship

      On January 16, 2018, the World Socialist Web Site hosted a discussion on Internet censorship, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and WSWS International Editorial Board Chairperson David North, moderated by WSWS reporter Andre Damon.

      The webinar explored the political context of the efforts to censor the Internet and abolish net neutrality, examined the pretexts used to justify the suppression of free speech (i.e., “fake news”), and discussed political strategies to defend democratic rights. Hedges and North also fielded questions from on-line listeners.

    • Terry Glavin: As China pushes censorship on B.C. students, democracy falls back

      It’s a story about the way the Beijing regime bullies people far beyond its borders, with a few amusing twists and several disgusting instances of corporate cowardice, but it begins innocently enough, with a 28-year-old student at the University of British Columbia and a post he put up on Twitter last Wednesday.

      Shawn Zhang, a Peking University alumnus who came to Canada on a student visa two years ago to study law, posted an image of the Tibetan flag below a tongue-in-cheek announcement on the Twitter account of Friends of Tibet, a solidarity group based in India that keeps an eye on China’s brutal occupation of the exiled Dalai Lama’s Himalayan homeland.

    • Philippines: Journalists Decry Gov’t Crackdown Against News Outlet Rappler

      In the Philippines, journalists and press freedom advocates are condemning Duterte’s government for trying to shut down the highly popular independent news outlet Rappler. On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s license to operate on the charges that the website is foreign-owned, even though the website is owned by Filipinos. This morning, the Philippines Justice Department authorized the opening of a criminal investigation into the website. Rappler and press freedom advocates say the website is being targeted for its critical reporting on Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and his devastating so-called drug war.

    • Student journalists speak up for Missouri bill that would shield them from censorship

      Opioids, race and politics are some of the topics Kirkwood High School senior Camille Baker has led coverage of as her school newspaper’s editor in chief.

      She’s lucky enough to have the support of her school’s leaders. But she realizes her peers across the state may not have the same freedom.

      On Wednesday, she testified before a Missouri House committee in support of a bill that would prohibit a school’s administration from censoring student journalists.

    • To Combat High-Profile Abuse of Its Platform, YouTube Punishes Small Timers
    • Lebanon allows Spielberg film ‘The Post’ after censorship threat
    • Conservatives invited to pressure Twitter over censorship
    • Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It’s Time We Started Listening

      Throughout the near entirety of human history, a population’s understanding of what’s going on in the world has been controlled by those in power. The men in charge controlled what the people were told about rival populations, the history of their tribe and its leadership, etc. When the written word was invented, men in charge dictated what books were permitted to be written and circulated, what ideas were allowed, what narratives the public would be granted access to.

      This continued straight on into modern times. Where power is not overtly totalitarian, wealthy elites have bought up all media, first in print, then radio, then television, and used it to advance narratives that are favorable to their interests. Not until humanity gained widespread access to the internet has our species had the ability to freely and easily share ideas and information on a large scale without regulation by the iron-fisted grip of power. This newfound ability arguably had a direct impact on the election for the most powerful elected office in the most powerful government in the world in 2016, as a leak publishing outlet combined with alternative and social media enabled ordinary Americans to tell one another their own stories about what they thought was going on in their country.

    • Libraries sue Elbert County Commissioner over censorship fears

      Libraries in Elbert County are suing county commissioners who want to take a stronger role in determining who is appointed to lead boards and commissions.

      Next reported last month that the three new Republican commissioners voted to approve a policy that states appointments to boards or committees are to be “generally reflective of the overall citizenry of the county.”

      Now, Pines and Plains Libraries, which are part of the Elbert County Library District, are suing the board of county commissioners. The libraries want an injunction to stop the commissioners from interfering with its board of trustees.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EU GDPR and personal data in web server logs

      Web server logs contains information classified as personal data by default under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new privacy regulation comes in effect in May 2018, and just about everyone needs to take action now to become compliant.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing you legal advise. Contact your legal council for help interpreting and implementing the GDPR. This article is provided for entertainment purposes, and amounts to nothing but my interpretation of the GDPR.

      The General Data Protection Regulation shifts the default operating mode for personal data collection from collect and store as much information about everyone as possible for all eternity to don’t collect any information about anyone unless there is documented and informed consent for the collection; and don’t use that information for anything but the specific purposes consent were given for. The GDPR turns big-data collection of personal data on the web from an asset to a liability with fines as high as 20 000 000 Euro or 4 % of global revenue (whichever is greater).

      I’ve limited the scope of this article to discuss and focus on some of the technical requirements surrounding personal data collected by default in the logs generated by popular web server software. I’ll not go through the entire GDPR and all the requirements, but focus on some actionable points.

    • Sweatcoin lets you earn crypto for working out

      Want a way to workout and earn some coin? Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store for helping folks get something more than just a glow for taking those daily steps.

      The startup says it has accumulated more than 5 million users in the past year and increased revenue by 266 percent in the last quarter. There are more than 2 million weekly active users on the app, and growing, making it one of the fastest-growing fitness apps in the App Store and second to the top in the free apps, next only to the Google Arts & Culture app that blew up over the weekend.

      It works like this: users sign up and then hook up their smartphone’s health and fitness data and GPS location to the app. The app then tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you a monetary “sweat” value according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins.” Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards and a number of other offerings.

    • Using AI To Identify Car Models In 50 Million Google Street Views Reveals A Wide Range Of Demographic Information

      Google Street View is a great resource for taking a look at distant locations before travelling, or for visualizing a nearby address before driving there. But Street View images are much more than vivid versions of otherwise flat maps: they are slices of modern life, conveniently sorted by geolocation. That means they can provide all kinds of insights into how society operates, and what the differences are geographically. The tricky part is extracting that information. An article in the New York Times reports on how researchers at Stanford University have applied artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to 50 million Google Street View images taken in 200 US cities. Since analyzing images of people directly is hard and fraught with privacy concerns, the researchers concentrated on a proxy: cars.

    • US Telcos Threatened With Loss Of Government Contracts If They Do Business With Huawei

      Last week we noted how AT&T was forced to scrap a partnership with Huawei to sell the company’s smartphones here in the States, just hours before it was set to be announced at CES. The reason? Apparently a few members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees fired off a letter to the FCC demanding that they pressure US telcos into avoiding Huawei. The letter, which nobody has published, allegedly accuses the company of being little more than an intelligence proxy for the Chinese government.

      There are several problems with this. While it’s certainly possible that Huawei helps the Chinese government spy, there’s been no hard evidence of this. In fact, numerous investigations (including one eighteen months long) found no evidence of any spying whatsoever. What inquiries did find is that these allegations pretty consistently originate with U.S. hardware vendors like Cisco, who routinely enjoy playing up the threat simply because they don’t want to compete with Chinese hardware vendors. You know, the very same thing we routinely (often quite accurately) complain about China doing.

    • Privacy expectations and the connected home

      Traditionally, devices that were tied to logins tended to indicate that in some way – turn on someone’s xbox and it’ll show you their account name, run Netflix and it’ll ask which profile you want to use. The increasing prevalence of smart devices in the home changes that, in ways that may not be immediately obvious to the majority of people. You can configure a Philips Hue with wall-mounted dimmers, meaning that someone unfamiliar with the system may not recognise that it’s a smart lighting system at all. Without any actively malicious intent, you end up with a situation where the account holder is able to infer whether someone is home without that person necessarily having any idea that that’s possible. A visitor who uses an Amazon Echo is not necessarily going to know that it’s tied to somebody’s Amazon account, and even if they do they may not know that the log (and recorded audio!) of all interactions is available to the account holder. And someone grabbing an egg out of your fridge is almost certainly not going to think that your smart egg tray will trigger an immediate notification on the account owner’s phone that they need to buy new eggs.

      Things get even more complicated when there’s multiple account support. Google Home supports multiple users on a single device, using voice recognition to determine which queries should be associated with which account. But the account that was used to initially configure the device remains as the fallback, with unrecognised voices ended up being logged to it. If a voice is misidentified, the query may end up being logged to an unexpected account.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • DHS’ Threat to Prosecute Officials of Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional

      In testimony before Congress yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed that her agency is seeking the prosecution of state and local officials in jurisdictions that limit their entanglement with federal immigration enforcement.

      Even in the context of the Trump administration’s frequent disregard for the Constitution, Nielsen’s threat to prosecute mayors, legislators, and police chiefs over policy disagreements is shocking. There is no basis in federal law to prosecute government officials who decide, with and on behalf of their constituents, that their communities are better served by opting out of participation in the federal deportation system. And that kind of prosecution would be an assault on the principles at the core of our constitutional system.

    • Judging WaPo’s MLK Quotes by the Content of Their 280 Characters

      It’s a predictable approach—removing MLK’s critiques of capitalism and US imperialism—from a reliable protector of capitalism (1/30/16, 11/1/16, 10/3/17) and US imperial aggression (2/6/03, 5/25/17, 6/26/17, 12/4/17), but rarely is sanitizing MLK done in such a haphazard and patronizing fashion. Not only is all blood taken from his words, but the quotes highlighted seem handpicked precisely to ameliorate the guilt of the Post’s more conservative white readers in the hackiest manner possible; a shoddy whitewash by a paper supposedly representing a majority African-American city.

    • Innocent But Still Guilty

      After Fred Steese spent two decades in a Nevada prison for murder, evidence indicating that he was innocent was found buried in the prosecution’s files. It was proof that Steese, as he’d always claimed, had been hundreds of miles away on the likely day of the murder and couldn’t have been the killer.

      In Maryland two years earlier, the conviction of James Thompson, who had also served 20 years for murder and rape and whose case involved police and prosecutorial misconduct, was thrown into overwhelming doubt when his DNA didn’t match the semen found in the victim.

    • Sheriff’s Officers Working Black Section of Jacksonville to Get Bias Training

      The training will be conducted by Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Daytona Beach. It will be concentrated on officers and residents of the Sheriff Office’s Zone 5, which makes up Northwest Jacksonville. That patrol zone has among the highest concentrations of black residents in the city. Research released by the University of North Florida last year showed that the patrol zone has the lowest level of trust in law enforcement.

      Trainings for officers will focus on improving negative perceptions and attitudes that exist between the community and police. The university’s work with local residents will center on the community’s role in neighborhood safety and how citizens can improve relationships with police. The training will involve 135 Sheriff’s Office personnel and 120 community members and 52 total hours of training. It will cost about $23,500.

    • China: Democracy Activist Sentenced to Prison for 2014 Hong Kong Protests

      In more news on China, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to three months in prison for his role in organizing the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests in Hong Kong. This is Joshua Wong, speaking before his sentencing Wednesday.

    • Mechanical Turkers may have out-predicted the most popular crime-predicting algorithm

      The most surprising results came when researchers compared COMPAS to other kinds of prediction. Farid and Dressel recruited 462 random workers through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, and asked the Turkers to “read a few sentences about an actual person and predict if they will commit a crime in the future.” They were paid one dollar for completing the task, with a five dollar bonus if their accuracy was over 65 percent. Surprisingly, the median Turker ended up two points better than COMPAS, clocking in at 67 percent accuracy.

    • Study shows software used to predict repeat offenders is no better at it than untrained humans

      “Claims that secretive and seemingly sophisticated data tools are more accurate and fair than humans are simply not supported by our research findings,” said Dressel. “The use of such software may be doing nothing to help people who could be denied a second chance by black-box algorithms.”

    • Crime-Predicting Algorithms May Not Fare Much Better Than Untrained Humans

      “There was essentially no difference between people responding to an online survey for a buck and this commercial software being used in the courts,” says Farid, who teaches computer science at Dartmouth. “If this software is only as accurate as untrained people responding to an online survey, I think the courts should consider that when trying to decide how much weight to put on them in making decisions.”

    • Algorithms that change lives should be trialled like new drugs

      Who should we listen to when deciding whether a criminal will reoffend: a sophisticated algorithm, or random people on the internet? Trick question – it turns out they both produce the same results, according to a new analysis that demonstrates the danger of handing over control of our lives to the machines.

    • Court Software No Better Than Mechanical Turks at Predicting Repeat Crime

      Software now widely used by courts to predict which criminals are likely to commit future crimes might be no more accurate than regular people with presumably little to no criminal justice expertise, a new study finds.

      Predictive algorithms now regularly make recommendations regarding music, ads, health care, stock trades, auto insurance, and bank loans, among other things. In the criminal justice system, such algorithms have been used to predict where crimes will likely occur, who is likely to commit violent crimes, who is likely to fail to appear at their court hearings, and who is likely to repeat criminal behavior in the future.

    • Trump’s Roundup of Immigrant Leaders Has Begun

      On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, President Donald J. Trump visited his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly his 91st trip to a golf club since taking office. Meanwhile, in New York City, hundreds rallied in Judson Memorial Church, demanding freedom for Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir, two men who had just been detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Both men have been in the U.S. for almost 60 years between them, and both are prominent immigrant-rights organizers. They aren’t the only ones who’ve been targeted by ICE lately, either, suggesting a concerted effort by the Trump administration to round up leaders in the immigrant community.

      Jean Montrevil, originally from Haiti, has been in the U.S. for over 30 years. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also is one of those countries that Trump reportedly singled out in a racist screed last Thursday, calling Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa “shitholes.” The comment was made at the White House, where Trump and senators were discussing a possible legislative deal on immigration. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here,” Trump reportedly asked, adding, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He went on to say that we need more immigrants from places like Norway, one of the whitest countries on the planet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 22 US states are suing the FCC over net neutrality

      The suit has been filed in the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia. Joining them, are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

    • 22 State Attorneys General File Suit Against The FCC For Its Net Neutrality Repeal

      The legal fight over the FCC’s historically unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has begun. An announcement by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office indicates that 22 State Attorneys General have filed suit against the FCC. The AGs says the multi-state coalition has filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first of what’s expected to be numerous lawsuits in the weeks and months to come.

      The announcement makes it clear the suit intends to focus on the FCC’s potential violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the Act the FCC will need to prove that the broadband market changed so substantially since the passage of the original rules in 2015 to warrant such a stark reversal (tip: it didn’t). Under the Act, a decision can be declared “arbitrary and capricious” (Ajit Pai’s agenda is undeniably both) if the regulator in question can’t prove such a dramatic change, which is why you’ve watched industry lobbyists and their BFF Pai routinely and falsely claim that the modest rules somehow devastated sector investment.

    • Senate Democrats Push for a Net Neutrality Vote. Do They Have a Chance?

      Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday that they were one supporter away from winning a vote to restore the so-called net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission rolled back in December.

      But even if Democrats win that vote, Democrats have a long ways to go before they are able to reinstate rules that prevent internet service providers from creating fast and slow lanes for online users. Here is a look at their difficult road ahead, and some of the motivations:

    • Apple Is Blocking an App That Detects Net Neutrality Violations From the App Store

      The most pervasive feeling about the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality repeal is one of hopelessness. If we all need to use the internet, big telecom companies control our access to the internet, and there’s no choice about what company to use, how are we supposed to stop these companies from messing with our connections?

      The FCC has suggested that consumer outrage will prevent companies from violating net neutrality, but it if you’re not a network engineer, it can be hard to know if net neutrality is being violated at all. David Coffnes, a researcher at Northeastern University, set out to change that. He created an app to detect net neutrality violations, but Apple has banned it from the App Store, preventing consumers from accessing the information they need to at least know when they’re getting screwed over.

  • DRM

    • Open-Source HDCP Support Gets Extended To More Platforms

      With the Linux 4.17 kernel (not the upcoming 4.16 cycle) there is likely to be added initial HDCP support to Intel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver. Ahead of that this High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection support continues getting improved upon.

      While Google developers working on Chrome/Chromium OS were the ones originally working on the patches and proposing this HDCP functionality be upstreamed into the mainline i915 DRM Linux driver, coming out today are patches from an Intel developer for extending the HDCP content protection coverage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The Commodores Trademark Fight Decided in Florida Court

        The exclusive right to use The Commodores’ name and trademarks belongs to a company run by founding members William King and Walter Orange, a Florida appellate court has ruled.

        Commodores Entertainment Corporation, a company run by King and Orange, in 2014 sued ex-bandmate Thomas McClary for trademark infringement after discovering that he had been performing using variations of the famous funk group’s name. (McClary left the band in 1984.)

      • A Trademark War Almost Tore Apart The Adult Baby Community

        A company that makes diapers for the adult baby/diaper lover fetish community (known as ABDL) gave up on its attempt to trademark the term “ABDL” on Thursday after message boards for the community exploded in anger last week.

        Rearz, a Canadian-based supplier of adult diapers with cutesy patterns and other adult baby accessories, like pacifiers, told BuzzFeed News, “we had no malicious or strange intentions in trying to register it, but obviously it struck a nerve with people. This is a community we love and serve, and we don’t want to make people feel less valuable.”

      • Community Backlash Leads Adult Diaper Company To Drop Its Trademark Application for ‘ABDL’

        When a company goes down a wrong or abusive road regarding trademark rights, the public has a lot of tools for remedy. Legal disputes between interested parties can often times correct a company attempting to secure trademark rights it ought not have. Invalidating a trademark that never should have been granted is another tool. But often times, the best and quickest remedies can come from the public itself in the form of a good old fashioned backlash.

        The likelihood of such a backlash is necessarily a function of the devotion of a particular fanbase. The craft beer industry has had to learn this lesson several times, with a portion of the public devoted to seeing the industry thrive also being unwilling to let stand aggressive trademark bullying that threatens that same industry. We saw another of these backlash instances cause a company to reverse course recently and I struggle to think of a more potentially devoted fanbase to an industry than those among us whose fetish is role-playing as adult babies.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate IPTV Mastermind Owns Raided Bulgarian ISP, Sources Say

        Last week police forces across Europe raided and shut down one of the largest ‘pirate’ IPTV operations in the world. With information continuing to drip out, the true scale is now becoming clear. In Bulgaria alone, where the illicit service had its alleged base,140 servers were seized. Only adding to the intrigue are fresh claims that the owner of a local ISP was the brains behind the entire operation.

      • How Closed Trade Deals Ratchet Up the Copyright Term Worldwide

        Although copyright is a subject of international law—principally the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Berne Convention from 1886 and its Internet Treaties from 1996—it is still implemented and enforced primarily through national laws. Those laws differ from one country to another in significant ways. One of the most significant differences is the length of the term of copyright protection, which varies from the life of the author plus 50 years (the Berne Convention’s minimum requirement), up to life plus 100 years (in Mexico).

        Differences in the law aren’t a bug; they’re a feature. Just as a country has the right to craft specific exceptions to copyright law based on its own national circumstances (for example in India, where many foreign books are not available for sale, copyright law allows public libraries to make up to three copies of such books), so too it should be able to adopt the copyright term that makes the most sense for its citizens—which in most if not all cases will be the shortest term allowed.

        But because differences in copyright term make things more complicated for copyright holders, there are constant efforts by some copyright holders to try to homogenize the duration of copyright so that they can more easily enforce their copyrights worldwide—and of course, they would like them to be harmonized at the life-plus-70 year term, so that they can extract another 20 years of monopoly rents, over and above the Berne Convention’s standard life-plus-50 year term. Trade agreements are one way that they are trying to achieve this. Here’s how.

      • Kim Dotcom Loses Megaupload Domain Names, Gets “Destroyed” Gaming Chair Back

        The U.S. Government has won another civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. As a result, the U.S. now owns several online bank accounts, cars, servers, as well as Megaupload’s domain names. Around the same time, the US returned two containers of seized property, as previously ordered by a Hong Kong court. These goods were not treated properly, according to an outraged Dotcom.

Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sleight of hand, but extortion is still extortion

Venice masks

Summary: A review of Microsoft’s ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the “enforcement” element in this whole racket

THE ‘new’ Microsoft is no different from the company we wrote about back in the “Boycott Novell” days; only the marketing/PR has improved. The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about those things.

“The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about it.”Extortion using patents doesn’t work as most people assume; people tend to believe that patents are being used only when there’s a lawsuit. But no… that’s not how it usually works. As United for Patent Reform has just put it: “A report by @marklemley @kentrichardson @elosf found a silent tax on #innovation: 70% of #patent-related threats didn’t result in litigation, meaning the costs of over-broad litigation never go to court.”

For those who have patience and time (the Internet discourages reading of long articles), here is the paper from Professor Lemley, who is renowned for his strong views about patent aggression.

Abstract says:

How often do companies and individuals assert patents outside of litigation? No one knows for sure. The problem is that licensing negotiations and license deals that don’t result in litigation are almost invariably kept secret. The result is that patent litigation is like the proverbial tip of the iceberg – the observable piece sticking out of the water, but probably not all or even most of what there is. Various people have speculated that unlitigated (and therefore unobserved) assertions are a majority and probably as much as 90% of all patent enforcement.

We wanted to know how often companies were approached to take patent licenses without a lawsuit being filed. So we asked them. Using a simple survey, we got data from dozens of companies about how often they were sued, how often they were approached to take a license without being sued, and the characteristics of those licensing proposals. The result is the first real look at what goes on beneath the surface of patent enforcement.

We found that while patent litigation does not reflect everything that is going on, there was less unlitigated – and therefore unseen – patent enforcement than some of us had thought. Roughly one-third of all patent licensing efforts among our survey respondents end in litigation, significantly less than the 10% some had predicted. And, for the majority of respondents, about one half of the demands end in litigation. Our results allow us to get a handle on the actual size of the patent enforcement business and to try to estimate the total cost of responding to enforcement efforts. We offer some ballpark estimates of the cost of responding to patent assertions in Part III.

Our survey respondents are a significant segment of the economy, but they are far from all of it. And they differ in certain ways from companies as a whole. We hope to be able to expand the universe of respondents in a later round of surveys. In Part I we explain what we did. In Part II we explain what we found. And in Part III we consider some implications for business and public policy if we extrapolate our limited results to the broader economy. Under plausible assumptions, responding to patent assertions costs defendants between $80 and $100 billion per year.

This brings us to Microsoft; Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along. That’s racketeering; it’s like the Mafia burning down houses and businesses of those who refuse to pay ‘protection’ money. That’s just how extortion works, but Microsoft burns the victims’ money (legal fees) rather than the actual businesses (although they too will go up in flames if legal fees result in bankruptcy).

“Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along.”In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE. SLES was the only ‘Microsoft-authorised’ distribution of GNU/Linux at one point. And now, instead of SLES/SLED what we have is Azure. Microsoft threatens those who do not pay Azure 'rents' that patent trolls (which Microsoft passes patents to) might come along and destroy their business. It’s the “cloud” equivalent of the Novell plot. IAM has just published this self-promotional ‘report’ that says “litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700%” (well, they just made up the term “cloud” and now everything that already existed is called “cloud”). Here is what they said, linking to an older ‘article’ (promotion) of theirs:

A recent study revealed that US patent litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700% over the past four years (for further information please see “Cloud computing patent litigation on the rise”)

Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear). At the same time, Microsoft is lobbying for software patents. Less than a day ago, for example, the BSA (using “Enterprise Innovation” as a platform) wrote in its capacity as a Microsoft front group: “Patent protections: Governments should have non-discriminatory protection for software patents.”

“In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE.”Well, actually it seems like only China offers that now. But Microsoft would like to change that. The extortion heavily relies on it.

Lost in the midst of Microsoft puff pieces about patents (see one of the latest examples) is this original announcement from Microsoft about extending the reach of the ‘protection’ racket.

“Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear).”“Excited to announce that we are extending the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage #patent protection program to our Azure Stack customers,” wrote the person in charge of it. Yes, Microsoft is very “excited” about patent extortion against GNU/Linux. They just say it with a smile and euphemistically call it “Azure IP Advantage”. This is already being covered by longtime Microsoft boosters. Kurt Mackie, for instance, said that the “”springing license” reference means that the patents that Microsoft may transfer to other companies under this program can’t be used to make IP claims against other Azure customers.”

As Microsoft also controls some of the trolls, it can help determine who gets sued. The potential for abuse is vast.

“Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).”Don’t expect Red Hat or Canonical or even the Linux Foundation to say anything about it. The Linux Foundation is far too busy sucking up to Microsoft this week, having received Microsoft cash for silence and complicity. Even when Microsoft attacks Linux with patents the Linux Foundation will say nothing at all because these attacks often come from proxies, just as the OIN’s CEO warned us a long time ago. One such proxy is Finjan. Microsoft patent trolls like Finjan are held up as good examples at Watchtroll this week not because they create anything but because they’re targeting Microsoft’s rivals (every company except Microsoft, which supported Finjan since its early days).

The latest case, Finjan v Blue Coat Systems, is a case that we wrote about on Monday. Banner & Witcoff’s Aseet Patel and Peter Nigrelli have just said the following about the case, citing a Microsoft case in favour of software patents (Enfish):

There are several takeaways from Finjan. xi Notably, building on its precedent in Enfish, the Federal Circuit has reaffirmed that purely software-based inventions that do no interact with the tangible world remain patent-eligible subject matter. Moreover, the Finjan court’s reasoning reiterates the importance of drafting a patent specification that showcases and contrasts inadequacies of prior art solutions. Finally, Finjan underscores the continuing importance of claim construction in obtaining a favorable patent-eligibility holding—even more so when the claimed method only recites three steps.

Finjan’s trolling being used to support and promote the software patents agenda? Surely convenient for Microsoft. We expect to hear a lot more about this troll’s lawsuits and hear nothing at all from the Linux Foundation. Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).

Patent Prosecution Highway: Low-Quality Patents for High-Frequency Patent Aggressors

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent Prosecution Highway
Reference: Patent Prosecution Highway

Summary: The EPO’s race to the bottom of patent quality, combined with a “need for speed”, is a recipe for disaster (except for litigation firms, patent bullies, and patent trolls)

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is not an EPO thing but an international thing (WIPO et al). The USPTO, for example, has that too. Nevertheless, the EPO’s blind embrace of PPH — more so in the midst of rushed patent examination — gives room for concern, especially with UPC being on the agenda. It’s like litigation, not justice, is on the priority list. Patent trolls must absolutely love that.

“…the EPO’s blind embrace of PPH — more so in the midst of rushed patent examination — gives room for concern, especially with UPC being on the agenda.”IAM has just published a sponsored piece* for the patent microcosm in Brazil (Battistelli has some cooperative deals with Brazil, e.g. PPH/validation). What good are patents from Brazil? This has become a subject of great concern because Brazil is possibly copying INPI (France/Battistelli but also the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office) and may soon grant a patent for every single application. Quality control? Naaaaa… who needs that? Just call an “emergency” and grant everything.

Battistelli’s EPO is becoming more like INPI (France) over time. Yesterday we saw a whole class of patents getting invalidated (again, just like last year) and lack of proper examination will certainly destroy the value of Brazilian patents/European Patents. A few days ago IAM published this so-called ‘report’ titled “Pulling the plug on INPI’s patent backlog” and to quote:

The government is expected to launch an emergency measure to eliminate the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office’s (INPI’s) patent backlog by automatically granting 231,000 pending non-pharmaceutical applications. The proposed rules for implementing the new measure were made available for public comment in early 2017 – the deadline to provide comments was August 31 2017.

INPI officials recently held that certain proposals made by local associations could complicate the process.

While it is difficult to know the precise details and timing for this measure, companies may soon need to deploy a short-term strategy – as short as 90 days – to mitigate potential risks and take full advantage of the new system (eg, using the proposed opt-out system for selected applications and filing pre-grant oppositions against competitors). Companies should also consider entering the national phase of Patent Cooperation Treaty applications before the 30-month deadline; likewise, Paris Convention filings should be made whenever possible.

The INPI implied that no other viable option could solve the backlog in the short term. All pending non-pharmaceutical applications filed before the emergency measure is published and becomes effective should be covered.

Too great an abundance of patents would defeat the whole purpose of a patent system, which is merit-based. It would also help frivolous litigation skyrocket. And speaking of litigation, look who gets priority; it’s those who litigate. That’s what PPH is all about.

A few days ago Lexology carried this article which acted as a sort of EPO puff piece. To quote:

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) recently announced a three-year extension to its pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (“PPH”) agreement with the European Patent Office (“EPO”). Notably, the previous requirement for an application to have entered the Canadian national phase on or after January 5, 2015 has been lifted. Applicants with applications that were previously considered ineligible for CIPO-EPO PPH due to this date restriction may wish to consider if their applications could now qualify for expedited treatment, bearing in mind that examination must not yet have commenced for an application to be PPH-eligible.

A CIPO-EPO PPH agreement that would speed up examination is not necessarily a good thing or a selling point. It overburdens examiners, potentially making examination a lot more error-prone. Who wants a bogus patent that would never survive in court? Instead of focusing on patent quality, accelerated examination is intended to facilitate patent aggressors (let’s face it, SMEs are more likely to settle outside the courts, so they would suffer the most). Combine PPH with already-declining patent quality at the EPO and what we have is a surge in oppositions (i.e. more burden for EPO staff) and a decision like yesterday's (which devastated Broad).
____
* IAM appears to have just renamed “international reports”; now it’s called “industry reports” (paid, self-promotional placements) and in addition IAM’s placements get reposted elsewhere. Here’s a new example. “This article first appeared in IAM” it says at the very bottom.

Press Coverage About the EPO Board Revoking Broad’s CRISPR Patent

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DNA Fingerprint

Summary: Even though there’s some decent coverage about yesterday’s decision (e.g. from The Scientist), the patent microcosm googlebombs the news with stuff that serves to distract from or distort the outcome

YESTERDAY was an important day for the EPO… for reasons other than EPO scandals. It was all about a case which we covered in the morning and right after the decision (we had complained about that a long while back).

“IAM has apparently not found that worth covering. Says a lot about IAM…”We always argued that patent offices should reserve patents to things that are actually inventions, not computer code or genetics (code of life). Pretty much every programmer agrees about the former. A lot of civil rights groups agree with us on the latter. These views are not unusual or outlandish. Nor should they be…

“The EPO has denied the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s reliance on its US priority provisional application in revoking a CRISPR patent. The institute has already said it will appeal,” Michael Loney wrote some hours ago. It’s about the EPO saying goodbye to (probably) all CRISPR patents, for the decision can extend to others.

IAM, which blatantly fronts for patent maximalists, ended up posting — for a fee — CRISPR propaganda on the very same day EPO buried patents on it. IAM has apparently not found that decision worth covering. Says a lot about IAM…

Expect some IAM spin shortly, complete with some highly misleading headline (i.e. the usual).

“The EPO has denied the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s reliance on its US priority provisional application in revoking a CRISPR patent.”
      –Michael Loney
Alexander Esslinger, writing about the demise of CRISPR patents in Europe having watched this closely for a long time, wrote this and “EPO Revokes Broad’s CRISPR Patent” was the headline from The Scientist.

A Web site dedicated to patent propaganda about life science did not actually cover the news; its headline focused on the future appeal rather than the actual outcome (just like Board wanted); “Broad Institute to appeal CRISPR patent revocation,” the article says. Missing the real story much?! That’s a really bad summary and many people read just headlines. To quote the body:

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT has said it will appeal against a decision by the European Patent Office (EPO) to revoke one of its patents covering CRISPR/Cas9 technology.

In an oral hearing today, January 17, the EPO’s Opposition Division revoked European patent 2,771,468 in its entirety after finding that Broad could not claim two key priority dates.

Broad released a statement saying the decision was a “technicality” and that it will appeal to the EPO’s Technical Board of Appeal.

Team UPC, which has already attacked me for my coverage about this decision, apparently did this paid-for placement about the decision.

In a decision delivered today the European Patent Office revoked a patent relating to CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology which had been granted to the Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard University.

There is probably more coverage on the way, but it’s worth noting how patent maximalists attempt to distract from the news (or did not cover the news at all).

01.17.18

Links 17/1/2018: HHVM 3.24, WordPress 4.9.2

Posted in News Roundup at 12:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The best open source video editors 2018: free to download, edit, use and share

    There are lots of superb free video editors around, but many are cut-back versions of commercial software. If you’re looking for something truly free that you can use for personal or commercial projects, open source software is the way to go. All of these video editors are developed by communities dedicated to making top quality software available to everyone.

    One of the advantages of open source software is that users are free to develop versions for different platforms. All of the open source video editors in this roundup are available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

    VLMC (VideoLAN Movie Creator) is another open source video editor to keep an eye on. It’s still under development and not yet available to download, but it’s being developed by the same team as the superb VLC Media Player, so we have high hopes.

  • How to get all the benefits of open source software

    Open source software continues its meteoric rise, as more and more large enterprises weave open source code into various areas of their operations, increasingly shunning the big-name, proprietary software vendors.

    In fact, according to open source software development company, Sonatype, represented locally by 9TH BIT Consulting, 7,000 new open source software projects kick-off around the world every week, while 70,000 new open source components are released. Accessing this massive ‘hivemind’ of software development expertise is a highly attractive prospect for CIOs and business managers in all industries.

  • What is open source?

    What is open source software and how do vendors make their money? We answer your questions

    Open source is the foundation of modern technology. Even if you don’t know what it is, chances are you’ve already used it at least once today. Open source technology helped build Android, Firefox, and even the Apache HTTP server, and without it, the internet as we know it would simply not exist.

    The central idea behind open source is a simple one: many hands make light work. In short, the more people you have working on something, the quicker and easier it is to do. As it applies to software development, this means opening projects up to the public to let people freely access, read and modify the source code.

  • Open Source Initiative Announces New Partnership With Adblock Plus

    Adblock Plus, the most popular Internet ad blocker today, joins The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) as corporate sponsors. Since its very first version, Adblock Plus has been an open source project that has developed into a successful business with over 100 million users worldwide. As such, the German company behind it, eyeo GmbH, has decided it is time to give back to the open source community.

    Founded in 1998, the OSI protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure. Adblock Plus is an open source project that aims to rid the Internet of annoying and intrusive online advertising. Its free web browser extensions (add-ons) put users in control by letting them block or filter which ads they want to see.

  • What if Open-Source Software Can Replace Dozens of Multi-Billion Dollar Companies? That is Exactly What Origin Protocol Wants to do Using Blockchain
  • Events

    • My trip in Cuba

      Olemis Lang is one of the founders and very active in promoting open source in Cuba. We’ve had some similar experiences in running user groups (I founded the Python french one a decade ago), and were excited about sharing our experience.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla and Sundance Film Festival Present: VR the People

        On Monday January 22, Mozilla is bringing together a panel of the top VR industry insiders in the world to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to explain how VR storytelling is revolutionizing the film and entertainment industry.

        “We want the storyteller’s vision to exceed the capacity of existing technology, to push boundaries, because then the technologist is inspired to engineer new mechanisms that enable things initially thought impossible” says Kamal Sinclair, Director of New Frontier Lab Programs at Sundance Institute. “However, this is not about creating something that appeals to people simply because of its novel technical achievements; rather it is something that has real meaning, and where that meaning can be realized by engineering the technologies to deliver the best experience possible.”

      • Host an Open Internet Activist [Ed: Mozilla now in the pockets of the Ford Foundation, just like the ‘Guardian’]

        Today, we’re launching the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship call for host organizations. If your organization is devoted to a healthy internet for all users, we encourage you to apply.

      • WebRender newsletter #12
      • The User Journey for Firefox Extensions Discovery

        The ability to customize and extend Firefox are an essential part of Firefox’s value to users. Extensions are small tools that allow developers and users who install the extensions to modify, customize, and extend the functionality of Firefox. For example, during our workflows research in 2016, we interviewed a participant who was a graduate student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While she used Safari as her primary browser for common browsing, she used Firefox specifically for her academic work because of the extension Zotero was the best choice for keeping track of her academic work and citations.

        Popular categories of extensions include ad blockers, password managers, and video downloaders. Given the variety of extensions and the benefits to customization they offer, why is it that only 40% of Firefox users have installed at least one extension? Certainly, some portion of Firefox users may be aware of extensions but have no need or desire to install one. However, some users could find value in some extensions but simply may not be aware of the existence of extensions in the first place.

        Why not? How can Mozilla facilitate the extension discovery process?

        A fundamental assumption about the extension discovery process is that users will learn about extensions through the browser, through word of mouth, or through searching to solve a specific problem. We were interested in setting aside this assumption and to observe the steps participants take and the decisions they make in their journey toward possibly discovering extensions. To this end, the Firefox user research team ran two small qualitative studies to understand better how participants solved a particular problem in the browser that could be solved by installing an extension. Our study helped us understand how participants do — or do not — discover a specific category of extension.

      • Firefox Release, Xen, KDE’s Plasma and More

        Set your calendars for January 23, 2018, to download the latest Firefox 58 release packed with performance/bottleneck and bug fixes, an even better site source code debugger and more.

      • Have You Taken the Thunderbird Redesign Survey?

        Monterail and Thunderbird are now working on the same team.

        Yes, that Monterail, the Poland-based development company whose stunning Thunderbird mock-up went viral last year, before becoming a real, working Thunderbird theme.

        “We got in touch with […] the Thunderbird core team to discuss possibilities. We wanted to establish how to enhance user retention and make Thunderbird more user-friendly for potential and current users. We also learned how Thunderbird is built which helped with planning iterations,” Monterail’s Krystian Polański explains in a new blog post on the company’s website.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • MapR: How Next-Gen Applications Will Change the Way We Look at Data

      MapR is a Silicon Valley-based big data company. Its founders realized that data was going to become ever increasingly important, and existing technologies, including open source Apache Hadoop, fell short of being able to support things like real-time transactional operational applications. So they spent years building out core technologies that resulted in the MapR products, including the flagship Converged Data Platform, platform-agnostic software that’s designed for the multicloud environment. It can even run on embedded Edge devices.

    • 7 Open-Source Serverless Frameworks Providing Functions as a Service

      With virtualization, organizations began to realize greater utilization of physical hardware. That trend continued with the cloud, as organizations began to get their machines into a pay-as-you-go service. Cloud computing further evolved when Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its Lambda service in 2014, introducing a new paradigm in cloud computing that has become commonly referred to as serverless computing. In the serverless model, organizations pay for functions as a service without the need to pay for an always-on stateful, virtual machine.

    • Bonitasoft Offers Open Source, Low-Code Platform on AWS Cloud

      Bonitasoft, a specialist in open source business process management and digital transformation software, is partnering with the Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) cloud to broaden the reach of its low-code development platform.

      That platform, just released in a new version called Bonita 7.6, comes in an open source version and a subscription version with professional support and advanced features.

    • Bonitasoft gets cute on AWS for low-code BPM

      There has been an undeniable popularisation of so-called ‘low-code’ programming platforms.

      This is a strain of technology designed to provide automated blocks of functionality that can be brought together by non-technical staff to perform specific compute and analysis tasks to serve their own business objectives.

  • CMS

    • New York magazine is making its CMS available open-source

      There’s a short history of publishers fancying themselves as technology companies and building a business selling their tech to other publishers. Publishers realized that building a whole new side business around licensing their tech is a headache and that they needed to focus on what they’re good at, and leave the tech to others.

      New York magazine is trying out a different approach. It built its own content management system (publishers like to give their homegrown CMSes cute names; this one is called Clay, for the magazine’s founder Clay Felker) in 2015 and then licensed the software to the online magazine Slate. Slate started using Clay a year ago and was set to fully migrate its site to Clay this week. But instead of New York charging Slate a licensing fee, Slate is paying New York in the form of code. The CMS is open-source, and developers from both titles contribute to it.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 7.3 Preparing For Release To Ship Spectre Patches

      GNU developers are preparing to quickly ship GCC 7.3 now in order to get out the Spectre patches, a.k.a. the compiler side bits for Retpoline with -mindirect-branch=thunk and friends.

      It was just this past weekend that the back-ported patches landed in GCC 7 while now GCC 7.3 is being prepared as the branch’s next bug-fix point release.

    • Announcing LibrePlanet 2018 keynote speakers

      The keynote speakers for the tenth annual LibrePlanet conference will be anthropologist and author Gabriella Coleman, free software policy expert and community advocate Deb Nicholson, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior staff technologist Seth Schoen, and FSF founder and president Richard Stallman.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and tackle challenges facing the free software movement. The theme of this year’s conference is Freedom. Embedded. In a society reliant on embedded systems — in cars, digital watches, traffic lights, and even within our bodies — how do we defend computer user freedom, protect ourselves against corporate and government surveillance, and move toward a freer world? LibrePlanet 2018 will explore these topics in sessions for all ages and experience levels.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • 17,000% Cost Reduction with Open Source 3D Printing: Michigan Tech Study Showcases Parametric 3D Printed Slot Die System

        We often cover the work of prolific Dr. Joshua Pearce, an Associate Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech); he also runs the university’s Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Research Group.

        Dr. Pearce, a major proponent for sustainability and open source technology, has previously taught an undergraduate engineering course on how to build open source 3D printers, and four of his former students, in an effort to promote environmental sustainability in 3D printing, launched a business to manufacture and sell recycled and biodegradable filaments.

      • Open Source 3D printing cuts cost from $4,000 to only $0.25 says new study

        Slot die coating is a means of adding a thin, uniform film of material to a substrate. It is a widely used method for the manufacturing of electronic devices – including flat screen televisions, printed electronics, lithium-ion batteries and sensors.

        Up until recently, slot die components were only machined from stainless steel, restricting development and making the process expensive. Now slot dies for in-lab experimental use can be made on a 3D printer at a fraction of the cost.

      • Dutch firm unveils world’s first 3-D-printed propeller

        Three-dimensional (3-D) printing technology has caught the logistics world’s attention for its potential to save on warehouse and shipping costs by producing items on demand at any location. In the past two years, for example, UPS Inc. announced plans to partner with software developer SAP SE to build a nationwide network of 3-D printers for use by its customers, and General Electric Co. spent nearly $600 million to buy a three-quarters stake in the German 3-D printing firm Concept Laser GmbH.

        Recently, transportation companies have begun turning to the same technology for another application, creating the actual hardware used in vehicles that move the freight. For instance, in late 2016, global aircraft maker Airbus S.A.S. contracted with manufacturing firm Arconic Inc. to supply 3-D printed metal parts for its commercial aircraft.

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.24

      HHVM 3.24 is released! This release contains new features, bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places.

    • HHVM 3.24 Released, The Final Supporting PHP5

      The Facebook crew responsible for the HHVM project as a speedy Hack/PHP language implementation is out with its 3.24 release.

      HHVM 3.24 is important as it’s the project’s last release focusing on PHP5 compatibility. Moving forward, PHP5 compatibility will no longer be a focus and components of it will likely be dropped. As well, Facebook will be focusing on their Hack language rather than PHP7. Now that PHP7 is much faster than PHP5 and all around in a much better state, Facebook developers are focusing on their Hack language rather than just being an alternative PHP implementation.

    • How to get into DevOps

      I’ve observed a sharp uptick of developers and systems administrators interested in “getting into DevOps” within the past year or so. This pattern makes sense: In an age in which a single developer can spin up a globally distributed infrastructure for an application with a few dollars and a few API calls, the gap between development and systems administration is closer than ever. Although I’ve seen plenty of blog posts and articles about cool DevOps tools and thoughts to think about, I’ve seen fewer content on pointers and suggestions for people looking to get into this work.

    • RcppMsgPack 0.2.1

      Am update of RcppMsgPack got onto CRAN today. It contains a number of enhancements Travers had been working on, as well as one thing CRAN asked us to do in making a suggested package optional.

      MessagePack itself is an efficient binary serialization format. It lets you exchange data among multiple languages like JSON. But it is faster and smaller. Small integers are encoded into a single byte, and typical short strings require only one extra byte in addition to the strings themselves. RcppMsgPack brings both the C++ headers of MessagePack as well as clever code (in both R and C++) Travers wrote to access MsgPack-encoded objects directly from R.

    • GitHub Alternative SourceForge Vies for Comeback with Redesigned Site

      SourceForge wants to be more than just another GitHub alternative, but an additional repository for developers to utilize to help gain users.

    • This Week in Rust

      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.

Leftovers

  • YouTube shows smaller video artists the door

    YouTube will drastically cut down on the number of its partners who can make money from the platform, making it possible only for those who have 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of viewing to earn anything from ads.

  • How to quit your tech: a beginner’s guide to divorcing your phone

    • Delete all social media apps from your phone; check these only from a desktop computer.

    • Turn all banner-style/pop-up/sound notifications off all other apps (keep the badge-type notifications where you have to visually check the app).

    • Leave your phone in your pocket or keep it out of sight for meetings/get-togethers/conversations/meals involving other people.

    • Keep your phone out of sight during your commute.

    • Don’t take your phone with you into the bathroom or toilet.

  • Google Memory Loss

    Why? · Ob­vi­ous­ly, in­dex­ing the whole Web is crush­ing­ly ex­pen­sive, and get­ting more so ev­ery day. Things like 10+-year-old mu­sic re­views that are nev­er up­dat­ed, no longer ac­cept com­ments, are light­ly if at all linked-to out­side their own site, and rarely if ev­er visited… well, let’s face it, Google’s not go­ing to be sell­ing many ads next to search re­sults that turn them up. So from a busi­ness point of view, it’s hard to make a case for Google in­dex­ing ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how old and how ob­scure.

    My pain here is pure­ly per­son­al; I freely con­fess that I’d been us­ing Google’s glob­al in­fras­truc­ture as my own per­son­al search in­dex for my own per­son­al pub­li­ca­tion­s. But the pain is re­al; I fre­quent­ly mine my own his­to­ry to re-use, for ex­am­ple in con­struct­ing the cur­rent #SongOfTheDay se­ries.

  • Science

    • Science search engine links papers to grants and patents

      The marketplace for science search engines is competitive and crowded. But a database launched on 15 January aims to provide academics with new ways to analyse the scholarly literature — including the grant funding behind it.

      Dimensions not only indexes papers and their citations, but also — uniquely among scholarly databases — connects publications to their related grants, funding agencies, patents and clinical trials. The tool “should give researchers more power to look at their fields and follow the money”, says James Wilsdon, a research-policy specialist at the University of Sheffield, UK.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Domestic worker died because she was too frightened to access healthcare over immigration fears, MPs told

      Illegal immigrants are “too frightened” to access healthcare because of a data-sharing agreement between the NHS and the Home Office to track, MPs have heard.

      One domestic worker died because she was too afraid to see a doctor out of fear that her immigration status would be shared with the Home Office, evidence presented to the Health Committee stated.

      Immigrants are being “driven underground” by the legislation, MPs heard at a session which explored the impact of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) published last January, setting out how patient data may be provided to the Home Office by the NHS.

    • Apple Supplier Workers Describe Noxious Hazards at China Factory

      At a Catcher Technology Co. manufacturing complex in the Chinese industrial city of Suqian, about six hours’ drive from Shanghai, workers stand for up to 10 hours a day in hot workshops slicing and blasting iPhone casings for Apple Inc., handling noxious chemicals sometimes without proper gloves or masks.

      These conditions — some described in a report Tuesday by advocacy group China Labor Watch and others in Bloomberg News interviews with Catcher workers — show the downside of a high-tech boom buoying the world’s second-largest economy. Chinese recruiters play up the chance to build advanced consumer electronics to attract the millions of typically impoverished, uneducated laborers without whom the production of iPhones and other digital gadgets would be impossible.

    • Teens are daring each other to eat Tide pods. We don’t need to tell you that’s a bad idea.

      First, it was the “gallon challenge” and the “cinnamon challenge.”

      Then some teenagers started playing the “bath-salt challenge.”

      They have dared each other to pour salt in their hands and hold ice till it burns, douse themselves in rubbing alcohol and set themselves ablaze, and throw boiling water on unsuspecting peers.

      Now videos circulating on social media are showing kids biting into brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets. Or cooking them in frying pans, then chewing them up before spewing the soap from their mouths.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Terror Attack Survivors Who Refuse To Be Silenced

      “The more of us speak out, defend our freedom and refuse to give up on our liberties, the less the danger will be … focused on certain people,” El Rhazoui told AFP on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the Danish parliament on Saturday.

  • Finance

    • BofA Tops IBM, Payments Firms With Most Blockchain Patents

      The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property [sic].

    • IBM, Maersk Form New Blockchain Company for International Cargo

      Maersk, the Danish conglomerate that owns the world’s largest container shipping line, will be the first to use the new platform, while International Business Machines Corp. will provide the back end and support for the technology. The new company said it expects to sign up large shippers, ports and customs officials for the service, set to become available in the second half of 2018.

    • Heads Of State At Davos’ Door: Trump, Modi, Macron, May

      Davos will have a three-part feature, he said: a collaborative approach since nobody alone can solve the issues of the global agenda, an integrated approach, and a constructive approach. There are many opportunities and perils like never before, and faced with the danger of the collapse of the global system, “it is in our hands to improve the state of the world, that’s what the World Economic Forum stands for,” Schwab said.

    • Automation, robots and the ‘end of work’ myth

      Can you imagine travelling to work in a robotic “Jonnycab” like the one predicted in the cult Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall? The image from 1990 is based on science fiction, but Mercedes Benz does have a semi-autonomous Driver Pilot system that it aims to install in the next five years and Uber is also waging on a self-driving future. Its partnership with Volvo has been seen as a boost to its ambitions to replace a fleet of self-employed drivers with autonomous vehicles.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Senator Cardin Is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning

      The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin [Md.], has become a big star in national media by routinely denouncing Russia as a dire threat to American democracy. The senior senator from Maryland personifies the highly dangerous opportunism that has set in among leading Democrats on the subject of Russia.

      Chelsea Manning confirmed on Sunday that she is challenging Senator Cardin’s re-election effort in the Democratic primary this June. Her campaign has real potential to raise key issues. One of them revolves around the kind of bellicose rhetoric that heightens the dangers of conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

    • The People v. Donald Trump

      In the first year of Trump’s presidency, the courts have acted exactly how the Founders intended them to.

      Legal scholars and progressives have long expressed doubt about the utility of courts in advancing social justice. They argue that courts are inherently conservative, that victories often prompt costly backlashes, and that focusing on courts diverts attention from the more important work that needs to be done in the political arena.

      The first year of the Trump administration suggests that this skepticism is overstated. Much to the president’s dismay, those he calls “so-called judges” have repeatedly ruled against the Trump administration. Judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike have enforced constitutional guarantees against a president who has shown little regard for the Constitution.

      In this respect, the courts have performed just as Alexander Hamilton hoped they would. In the Federalist Papers, Hamilton argued that a judiciary with life tenure and the power to declare the political branches’ actions unconstitutional was essential, so that judges could serve as “the bulwarks of a limited Constitution.” Rarely has that role been more essential.

    • Martin Luther King stood up for more than love

      Martin Luther King often spoke of the need for unconditional love. In 1955 he told Black America, “We want to love our enemies — be good to them. This is what we must live by; we must meet hate with love. We must love our white brothers no matter what they do to us.” In his remarks on the King holiday President Trump referred to love five times in three sentences.

      “[King] would later write, ‘It was quite easy for me to think of a god of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central.’ That is what Reverend King preached all his life. Love. Love for each other, for neighbors, and for our fellow Americans. Dr. King’s faith in his love for humanity led him and so many heroes to courageously stand up for civil rights of African-Americans,” Trump said.

      [...]

      King stood up for much more than love. And the kind of love that praises King one day after making repeated racist statements, most recently calling African countries and Haiti “shithole countries,” is really no love at all.

    • Media Freaks Out About Facebook Changes; Maybe They Shouldn’t Have Become So Reliant On Facebook

      >From Facebook’s standpoint, this move is a pretty easy one to make. Even though it had spent the past few years heavily courting news publishers (including directly paying large publishers many millions of dollars to “pivot to video”), the company hadn’t totally succeeded in becoming the go to source for news (that remains Twitter’s strength). And yet, Facebook was also getting more and more grief over news items in its feeds, especially post-election when people incorrectly wanted to “blame” news on Facebook for Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

      On top of that, this move will only enforce something that Facebook had been inching towards for a while: forcing businesses and publishers to pay to have their news reach a larger audience. So… if this means that Facebook makes more money, distresses fewer people, and doesn’t get attacked as much for the so-called problem of “fake news” it looks like a total win from Facebook’s perspective.

      Publishers, on the other hand, were generally freaked out. Many have spent the past 5 years or so desperately trying to “play the Facebook game.” And, for many, it gave them a decent boost in traffic (if not much revenue). But, in the process, they proceeded to lose their direct connection to many readers. People coming to news sites from Facebook don’t tend to be loyal readers. They’re drive-bys.

    • Sens. Cotton and Perdue are outed for lying on Trump’s behalf

      There is no honor among anti-immigrant advocates and liars, I suppose. After dutifully lying on behalf of the president regarding his abhorrent language (“shithole countries”), Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were outed by the White House.

    • Breaking News: Haiti to unseal files pertaining to former dictator, Jean Claude Duvalier, laundering money through Trump Tower during his time in power

      Haitian officials on Monday evening held an emergency high court session which resulted in an agreement to unseal and publicly released documents relating to Jean-Claude Duvalier’s indictments for money laundering through Trump tower, during his brutal 15 years dictatorship.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ‘Killing ­Original Content ­Creators Isn’t In ­Silicon ­Valley’s Interest’
    • Duterte had ‘nothing to do’ with move to revoke news site’s licence: Spokesman

      Foreign press organisations and human rights groups have rallied behind Rappler, joining a chorus of domestic outrage among the media and political opposition at what they saw as move to muzzle those scrutinising Duterte.

    • Opposition Chief Criticises PM for Censorship

      ocial Democratic Party (SDP) chief Davor Bernardić on Wednesday criticised Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for censorship, asking him “Where’s the money?” which in Croatian (Di su pare?) is the name of a satire Facebook profile, to which Plenković responded there was no censorship in Croatia and that everyone was allowed to speak their mind responsibly and in accordance with the law.

      “Why can’t the ‘Di su pare?’ Facebook profile continue to be open in Croatia? It had over 300,000 followers, I followed it and I laughed when they wrote satirically about me. The government cannot ban satire or a Facebook profile,” Bernardić said during Question Time in Parliament.

    • Julian Assange says Google and Facebook have become an ‘existential threat to humanity’

      Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that Google and Facebook, two of the world’s biggest technology and social media companies, are an “existential threat” to humanity.

      The chief of the anti-secrecy and whistleblowing platform, who describes himself as a “geopolitical analyst” on his Twitter profile, believes the tech giants have evolved into powerful “digital superstates”.

      “While the internet has brought about a revolution in our ability to educate each other, the consequent democratic explosion has shaken existing democratic establishments to their core,” Assange said Tuesday (16 January), in a statement later posted online.

      His comments were read during an “Organising Resistance to Internet Censorship” webinar, sponsored by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) this week.

    • Radio 4’s Laurie Taylor: “There’s a creeping censorship at the BBC”

      It was a programme, Laurie Taylor says, that wasn’t supposed to be – something he succeeded in “sneaking in” because BBC management’s attention was elsewhere. “Entirely bogus” is how he describes the launch of Thinking Allowed in 1998, but, 20 years on, Taylor’s weekly Radio 4 series that looks at research arising from the academic world is long established as the genuine article, and one of the best-loved half-hours on the network.

    • Librarians despise censorship. How can prison librarians handle that? It’s complicated.

      Last week, officials at the American Civil Liberties Union made public a letter they had written to the New Jersey Department of Corrections, accusing the department of violating inmates’ rights: Several prisons were refusing to allow inmates access to the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander. Restricting prisoners from reading about injustices in the U.S. prison system struck many as a shocking and ironic overreach. And the state apparently agreed. After being challenged by the ACLU, the department decided to reinstate the book and vowed to review restriction policies for prison libraries.

      This was hardly the first time prison library censorship has drawn criticism. At the end of 2017, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice came under fire when it was discovered that the prison system banned such books as “The Color Purple” and a collection of Shakespearean sonnets, while inmates were free to read Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” And this month, news that New York’s state prison system is restricting what books an inmate may receive through the mail to a handful of claptrap titles generated instant outrage.

    • It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech

      For most of modern history, the easiest way to block the spread of an idea was to keep it from being mechanically disseminated. Shutter the news­paper, pressure the broad­cast chief, install an official censor at the publishing house. Or, if push came to shove, hold a loaded gun to the announcer’s head.

      This actually happened once in Turkey. It was the spring of 1960, and a group of military officers had just seized control of the government and the national media, imposing an information blackout to suppress the coordination of any threats to their coup. But inconveniently for the conspirators, a highly anticipated soccer game between Turkey and Scotland was scheduled to take place in the capital two weeks after their takeover. Matches like this were broadcast live on national radio, with an announcer calling the game, play by play. People all across Turkey would huddle around their sets, cheering on the national team.

    • Conservatives Get ‘Shi**y’ Treatment from Twitter, Google – Again

      Legacy media organizations can be counted on to squawk when their voices aren’t heard in Republican-controlled forums – such as White House press conferences.

      But when it’s conservatives who are censored on powerful, widely read platforms, it’s hard to find any journalists who care.

      Such was the case last week when Project Veritas exposed, in an undercover investigation, how Twitter systematically diminishes – and even bans – access to posts published by those on the Right. One Twitter manager in charge of gatekeeping called their censorship victims “shi**y people.”

    • Are conservative voices being silenced by Twitter?

      Social media platform Twitter may be trying to reshape the online narrative by editing out conservative voices, a new undercover video released by Project Veritas alleges.

    • James O’Keefe: Twitter’s Censorship Algorithm Targets ‘Breitbart Audience’
    • Lebanon censors ban ‘The Post’ over Steven Spielberg’s support for Israel
    • Lebanon bans The Post movie
    • Lebanon bans ‘The Post’ over Spielberg’s support for Israel
    • Lebanon’s ‘outdated’ film censors under fire after banning Spielberg’s The Post
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Shooting The Messenger: Reporter Who Exposed Massive Indian Data Breach Targeted By Law Enforcement

      For many years now, we’ve been among those raising concerns about India’s giant identity database known as Aadhaar. A few weeks ago, we wrote that there appeared to be a fairly massive breach of data from that database, and that the information was now available on the dark web for cheap.

      [...]

      The details on the “police complaint” remain sparse, so perhaps it’s not a huge deal — but any attempt to investigate and/or intimidate (and those can be one and the same in some cases) a reporter for merely exposing a fairly big possible data breach that could effect over a billion people at least suggests an interest in covering up the breach, rather than in understanding the breach and preventing further damage.

    • Our View: NSA reboot revives citizen surveillance concerns

      Privacy advocates hailed incremental steps taken to reduce surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency since widespread abuses were first reported about four years ago.

      The reassurances are apparently enough for Congress to approve the continuation of a long-standing program that, while aimed at foreign communications traffic, nonetheless picks up the communications of millions of Americans along the way.

      The biggest controversy in the recent House vote was the stance of President Trump, who tweeted out mixed messages about his support of continuing Section 702 of the post-9/11 foreign intelligence act. The section allows the government to collect internet and email date from Americans if it has any relationship to a foreign country.

    • Senate, Rebuffing Privacy Concerns, Clears Path to Extend Surveillance Law
    • US senators vow to filibuster FBI, er, NSA’s domestic, errr, foreign mass spying program

      A number of US senators from both sides of the aisle have said they will filibuster an effort to approve the continuation of a controversial American government spying program.

      This mass snooping effort was authorized by section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, which expired at the end of last year, and the NSA wants it renewed with a new law passed. Section 702 is supposed to allow Uncle Sam’s g-men to keep close tabs on non-Americans abroad.

      However, the rules have been interpreted by the Feds over the years to give the FBI warrantless access to the NSA’s database so agents can investigate crimes using records on American citizens on American soil. You’d think now would be a good time, while renewing section 702, to rein in the intelligence agencies so that truly only foreigners are targeted.

    • Senate advances bill to continue NSA surveillance program; passage expected this week

      A bill to continue the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs for five more years advanced Tuesday in the Senate, overcoming objections that it did not do enough to protect Americans’ civil liberties.

      Opponents came close to filibustering the measure, which was approved by the House last week. But the Senate’s narrow 60-38 vote puts it on track for final passage this week.

      Voting stretched more than an hour as senators lobbied key holdouts in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor.

    • After Basically No Debate, And No Opportunity For Amendments, Senate Votes To Expand NSA Surveillance

      As was unfortunately expected, after a very short (and fairly stupid) debate that was full of misleading statements that focused more on “but… but… terrorism!” than anything substantive, the Senate has voted for cloture on the same bill the House approved last week that extends and expands the NSA’s 702 surveillance program, opening it up to widespread abuse and refusing to do simple things like adding in a warrant requirement when used to spy on Americans. The vote was actually surprisingly close — going right down to the wire. They needed 60 votes to get this bill over the top and they almost didn’t get them. The final vote was 60 to 39 with the final vote (well over an hour after the vote starting) coming from Senator Claire McCaskill in favor of warrantless spying on Americans.

    • NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle

      The Senate narrowly voted to begin winding down debate over legislation renewing government surveillance powers, defeating a filibuster by privacy hawks.

      Senators voted 60-38 to wrap up debate on the legislation, which cleared the House last week and extends the surveillance program with only a few small changes.

      The program, absent congressional action, is scheduled to expire on Jan. 19.

    • Warrantless Spying Careens Toward Reauthorization

      Last week, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act—and its controversial Section 702, which establishes general warrants for wiretapping foreigners—and rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Justin Amash that would have at least required the FBI agents to obtain a warrant before sifting through the NSA’s massive database of intercepted communications for Americans’ messages. As I noted in a blog post at the time, the few supposed “reforms” embedded in the authorization bill are cosmetic at best, and more likely will serve to actually expand the scope of warrantless surveillance. But at least Amash’s amendment got a vote, although without the benefit of much in the way of substantive debate.

    • U.S. Senate advances bill to renew NSA’s internet surveillance programme

      The U.S. Senate on Tuesday advanced a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance programme, as a final push by privacy advocates to derail the measure came up one vote short.

    • U.S. Senate to vote to renew NSA’s internet surveillance program

      The U.S. Senate on Tuesday planned to vote to advance a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, as privacy advocates made a final push to derail the measure.

    • The House Has Voted. They Will Allow Warrantless Surveillance.

      In 2013, documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden ignited a national debate on the agency’s warrantless surveillance program and citizens’ right to privacy in the digital age. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives held a vote that may have put an end to that debate.

      The NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In 2008, Congress passed Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a law legalizing the previously secret program. The 256 to 164 vote permitted a six-year extension of the soon-to-expire law, while also legalizing the controversial practice of “about” surveillance.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (11/21): Our parents used anonymous cash

      It’s also that the transactions of our digital children are permissioned. When our digital children buy a bottle of water with a debit card, a transaction clears somewhere in the background. But that also means that somebody can decide to have the transaction not clear; somebody has the right to arbitrarily decide what people get to buy and not buy, if this trend continues for our digital children. That is a horrifying thought.

    • New UIDAI features prove that data is unsafe: Experts

      E-governance expert Anupam Saraph said that the decision to come up with virtual ID was admission by UIDAI that storage of Aadhaar number was “dangerous and wrong”.

    • Aadhaar number details: Yet another ‘leak’ UIDAI needs to fix

      If someone knows your Aadhaar number, then they can find out with which bank you have an account easily by dialling a USSD code provided by Aadhaar helpline number.

    • Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.

      The result is that carmakers have turned on a powerful spigot of precious personal data, often without owners’ knowledge, transforming the automobile from a machine that helps us travel to a sophisticated computer on wheels that offers even more access to our personal habits and behaviors than smartphones do.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • 1,000 Danish youths face charges for sharing 15-year-olds’ sex videos

      The sharing occurred in late 2017 and depicted a sexual encounter between two 15-year-olds. The young people charged with sharing the materials ranged in age from 15 to the early 20s. When Facebook learned that the material was being shared, the company notified US authorities, who in turn alerted authorities in Denmark.

    • Saudi Arabia: Three years on, flogged blogger Raif Badawi must be released
    • Donald Trump vs. Guantánamo’s Forever Prisoners
    • In New York, Crime Falls Along With Police Stops

      If you grew up in New York City in the 1970s, the number can be hard to get your head around: 291. If you were a reporter in New York City in the early 1990s, the number can almost make your head explode: 291 murders in 2017, the lowest total since the 1950s.

      But the number is perhaps most striking when set not against the numbers of murders in other years, but against this figure: the roughly 10,000 police stops conducted in 2017.

    • Big Corporations Make Millions by Selling People a Chance to Get Out of Jail

      Who benefits from wealth-based incarceration? The bail sharks.

      If you got arrested, could you come up with the bail needed to buy your immediate freedom?

      For most people, the answer is no. Even though those arrested haven’t been convicted of a crime, the only way for them to get out of jail while they await their day in court is to come up with an alternative source of money. Enter big insurance companies like Lexington National. They’ll get you out, but you have to pay them a fee that you’ll never get back, which guarantees them a hefty profit regardless of the outcome of the case.

      If you think this is corporate greed run amok, you aren’t alone. The legal right to turn a profit on bail is a rare phenomenon globally: It’s only legal in the U.S. and the Philippines. And for good reason.

      After all, the people accused of a crime — and their families desperate to have them home — are hardly in a position to bargain. Since they run the risk of losing their job or home, the accused are at the mercy of bail bond companies, which have a huge amount of leverage over people who sign their exploitative contracts. That’s why bail contracts often contain terms like installment plans and high interest rates that lead to years of debt.

    • Porn didn’t invent women’s desire or exploitation, but, looking back at history, it has a powerful role in shaping both
    • Danish police charge 1,000 people following Facebook sex video

      Danish police have charged 1,004 young people (some under 18) after Facebook notified authorities that Messenger users were sharing a video of two teens under 15 years old having sex, violating laws against the distribution of indecent images of children. Many of those who shared the video did so ‘just’ a few times, police said, but others shared it hundreds of times — they knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t realize it was illegal.

      Anyone found guilty would face no more than 20 days in prison, but they’d also be added to an offender registry for the next 10 years.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • If one only more GOP senator flips, the FCC’s Net Neutrality order will be up for grabs

      It’s a lost cause — after the Senate passes its CRA resolution, Congress would have to follow suit and then Trump would have to go along with the gag and not veto them — but it’s still a useful one, forcing lawmakers to publicly declare a position on Net Neutrality, an issue that has an improbably high recognition and approval from voters regardless of political affiliation.

    • Democrats are just one vote shy of restoring net neutrality

      Right now the resolution has the support of all 49 Democrats in the Senate and one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine. But Schumer and the rest of the caucus will have to win over one more Republican vote to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from breaking tie and allowing the repeal to stand.

    • Community Broadband: Privacy, Access, and Local Control

      Communities across the United States are considering strategies to protect residents’ access to information and their right to privacy. These experiments have a long history, but a new wave of activists have been inspired to seek a local response to federal setbacks to Internet freedom, such as the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality protections, and Congress’ early 2017 decision to eliminate user privacy protections.

      Internet service providers (ISP) have a financial incentive and the technical ability to block or slow users’ access, insert their own content on the sites we visit, or give preferential treatment to websites and services with which they have financial relationships. For many years, net neutrality principles and rules, most recently cemented in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, helped prevent much of this activity. Net neutrality helped create a landscape where new ideas and services could develop without being crowded out by political pressure or prioritized fast lanes for established commercial incumbents.

    • Blackburn Doubles Down On A Decade Of Lies As She Pushes Fake Net Neutrality Law

      So we’ve repeatedly noted how the FCC’s assault on popular net neutrality protections sits on pretty shaky legal ground. The agency not only ignored the public in trashing the rules, it ignored the nation’s startups, the people who built the internet, and any and all objective data. They also ignored the rampant comment fraud that occurred during the public comment period of the proceeding, a ham-fisted attempt by “somebody” to downplay the massive public opposition to the plan. For good measure the agency also blocked a law enforcement investigation into said fraud and even made up a DDOS attack.

      ISP lawyers and lobbyists know their victory could be short lived if looming lawsuits are able to convince a court that the FCC rushed to pass an “arbitrary and capricious order” while disregarding the public and violating FCC procedure. That’s why they’ve begun pushing hard for new net neutrality legislation they’re claiming will put the debate to bed, but has one real purpose: to pass flimsy, loophole-filled rules now to prevent the FCC (or a future, less cash-compromised Congress) from passing tougher, better rules down the road.

      Just days after Comcast began pushing harder for such legislation, the telecom industry’s most loyal ally in the House, Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, began pushing a law that perfectly mirrors everything Comcast asked for. Namely, it makes everything but the most ham-fisted abuses (like outright blocking of websites) legal, effectively codifying federal apathy on net neutrality into law. The law doesn’t ban paid prioritization, zero rating, interconnection shenanigans, or any of the areas the modern net neutrality debate currently resides.

    • Mozilla Files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

      Today, Mozilla filed a petition in federal court in Washington, DC against the Federal Communications Commission for its recent decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order.

  • DRM

    • DRM Puts the Brakes on Innovation

      Copyright law is slow. Whenever you hear about a case of alleged copyright infringement and you think, “What was illegal about this?” consider that the law probably came many, many years before anyone conceived of the activity it’s being used to target. Then it starts to make a little bit more sense.

      Look at how U.S. copyright law treats DRM, the annoying array of methods that digital content providers use to restrict their customers’ behavior. Passed in 1998, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it illegal to bypass DRM or give others the means of doing so. When Congress passed Section 1201, it was mostly thinking of restrictions intended to stop users from making infringing copies of music and movies. The DMCA passed well before manufacturers began putting digital locks on cars, microwaves, toilets, and every other electronic product. We’re now living in a world where it might be a crime to modify the software on your rice cooker. If that sounds absurd, that’s because it is.

      You can almost forgive Congress for this mess—it didn’t know that DRM would soon crawl into every aspect of your life. On the other hand, Congress helped bring the infestation on. The DMCA encouraged manufacturers to build DRM into their products, because doing so gave them ammunition to fight people using their products in ways they didn’t approve of. Can’t compete with unauthorized repair shops? Make them illegal.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Shipyard Brewing Sues The Brewery It Is Trademark Bullying Over The Public Backlash To Its Trademark Bullying

        You may recall that the middle of last summer saw us reporting on a somewhat odd trademark dispute between two breweries, Shipyard Brewing Co. and Logboat Brewing Company. Chiefly at issue was the fact that both breweries used images of schooners on their respective labels, except that the images used were laughably different. Also at issue was that Logboat’s “Shiphead” beer used the word “head”, which Shipyard says it uses in a variety of other beers, such as Pumpkinhead, Melonhead and other variations. Shipyard, notably, does not have a beer called “Shiphead”, making this all the more eyebrow-raising.

    • Copyrights

      • New presidency of the Council of the European Union … new position on the EU copyright reform?

        Following the conclusion of the 6-month Estonian presidency, the presidency of the Council of the European Union is now Bulgarian, and will be so for the first semester of 2018.

        The Council is one of the key EU institutions and brings the voice of Member States’ governments into the decision- and law-making process. In fact and among other things – together with the European Parliament – the Council is in charge of adopting EU legislation.

      • Copyright Troll Gets Smacked Around By Court, As Judge Wonders If Some Of Its Experts Even Exist

        When last we checked in with Venice PI, the copyright troll claiming to hold rights to the movie Once Upon A Time In Venice and attempting to claim in court that a 91 year old man with dementia was part of a torrent swarm offering the movie who, oh by the way, had recently passed away, it was being lightly slapped around by judge Thomas Zilly. Zilly had barred Venice PI from contacting the family of the deceased, halted the trial, questioned the quality of the evidence Venice PI had put before the court, and likewise demanded more information on how that evidence was collected in the first place. Given that the evidence mostly amounted to IP addresses obtained by Venice PI, I had written that this particular judge was likely to be unimpressed by whatever the copyright troll provided.

        Well, hoo-boy, was that ever an understatement. The end result of what Venice PI put before the court in response was the judge issuing a minute order declaring that the company essentially explain its copyright trolling efforts entirely across several cases and slapped the company around for some truly stunning misbehavior. The order goes into three different areas in which Venice PI appears to have really, truly screwed up, starting with the fact that the troll’s claims of ownership and affiliations can’t even be substantiated.

      • We found a deleted page that reveals the paparazzi roots of Kodak Coin

        Kodak’s stock price has tripled since Tuesday as the company announced plans to develop a new blockchain-based digital rights management platform for photographers. Called KodakOne, the new platform, which isn’t available yet, will allow photographers to publicly register their rights in digital photographs on an immutable blockchain.

        The platform will include a digital currency called Kodak Coin that will be used to make licensing payments. There’s an initial coin offering scheduled for January 31.

        “KodakOne provides continual Web crawling in order to protect the IP of its members,” the KodakOne website says. “Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, KodakOne can efficiently manage the post-licensing process.”

      • Kodak’s Supposed Crytocurrency Entrance Appears To Be Little More Than A Rebranded Paparazzi Copyright Trolling Scheme… With The Blockchain

        For a few years now I’ve debated writing up a post about why a “blockchain-based DRM” is an idea that people frequently talk about, but which is a really dumb idea. Because the key point in the blockchain is that it “solves” the “double spend” problem of anything digital, there are always some who have argued that it could be useful in stopping the infinitely copyable nature of digital content. But… actually doing that is a much more difficult proposition. Instead, we just get simplistic ideas around using a blockchain ledger merely to establish a form of a rights database. Which… is fine, but hardly all that compelling a use of the blockchain (a regular old database is probably a lot more useful and efficient for that use case).

        But, last week, there was an awful lot of hype, fuss and confusion around what was billed as Kodak launching its own cryptocorrency / blockchain effort called KODAKone and Kodak Coin, that would “create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform.”

No Patents on Life (CRISPR), Said EPO Boards of Appeal Just a Few Hours Ago

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Boards nail Broad

DNA

Summary: Broad spectacularly loses its key case, which may soon mean that any other patents on CRISPR too will be considered invalid

THE decline of patent quality at the EPO is a real problem. The granting of CRISPR patents is an issue we wrote about this morning, having addressed the subject many times before (here’s some background).

Thankfully, the appeal board ended up deciding to toss out these stupid patents (metaphorically speaking, not politely put as courts typically do). This was foreseen by a longtime observer and UPC booster. They benefit from sheer abundance of patents. Here is what he wrote last year:

In Europe, the first patent of UC Berkeley has very recently been granted by the EPO.

As in the US, however, the Broad Institute has been the first one to get a patent issued in Europe, namely EP 2 771 468. Against this patent, 9 oppositions have been filed, most of which appear to be so-called strawman oppositions.

The final decision was covered by Daniel Lim, who describes himself as “IP lawyer at Allen & Overy, specialising in life sciences patent litigation. I am particularly interested in CRISPR, I-O and molecular Dx.”

“These patents should never have been granted in the first place.”So he’s into patent litigation in CRISPR, hence he relies on CRISPR patents. Earlier today he wrote: “BREAKING: #EPO’s opposition division has revoked the @broadinstitute’s #CRISPR-Cas9 patent EP2771468 in its entirety. Things wrapped up v quickly once priority was lost. Broad’s 64 aux requests not admitted and novelty not contested. Appeal already flagged…”

Found via Team UPC were a bunch of his other tweets (maybe Broad is his client) and there’s lots more in this thread, noting for example: “Appeal to the Technical Board of Appeal of the #EPO already flagged. The Broad considers this to be an issue of “international inconsistency, not just for CRISPR patents, but for a wider range of European patents and applications that originated as U.S. provisional applications…”

He then wrote: “BREAKING: #EPO has just found @broadinstitute’s European #CRISPR Patent (EP2771468) not entitled to claim priority from P1, P2, P5 and P11 – upholding the preliminary opinion on this point – inventorship dispute with Marraffini and Rockefeller Uni comes back to bite…”

Broad is in ‘damage control’ mode (over loss of European Patent/s) and Lim mostly amplifies their side in this dispute. They wrote “[f]or journalists”:

In a decision that is unrelated to the substantive merits of the CRISPR patent, an initial review panel of the European Patent Office (EPO) denied the Broad Institute’s reliance on its U.S. priority provisional application in Europe based on a technical formality.

This technicality concerns the current interpretation of rules that dictate what happens when the names of inventors differ across international applications. This interpretation affects many other European patents that rely on U.S. provisional patent applications, and is inconsistent with treaties designed to harmonize the international patent process, including that of the United States and Europe.

These patents should never have been granted in the first place. It’s not hard to see why Lim relies on such patents; his desire, however, should not become policy. It’s about public interest.

Only Two Weeks on the Job, Judge Patrick Corcoran is Already Being Threatened by EPO Management

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When Exposing A Crime Is Treated As Committing A Crime, You Are Being Ruled By The Criminals Themselves.

Summary: The attack on a technical judge who is accused of relaying information many people had already relayed anyway (it was gossip at the whole Organisation for years) carries on as he is again being pushed around, just as many people predicted

THE EPO scandals keep getting more scandalous. Yes, it’s possible for them to further escalate, still

As we noted this morning, there’s an important decision on the way, soon to be delivered by the appeal boards (formally called the Boards of Appeal). But many rightly doubt or question the independence; or the appeal boards being able to judge and rule in peace. They have already complained — publicly even — about Battistelli bullying the judge, their colleague, in several jurisdictions (considerably raising the cost of legal defense as even interpreters would likely be needed).

“Mr Corcoran is sent to work in the Hague,” a source told us today. “If he disagree to removing his family to a different country, he can be dismissed.”

“Mr Corcoran is sent to work in the Hague. If he disagree to removing his family to a different country, he can be dismissed.”
      –Anonymous
Incredible, isn’t it? It didn’t even take long! Just as many people expected and publicly predicted. He is now under the control of Team Battistelli, so they actually have this kind of leverage over him. They are endlessly pushing the man and his wife around. This is truly appalling and incredibly damaging to the EPO’s reputation. To put it bluntly, who would want to even relocate to work there (another country) and then be thrown around from place to place like some “gypsy”? Corcoran’s colleagues too have already been pushed out of Munich and into the suburbs (Haar). This is part of a pattern of bullying/punishment by Team Battistelli, “making an example” to scare others, including Corcoran’s colleagues.

“He is now under the control of Team Battistelli, so they actually have this kind of leverage over him.”How on Earth can the UPC even be considered under such extraordinary circumstances? The German courts hopefully keep an eye on all this…

Regarding the German courts, there’s lots of “fake news” this week. We wrote about some of that yesterday. It carries on. Michael Loney (chief at Managing IP, one of the key pushers of the UPC) is repeating the lie that DAV is ‘the’ “German Bar Association” in order to promote UPC agenda. The title of this piece says “German Bar Association says constitutional complaint inadmissible” and the opening sentence says “DAV, the German Bar Association, has submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court its view on the constitutional complaint against German participation in the Unified Patent Court.”

“The readers aren’t as gullible or dumb as Team UPC wants and needs them to be.”It’s not actually ‘the’ German Bar Association, but Team UPC intentionally presents it as such (falsely). Also yesterday there was this article from Dugie Standeford who said “Unified Patent Court Remain High On EU Priority List” and “[o]n the patent side, a pressing question is whether – and when – the EU unified patent and patent court (UPC) might finally launch.”

No, the Unified Patent Court is pretty much dead. What they really want isn’t what they’ll get. They have been trying — and failing — for at least a decade and in the process they destroyed order/lawfulness at the EPO (and workers sometimes lost their lives, as “collateral damage” of so-called ‘reforms’). There are many national and cross-national barriers to UPC which is just a stupid plot of profiteers, not compliant (w.r.t. Constitutions etc.) lawmakers. It ought to be permanently halted. Even some people in the patent ‘community’ (like attorneys) are saying the same. The UPC is a failed project. We can now see that Team UPC (Alex Robinson) is being blasted by dozens of commenters for lying about the UPC on Friday. Live and learn. You lie and then there’s karma. The readers aren’t as gullible or dumb as Team UPC wants and needs them to be.

EPO Board of Appeal Has an Opportunity to Stop Controversial Patents on Life

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Since the birth of the Republic, the U.S. government has been in the business of handing out “exclusive rights” (a.k.a., monopolies) in order to “promote progress” or enable new markets of communication. Patents and copyrights accomplish the first goal; giving away slices of the airwaves serves the second. No one doubts that these monopolies are sometimes necessary to stimulate innovation. Hollywood could not survive without a copyright system; privately funded drug development won’t happen without patents. But if history has taught us anything, it is that special interests—the Disneys and Pfizers of the world—have become very good at clambering for more and more monopoly rights. Copyrights last almost a century now, and patents regulate “anything under the sun that is made by man,” as the Supreme Court has put it. This is the story of endless bloat, with each round of new monopolies met with a gluttonous demand for more.”

Lawrence Lessig in “Reboot the FCC”

Summary: Patent maximalism at the EPO can be pushed aback slightly if the European appeal board decides to curtail CRISPR patents in a matter of days

PATENT scope at the EPO has long been its clear advantage over, for example, the USPTO. Recently, however, the EPO put an end to this advantage, having allowed patents on things even that USPTO had long denied.

Right now in the US lobbyists and professionals who profit from the practice of patenting life/genetics are putting together events and reports to the effect that they want. They want to stop PTAB (the US appeal board), which uses decisions such as Mayo (at SCOTUS) to put an end to all this lunacy of patents on genetics.

What happens in Europe this week is noteworthy. The only media coverage we’ve found of it (so far) is this:

Today could play a pivotal role in the CRISPR patent landscape in Europe.

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Opposition Division has begun its oral hearing into the eligibility of one of ten European patents covering CRISPR/Cas9 technology that has been issued to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

In April last year, the EPO issued a preliminary and non-binding opinion which found that European patent 2,771,468 was invalid.

“EPO opposition hearing just started,” Alexander Esslinger wrote a couple of days ago, adding: “The opposition hearing at the EPO against #CRISPR patent EP 2 771 468 of the Broad Institute starts tomorrow at 9 am and is scheduled for 4 days”

Lars de Haas wrote about T1955/13, but it’s interesting that not even patents-centric blogs are covering the above. None of them as far as we can see (and we have broad scope/optics).

This morning, perhaps even timed to coincide (today) with the proceedings of a similar (but not identical) case, a statement titled “Growing opposition to patents on seeds” was published to say:

Around 25 patents were approved last year, despite the EPO officially claiming that it no longer grants such patents. The patents cover crops such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumber, grapes, sunflower, sorghum and soybeans. In response, there is growing opposition to EPO practice. And for the first time, a joint letter written by COPA/COGECA, No Patents on Seeds! and organisations from the organic sector has been sent to the EU Commission. COPA/COGECA is the largest farmers’ organisation in the EU and also represents many breeders.

Despite growing criticism, the seed giants are still trying to push their agenda of misappropriation of natural resources: Syngenta has asked the EPO to abolish existing restrictions. The company filed an appeal in August 2017, and this will be the subject of a public hearing at the EPO tomorrow.

The existing regulations prohibit patents on conventional (non-technical) methods of breeding and the resulting plants and animals. However, the way in which the EPO applies these rules makes them mostly ineffective: according to the new rules, adopted in 2017, plants and animals are still patentable if they are identified as inheriting genetic variations or random mutations that are relevant for breeding.

As we noted last year, European authorities already helped put an end to various EPs on life. Is more of that about to happen?

European authorities can hardly be described as patents-hostile. Yesterday, for example, an apologist of Battistelli (James Nurton) asked a loaded question: “How helpful is the EU Commission’s SEP guidance?”

How helpeful? It was not helpful at all, except for the SEP lobby!

To quote Nurton:

Both patent owners and implementers have welcomed the European Commission’s communication on standard essential patents. Does that mean it has successfully balanced competing interests or merely dodged the difficult questions? James Nurton investigates

Since this site began in 2006 we have primarily protested software patents; the only other type of patents we’re fundamentally against is pertaining to naturally-occurring things such as nature. Stop overpatenting. Or else the whole system will simply lose its purpose and perceived legitimacy.

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