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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.”

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