Links 23/1/2018: Castle Game Engine 6.4, Qt 5.9.4, SQLite 3.22.0

Posted in News Roundup at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Should your open source project report its social benefits?

    Despite the many words written and spoken on the difference between “open source” and “free” software, few people have pointed out that discussion of these differences frequently resembles the debate surrounding the social role of business, which in recent decades has been dominated by the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

    The fact of the matter, however, is that organizations committed to open principles could (and should) be reporting their activities—because those activities have effects that are both economic and social. And an analysis of how this is the case might actually help us reconcile two principled positions that have more in common than they might realize.

  • Top 4 open source alternatives to Google Analytics

    If you have a website or run an online business, collecting data on where your visitors or customers come from, where they land on your site, and where they leave is vital. Why? That information can help you better target your products and services, and beef up the pages that are turning people away.

    To gather that kind of information, you need a web analytics tool.

    Many businesses of all sizes use Google Analytics. But if you want to keep control of your data, you need a tool that you can control. You won’t get that from Google Analytics. Luckily, Google Analytics isn’t the only game on the web.

    Here are four open source alternatives to Google Analytics.

  • Why no more new AND successful FOSS projects in the last ten years?

    If you ask me, the new, successful FOSS projects should be project that fix, replace, rewrite, whatever… the really unglamorous, low-level tools, libraries and so on that would make that happen. Yes, I know that this is really unlikely to happen under current business models and until IoT everywhere, new iPhones every year and the like are perceived as higher priorities, regardless of their environmental impacts and, very often, sheer lack of sense.

  • Events

    • FOSS Backstage – CfP open

      It’s almost ten years ago that I attended my first ApacheCon EU in Amsterdam. I wasn’t entirely new to the topic of open source or free software. I attended several talks on Apache Lucene, Apache Solr, Hadoop, Tomcat, httpd (I still remember that the most impressive stories didn’t necessarily come from the project members, but from downstream users. They were the ones authorized to talk publicly about what could be done with the project – and often became committers themselves down the road.

    • Liveblogging RIT’s FOSS projects class: initial questions for community spelunking

      Stephen Jacobs (SJ) and I are co-teaching “Project in FOSS Development” at RIT this semester, which basically means “hey students, want to get course credit for contributing to a FOSS project?” The class is centered around 5 project sprints of two weeks each. The first 3 weeks of class are preparing for the sprint periods; the week before spring break is a pause to reflect on how sprints are going. Otherwise, class efforts will be centered around executing project work… (aka “getting stuff done”).

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Quick Look at Notebookbar on LibreOffice 6.0

      This is a short preview of how Notebookbar will look like on LibreOffice 6.0. Notebookbar is a new toolbar appearance on LibreOffice since version 5.3 that look similar to Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon Toolbar. It’s tabbed, column based, and categorized. We can use Notebookbar on Writer, Calc, and Impress already. It’s still a experimental feature for now, so it’s not recommended for production use. However, it’s already good looking at LibreOffice 6.0 and we need to see more. I show here screenshots of Writer’s Notebookbar from all tabs with some commentary.

    • LibreOffice bitmap pattern

      Do you like to use nice bitmap pattern in LibreOffice for area fill. So if you draw a rectangular, a start, … whatever you can use this bitmaps.

      With the help of designers from openclipart, pixabay, publicdomainpictures, … I made 42 seamless area bitmap pattern but only 50% are needed. So which one do you like which one can be dropped.

    • The Document Liberation project announces five new or improved libraries

      The Document Liberation Project has announced five new or improved libraries to export EPUB3 and import AbiWord, MS Publisher, PageMaker and QuarkXPress files.

  • CMS

    • Design’N’Buy launches All-In-One Designer on Magento Open Source 2.2

      Design’N’Buy announces the launch of their flagship product – the AIOD on Magento Open Source Version 2.2. With the launch of web to print solution on Magento Version 2.2 , Design’N’Buy becomes first event in web to print industry to offer complete eCommerce printing solution for printers on one of the widest and latest technology platform.

  • Funding

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Lawsuit accuses PACER of milking the public for cash in exchange for access

        The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket. Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public.

        The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO). The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free. This isn’t likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records. The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress).

      • Is the Most Massive, Illegal Paywall in the World About to Come Down?

        A groundbreaking lawsuit is poised to decimate what is arguably the most unjust, destructive, and it now sounds like illegal paywall in the world, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, PACER.

        PACER is the federal government court documents repository. Every federal court document, for every case, lives in PACER. It’s essentially a giant FTP document repository with a horrendous search system bolted on, not dissimilar to EDGAR.

        PACER was created in 1988 to enable access to court records electronically. Initially available only in courthouses the system was expanded to the web in 2001.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

  • Programming/Development

    • An Open Letter to the Perl Community

      Some consider Perl 6 to be a sister language to Perl 5. Personally, I consider Perl 6 more of a genetically engineered daughter language with the best genes from many parents. A daughter with a difficult childhood, in which she alienated many, who is now getting out of puberty into early adulthood. But I digress.

    • Long Live Perl 5!

      While not mentioned in the original Letter, a frequent theme in the comments was that Perl 6 should be renamed, as the name is inaccurate or is damaging.

      This is the topic on which I wrote more than once and those who have been following closely know that, yes, many (but by no means all) in the Perl 6 community acknowledge the name is detrimental to both Perl 6 and Perl 5 projects.

      This is why with a nod of approval from Larry we’re moving to create an alias to Perl 6 name during 6.d language release, to be available for marketing in areas where “Perl 6″ is not a desirable name.

    • JavaScript Trends for 2018

      Trying to bet on how many new JavaScript frameworks will be released each month, is, the best software engineer’s game in the past 5 years.

    • Ick: a continuous integration system

      TL;DR: Ick is a continuous integration or CI system. See http://ick.liw.fi/ for more information.

    • EE4J Code Begins the Journey to Open Source

      The EE4J project, which was created to manage the Eclipse Foundation’s stewardship of Java EE technologies following Oracle’s decision to open source them, is starting to gain traction.

      Soon after the project was created, EclipseLink and Yasson (the official reference implementation of Java JSON Binding, JSR-367) became the first two projects to be transferred under the EE4J umbrella. As reported in December, the announcement was made that seven more projects were being proposed.


  • Science

    • Finland is the Mobile Data Capitol of the World

      As telecommunications companies continue along the nearly decade-long process to develop and implement 5G technologies, the perfect testing ground for the new mobile data systems may already exist.

      Several factors make Finland a potential sandbox for 5G developers: the average person in Finland used about 20 gigabytes (GB) of mobile data in December 2017, a dramatic rise from the 2016 average of 11 gigabytes per month—more than any other country in the world on a per capita basis. (Mobile subscribers in Latvia, who come in second, used 8.2 GB per month in 2016 while U.S. subscribers ranked 13th at 2.67 GB per month.)

    • Why Do We Need to Sleep?

      In particular, this need to make up lost sleep, which has been seen not just in jellyfish and humans but all across the animal kingdom, is one of the handholds researchers are using to try to get a grip on the bigger problem of sleep. Why we feel the need for sleep is seen by many as key to understanding what it gives us.

      Biologists call this need “sleep pressure”: Stay up too late, build up sleep pressure. Feeling drowsy in the evenings? Of course you are—by being awake all day, you’ve been generating sleep pressure! But like “dark matter,” this is a name for something whose nature we do not yet understand. The more time you spend thinking about sleep pressure, the more it seems like a riddle game out of Tolkien: What builds up over the course of wakefulness, and disperses during sleep? Is it a timer? A molecule that accrues every day and needs to be flushed away? What is this metaphorical tally of hours, locked in some chamber of the brain, waiting to be wiped clean every night?

    • The U.S. Drops Out of the Top 10 in Innovation Ranking

      Score another one for Seoul while Silicon Valley slides.

      The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings.

      The index scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • On the 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Court Battles for Abortion Access Persist

      You’d be forgiven for forgetting Roe is the law of the land. In 2017 alone, 19 states adopted 63 new abortion restrictions.

      On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision Roe v. Wade, recognizing that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. Forty-five years later, Roe is still law of the land — but if you’ve been following the news lately, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

      Since October, the ACLU has had to go to court repeatedly to stop the Trump administration from blocking several young immigrant women from getting abortions because the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for unaccompanied immigrant minors, has as adopted a no-abortion policy. It requires any young woman who requests an abortion to visit a “crisis pregnancy center” — outfits that exist for the sole purpose of dissuading women from terminating their pregnancies — and prohibits her from going to an abortion clinic.

      We’ve already gone to court on behalf of Jane Doe, Jane Poe, Jane Roe, and Jane Moe, so that they could get the abortions they wanted, but we know that there are more Janes out there. We’ve asked a federal court to allow us to bring the lawsuit in the name of all pregnant young women in ORR custody so we can put a stop to this unconstitutional policy.

    • Sanofi, Facing Threat From Generics, Moves to Buy Hemophilia Drug Maker

      The French drug maker Sanofi said on Monday that it had agreed to acquire Bioverativ, a biopharmaceutical company focused on treatments for hemophilia and other rare blood disorders, for $11.6 billion in cash.

      Sanofi has sought use acquisitions to bolster its portfolio of drugs, particularly because it faces declining sales for its diabetes drug, Lantus, which has lost its patent protection. According to the company, sales of Lantus declined more than 16 percent in the first nine months of last year, based on constant exchange rates, and rivals are moving to introduce generic versions of the treatment.

      The Bioverativ deal would enhance Sanofi’s “presence in specialty care and leadership in rare diseases” and “creates a platform for growth in other rare blood disorders,” Olivier Brandicourt, the Sanofi chief executive, said in a news release.

    • Trump’s 24-year-old drug policy appointee was let go at law firm after he ‘just didn’t show’

      A former Trump campaign worker appointed at age 23 to a top position in the White House’s drug policy office had been let go from a job at a law firm because he repeatedly missed work, a partner at the firm said.

      While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. He was “discharged” in August 2015, partner Brian O’Dwyer said in an interview.

      “We were very disappointed in what happened,” O’Dwyer said. He said that he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship. Instead, he said, Weyeneth “just didn’t show.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Google’s Advanced Protection Program Offers Security Options For High-Risk Users

      Security is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and features that are prohibitively inconvenient for some could be critical for others. For most users, standard account security settings options are sufficient protection against common threats. But for the small minority of users who might be targeted individually—like journalists, policy makers, campaign staff, activists, people with abusive exes, or victims of stalking—standard security options won’t cut it.

      For those users, Google recently added the option to add stronger protections to personal Google accounts with the Advanced Protection Program. Advanced Protection is a big step in the right direction to provide different levels of protection for different people, and other companies and platforms should follow suit.

      An account with Advanced Protection turned on will change in three main ways. First, when you sign in, you’ll need to use a physical security key in addition to your password. Advanced Protection also requires you to have a second back-up key on hand. Second, you’ll only be able to use Gmail and other Google services on the Chrome browser, and third-party apps won’t be able to access your Gmail or Google Drive. And third, if you ever get locked out of your account, regaining access will take more time and require more types of identity verification. Respectively, these measures protect against phishing, malicious apps that try to trick you into granting them excessive permissions, and attackers who try to use the account recovery process to take over your account.

    • Trusted Computing

      The Trusted Platform Module on your computer’s motherboard could lead to better security for your Linux system.

      The security of any operating system (OS) layer depends on the security of every layer below it. If the CPU can’t be trusted to execute code correctly, there’s no way to run secure software on that CPU. If the bootloader has been tampered with, you cannot trust the kernel that the bootloader boots. Secure Boot allows the firmware to validate a bootloader before executing it, but if the firmware itself has been backdoored, you have no way to verify that Secure Boot functioned correctly.

    • Locking the screen when removing a Yubikey

      I have my Yubikey on my key ring, so whenever I leave my computer, I have to remove the Yubikey. So why not lock the screen automatically?

    • Corporate cultural issues hold back secure software development

      The study of over 1,200 IT leaders, conducted by analysts Freeform Dynamics for software company CA Technologies, finds 58 percent of respondents cite existing culture and lack of skills as hurdles to being able to embed security within processes.

    • Stop installing our buggy Spectre CPU firmware fixes, Intel says
    • Uber shrugs off flaw that lets hackers bypass two-factor authentication

      Security researcher Karan Saini found the bug in Uber’s two-factor authentication process, which has yet to be rolled out widely to Uber users. The flaw relates to the way an account is authenticated when users log in, meaning hackers [sic] with someone’s username and password can drift pass the 2FA with ease.

    • Intel asks customers to halt patching for chip bug, citing flaw

      Intel Corp (INTC.O) said on Monday that patches it released to address two high-profile security vulnerabilities in its chips are faulty, advising customers, computer makers and cloud providers to stop installing them.

      Intel Executive Vice President Navin Shenoy disclosed the problem in a statement on the chipmaker’s website, saying that patches released after months of development caused computers to reboot more often than normal and other “unpredictable” behavior. (intel.ly/2DsL9qz)

      “I apologize for any disruption this change in guidance may cause,” Shenoy said. “I assure you we are working around the clock to ensure we are addressing these issues.”

    • Hackers stole $172 billion from people in 2017

      As many as 978 million people in 20 countries lost money to cybercrime last year, according to a new report by security firm Norton.

    • Bug Bounty Hackers Make More Money Than Average Salaries, Report Finds
    • Analysis of 13 Million Website Defacements Reveals Common Trends
    • It’s Time to Stop Buying Phones from OnePlus

      OnePlus hasn’t been making Android phones for a very long time, but over its four years in existence it has made numerous screw ups. This all finally led up to last week’s massive credit card breach. It’s time we stop trusting a company with such clearly low standards.

    • The ICO craze is making cybercriminals rich, too
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • How WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange lost his moral authority [Ed: Citing lots of patently false reports and misquoting (of of context) the President, more fakes. Never mind Assange (he can take it), one has to wonder how diplomats and embassy staff deal with deliberate distortion of their words by MSM. Examples below.]
    • Ecuador’s leader laments “nuisance” Julian Assange [Ed: More sites have now joined the defamation. They are twisting the words of the President... in order to mean the very opposite]
    • Ecuador’s President Calls Julian Assange ‘More Than a Nuisance’ as Country Realizes It’s Stuck With Him

      Assange took up residence in Ecuador’s embassy to skip bail on two sex assault-related charges in Sweden in 2012. And despite the fact that charges have been dropped in Sweden on a technicality, British authorities have still promised to arrest him if he steps foot outside of the embassy. Any foreign embassy is considered that country’s territory under international law and Assange is now on Ecuadorian soil, despite being in London.

    • Ecuador’s President Takes Aim at WikiLeaks’ Assange

      Ecuador’s president is lashing out at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange even as he contends his government is working behind the scenes to help him out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

      Lenin Moreno said in a televised interview Sunday that Assange had become “more than a nuisance” after he violated terms of his asylum by interfering in other countries’ political affairs.

      Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange this month in an unsuccessful attempt to provide him diplomatic immunity so he could evade arrest in Britain. Moreno said other countries and “important personalities” he didn’t name are working to mediate a solution.

    • Assange team hopes UK could declare him persona non grata

      Julian Assange and his advisers are preparing to try to use Ecuador’s decision to grant him diplomatic status to force Britain to declare him persona non grata and expel him, a source close to Assange said.

      Reuters also has learnt that as part of their continuing criminal investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently sought new information about years-old contacts between WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army private who leaked the website thousands of classified U.S. government documents.

      Ecuador announced earlier this month it granted diplomatic status to Assange, who in 2012 took refuge in its London Embassy after British courts ruled he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual molestation investigation.

    • Julian Assange is a ‘genius’, says Pamela Anderson

      The former Baywatch pin-up, 50, visited the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Monday, where he has been living since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

    • Julian Assange is a ‘genius’, says Pamela Anderson
    • Pamela Anderson visits pal Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Puerto Rico to privatize its power system

      Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Monday he plans to sell the assets of the island’s power system to the private sector in a effort to improve “its deficient service.”

      In a video Rossello posted to Facebook, the governor called the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) “a great burden for our people, who today is a hostage of its deficient service and high costs.”

    • As Trump, Bannon, Assange & Oprah make headlines: The Empire Strikes Back

      The global elite will use any means necessary to prevent the economic radicalization of the left. So “MeToo” and smears distract while tax evasion has become legitimate.

      Three widely reported recent events sum up our current sad predicament: the open conflict between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globe awards, and the prospect of Julian Assange’s release from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Because, although they appear totally unconnected, they fit together as pieces in a puzzle.

      The conflict between Trump and Bannon exploded in public following the publication of Michael Wolff’s book ‘Fire and Fury’. The ridiculous quarrels about who said what should not divert our attention from the crux of the matter.

      Bannon is a kind of honest Rightist populist who takes anti-capitalism with a minimum of seriousness, demanding higher taxes for the rich, more public investment etc., and his rage exploded when, with the new tax law, it became clear that Trump is the president of the super-rich. An economic neoliberal who just superficially flirts with popular discontent.

    • Rauner Takes Aim at State Lawmakers Who Appeal Property Taxes

      Gov. Bruce Rauner’s executive order seeking to bar state lawmakers from representing clients before a board that hears property tax appeals is largely symbolic, state data suggest, revealing how limited the Republican governor’s options are for changing the system.

      Vowing to end what he called a “clear conflict of interest,” the governor cited the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois’ “The Tax Divide” series in promising to follow up the order with legislation to reform the property tax system in Cook County, as well as across the state.

      “We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents,” Rauner said in a statement. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.”

    • Localisation paying off in US: Wipro

      While Infosys recently committed to hire 10,000 Americans over two years, Wipro stepped up local hiring to achieve a workforce mix with more than 50% locals. TCS has also increased local hiring.

    • Kimberly-Clark to cut 1,600 jobs

      Household-products maker Kimberly-ClarkKMB said Thursday it plans to cut 1,600 jobs, or 3% of its global work force, as it slims down in the tough economy.

      The maker of Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers and scores of other household items employs 53,000 people around the world. It plans to make the cuts primarily among salaried and non-production workers and executives said the company doesn’t plan to close any plants.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook admits social media can harm democracy
    • Facebook: we were too slow to recognise our ‘corrosive’ effect on democracy

      In response, he says, Facebook is “hiring over 10,000 more people this year to work on safety and security”, but warns that it is hard to that sort of moderation “at a global scale … since it is hard for machines to understand the cultural nuances of political intimidation.”

    • The more Facebook examines itself, the more fault it finds

      Whether social media is a net benefit to democracy is, at best, an open question. “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” Chakrabarti writes. “That’s why we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil, and trustworthy as possible.”

    • This Country’s Democracy Has Fallen Apart — And It Played Out To Millions On Facebook

      When Facebook first came to Cambodia, many hoped it would help to usher in a new period of free speech, amplifying voices that countered the narrative of the government-friendly traditional press. Instead, the opposite has happened. Prime Minister Hun Sen is now using the platform to promote his message while jailing his critics, and his staff is doing its best to exploit Facebook’s own rules to shut down criticism — all through a direct relationship with the company’s staff.

    • Facebook says it can’t guarantee social media is good for democracy
    • Facebook helped consolidate power for Cambodia’s dictator and his attack-dog media, then killed the independent press’s platform

      The Cambodian government has cultivated a deep expertise in Facebook’s baroque acceptable conduct rules, and they use this expertise to paint opposition speech as in violation of Facebook’s policies, using the company’s anti-abuse systems to purge their rivals from the platform.

    • 1 Year of Trump’s Tweets, Analyzed

      Since well before his election in 2016 and subsequent inauguration, Trump has been letting loose on just about anyone who gets in his path on the social media platform. But after he was sworn into office, his tweets took on new significance: In June 2017, the White House declared that the president’s tweets are official statements, meaning all of those 140-character notes are burned into the governmental record. The messages sent since this time — considered to be official presidential statements — have included incendiary opinions, racist retweets, and bullying, so Teen Vogue took a look at his first year in office through tweets to see what exactly he’s been talking about for the past 365 days.

    • Tech Policy A Year Into The Trump Administration: Where Are We Now?

      Shortly after Trump was elected I wrote a post predicting how things might unfold on the tech policy front with the incoming administration. It seems worth taking stock, now almost a year into it, to see how those predictions may have played out.

      Most of this post will track the way the issues were broken down last time. But it is first worth commenting how in one significant overarching way last year’s post does not hold up: it presumed, even if only naively in the face of evidence already suggesting otherwise, that the Trump administration would function with the competency and coherence that presidential administrations have generally functioned with in order to function at all, let alone effectively enough to drive forth a set of preferred policy positions. There seems to be growing consensus that this presumption was and remains unsound.

      Furthermore, the normal sort of political considerations that traditionally have both animated and limited presidential policy advocacy do not seem applicable to this presidency. As a result, conventional political wisdom in other areas of government also now seems to be changing, as the rest of the political order reacts to what Trump actually has done in his year as President and prepares for the next major round of elections in 2018

    • ‘The Post’ and the Pentagon Papers

      Imagine a film about a backer of an American war in the Third World who, as a State Department official, decides to visit and observe that war firsthand. After many months he learns that most of what our leaders have been telling the public about the war was wrong. In reality, our side was not winning, and most of the claims made for the effort were false. For example, patrols reported to protect certain areas did not even exist. The written reports describing these patrols were simply made up. Therefore both American troops, and the foreign natives we were allied with, were dying by the thousands for fraudulent reasons.

    • What is Omidyar Network and why did it invest in Rappler?
    • No such thing as Bernie Bros: Bernie’s approval rates are women 50%, blacks 70%, latinx 55%; men 46%, whites 43%

      A Quinnipiac poll of 1,212 voters taken last week found that Bernie Sanders was far and away the most viable Democratic candidate (76% approval), beating Oprah (69%) and Gillibrand (25%) — and that moreover, his approval ratings were highest among women and people of color, putting a lie to the stereotype of “Bernie Bros” as young, middle-class white male political radicals who are oblivious to the more moderate preferences of others.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Tunisia’s Plans To Bring In Its Own National ‘Aadhaar’ Biometric ID System Halted — For Now

      The last time that Techdirt wrote about Tunisia was back in 2011, when the Internet helped bring about a major regime change there. Although violent protests against the government have flared up recently, in general, the processes that are being applied to shift national policies in Tunisia are both peaceful and successful.

    • Whistleblower: FBI, NSA Conspire to Delete Data to Cover Up Their Crimes

      Both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI have recently failed to comply with orders to preserve specific data, with one body claiming it didn’t have enough storage to follow through, the other saying a trove was accidentally erased.

      The NSA was under court order to hold on to information that was linked to warrantless wiretapping during the George W Bush administration, while the FBI was told to by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to preserve text messages between two agents who had been accused of anti-Trump bias, The Hill reports. Agencies were expected to preserve the data in long-term storage.

    • Support Community Control of Spy Tech in Berkeley

      Not long ago we wrote about our support for the City of Berkeley’s proposed Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance. In the time since, conversations like those already underway in the Police Review Commission, Peace and Justice Commission, and Disaster and Fire Safety Commission have continued with city agencies and residents.

      Having been sculpted through these conversations and the recommendations of members of the Berkeley community, this ordinance represents the civil rights and civil liberties values of the people of the City of Berkeley.

    • EFF Asks California Supreme Court to Defuse a Time Bomb That Could Harm Anonymous Speech

      In recent months, we’ve seen worrying decisions in state and federal courts that weaken the First Amendment protection for anonymous speech. Last week, EFF called on the California Supreme Court to limit the impact of one these decisions, Yelp v. Superior Court.

      The Yelp case involves a defamation lawsuit brought by an accountant who claims that an anonymous Yelp reviewer defamed him and his business. Last year, a California court of appeal found that Yelp had to turn over information identifying the anonymous user because the plaintiff had a plausible case of defamation. As we wrote then, the court applied a test that failed to give full weight to the First Amendment. We predicted that the Yelp decision was a time bomb that “could invite a fresh wave of lawsuits against anonymous speakers that are designed to harass or intimidate anonymous speakers rather than vindicate actual legal grievances.”

    • Cloud computing: Now hospitals can keep confidential patient records in the public cloud

      The NHS has given hospitals the go-ahead to store sensitive patient records in the cloud.

      NHS Digital, which advises hospitals and doctors on tech issues, has issued guidance on the use of cloud services by healthcare and social care organisations.

      The NHS holds vast amounts of extremely sensitive health data about nearly everyone in the UK; to allow that information to be stored in the cloud is a huge vote of confidence in the technology from one of the world’s largest organisations.

    • NSA voice recognition technology: ‘Blanket surveillance, not tracking criminals’

      The types of surveillance people accept today are a logical extension of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ telescreens spying on you as well as churning out propaganda, which is a clear invasion of privacy rights, analysts told RT.

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) is using voice recognition software to spy on people and detect their locations, according to declassified documents obtained by the media. The NSA has been recording and gathering private phone calls to identify people by their unique “voiceprint” for more than a decade.

      RT discussed the issue with William Binney, former NSA technical director and whistleblower, and Richard Barbrook, academic in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages at the University of Westminster.

      “In 1984 George Orwell has this idea that a large number of the population had telescreens where the television spies on you as well as gives you propaganda. And this is the source of the logical extension of this,”Barbrook told RT.

    • The NSA’s voice-recognition system raises hard questions for Echo and Google Home

      Suppose you’re looking for a single person, somewhere in the world. (We’ll call him Waldo.) You know who he is, nearly everything about him, but you don’t know where he’s hiding. How do you find him?

      The scale is just too great for anything but a computerized scan. The first chance is facial recognition — scan his face against cameras at airports or photos on social media — although you’ll be counting on Waldo walking past a friendly camera and giving it a good view. But his voice could be even better: How long could Waldo go without making a phone call on public lines? And even if he’s careful about phone calls, the world is full of microphones — how long before he gets picked up in the background while his friend talks to her Echo?

    • Spending Bill Would Give Administration Direct Control Of Surveillance Spending

      We’ve been given six more years of Section 702 collections, thanks to many, many Congressional representatives who just couldn’t find it in their hearts to tell the dear old NSA “No.” An extension was granted to push the “debate” into 2018, but there was no debate to be had. Instead, oversight committees on both sides of the Congressional aisle used this time to push out zero-reform renewal packages that actually made Section 702 worse.

      After a brief, two-week consideration of opposing views, things moved ahead as though the program had never been abused by the NSA and had never “inadvertently” swept up US persons’ communications without a warrant. The same politicians who complained about the NSA’s power being in the hands of Donald Trump were the ones who voted for the passage of “reform” bills increasing the agency’s reach and grasp.

      Now, Congressional reps are granting the Trump Administration even greater control of US spy powers. The House spending bill contains an alteration to the language covering the Intelligence Community’s use of federal funds. The funding of surveillance programs is already secret. The NSA’s infamous “black budget” makes it impossible for citizens to see how — and how much — money is being spent spying on the world.

    • Edward Snowden is campaigning against the world’s largest biometric ID programme

      On Sunday, Jan. 21, Snowden backed KC Verma, former head of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), who had written about his experiences with Aadhaar. Snowden retweeted the article published in The Wire saying the act of organisations such as banks and telcos forcing individuals to produce their Aadhaar numbers should be “criminalized.”

    • Thanks to “consent” buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

      Car manufacturers are mostly warehousing this data (leaving it vulnerable to leaks and breaches, search-warrants, government hacking and unethical employee snooping), and can’t articulate why they’re saving it or how they use it.

    • NSA Admits It Has AGAIN Been Deleting Evidence Needed In Long-Running Surveillance Lawsuit
    • Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

      We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Terrifying’: How a single line of computer code put thousands of innocent Turks in jail

      Beşikçi said it was due to a single line of code, which created a window “one pixel high, one pixel wide” — essentially invisible to the human eye — to Bylock.net. Hypothetically, people could be accused of accessing the site without having knowingly viewed it.

    • The TSA Is Best At Catching People Who Are Guilty Of, Oh, Business Travel
    • Worried About Getting Sued for Reporting Sexual Abuse? Here Are Some Tips.

      #MeToo has spawned a surge in defamation claims designed to silence victims. But there are ways to minimize legal risks.

      The #MeToo movement has drawn an outpouring of testimony by the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. In response, there has been a surge in retaliatory defamation lawsuits by their abusers. Many lawyers say they’ve seen a spike in defamation lawsuits in recent years. And in the past two months, I have received more than a half-dozen calls from women who were threatened for telling their stories.

      These threats are real, and are designed to force the victims back into silence. But there are many ways to minimize or limit these legal risks.

      First, and foremost, if you’re telling the truth, you shouldn’t be sued for defamation. Truth is an absolute protection for American libel defendants since the historic Zenger case in 1735.

      Yet judges and juries can get things wrong. It happens. Especially if the abuser is willing to lie to counter your testimony. So you may need to have solid legal expertise to defend yourself in court. Attorneys can be expensive, especially good ones. But you may already have the right to insurer-paid counsel simply because you own your home or rent an apartment. Homeowners’ and renters’ policies usually insure against libel claims, and will provide a defense. Call your broker and review your general liability insurance policies.

      In addition to insurance, there are many practical ways to minimize your legal risks.

    • CIA loses Chinese and Russian spies

      A former CIA Case officer, Jerry Chun Shin Lee, has been arrested and charged with possessing classified material. Further, authorities have implicated Lee in the dismantling of both Chinese and Russian spy networks with at least 20 people (assets, in intel speak), captured and executed. I don’t have any answers, but this post raises the questions I have about the case and tries to figure out what is going on. If nothing else, it seems like the CIA is really not winning awards for “strongest asset security.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Netflix Shatters Estimates With a Surge in Year-End Subscriptions

      While rival media companies merge, fire staff and fret about the future of their businesses, Netflix keeps chugging along, adding customers at home, in Europe and Latin America. Fourth-quarter sales grew by a third to $3.29 billion, the company said, while earnings almost tripled from a year prior to 41 cents, meeting estimates.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • It Kind Of Looks Like Crytek Sued Star Citizen Developer By Pretending Its Engine License Says Something It Doesn’t

        We see all kinds of crazy copyright disputes and lawsuits around here. It is, after all, kind of our thing. Still, occasionally you come across a copyright lawsuit so completely head-scratching as to make you question reality. Thus is the case with the lawsuit Crytek filed against CIG, makers of the long-anticipated Star Citzen game, for both breaking a licensing agreement between both parties and copyright infringement. Strangely, if you read the complaint, all of this centers around CIG choosing not to use the Crytek engine.

      • David Lowery on Spotify Lawsuits and the Battle For Creators’ Rights

        These days, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery may be best known as a thorn in the side of music-technology companies like Spotify, which he sued in 2015 for copyright infringement related to unpaid mechanical royalties. That case ultimately resulted in a $43 million class action settlement against the company that is awaiting court approval, although Lowery is no longer the named plaintiff, helping publicize an issue that returned to the news in late December when Wixen Music Publishing sued Spotify for $1.6 billion. (Another class action brought by Lowery against Rhapsody is still active.)

        “Streaming is the future of the music business, and I’m not against it — I just want everyone to get paid fairly,” says Lowery, 57. “There could be millions of songs that songwriters weren’t getting paid royalties for, and the future should be better than that.”

      • Kim Dotcom is suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars

        Mr Dotcom’s accountants have estimated that, had Megaupload, the company at the centre of his legal travails, been allowed to continue, it would have been worth $10bn (£7bn) by now. And he wants satisfaction.

        Mr Dotcom had a 68 per cent shareholding in the business he created, and so is looking for $6.8bn in damages.

      • Rupert Murdoch tells Facebook: pay ‘trusted’ publishers for their content

        Rupert Murdoch issued a new salvo in the row between Facebook and news publishers on Monday, calling on the social media company to pay publishers for their content.

      • Murdoch says Facebook should pay for using news stories

        The executive chairman of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, says that if Facebook wants to recognise “trusted” publishers then it should pay them a carriage fee similar to that paid by cable firms.
        News Corporation is the world’s biggest media company, and owns TV, radio and news outlets in numerous countries, including Australia.

        Murdoch was reacting to Facebook’s recent announcement that it would be depending on users to judge the trustworthiness of news sources, in the wake of many fake news stories being circulated in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

      • Rupert Murdoch calls for Facebook and Google to subsidize the news business

        Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of publishing empire News Corporation, issued a statement today proposing a new licensing deal between media organizations and platform-owning tech companies. His goal: get entities like Facebook and Google to pay money to publishers, effectively in exchange for the value news outlets bring to those platforms.

Confidence in European Patents (EPs) is Eroding and Stakeholders Are Already Suffering

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The number of European Patents (EPs) opposed
Image credit: James Ward and Frances Wilding, Haseltine Lake LLP

Summary: The rush to grant lots and lots of patents at the EPO is already taking its toll; quality is declining, decisions to grant are being overturned, and the already-overburdened appeal boards are unable to catch up

THE OPPOSITIONS at the EPO are soaring. People (and firms) are evidently not happy with the patents being granted and oppositions are filed at a rate the EPO might not be able to suitably keep up with.

A week ago (6 days to be exact) an opposition to a CRISPR patent was successful. We wrote about that yesterday, on Saturday, Wednesday [1, 2], Thursday and Friday. IP Kat (Rose Hughes) finally wrote about it almost one week later. Cantargia AB’s press release, in our view, is still being spread amid panic over the CRISPR patent’s invalidation. This is from yesterday alone [1, 2]; what seems to be their staff was in touch with us and did not deny our suspicions. All these oppositions are becoming a great risk to some companies which invested a lot of money in questionable European Patents.

Yesterday/earlier this week, probably as one might expect, the Wall Street media wrote about this also [1, 2]. Bloomberg neglected to speak to any rights groups that oppose patents on life. Pure business spin is what these articles/blogs boil down to. The author relays the ‘damage control’. “Meanwhile,” he wrote, “it could take a while for the appeal to wend its way through the European system, Brent Babcock, an intellectual property lawyer with Knobbe Martens in Irvine, Calif., told me in a Jan. 19 telephone call.”

There’s a big backlog. In order to crush the patent applications backlog Battistelli has created a massive queue at the IAC, the ILO, BoA, and Oppositions. Well done, eh? By ramming down bad European Patents down the EPO’s mouth Battistelli has caused enormous and possibly irreversible damage. Had patent examination been done thoroughly and patiently, maybe Broad wouldn’t have been granted the CRISPR patent in the first place. Now see this comment (first one at IP Kat) from “The Convention watchdog”:

The reason for the “early” end of the oral proceedings was not that the priority question was not sufficiently discussed. On the contrary, the discussion covered all aspects brought forward by the parties and based on numerous legal expert opinions. Rather, a discussion on novelty and inventive step did not take place as expected, since the proprietor submitted new claim requests which the Opposition Division did not admit into the proceedings. As to the substance of the priority question, one may mention that the problem is not so much the general difference between US and EP law, but the difference between US law on internal priorities and the law of the Paris Convention on priorities.

Had more time been given for examiners, would such a disaster have been averted? Here is another comment:

The Broad Institute proclaims themselves confident that “the EPO will, on appeal, harmonize the EPO procedures to be consistent with international treaties and compatible with the fundamental principles of the Paris Convention”.

The EPO may follow the PCT rules and articles, but the PCT has so many “if national laws allow”, “if not contravening national law”, that it is obvious that the national law stands above the PCT.
And the EPO has not signed other international treaties, and will therefore not be bound by them, EVEN IF every single member state has signed and ratified that treaty.
As many articles about the EPO confirm, the EPOrg and the EPOff have little interest in international treaties, international standards, or complying with generally acknowledged principles of law, if there is no clear indication within the EPC to do so.

I see this statement and the filing of the appeal as a try to keep at least something of the cake, and a try to tell imvestors that not everything is lost, and that they please do not sell the shares yet.

Broad is now suffering because a patent that should not have been granted was in fact granted, giving investors false hopes and unrealistic expectations. Now there may be years of uncertainty.

What does all this make the EPO look like? What happens to the certainty associated with patents that EPO examiners used to grant (before the so-called ‘reforms’)?

Even More Uncertain a Future for the Independence of the EPO Boards of Appeal as Judge Corcoran Too Gets Sent to ‘Exile’

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pushed around endlessly by Battistelli

Rama vanavasSummary: The attack on supposedly independent judges at the EPO escalates further; the judge whom the EPO was ordered to reinstate (by ILO) is being constantly pushed around, not just legally bullied

THE EPC was supposed to ensure that judges at the EPO‘s appeal boards would be independent. But they’re not. Even the USPTO‘s appeal board (PTAB) is more independent, and it’s hierarchically part of the same unit as the Office. We have not yet heard of PTAB judges physically or metaphorically being sent to Haar and threatened by a USPTO Director with disciplinary action/s. Never happened!

Last week we wrote about Judge Corcoran (whom Battistelli stripped/removed the title “judge” from) being threatened with yet more disciplinary action/s (as per EPO service regulations) unless he packs up his things, picks up his family (wife), and immediately move to The Hague (which can cause trouble not only for Patrick Corcoran but also his wife, who might already be employed in Munich). He is basically being removed to another country, not just a different city/suburb. Is there even any assurance of work security there? No. Is this exile? As Wikipedia puts it: “To be in exile means to be away from one’s home (i.e. city, state, or country), while either being explicitly refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return. It can be a form of punishment and solitude.”

Reinstatement of this EPO Board of Appeal member, according to a reader of ours, is somewhat of a sham. His update states (uncorroborated but from a reliable source) that things has escalated within less than a fortnight on the new job/position in DG1.

Update to the story of the “banned judge” at the EPO. Apparently he has been transferred to The Hague and given the job of Senior Expert in Classification. This is the equivalent of sending a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police to direct traffic in Skegness.

On the other hand, Classification is a job which requires many years of experience of patent searching in a narrow technical field. As a former substantive examiner, and later Board of Appeal member, the “banned judge” will not have any of the requisite experience, and cannot hope to gain it in a short time. So, not only is he being uprooted from friends and colleagues in Munich and being put on sentry duty in The Hague, it seems he is also being groomed for a series of negative appraisals and a downwards career – possible even dismissal for incompetence.

What are colleagues supposed to think? A career is being destroyed by the very people who are supposed to be punished. How can work carry on like this? How can the Boards do their job?

Marks & Clerk’s Emma Foster wrote about the Enlarged Board of Appeal yesterday. This is what it’s about:

In the recent decision G 1/16, the Enlarged Board of Appeal has provided clarification as to the test to be applied when examining the allowability, according to Article 123(2) EPC, of a claim that has been amended to include an undisclosed disclaimer.

Wouldn’t all these recent decisions be tainted by fear of the Office? The judges themselves have already complained about that in public. They feel threatened.

The Response to Accusations of Censorship by Team UPC? Yet More Censorship to Shield UPC From Criticism

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wolters Kluwer

Summary: The Empire of Lies upon which the Unified Patent Court (UPC) was conceived is being exposed for its lies; The Empire Strikes Back with yet more censorship

THE EPO‘s management and Team UPC cannot coexist with facts. They fabricate, they lie, they violate laws, and then they censor or threaten their critics (who sometimes merely point out the errors). Never forget that, using these lies, they have already posted bogus job advertisements for jobs that would never exist; surely there are disciplinary actions for such actions in some European countries?

The UPC is collapsing. It’s not hard to see that.

“They fabricate, they lie, they violate laws, and then they censor or threaten their critics (who sometimes merely point out the errors).”“Tempting to want to scrap the #UPC & start all over again,” Luke McDonagh wrote (in response to claims — from the patent microcosm in fact — that it’s time to bury the UPC), “but I’m not sure that’s more ‘realistic’ than simply launching the #UnifiedPatentCourt & making adaptations as it goes (e.g. post-Brexit). Reforming #patent enforcement in the EU/EPC has an agonising history!”

Who says that patent enforcement needs to be “reformed” at all (whatever that even means)?

“The UPC is collapsing. It’s not hard to see that.”“That’s just [a] textbook talking point of Team UPC,” I told him. “Ignores German UPC challenge, Unitary Patent Constitutional issues EU-wide, lack of desire among the general population (besieged by patent ‘industry’) and so on…”

Techrights published this criticism of censorship at Kluwer Patent Blog. Hours later Kluwer Patent Blog’s ‘damage control’ was published. It’s a blurb that says: “To streamline and keep the debate going, we have decided to limit the period to send in comments to 5 days after a post has been published.”

“Remember how Kluwer views its readers. It’s grotesque. They’re being lied to and then gagged (if they attempt to correct authors, typically during weekends when they know a challenge is less likely to come in a timely fashion, if at all).”That also comes with more filtering of comments. Remember how Kluwer views its readers. It’s grotesque. They’re being lied to and then gagged (if they attempt to correct authors, typically during weekends when they know a challenge is less likely to come in a timely fashion, if at all).

“You may have seen the new Kluwer moderation policy published,” one reader told us, “this is remarkable in itself.”

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