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01.24.18

Links 24/1/2018: New Tails and Firefox Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 5:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Opensource gratitude

    Some weeks ago I’ve read somewhere in Twitter about how good will be to adopt and share the practice of thanking the opensource developers of the tools you use and love. Don’t remember neither who or where, and probably I’m stealing the method s/he proposed.

  • GrammaTech Releases Automated Software Engineering Library Into Open Source

    Researchers in automated software engineering now have access to proven industrial strength tools to automate common programming tasks. GrammaTech, Inc., a leading developer of commercial embedded software analysis and transformation tools, announced immediate availability of their Software Evolution Library (SEL) as open source software, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Latest Firefox Quantum release available with faster, always-on privacy with opt-in Tracking Protection and new features

        We accept things in the online world that we wouldn’t accept in the physical one. For instance, how would you feel if you popped your head in a store and that store now had the ability to keep sending you flyers even if you didn’t buy anything? Online, we often visit sites that track us, but it isn’t clear when this is happening or how the information is being used. Adding insult to injury, this often invisible tracking actually slows down web pages.

      • Firefox 58 Arrives With Continued Speed Optimizations

        Mozilla has set free Firefox 58.0 today as their latest “Firefox Quantum” release that continues work on being a performant web browser.

      • Firefox Quantum 58 builds on performance gains, improves screenshots tool

        Mozilla is rolling out Firefox Quantum 58.0 for desktop, along with Firefox for Android 58.0. It arrives over two months after the landmark release of Firefox Quantum 57.0.

        The latest build focuses on performance and security, while an update to Firefox’s user profile feature means it’s no longer backwards compatible with previous versions. Android users also gain the ability to pin favorite websites to their home screen for use like native apps.

      • Firefox 58 Released for Linux, Mac, and Windows

        The Mozilla Foundation has made Firefox 58 files available for download on its official FTP servers. An official announcement will be made later today when the organization will also release the final changelog.

      • Browse without baggage in Firefox: Set Tracking Protection to always on

        We just can’t stop making Firefox faster — and with our most recent release, we also made it easier for you to control how much you’re tracked.

      • Firefox 58: The Quantum Era Continues

        2017 was a big year for Mozilla, culminating in the release of Firefox Quantum, a massive multi-year re-tooling of the browser focused on speed, and laying the groundwork for the years to come. In 2018, we’ll build on that incredible foundation, and in that spirit our next several releases will continue to bear the Quantum moniker. Let’s take a look at some of the new goodies that Firefox 58 brings.

      • Firefox’s continued Quantum transformation—more multithreading, tracking protection

        Firefox 58, out today, continues to deliver Project Quantum, Mozilla’s far-reaching modernization effort that’s boosting the browser’s performance, security, and maintainability. The initiative allows Firefox to take better advantage of modern multicore processors and makes the browser better suited to the demands of today’s Web applications.

      • MozMEAO SRE Status Report – January 23, 2018

        Here’s what happened on the MozMEAO SRE team from December 2017 – January 23.

      • WebRender capture infrastructure

        For over a year now, I’ve been hacking on WebRender. It was born in Servo as an experimental way to batch the painting and compositing of the web content on GPU. Today it’s a solid piece of engineering that’s going to mainline Firefox as the next big Rust-written component within the Quantum project. You can read more about WebRender on our team’s blog as well as this wonderfully illustrated article by Lin Clark.

      • The Different Types of Privacy Protection

        Many of your favorite sites keep track of what you do online. They may do it to understand if you’re interested in a particular article, item or activity. They may do it to make your experience of their site easier. They may also track you so they can try to sell you things.

        Online ads can be customized on the fly based on what you do. Been searching for a new pair of Chucks? Mega Shoe Company has a great deal for you. To serve those custom ads at just the right time, the shoe company needs to know where you go online. Is that bad? Some argue that customized (targeted) ads are much better than traditional billboards or radio spots. At least with targeted ads, there’s a good chance you’ve been looking for what they’re selling. But you may not want companies following you around the web.

      • Introducing the MDN Product Advisory Board: actions and impressions from our first meeting

        On January 11th, 2018, Mozilla held the first in-person meeting of the MDN Product Advisory Board (PAB) in London. The goal of the MDN Product Advisory Board, in collaboration with Microsoft, Google, and other industry leaders, is to provide guidance that helps MDN be the best reference for web developers.

        To that end, I’m pleased to announce that the web platform consultancy Bocoup, represented by Rick Waldron, will be joining the MDN Product Advisory Board starting in February. Bocoup brings a practitioner’s perspective to the the standards process and participates in a wide range of open source projects. Rick has actively contributed to MDN since May of 2011, writing documentation, reviewing contributions, and participating in the maintenance of the JavaScript Reference sub-articles. He’s written proposals and specifications for new JavaScript APIs and syntax, participated in ECMAScript® 2015, 2016, 2017 Language Specifications, and represents Bocoup at ECMA TC39 meetings. I’m very excited Rick will be adding his considerable industry knowledge and JavaScript focus to the board and look forward to him joining our next meeting.

      • MOSS Q4 2017 Update

        We’ve just published MOSS’s Q4 2017 update, bringing you up to speed on what’s going on in the world of MOSS (Mozilla Open Source Support, our program for giving back to the open source and free software community).

      • Mozilla Communities Speaker Series #2 #PrivacyMonth
      • Mozilla Fixes 32 Security Flaws, Accelerates Performance in Firefox 58

        Mozilla released its first web browser update for 2018 on Jan. 23 with the debut of Firefox 58. The new release includes features designed to accelerate performance as well as patches for 32 security vulnerabilities.

        Firefox 58 is the second major release in the Quantum series, which became generally available in November 2017 with Firefox 57. A core element of the Firefox Quantum browser series is performance, and that has been improved even more in Firefox 58, thanks to a capability called Off-Main-Thread-Painting (OMTP).

      • Plex VR, Firefox 58.0, SteamOS and More

        Firefox 58.0 was released yesterday, and Project Quantum continues to deliver performance gains. Read the release notes for more information on all the improvements.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Will Launch with Many Design Improvements, Use Elementary Icons

      The major LibreOffice 6.0 release is coming next week, and The Document Foundation’s Mike Saunders talked with members of the community to get their perspectives on LibreOffice’s new design.

      While it won’t bring a massive redesign, as most users may have expected, LibreOffice 6.0 will include a few noteworthy design changes, including new table styles, new gradients, updated motif/splash screen, improved Notebookbars, menu and toolbar improvements, and the Elementary icons.

    • LibreOffice Gets “KDE 5″ Integration That’s A GTK3/KDE5 Hybrid

      It’s unfortunately too late for the upcoming LibreOffice 6.0 open-source office suite that was branched two weeks ago, but its next release will feature a KDE5 desktop back-end.

      Being merged today to LibreOffice mainline Git is a KDE5 back-end that is mostly the existing KDE4 back-end ported to using Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5.

      Immediately following that commit was the GTK3_VC5 VCL plug-in. This code mostly displays the GTK3 version of the LibreOffice user-interface but replaces the file and folder picker with that of KDE’s KF5 dialogs.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Facebook Open Sources Detectron Object Detection

      The way big companies are open sourcing significant AI is both gratifying and slightly worrying. AI is the biggest revolution since we discovered fire and started making tools. FaceBook AI Research has added to the list of what is available by open sourcing its Detectron project.

    • Facebook open-sources object detection research

      Facebook’s artificial intelligence research (FAIR) team today announced it would open-source its object detection platform Detectron, as well as the research the team has done on it.

    • Facebook open-sources object detection work: Watch out, Google CAPTCHA

      acebook has brought us one step closer to a Skynet future made a commitment to computer vision boffinry by open-sourcing its codebase for object detection, Detectron.

      Written in Python and powered by the Caffe2 deep learning framework, the codebase – which implements object-sniffing algos such as Mask R-CNN and RetinaNet – is available under the Apache 2.0 licence.

    • Facebook Open-sources ‘Detectron’ Computer Vision Algorithm for AR Research
    • IKEA’s New ‘Open Source’ Sofa Is Designed to Be Hacked

      British designer Tom Dixon’s portfolio is an eclectic one, including everything from high-concept paperweights to masculine scented candles. But his recent collaboration with Swedish furniture retailer IKEA might be one of his most fascinating: the design of a modular sofa with seemingly endless combinations and configurations.

    • Quest Updates Toad Open Source Database Tools [Ed: ECT in the domain "Linux Insider" promotes proprietary software (which it describes wrongly). Marketing as 'news'.]

      Quest Software on Monday announced a series of updates to its Toad open source database software applications, including new versions of its Toad Edge, Toad Data Point and Toad Intelligence Central products.

      After launching the first version of Toad Edge last summer, the company began seeing an uptick in downloads of freeware that supported MySQL on its Toad World community site. It also received requests to support MariaDB and Postgres, according to Julie Hyman, senior product manager at Quest.

      “The customers are now champing at the bit for support of those additional platforms and we are delivering,” she told LinuxInsider.

      The company began supporting MariaDB last month. It will provide support for Postgres with a Toad World preview release in February and commercial availability by April or May.

    • The Emperor Has No Clothes: Recasting Leadership In The Open-Source Era

      Rajeev Peshawaria discusses his new book: Open Source Leadership: Reinventing Management When There’s No More Business as Usual.

  • Funding

    • Data Center Network Software Startup Cumulus Raises $43M

      Says it will use the money to expand outside the US, bring more Fortune 500 companies into the fold

    • MOSS Q4: Supporting the Python Ecosystem

      Mozilla was born out of, and remains a part of, the open source and free software movement. Through the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program, we recognize, celebrate, and support open source projects that contribute to our work and to the health of the Internet. That’s why in 2017 we invested $1,650,000 in supporting open source projects around the globe. Half a million of which we dispersed just since our last update in October.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Containers, the GPL, and copyleft: No reason for concern

      Though open source is thoroughly mainstream, new software technologies and old technologies that get newly popularized sometimes inspire hand-wringing about open source licenses. Most often the concern is about the GNU General Public License (GPL), and specifically the scope of its copyleft requirement, which is often described (somewhat misleadingly) as the GPL’s derivative work issue.

      One imperfect way of framing the question is whether GPL-licensed code, when combined in some sense with proprietary code, forms a single modified work such that the proprietary code could be interpreted as being subject to the terms of the GPL. While we haven’t yet seen much of that concern directed to Linux containers, we expect more questions to be raised as adoption of containers continues to grow. But it’s fairly straightforward to show that containers do not raise new or concerning GPL scope issues.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Meltdown And Spectre Processor Vulnerabilities: Is It Time To Revive Open Source Alternative?

        The beginning of the year 2018 brought new challenges in the form of Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in most of the processor architectures. In layman terms, both of these vulnerabilities allow hackers to steal sensitive data like passwords. This vulnerability is applicable to Intel, AMD, and ARM. This means the problem is universal as it affects almost all devices ranging from embedded devices, smartphones, desktops, and servers to supercomputers.

      • When the canary breaks the coal mine

        Nobody likes it when kernels don’t work and even less so when they are broken on a Friday afternoon. Yet that’s what happened last Friday. This was particularly unsettling because at -rc8, the kernel is expected to be rock solid. An early reboot is particularly unsettling. Fortunately, the issue was at least bisected to a commit in the x86 tree. The bad commit changed code for an AMD specific feature but oddly the reboot was seen on non-AMD processors too.

        It’s easy to take debug logs for granted when you can get them. The kernel nominally has the ability for an ‘early’ printk but that still requires setup. If your kernel crashes before that, you need to start looking at other debug options (and your life choices). This was unfortunately one of those crashes. Standard x86 laptops don’t have a nice JTAG interface for hardware assisted debugging. Debugging this particular crash was not particularly feasible beyond changing code and seeing if it booted.

      • DIY Open-Source PantoProbe Precision Probe

        Electronics enthusiasts, hobbyists and makers looking for a handy tool to help you troubleshoot their latest project, may be interested in an open source PantoProb created by Kurt Schaefer. As you can see from the image above the open source probe requires a few 3D printed parts as well as some off-the-shelf hardware which is easily sourced. Kurt has also provided full instructions and a Github repo with all the necessary files to make your very own 3D printed testing probe. Check out the video below to learn more.

      • What the Apple 3D Printing Patents Mean for Our Industry

        Recently Apple has been granted a patent for a color 3D printing idea whereby the printed object is first made and then colored in afterwards. This idea is a straightforward one; using it one could print an object using FDM for example and then later color it with an inkjet print head. This method would play to both technologies’ strengths with FDM making for strong objects that are very dimensionally accurate but often suffer from poor surface quality. By having a separate print head then color in and, more importantly perhaps, strengthen and smooth over the object as well as add things such as conductivity, the resulting object would look nice as well. This could be a potential breakthrough in expanding 3D printing.

  • Programming/Development

    • ActiveState Announces Plans for SaaS Platform, Leads with Open Source Solution for DevSecOps

      ActiveState, a leader in providing commercial open source language distributions, announced today its plans for a SaaS Platform. The platform will fulfill enterprises’ unaddressed need for open source language solutions. The company leads the offering with the ability to verify open source Python applications at runtime; Python distros have security built into the language runtime. IT Security & DevSecOps teams benefit from automatic runtime verification.

    • Threading in Python

      The basic idea behind threading is a simple one: just as the computer can run more than one process at a time, so too can your process run more than one thread at a time. When you want your program to do something in the background, you can launch a new thread. The main thread continues to run in the foreground, allowing the program to do two (or more) things at once.

      What’s the difference between launching a new process and a new thread? A new process is completely independent of your existing process, giving you more stability (in that the processes cannot affect or corrupt one another) but also less flexibility (in that data cannot easily flow from one thread to another). Because multiple threads within a process share data, they can work with one another more closely and easily.

    • This Week in Rust 218

      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.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Victory for libre networks: ActivityPub is now a W3C recommended standard

      I’m happy to announce that after three years of standardization work in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Social Working Group, ActivityPub has finally been made an official W3C recommended standard. Hooray!

      ActivityPub is a protocol for building decentralized social networking applications. It provides both a server-to-server protocol (i.e. federation) and a client-to-server protocol (for desktop and mobile applications to connect to your server). You can use the server-to-server protocol or the client-to-server protocol on their own, but one nice feature is that the designs for both are very similar. Chances are, if you’ve implemented support for one, you can get support for the other with very little extra effort! We’ve worked hard to make ActivityPub easy to understand. If this is your first time reading about it, I recommend diving into the overview.

Leftovers

  • Frankenstein at 200 and why Mary Shelley was far more than the sum of her monster’s parts

    There, she records, the group was debating the arguments of poet and chemist Sir Humphry Davy and discussed “the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated”.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin, legendary science fiction and fantasy author, is dead at 88
  • Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96

    For decades his poster remained all but forgotten. Then, in the early 1980s, a copy came to light — most likely from the National Archives in Washington. It quickly became a feminist symbol, and the name Rosie the Riveter was applied retrospectively to the woman it portrayed.

  • Meeting a Slow Doom
  • Science

    • You spend nearly a whole day each week on the [I]nternet

      Since 2000, our time spent online each week has steadily increased, rising from 9.4 hours to 23.6 hours — nearly an entire day, according to a recent report by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future. The internet has become an integral component of our home lives as well, with time spent rising more than 400 percent over that period from 3.3 hours to 17.6 hours each week, according to the report, which surveys more than 2,000 people across the US each year.

    • Benjamin Mako Hill: Introducing Computational Methods to Social Media Scientists

      The ubiquity of large-scale data and improvements in computational hardware and algorithms have provided enabled researchers to apply computational approaches to the study of human behavior. One of the richest contexts for this kind of work is social media datasets like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

      We were invited by Jean Burgess, Alice Marwick, and Thomas Poell to write a chapter about computational methods for the Sage Handbook of Social Media. Rather than simply listing what sorts of computational research has been done with social media data, we decided to use the chapter to both introduce a few computational methods and to use those methods in order to analyze the field of social media research.

    • Scientific Theory And The Multiverse Madness

      Newton’s law of gravity — remember that? The force between two massive bodies decreases with the inverse square of the distance and so on?

      To use it, you need a constant, “Newton’s constant,” also called the “gravitational constant,” usually denoted G. You can determine G to reasonable accuracy with a few simple measurements.

      Once you have fixed the gravitational constant, you can apply Newton’s law to all kinds of different situations: falling apples, orbiting planets, launching rockets, etc. All with only one constant!

  • Hardware

    • iPhone Explodes After Man Bites It to Check If It’s Fake

      Smartphone battery explosions make the headlines every once in a while, but this is pretty much the first time one incident takes place after someone… bites the device.

      As weird as that might sound, that’s literally what happened in a Chinese pawn shop, where a potential iPhone buyer decided to check if the device was real just like he wanted to test a gold coin: by biting it.

      The CCTV footage shows the man checking what’s believed to be an iPhone before taking it close to his mouth, apparently to determine if it’s a clone or not. It takes just a couple of seconds before the device suffers a massive blow just next to the man’s face, with everyone around stepping away, including the woman next to the sales counter and who appears to be kind of groggy.

    • Imagination Announces The PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 GPU

      The PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 is the latest graphics processor from Imagination Technologies and is designed to drive up to six 4K screens at 60 FPS.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Breaking: WHO Members Set To Debate Transparency Of R&D Costs

      World Health Organization Executive Board members and observer countries today are preparing to discuss recommendations on ways to make medicines more accessible. This includes a new proposal to increase transparency in research and development costs that is reportedly causing concern among some developed countries.

    • Why marijuana retailers can’t use banks
    • Battle over legal marijuana: a monumental moment for states’ rights

      The decision by Sessions on Jan. 4 to rescind an Obama-era memo that allowed states to decide for themselves whether to legalize marijuana is in many ways a direct challenge to federalism. It also may hasten a showdown in Congress, which is under growing pressure to allow states alone to either regulate or prohibit the plant.

    • “PhoneGate:” French Study Finds 9 of 10 Cell Phones Exceed Safe Radiation Limits

      Under court order, the National Frequency Agency (ANFR) of France recently disclosed that nine out of ten cell phones exceed government radiation safety limits when tested in the way they are actually used, next to the body. As the Environmental Health Trust reported, French activists coined the term “PhoneGate” because of parallels to the Volkswagen emission scandal (referred to informally as “Dieselgate”) in which Volkswagen cars “passed” diesel emission tests in the lab, but actually had higher emissions when driven on real roads. In the same way, cell phones “passed” laboratory radiation tests when the “specific absorption rate” (SAR), which indicates how much radiation the body absorbs, was measured at a distance of 15mm (slightly more than half an inch). However, the way people actually carry and use cell phones (for example, tucked into a jeans pocket or bra, or held in contact with the ear) results in higher levels of absorbed radiation than found in lab tests.

    • Antimicrobial Benchmark For Industry Launched In Davos

      The Access to Medicines Foundation is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom, and the Dutch governments, she said, and the Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark is supported by both the UK and the Dutch governments.

      The benchmark seeks to clarify the role of the pharmaceutical industry, she said, and what is expected from them in tackling the issue of growing resistance to antibiotics. Apart from developing new medicines and vaccines, the industry is also expected to manufacture antibiotics responsibly so that their factory waste water does not release antibiotics into the environment, and that products are promoted and distributed carefully so they are available but not overused.

    • Three New Draft Proposals At WHO: Access To Medicines, Assistive Technology

      Three new draft proposals at the World Health Organization Executive Board this week underline the importance of access and affordability, whether it is vaccines and medicines, including antivenoms, or assistive technology. The draft resolutions call on member states as well as the WHO secretariat to urgently take action to facilitate access to products and technologies at affordable prices.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Initial Retpoline Support Added To LLVM For Spectre v2 Mitigation

      The LLVM code has been merged to mainline for the Retpoline x86 mitigation technique for Spectre Variant 2. This will be back-ported to LLVM 6.0 and also LLVM 5.0 with an immediate point release expected to get this patched compiler out in the wild.

      The compiler-side work — similar to GCC’s Retpoline code — is to avoid generating code where an indirect branch could have its prediction poisoned by a rogue actor. The Retpoline support uses indirect calls in a non-speculatable way.

    • Teen Hacker Who Social Engineered His Way Into Top-Level US Government Officials’ Accounts Pleads Guilty To Ten Charges

      The teenage hacker who tore CIA director John Brennan a new AOL-hole is awaiting sentencing in the UK. Kane Gamble, the apparent founder of hacker collective Crackas With Attitude, was able to access classified documents Brennan has forwarded to his personal email account by posing as a Verizon tech. Social engineering is still the best hacking tool. It’s something anyone anywhere can do. If you do it well, a whole host of supposedly-secured information can be had, thanks to multiple entities relying on the same personal identifiers to “verify” the social engineer they’re talking to is the person who owns accounts they’re granting access to.

      Despite claiming he was motivated by American injustices perpetrated around the world (Palestine is namechecked in the teen’s multiple mini-manifestos), a lot of what Gamble participated in was plain, old fashioned harassment.

    • The Guardian view on cyberwar: an urgent problem [Ed: Lists several attacks by Microsoft Windows (but names neither)]

      The first known, and perhaps the most successful of these, was the joint US/Israeli Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear programme in 2009. Since then there has been increasing evidence of attacks of this sort by Russia – against Estonia in 2009, and then against Ukraine, where tens of thousands of attacks on everything from power supplies to voting machines have opened an under-reported front in an under-reported war. Across the Baltic, the Swedish government has just announced a beefed-up programme of civil defence, of which the most substantial part will be an attempt to protect its software and networks from attacks. Meanwhile, North Korean state hackers are blamed by western intelligence services for the WannaCry ransomware attacks which last year shut down several NHS hospitals in the UK. Persistent reports suggest the US has interfered in this way with North Korea’s nuclear missile programme.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #143
    • Don’t Install Meltdown And Spectre Patches, Intel Warns It Would Increase System Reebots
    • On that Spectre mitigations discussion

      By now, almost everybody has probably seen the press coverage of Linus Torvalds’s remarks about one of the patches addressing Spectre variant 2. Less noted, but much more informative, is David Woodhouse’s response on why those patches are the way they are.

    • GCab and CVE-2018-5345

      Just before Christmas I found a likely exploitable bug in the libgcab library. Various security teams have been busy with slightly more important issues, and so it’s taken a lot longer than usual to be verified and assigned a CVE. The issue I found was that libgcab attempted to read a large chunk into a small buffer, overwriting lots of interesting things past the end of the buffer. ALSR and SELinux saves us in nearly all cases, so it’s not the end of the world. Almost a textbook C buffer overflow (rust, yada, whatever) so it was easy to fix.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 79 – Skyfall: please don’t yell ‘fire’
    • Frequency, complexity of DDoS attacks rising: report

      The exploitation of IoT devices and innovation from DDoS attack services are leading to more frequent and complex attacks, according to a newly published infrastructure security report from application and network performance management company Netscout.

    • Hotmail user? You’re an insurance risk, says Admiral

      “We found that on comparison website GoCompare, Admiral charged a Hotmail driver £467.04 and a Gmail one £435.68 — £31.36 less,” the reporters said.

      Admiral admitted that it does use email domains as one variable in its risk estimation algorithm saying: “Certain domain names are associated with more accidents than others.”

    • These Tinder security flaws could let malicious hackers spy on your swipes, photos and matches

      Researchers at Tel Aviv-based security firm Checkmarx found that Tinder’s iOS and Android mobile apps still lack the standard HTTPS encryption.

    • Why is cryptocurrency open source? This paper from 1999 explains

      Cryptocurrency’s roots go back further than bitcoin. In fact, bitcoin was just the first cryptocurrency to use the blockchain rather than the first cryptocurrency ever.

      Other early cryptocurrencies include now venerable names like World of Warcraft (WoW) gold, a digital currency designed for use as a store of value and a transfer medium in the gaming universe of World of Warcraft. It used a proof-of-work mining algorithm in which users would engage with the WoW ecosystem via their computer’s graphical interface and complete various digital tasks to be rewarded with gold.

      As the fiat currency value of WoW gold increased, it attracted more miners without any corresponding difficulty adjustment, eventually leading to substantial inflation and a collapsing economy.

      Today’s cryptocurrencies seem to have learned from the problems of the past. For example, bitcoin and many others will adjust mining difficulty to prevent massive inflation when mining power increases.

      It’s no surprise that almost everything cryptocurrency, from the coins to the exchanges to the wallets, are built on open-source software. This paper from 1999 might be more relevant than ever, especially with a few wallets and coins still being partly or entirely closed source.

    • Dark Caracal: State-Sponsored Spyware for Rent

      Spyware has long been a privacy and security risk for personal computers and has been used by a number of groups—ranging from creeps who spy on and blackmail people through Remote Access Trojans, to marketers who want ever more data about you for targeted ads (such as through the Superfish malware we’ve seen preinstalled on some “big brands” computers), to government intelligence agencies.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A National Defense Strategy of Sowing Global Chaos

      In the new U.S. National Defense Strategy, military planners bemoan the erosion of the U.S.’s “competitive edge,” but the reality is that they are strategizing to maintain the American Empire in a chaotic world, explains Nicolas J.S. Davies.

    • Mainstream Media and Imperial Power

      Noted journalist and filmmaker John Pilger’s collection of work has been archived by the British Library, but deep-rooted problems of Western media create an increasingly difficult landscape for ethical journalism, as Pilger explained in an interview with Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pamela Anderson Is Calling Bullshit On Julian Assange Rape Allegations

      Pamela Anderson has described Julian Assange as a “genius” and claims the rape allegations made against him are likely part of a much wider conspiracy.

      The former Baywatch pin-up, who met with the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London this week, said she thinks the accusations were a “setup” aimed at extraditing him to the US.

    • Pamela Anderson calls Julian Assange a ‘genius’ as she slams rape claim against WikiLeaks founder as a ‘setup’

      Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson has described WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a ‘genius’ and called a rape allegation against him a ‘setup’ in an explosive BBC interview.

      The former Baywatch star, 50, who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Monday, where he has been living since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, made an impassioned defense of the controversial computer programmer.

      She spoke of their close relationship in the interview on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday, telling her: ‘I would rather be a friend to Julian than anybody.

    • Co-Head Of Virginia’s FOIA Council Introduces Bill To Make State’s Court System Even More Opaque

      It appears Sen. Stuart likes the power that comes with political office, but none of the obligations to the public that come with it. Stuart blamed scheduling conflicts for being unable to attend meetings that occur roughly every sixty days. He’s adding zero value to the Council and spends more of his time in the legislature actively thwarting it. It may be tough to remove Stuart from office, but there’s certainly no reason the FOIA Advisory Council needs to continue posting his name to its masthead and inviting him to meetings he just not going to attend.

    • Julian Assange’s health in ‘dangerous’ condition, say doctors

      Julian Assange’s long stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London is having a “dangerous” impact on his physical and mental health, according to clinicians who carried out the most recent assessments of him.

      The pair renewed calls for the WikiLeaks publisher to be granted safe passage to a London hospital.

      Sondra Crosby, a doctor and associate professor at the Boston University’s school of medicine and public health, and Brock Chisholm, a London-based consultant clinical psychologist, examined Assange for 20 hours over three days in October.

      In an article for the Guardian, they wrote: “While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Job of the future: Wind farmer

      Most people who work over 30 stories up do so in the safe confines of a skyscraper. Meredith Halfpenny, however, can feel the breeze in her hair from the top of a wind turbine.

      By her own estimation, Halfpenny has helped build around 400 turbines and made more than 1,200 trips up and down their giant towers. And she finds herself in what can aptly be described as a job of the future: her skills are in high demand both where she works in Ontario, Canada, and south of the border, where in 2017 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said it expected wind turbine technicians to represent the second-fastest-growing occupation in America, more than doubling in overall number of employees through 2026 (number one was solar-panel installer).

  • Finance

    • Twitter’s number two Anthony Noto takes flight

      Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief operating officer, will take control of loan company SoFi on March 1.

    • Twitter’s No. 2 Resigns to Become Chief Executive of SoFi

      Twitter hired Noto, 49, as CFO in 2014 with a stock award worth more than $60 million, following a career in banking at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he helped Twitter go public. He served as the social-media company’s finance head before taking over as chief operating officer in 2016. Noto has played a leading role in directing the company’s product vision, especially in shaping the platform’s future around live video streaming.

    • FT: Qualcomm facing potential $2B EU fine over Apple
    • Huggies’ owner Kimberly-Clark to slash 5,000 jobs, close 10 factories

      Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissues, announced Tuesday it will cut about 13 percent of its workforce globally, or at least 5,000 jobs, in a bid to reduce costs as sales wane.

      The company plans to shutter or sell 10 of its 91 production factories worldwide.

      In all, it is anticipating more than $2 billion in cost cuts by 2021. About $1.5 billion will come from reducing costs within its business. An added $500 million to $550 million will come from the efforts to streamline its manufacturing supply chain and overhead.

    • Dallas County Violates People’s Rights by Keeping Them in Jail for Being Poor

      Shannon Daves is a 47-year-old transgender woman who has been homeless in Dallas County, Texas, since last August. On January 17, she was arrested for an alleged misdemeanor and taken to the county jail. Hours later, she was brought before a judge who told her she could go home — but only if she paid $500 bail. She could not afford that amount, so she had to go back to jail.

      Shannon is a victim of Dallas County’s money bail system, which uses wealth to decide who stays locked up. That’s illegal. The constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process prohibit people from being jailed simply because they cannot afford a monetary payment. But the judge did not even ask Shannon if she could afford her release, and instead followed Dallas County’s bail schedule, a document that automatically sets money bail amounts according to the charged offense.

      The jail is transparent about the fact that it values money over civil rights. It maintains an ATM for people to get cash to post their bail. Shannon didn’t have the money, and because she is transgender, the county put her in solitary confinement. For days she was isolated in a cramped cell 24 hours a day and denied contact with other people.

      As Shannon told us, “I never know what time of day it is, or when meal time will be.” Tragically, her story is common throughout Texas and the nation.

    • Newly Defanged, Top Consumer Protection Agency Drops Investigation of High-Cost Lender

      In 2013, ProPublica published an investigation of the subprime lender World Finance. World was charging annual interest rates that could exceed 200 percent, often trapping customers in cycles of debt by enticing them to renew the loans over and over. In states where laws barred such high rates, the installment lender loaded many loans with nearly useless insurance products that bloated the cost. The company boasted over 800,000 customers, part of an installment loan industry that claimed to loan to millions.

      The following year, World disclosed that it was under investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, and under the leadership of Richard Cordray, the agency took action against credit card lenders, mortgage servicers, payday lenders and others for unfair practices against consumers.

      But after Cordray left last November, President Donald Trump installed Office of Management and Budget head Mick Mulvaney as acting director. To say that Mulvaney has been a critic of the CFPB is a vast understatement. In a 2014 interview given when he was still a Republican congressman, Mulvaney said of the CFPB, “some of us would like to get rid of it” and called it “a joke … in a sick, sad kind of way.”

    • Trump NLRB Appointee Finds a Way Around Conflict of Interest Rules

      A Trump administration appointee to the National Labor Relations Board benefited the interests and clients of his former law firm when he cast the deciding vote to undo rules protecting workers’ rights in two cases last month.

      The decisions, which were both resolved 3-to-2, are instances of what some former NLRB members describe as a side-door means of evading government ethics requirements — a way to do indirectly what conflict of interest rules prevent the appointee from doing directly.

      William Emanuel, who joined the NLRB in September, has recused himself from involvement in more than four dozen cases involving the firm he left to join the labor board. That firm, Littler Mendelson, is known for representing corporations in labor disputes. Littler was not representing any parties in the disputes that Emanuel helped resolve in December.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Voucher schools are teaching kids what can only be described as right-wing propaganda

      In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, AlterNet education contributor Jennifer Berkshire and co-host Jack Schneider talk to Klein about the extreme ideological teachings on offer at private religious schools, now being funded by public tax money.

      The following is an edited transcript.

    • Social scientists have warned Zuck all along that the Facebook theory of interaction would make people angry and miserable

      Since the earliest days of Facebook, social scientists have sent up warnings saying that the ability to maintain separate “contexts” (where you reveal different aspects of yourself to different people) was key to creating and maintaining meaningful relationships, but Mark Zuckerberg ignored this advice, insisting that everyone be identified only by their real names and present a single identity to everyone in their lives, because anything else was “two-faced.”

    • The secret history of Facebook depression

      To early users, the [I]nternet held such promise for people and communities. Now, on the eve of Facebook’s 15th birthday, social media is making people depressed. What happened?

    • I’m Too Hot for Instagram

      As for why the account was blocked … Stormy’s rep tells TMZ there was no evidence of profanity or nudity. In fact, the rep says the account was laced with inspirational quotes and professional photos, fully clothed.

    • Facebook Accepts That Sometimes It Can Be A Threat To Democracy

      In the 2016 US elections, social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others played a big part in shaping the public opinion. Initially, Mark Zuckerberg refused to accept the fact that Facebook might have played a big–direct as well as indirect–role in amplifying the noise insides “echo chambers.” However, with time, the $400 billion social networking company has learned to soften its approach.

    • Why Facebook’s survey about trust won’t make or break the media
    • Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to ‘fake news’ is this garbage 2-question survey

      On Tuesday, just four days after the Facebook CEO announced his intention to revamp the News Feed in favor of “high quality content,” we were gifted a sneak peek at the means by which he will deliver us from the scourge of so-called fake news.

      It takes the form of a survey, and, sadly, we regret to inform you that things aren’t looking so good.

    • WaPo Editor Blames Lack of US Leadership for Famine Caused by US Leadership

      “American leadership” is one of a long list of vague, seemingly benign pseudo-concepts our media throw around to justify increased spending on soft power and military adventurism. It’s a difficult concept to pin down, but it’s almost always presented as something the United States is “failing” to do when it doesn’t “engage” the world with enough war, sanctions or arbitrarily applied human rights scolding.

      Lamenting a “lack of American leadership” is, therefore, a time-honored Serious Person cliche for those operating at major US papers, and one Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl phoned in Sunday with his op-ed “Genocide, Famine and a Democratic Retreat—All After One Year of US Inaction” (1/21/17).

    • Pope says fake news is satanic, condemns use in politics

      Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned fake news as satanic, saying journalists and social media users should shun and unmask manipulative “snake tactics” that foment division to serve political and economic interests.

      “Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth,” Francis said in the first document by a pope on the subject.

      The document was issued after months of debate on how much fake news may have influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the election of President Donald Trump.

      “Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests,” the pope wrote, condemning the “manipulative use of social networks” and other forms of communication.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Psychiatrist Bitterly Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against Redditors

      Dr. Douglas Berger, an American psychiatrist offering services to ex-pats in Japan, recently sued a bunch of Redditors for telling other Redditors to steer clear of his services. Berger’s lawsuit was exhaustive, covering several months of disparaging comments delivered by Redditors, but much of what Berger considered libel fell under the category of “protected opinion.”

      Berger’s ultimate goal appeared to be a revamp of his Google search results. Sitting ahead of multiple URLs linked to Berger and his Japanese business (many which appear to be owned by Berger himself) were links to multiple Reddit threads with unhelpful (for Berger anyway…) titles like “Stay away from ‘psychiatrist’ Doug Berger.” In these threads, Berger was accused of everything from a lack of attentiveness during sessions to harassment to dodging income taxes.

    • Italian Government Criminalizes ‘Fake News,’ Provides Direct Reporting Line To State Police Force

      No one knows how to handle “fake news.” Rather than step back and see what light-touch approaches might work, governments all over the world are rushing forward with bad ideas that harm speech and threaten journalism. No one seems to be immune to the “do something” infection and everything proposed is just another way to give governments more direct control of social media platforms and news outlets.

      In Italy, the government control of speech under the guide of “fake news” deterrence is being done in the worst way possible. It’s not being handed to a regulatory body with instructions to sort of keep an eye on things. Instead, as Poynter reports, it’s rolling out as a heckler’s veto backed by armed officers.

    • YouTube is asking its promoted artists not to insult the company

      The report states the campaign’s purpose is to help YouTube build a bridge with the music industry, and that non-disparagement clauses are a safeguard to keep these artists from saying negative things about the company. They also say the agreements apply to partners who make original series for its paid service and “go beyond a requirement not to criticize the video site.” What exactly that means is not explained.

    • Former South Korean Culture Minister Jailed Over Censorship Scandal

      Cho Yoon-sun will serve two years in prison for conspiring in a government-endorsed blacklisting of artists, including the likes of ‘Oldboy’ helmer Park Chan-wook.

      South Korea’s former culture minister, Cho Yoon-sun, has been sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring in a state-sponsored blacklisting of local artists and entertainment figures who did not support the country’s ousted ex-president, Park Geun-hye.

      Cho had previously been cleared of involvement in the censorship scandal and was given a one-year suspended sentence for perjury. An appeals court in Seoul on Tuesday reviewed the case and found further evidence in documents from the Presidential Blue House. Cho was arrested in court and taken into immediate custody.

    • Sir Anthony Beevor slams Ukraine’s ‘preposterous’ ban on Stalingrad book

      Military historian Sir Anthony Beevor is urging politicians to fight censorship after one of his books was banned in Ukraine.

      The 1998 bestseller Stalingrad was barred for import last week alongside 24 other books for being “anti-Ukrainian”. The accusation was levelled at Beevor’s examination of the Second World War battle due to passages about Ukrainian militias slaughtering Jewish children on SS orders.

    • Zionist Censorship on Facebook

      Facebook has refused to carry an advert for my book of early collected works, Zionism is Bullshit. At first it refused the ad on grounds of “profanity”. I then removed the title of the book from the advert (though it might still be dimly discerned on a small photo if you squint) and resubmitted, but approval was denied again. I then appealed, and this time the ad was refused because it “denigrates the religious views of others”. The text was standard book blurb and in no way did that.

    • CEM will Check if There is Censorship and Pressure in the Bulgarian National Television

      The Council for Electronic Media will make monitoring and find out whether there is pluralism in BNT, bnr.bg reported.

      The decision was taken at today’s meeting. For this purpose, a review of the month-to-month discussions will take place to see if there is a balance in the guests’ invitation and themes.

      Yesterday, the hosts and producers of “The Day Starts With Culture” complained about the pressure from the program director Emil Koshlukov as to who they are inviting and what questions they ask. He explained that he had made them work more for higher ratings and met resistance.

    • Where you can stick your censorship!

      Thanks to the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre), any music deemed “inappropriate” was labelled as so, censoring free speech across all music platforms. Back then the only way to get your musical fix was through vinyl or radio but the internet makes everything available to everyone – so why do people still care about music censorship? Why are people even bothering to censor music anymore?

      [...]

      Broadcasters in the UK and US of course still have their own guidelines – BBC radio stations are owned by the government so a lot of their decisions are down to what is appropriate, which of course means they will never play anything that goes against the government, their decisions or basically any song which has a strong political message. For examples, read more here

    • China’s Solution To The VPN Quandary: Only Authorized, And Presumably Backdoored, Crypto Links Allowed

      Two of the most important developments in China’s clampdown on the digital world took place last year, when the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology declared that all VPN providers needed prior government approval to operate, and then apps stores were forced to remove the many VPNs on offer there. In some parts of China, VPNs were banned completely, but such a total shutdown is not really an option for cities with many businesses that require secure overseas communication channels. That put the Chinese authorities in something of a quandary: how could they reconcile their desire to prevent VPNs being used to circumvent online controls, while ensuring that the country’s increasingly important corporate sector had access to the encryption tools it needed for operating globally? An article in the FT provides us with the answer (paywall).

    • Davos’ economic dilemma: protectionism and tech censorship

      It’s the most wonderful time of the (economic) year when the world’s top politicians and economists gather in the snowy Swiss town of Davos.

      This year, the World Economic Forum at Davos kicked off with a speech by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with more politicians set to speak at the event – perhaps most interestingly of whom will be US President Donald Trump who is likely to counter everyone else’s views on global trade.

    • Professor accuses Google of censorship: ‘It was political’

      A University of Toronto professor, whose online accounts were briefly shutdown in January, is accusing Google (GOOG) and YouTube of censoring him because of his conservative beliefs.

    • ECJ should rule against Austrian online censorship lawsuit

      A former politician in Austria wants to censor what people around the world read about her on social media.

      Having already won an injunction against Facebook regarding posts that insulted her, former Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig is now appealing for the courts to compel Facebook to seek out and delete similar posts across its entire global platform.

    • ‘The Post’ Gets Good Reviews After Lebanon Reverses Ban
    • Cinema, press, and ‘normalization’ with Israel: censorship in Lebanon under fire
    • Attempt to ban Spielberg film raises liberals’ fears in Lebanon
    • Russia Cancels ‘Death of Stalin’ Movie Release But Denies It’s Censorship
    • Russia nixes release of Stalin satire film starring Steve Buscemi and Jason Issacs
    • Is a Nondisclosure Agreement Silencing You From Sharing Your ‘Me Too’ Story? 4 Reasons It Might Be Illegal

      The #MeToo movement has freed women, many of whom have kept silent about sexual harassment or assault, to tell their stories. Finally, survivors’ voices are being heard. But there are still many survivors who don’t feel free to share their stories because they have signed nondisclosure agreements.

      Nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, are provisions frequently included in settlement agreements that prohibit survivors of sexual harassment or assault from publicly discussing both the settlement and what happened to them. Many women fear legal liability if they violate the terms of their agreements.

    • ‘Me Too,’ Chinese Women Say. Not So Fast, Say the Censors.

      They call themselves “silence breakers,” circulate petitions demanding investigations into sexual harassment and share internet memes like clenched fists with painted nails.

      But Chinese women are finding it difficult to organize a far-reaching #MeToo movement, going up against not just a male-dominated culture but also the ruling Communist Party itself.

      Government censors, apparently fearing social unrest, are trying to hobble the campaign, blocking the use of phrases like “anti-sexual harassment” on social media and deleting online petitions calling for greater protections for women. And officials have warned some activists against speaking out, suggesting that they may be seen as traitors colluding with foreigners if they persist.

      “So many sincere and eager voices are being muted,” said Zhang Leilei, 24, an activist in the southern city of Guangzhou who has helped circulate dozens of petitions among college students. “We are angry and shocked.”

    • Censorship ban queried

      The Ban imposed on some songs and certain artists by the Censorship Board of PNG may have to be reconsidered, says Anna Solomon, Secretary, Department for Community Devt and religion.

      Secretary Solomon and the Minister for Youth Religion and Community Development, Soroi Eoe, believe that there should be another way of addressing issues involving artists and music.

      Referring to the controversial video capturing a band member of Wild Pack band physically assaulting another musician, Ragga Siai, Secretary Solomon said one person’s action shouldn’t affect the livelihood of others.

    • In Lebanon, the military sends out an aggressive message about censorship

      Last week, Lebanon’s military tribunal sentenced Hanin Ghaddar, a Lebanese journalist working at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to six months in prison, in absentia. Ms Ghaddar was accused of “insulting” the Lebanese army, because at a panel discussion in 2014, she had said that the army was clamping down on Lebanese Sunnis, thereby “creating injustice.”

      The decision was remarkable for two reasons. The military tribunal’s decision to condemn Ms Ghaddar for statements made abroad sent a worrisome message that Lebanese citizens could be pursued legally wherever they might be, for whatever they might say that displeased the state. Rarely has the military sought to engage in such a broad interpretation of its censorship power.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • General Data Protection Regulation: A Checklist to Compliance

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is perhaps the most sweeping data privacy law in history. Within its nearly 100 articles, it outlines new requirements for organizations that have access to the personal information of European Union (EU) citizens, giving average consumers far more power over how their data is used.

      Failure to comply will mean heavy fines of approximately $24 million (€20 million), or 4% of a company’s global annual revenue — whichever is greater.

    • Summary: Jewel v. NSA and the Accidental Deletion of Surveillance Data

      The National Security Agency made headlines last week when Politico reported that the agency had made a court filing informing a federal judge that it had accidentally deleted data related to ongoing litigation—Jewel v. NSA—in violation of a court order. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the NSA in Jewel on behalf of AT&T customers in 2008. EFF alleges that certain NSA surveillance programs authorized under the Bush administration, including those targeting the contents of communication and those related to the collection of metadata, were unconstitutional. In March 2014, a federal judge in northern California issued a temporary restraining order in that case, requiring the NSA to preserve evidence related to the case.

    • NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values

      The National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. But earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change: It removed “honesty” as its top priority.

      Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on NSA.gov, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”

    • NSA Unlikely to Be Held Accountable for Violating Court Order to Preserve Data

      The US federal legal system will continue to protect the National Security Agency (NSA) from any penalties or other consequences even though it defied a court order to preserve data, analysts told Sputnik.

      The NSA destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and appeared not to have taken some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information was not destroyed, Politico reported last week.

    • Amazon’s cloud business acquires Sqrrl, a security start-up with NSA roots

      Sqrrl’s team and underlying technology tie back to the NSA. In 2011, the agency open-sourced database software called Accumulo, and in 2012, “a group of the core creators, committers and contributors” of Accumulo founded Sqrrl, according to the start-up’s website. Sqrrl, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, raised capital from Spring Lake Equity Partners, Matrix Partners, Rally Ventures and Accomplice.

    • Amazon Web Services catches Sqrrl, a security startup founded by ex-NSA staffers

      Cloud security is going to be an even more important topic this year than ever, thanks to the Meltdown and Spectre debacle, and Amazon Web Services bolstered its security story Tuesday with the acquisition of Sqrrl.

    • Amazon scoops up Cambridge security startup with NSA roots
    • We Are Removing Our South Korea Presence

      On the 21st January 2018 at 6.15pm Pacific Time, Private Internet Access was alerted by close contacts in South Korea that law enforcement would be seeking to mirror our servers tomorrow, 24th of January 2018, at 10:00 A.M without due process. Upon learning this information, we decided to remove and wipe the South Korea region from our network immediately.

      Since we do not log any traffic or session data, period, no data has been compromised. Our users are, and will always be, private and secure.

    • Facebook to roll out new tools in response to EU privacy laws

      Facebook will roll out a new set of tools aimed at making it easier for users to make informed choices about their privacy in response to sweeping new European privacy laws, according to the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.

    • U.S. Congress Reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

      On January 16, the United States Senate passed a six-year reauthorization of a controversial surveillance program.

      Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), first passed in 2008, allows the U.S. government to collect data, like text messages and e-mails, on foreign intelligence targets outside the United States without obtaining a warrant. It also lets the government collect the communications of foreigners from U.S. companies, like Google and Facebook, even if the person is speaking with an American.

    • Commentary: Why the FISA Act Isn’t the Privacy-Stealing Monster Some Think It Is

      Last year brought news both good and bad in the fight against terrorism. On the positive side, the Islamic State’s brutal “caliphate” has virtually collapsed under a U.S.-led military campaign, and large parts of Iraq and Syria are free of its tyranny. At the same time, terrorist attacks in New York City and in Europe reminded all that the terrorist threat to the United States and its allies persists.

      Mindful of recent victories and enduring challenges, Congress last week reauthorized one of the U.S. government’s most important intelligence tools in the fight against terrorism. Section 702 is on its face as obscure as it sounds—a recent addition to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. In practice, it allows the government to collect the electronic communications of non-Americans located overseas if they are involved in terrorism or other activities affecting U.S. security. By reauthorizing Section 702, and by adding additional limits on how the law can be used, Congress moved to keep the nation safe while protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

    • How US vote to extend NSA program could expose journalists to surveillance

      The U.S. Senate last week approved a six-year extension to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA), in a move that could put journalists at risk. Because people targeted by Section 702 are often of interest to the press as well as the NSA, journalists are more likely than most to have their communications inadvertently collected under the act.

    • Facebook buys Boston software company that authenticates IDs

      Facebook Inc (FB.O) is buying a software firm that specializes in authenticating government-issued identification cards, the two companies said on Tuesday, a step that may help the social media company learn more about the people who buy ads on its network.

    • Facebook bought a software company that authenticates government-issued ID cards

      Confirm, which says on its website that it has more than 750 clients, will wind down its operations and its employees will join Facebook in Boston, the source said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sweden demands answers from China over detained book publisher

      Gui, 53, was seized by plainclothes police officers while aboard a Beijing-bound train on Saturday, according to his daughter Angela. The incident occurred in front of diplomats who were accompanying him for a medical examination at the Swedish embassy.

    • Tenants Can Get Evicted for Calling the Police Across New York and Much of the Country

      So-called “nuisance ordinances” create a perverse incentive not to report crime and endanger domestic violence victims.

      The second time that Laurie Grape called the police during an attack by her then-boyfriend, they told her that a third call would get her evicted. Under a local law in East Rochester, New York, three police responses to the same property within a 12-month period were once grounds for a person to be kicked out of her home. The next time her ex-boyfriend attacked her, Laurie decided to stay silent rather than risk eviction.

      Laurie, however, didn’t stay silent for long. In 2010, Grape and another domestic violence survivor settled a lawsuit against East Rochester, resulting in the village changing its so-called “nuisance abatement” law. Unfortunately, similarly harmful ordinances continue to be in force across the state of New York.

      Today, a coalition of rights groups called on 11 of these municipalities to repeal their nuisance laws. The New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the Empire Justice Center, and the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence sent letters emphasizing that repeal is necessary because these ordinances violate people’s constitutional and civil rights and undermine community safety.

    • Manhattan District Attorney Says He’ll No Longer Accept Contributions From Lawyers With Cases Before Him

      The district attorney also will not solicit contributions personally and will have his campaign shield him from the identities of his donors. Candidates for judgeships in New York state follow similar guidelines.

      In October, ProPublica, WNYC and The New Yorker reported that Vance had overruled prosecutors who wanted to bring felony fraud charges against two of the president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The office had been investigating the two for making misleading statements as their father’s company attempted to sell apartments in a struggling condominium and hotel in downtown Manhattan called the Trump SoHo.

      During the investigation, in 2012, Vance met with Donald Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz. Kasowitz had donated $25,000 to Vance for his first re-election campaign. Vance returned the donation before the meeting. Then he declined to prosecute anyone in connection with the investigation. A few months later, Vance accepted more than $50,000 from Kasowitz and lawyers at his New York firm, Kasowitz Benson. Vance, in comments to ProPublica at the time, denied that Kasowitz influenced his decisions, but announced that he would return the second donation from the lawyer.

      In a second report, The New Yorker wrote that Vance’s office had declined to bring charges against Harvey Weinstein, after an Italian model went to the police with an allegation that the film producer had groped her. Attorneys associated with that case also donated to Vance.

    • Thatcher – and Many Still Active Tories – Did Support Apartheid

      Tories who actively supported apartheid are still very influential in the Tory party, notably the St Andrews Federation of Conservative Students originating group, including Michael Forsyth. Even David Cameron’s contacts with South Africa in this period are a very murky part of his cv. It is important the Tories are not allowed off the hook on this. The moral taint should rightly be with them for generations.

    • ‘How Can the UN Take on Issues of Justice When They Can’t Hold Themselves Accountable?’

      Janine Jackson: Donald Trump’s vituperative language was his own, as he lamented the presence of Haitians in the United States, including the 60,000 whose temporary protected status he was ending. But when CBS News described Haiti as “a shamble, made worse by a corrupt government,” or the Washington Post declared its “chronic instability rivals its profound poverty as a source of suffering,” they were likewise reflecting a particular story US elites tell about Haiti and its relationship to the US.

      Journalists like Jonathan M. Katz at the Washington Post and Amy Wilentz at The Nation noted the galling absence of basic history from public conversation, the decades of repeated invasions, occupations and exploitation and a special animus towards a country where former slaves gained independence.

      It’s been said that Haiti needs new narratives. The prevalent one, that says the country is inherently chaotic and corrupt, and the US and UN are just helpers doing their best, could be upended by simply steadier, contextualized reporting on events.

    • ProPublica, Audible Present ‘The Making of a Massacre’ Event Remembering Casualties of the Drug War

      Along with National Geographic and the Washington Office on Latin America, the event will feature the relatives of those killed in a deadly assault on a Mexican town triggered by a botched U.S. drug operation. The event will also preview an Audible original series that tells the story through the voices of those left behind.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T’s Bogus ‘Internet Bill Of Rights’ Aims To Undermine Net Neutrality, Foist Regulation Upon Silicon Valley Competitors

      As we’ve been warning for a while, the next phase in the war on net neutrality for giant ISPs is pushing a new “net neutrality law” in name only. ISPs are nervous that the FCC’s net neutrality repeal won’t survive a court challenge due to the numerous instances of fraud and other procedural gaffes. As such, they’ve convinced blindly-loyal lawmakers like Marsha Blackburn to push fake net neutrality legislation whose entire purpose is to prevent the FCC’s 2015 rules from being restored, or real, tough rules from being passed later.

      These proposed “solutions” ban behaviors ISPs had no intention of doing (like the ham-fisted blocking of websites), but avoid addressing any of the numerous areas where net neutrality violations now occur, from usage caps, overage fees and zero rating, to interconnection shenanigans designed to drive up costs for streaming video competitors like Netflix. But with Democrats hoping to use net neutrality as a wedge issue in the coming midterms (and pushing for a repeal reversal via the CRA), these bogus solutions haven’t seen much traction outside of paid editorial support by telecom lobbyists.

    • ITU: 4 Of 5 People In LDCs Can Access Mobile Networks, But Are Not Using Internet

      A new report by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows “great strides” in mobile phone penetration in least-developed countries. However, those countries are well behind developed countries when it comes to internet usage.

      The ITU thematic report, link here, on achieving universal and affordable internet in least-developed countries (LDCs) found that more than four out of five people in LDCs have access to a mobile-cellular network.

    • Netflix once loved talking about net neutrality – so why has it suddenly gone quiet?

      “Netflix’s fortress is so strong now that net neutrality has become background noise for them,” said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives.

    • A Perfect Storm Of Comcast Unaccountability Is Brewing

      If you’ve been napping, Comcast lobbyists recently convinced the government to kill net neutrality rules, dismantle broadband privacy protections, and bury efforts to make the cable box market more competitive. And they’re just getting warmed up. Comcast lobbyists have also successfully convinced the Trump administration to eliminate nearly all state and federal oversight of large telecom monopolies. Should they be successful, consumers and innovators will face a massive new era of little to no accountability for one of the most despised, least-competitive business sectors in America.

      This new wave of regulatory capture comes at an inopportune time for American consumers and the nation’s startups. Comcast was already facing less broadband competition than ever in many markets thanks to incumbent telcos effectively giving up on upgrading millions of aging DSL lines. With neither government oversight nor healthy competition present to keep Comcast in check, the company’s awful customer service has become legend, and the rise of arbitrary, unnecessary fees and usage caps have become the norm.

      As an added bonus for Comcast, the conditions applied to the company’s 2011 merger with NBC just expired over the weekend, raising additional concerns about the potential impact of an unshackled Comcast on the emerging streaming video market. Those conditions prohibited Comcast from charging streaming competitors unfair rates, or from meddling in Hulu management to prevent disruption of Comcast’s own services. They also required Comcast adhere to some aspects of the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules, even if they were dismantled in court (they were).

    • Montana Says It Won’t Do Business With Net Neutrality Violating ISPs

      In the wake of the federal repeal of net neutrality rules, numerous states have responded by proposing their own net neutrality rules that either mirror the FCC’s discarded rules, or impose new restrictions on net neutrality violating ISPs trying to secure state telecom contracts. New York, Massachusetts, Washington and California are among a dozen states considering their own rules. These efforts come despite the fact that Comcast and Verizon successfully lobbied the FCC to include provisions trying to ban states from protecting consumers in the wake of federal apathy on the subject.

    • Montana Governor Signs Order to Force Net Neutrality

      Mr. Bullock, a Democrat, said the executive order was the fastest and surest way to bring back net neutrality rules and to head off any decisions by internet service providers to begin throttling or charging websites more to reach consumers.

  • DRM

    • diff -u: in-Kernel DRM Support

      Recently there’s been an effort to add support for digital rights management (DRM) into the Linux kernel. The goal of DRM is to prevent users from making copies of music, video and other media that they watch on their own computers, but it also poses fundamental questions about the nature and fate of general-purpose computers.

    • Unlocked PS4 consoles can now run copies of PS2 games

      Hackers seem close to publicly unlocking the Nintendo Switch
      After years of work, hackers have finally managed to unlock the PS4 hardware with an exploit that lets the system run homebrew and pirated PS4 software. In a somewhat more surprising discovery, those hackers have also unlocked the ability to run many PS2 games directly on the console, using the same system-level emulation that powers legitimate PlayStation Classics downloads.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Tax Change Aims to Lure Intellectual Property Back to the U.S.

      U.S. companies rich in intellectual property are looking at a new tax-friendly regime: the U.S.

    • Protecting intellectual property rights in the billion-dollar world of virtual gaming

      Patent protection of this sort will be extremely vital in the esports-VR space as the filings of patent applications for VR technology drastically increase. Just last year, more than 30,000 patent applications were filed directed specifically to VR-related technologies. Although patent law does not protect abstract concepts that may be implicated in a virtual gaming universe, filing appropriate patent applications to protect new technology implementations in the space can and should be done.

    • Trademarks

      • Examining Army’s Potential Case Against Vegas NHL Team for ‘Golden Knights’ Trademark

        Do you suspect that the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the United States Army might have some sort of affiliation?

        This question lies at the heart of a notice of opposition filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Army in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (a.k.a. the USPTO, the government agency that administers the national trademark registry). Among other points, the Army stresses that the U.S. Army Parachute Team, which over the last 55 years has performed in more than 16,000 shows, has long been nicknamed the Golden Knights—quite unlike the expansion NHL team that adopted the name only 14 months ago. And, for sports and entertainment purposes, the Army has for decades used a color scheme similar to that now employed by said NHL team.

      • US Army Files Dumb Trademark Opposition Against The NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights

        This post will come as no surprise to those of us super-interesting people that for some reason have made trademark law and news a key fulcrom point in our lives, but the United States Army has filed an opposition to the trademark application for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Some background is in order should you not be one of the roughly twelve of us in America that are hockey fans.

        Starting around 2007, the United States Army went on something of a trademarking spree, filing for marks long in use, including some of the monikers for well known units and/or what I would call “show units”, or units that chiefly serve to be seen at entertainment venues such as air and water shows. Included in these marks were the Army’s “Black Knights” mascot for its military academy athletic teams and its Golden Knights paratrooping unit that performs at air and water shows all over the country. The army uses these trademarks to rake in millions of dollars in merchandise.

        The Las Vegas Golden Knights is an NHL expansion hockey team started by a graduate of West Point, Bill Foley, who wanted the team’s garb and name to serve as an homage to his military roots. To that end, he had initially wanted to name the team “The Black Knights”, but switched to “The Golden Knights” after the Army voiced its displeasure. The color scheme for the team is a clear call back to the paratrooping team that shares the name.

    • Copyrights

      • Could Platform Safe Harbors Save the NAFTA Talks?

        As the sixth round of talks over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) kicks off in Montreal, Canada, this week, EFF has joined with 15 other organizations and 39 academic experts to send the negotiators an open letter [PDF] about the importance of platform safe harbor rules, a topic that has been proposed for the deal’s Digital Trade chapter. The proposed rules, which are based on S47 U.S.C. section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA 230″), would require that Internet intermediaries—whether giants like Facebook, or just your neighbour with an open Wi-Fi hotspot—can’t be held liable for most speech of their users.

      • NAFTA Negotiations Heat Up Copyright “Safe Harbor” Clash

        To what degree should Internet services be shielded from liability for the copyright infringements of their users? With the NAFTA negotiations underway this has become a hot topic once again. Content industry groups believe that these safe harbors should be tightened, while Internet law experts and advocacy groups want to expand US-style safe harbors to Mexico and Canada.

Microsoft Financially Backs Patent Trolls That Attack Its Competitors

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[Microsoft's] Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”

Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO

Summary: Corporate media continues to ignore the elephant in the room, which is Microsoft’s deep involvement in arming patent trolls and using them against rivals, including GNU/Linux

THE 12-year Microsoft push for 'patent tax' on GNU/Linux persists in a new form. It’s occasionally mentioned in the media, e.g. that Microsoft would sic patent trolls on AWS customers, but we can’t help wondering if editors are shooting down attempts to mention that this is also an anti-Linux plot. How many millions (not even billions) has Microsoft spent (‘invested’) for the media to spread the lie that it “loves Linux”? We are occasionally being asked (having researched this) regarding Microsoft’s patent strategy against Linux, yet nothing gets published at the end. In this example from yesterday it comes across almost like Microsoft marketing with lots of Microsoft talking points, as if everything Microsoft says must be true. I had been contacted by the author, but nothing I said was included in this article. I did explain, for example, that Microsoft instructs Nokia to pass its patents to trolls. This is well documented. The article actually states that “if Microsoft sells a patent, it still can’t be used against Azure customers.” But only against them. Got it?

“We’re very disappointed to see the media persisting with the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie, but seeing also the publicity stunt (court case) which has Microsoft portrayed as “fighting for privacy” we are dismayed and bound to accept that money buys the media and thus buys narrative.”Paid-for trolling (paid by Microsoft) is not new; here’s a reminder from this week. It’s about Finjan. Microsoft-backed patent trolls like Finjan receive extortion money from Microsoft’s rivals, noting a “175% year-over-year increase in revenue to over $50.0 million” (that’s just ‘protection’ money).

Don’t expect Microsoft to be vocally involved. Microsoft has funded patent trolls, this one included, and now it can better hide it. Same for SCO. The use of proxies for such litigation was highlighted by OIN a long time ago. Their CEO said that Microsoft would attempt to attack Linux through proxies to which it can slip patents (directly or indirectly). It’s going to get harder to see it, based on rulings such as this:

The court denied defendants’ motion to compel the production of documents regarding plaintiff’s communications with litigation-funding organizations that plaintiff withheld as privileged.

We’re very disappointed to see the media persisting with the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie, but seeing also the publicity stunt (court case) which has Microsoft portrayed as “fighting for privacy” we are dismayed and bound to accept that money buys the media and thus buys narrative.

PTAB Engages in Patent Justice, But Lobbyists of Patent Trolls Try to Blame PTAB for All the Problems of the US and Then Promote Iancu

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Further Scrutiny of Andrei Iancu Shows That He’s on Both Sides of Troll Battles and PTAB Battles

Photo credit: The American Lawyer

Andrei IancuSummary: In an effort to curtail quality control at the US patent office, voices of the litigation ‘industry’ promote the irrational theory that the demise of the US is all just the fault of patent reform

THE appeals (or petitions) at the USPTO are working. Many patents are being invalidated when they lack merit. Thanks to PTAB…

Michael Loney, the managing editor of Managing IP, took note of (and apparently graphed) the effects of PTAB fees going up after all the PTAB shaming. It’s no secret that patent extremists have bullied USPTO officials into making PTAB less accessible (less affordable) and as Loney explained: “The increase in PTAB fees on Jan 16 had an impact on petition filing. Spike of 37 petitions on Jan 15 per Docket Navigator. As well as smaller but significant numbers of 18 petitions on Jan 12 and 10 on Jan 11…”

Last year was another record year for PTAB; will that trend carry on in spite of these price hikes? We shall see.

Meanwhile, Loney takes note of Allergan’s troubles amid its patent “scam” (attempting to dodge PTAB by misuse of tribal immunity). “There are now about a dozen class-action antitrust lawsuits pending against Allergan”, he wrote, “that allege “a multi-pronged effort to block generic versions of Restasis from coming to market.””

So Allergan not only resorted to patent scams but also let poor people die in the process. We hope that PTAB will soon invalidate all those patents that Allergan is trying to shelter behind tribes. Allergan knows darn well why it’s trying to avoid PTAB.

Dennis Crouch also wrote about Allergan. The firm is collapsing, it already faces multiple probes, it is laying off staff and it engages in patent scams. Here is what Crouch said:

There are now about a dozen class-action antitrust lawsuits pending against Allergan that allege “a multi-pronged effort to block generic versions of Restasis from coming to market.

[...]

The outcome of the antitrust lawsuits will at least partially depend upon the pending PTAB IPR proceedings. The patents at issue were invalidated following a bench trial in the E.D.Tex. with Federal Circuit Judge Bryson sitting by designation as the trial court. Allergan has appealed that order.

In this particular case, PTAB does a public service outside the context of patents alone. Allergan’s abusive tactics can be stopped by invalidation of key patents.

In other news about PTAB, WiFi One makes another belated appearance. To quote:

The Federal Circuit’s softening of the appeal bar (35 U.S.C. § 314(d)) in WiFi One will now allow the Court to consider matters unrelated to the merits of an institution decision, and in some cases, well-established precedent of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).

We already wrote several articles about this case. It is worth noting this comment about the EPO, bemoaning the patent microcosm’s rants about PTAB:

Lucky this wasn’t a US IPR decision. My ears wouldn’t have survived the sonic whine from the “IT’S NOT FAAAIIIIIIRRRRRRRR!!!!” brigade. Aeroplanes would have fallen from the sky and satellites knocked out of their orbits, and all because the spoiled brats are throwing their toys out of their prams.

It is NOT a point of law of fundamental importance. All points of law can have deleterious effects, but luckily I, and many others, have studied my subject. Foresight is a wonderful thing!

PTAB is meanwhile being bashed by the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM et al). Yesterday we saw the Conservative, Koch-funded lobbyist Adam Mossoff complaining about lobbying and defending patent trolls, as usual. They have a new tactic; seeing that the US is declining, based on press reports, they blame it all on AIA/PTAB/IPRs. Mossoff wrote: “It is lobbying money like this – and the hundreds of millions these companies have spent lobbying over the decade before 2017 – that created the “patent troll” narrative in D.C. and the resulting moral panic about the fundamental role of #patent rights in #innovation economy…”

Mossoff has long denied that patent trolls are a problem (let alone that they exist). Here is another new example (Moskowitz). To quote: “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 & No. 2 rankings.” #AIA #PTAB to blame”

I challenged him on this baseless claim and there’s quite a conversation there. He very much refused to accept that other factors played a role in this decline. “This is laughable,” I told him, “and a self-serving deception blaming patent reform for US decline…”

He stood firm with his claim nonetheless. IAM soon joined in, arguing things to the same effect. IAM cites the Chamber of Commerce as a source for some drama intended to claim that patent policy (e.g. AIA) has been the cause for a decline of the US. “DC sources tell IAM that Andrei Iancu confirmation vote for @uspto director is expected before mid-February,” it said, having also written this blog post about it:

In a confirmation hearing performance that played well with a broad range of stakeholders, Iancu gave every indication of being fully aware of some of the gripes levelled against the US patent system and made a point of calling for balance on more than one occasion. “The accused infringer in one case may be the IP owner in another and a patent owner in one area of technology or science may be a member of the public trying to design around someone else’s patent in another area,” he told the commitee. “The playing field must be even for all.”

[...]

If Iancu is confirmed by the middle of February, then his start in the job will coincide with the US Chamber of Commerce’s launch of its 2018 International IP Index, an analysis of IP regimes around the world in which the US last year slumped to 10th (tied with Hungary) in a ranking of the relative strength of countries’ patent systems. The latest index is due to be published on 8th February and if the US were to slip again it would give Iancu a sense of the scale of the task that he faces.

That last paragraph is pure propaganda from a corporate front group, the Chamber of Commerce.

There is still time to stop this appointment, which is about putting a patent ‘industry’ mole in charge of the USPTO. It’s not hard to envision what he would do.

Team UPC Has Been Reduced to Rubble and Misinformation

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Countries with a dozen new patents (more than a thousand times less than Germany) touted as ‘progress’

Alexander Ramsay, Bristows, and the UPC gold rush

Summary: A roundup of the latest falsehoods about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and those who are peddling such falsehoods for personal gain

THIS won’t be the first time that we point out misinformation about the UPC. We have been doing that for nearly a decade (even before “UPC” was known as UPC). Today’s post packs in it several new examples. We’ll keep it as short and concise as possible. We can soon just forget about the UPC (altogether). It will be left in the ashtray of history.

IAM

“We can soon just forget about the UPC (altogether).”The PR firm of the EPO had paid IAM to promote the UPC. This wasn’t even a secret. IAM disclosed that in its Web site. We got that. It’s a marriage of convenience and the lobbying is paid for. That IAM spread false rumours about the UPC in Spain last year (repeatedly in fact) is not OK. Why not? Because it constitutes what many people refer to as “fake news” nowadays. Never mind the ethical issues associated with lobbying…

Yesterday IAM wrote: “The Spanish government has reiterated that it will not support Spain’s membership of the UPC. Linguistically and economically – it says – the system would disadvantage Spanish SMEs. But how many Spanish SMEs have any interest in patents?”

The government is correct. IAM is wrong. SMEs would be the targets of litigation. That’s why the UPC is a threat to them. And it doesn’t offer them any benefits as very few even operate outside Spain anyway…

“The PR firm of the EPO had paid IAM to promote the UPC. This wasn’t even a secret.”I responded to IAM by saying that patent extremists, who make a living out of patent system growth (more monopolies irrespective of economic theories/evidence), will always choose to “not understand” this. IAM carried on: “Spain – a country of 46 million people and the EU’s 5th largest economy – saw a 20% decline in patent applications last year, from an already pitifully low 2,849 to 2,285. Does that tell us more about Spain or the importance of patents?”

So IAM is now bashing Spain over the number of patents, conveniently missing the point that patents are a rich countries’ game (protectionism with cost barriers).

IAM being IAM, it will carry on pushing the UPC agenda while bashing those who stand in the way or distorting their views. With EPO money in its purse, maybe that’s just “good business sense”…

Bristows LLP

The UPC is stuck, so Bristows nowadays champions "alternative facts". That says a lot about the lack of integrity of Bristows.

It Looks like Bristows staff is once again putting a mask on ("Kluwer Patent blogger") for UPC lobbying. Watch this post from yesterday and compare it to another (from the same day) by Andrew Bowler. He wants us to believe that Latvia — with barely any EPs (16 in 2016 and 8 in 2015) — matters to UPC and can revive it. “Latvia is the 15th country to ratify,” they say, and “[t]he UK is expected to ratify in the upcoming months.”

“Very few horses are left in this race; Bristows is almost on its own now.”That’s a lie. Jo Johnson left, but they did not even mention it (ever). There’s no indication that ratification is imminent. Bristows seems to have already fabricated statements to that effect.

Notice what they say at the very end: “Latvia has not yet consented to the provisional application of the UPCA or signed the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities.”

It does not mention the UK or Germany (how convenient). “It may be worthwhile awaiting the decision of the German Constitutional Court after all,” a UPC booster noted. He too knows that therein (not in Latvia) lies the fate. We might have to wait another 2 years now (for a decision). In the meantime the world forgets about the UPC fairytale (except the UPC lobby) and might not be aware that the UPC push even exists. Very few horses are left in this race; Bristows is almost on its own now.

Support for UPC is Waning

According to JUVE’s editor: “Less to read for German Constitutional Court than expected. According to the Court these institutions have submitted opinions on the UPC case: German Government, EPOorg, EPLIT, EPLAW, BRAK, DAV, und GRUR”

“We expected to see a lot more submissions in support of UPC ratification.”And in German: “Nicht viel, aber wenigstens eine kleine Information. Laut BVerfG haben diese Institutionen eine Stellungnahme zur UPC-Beschwerde eingereicht: Bundesregierung, @EPOorg, BRAK, DAV, EPLIT, EPLAW und GRUR. Weniger zu lesen für Karlsruhe als gedacht: 7 statt 27 Gutachten”

We expected to see a lot more submissions in support of UPC ratifications. The above (at least to us) suggests that fewer bodies with a UPC stake even bothered. It’s like they already gave up.

CRISPR Patent Debacle Demonstrated That Opposition Divisions Do Their Job, But Also Highlighted Serious Deficiency in Patent-Granting Process

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 1:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Why was such a patent allowed in the first place? Could it be inane work pressure?

Intellectual Property and Genomics
Reference: genome.gov (US)

Summary: While it is reassuring that EPO staff managed to squash a very controversial patent, it remains to be explained why such patent applications/applicants were even notified of intention to grant (in spite of the EPC, common sense and so on)

THE US patent system, in spite of its flaws, has managed to improve patent quality. IPRs/PTAB/AIA might deserve the credit. At the EPO, the appeal boards and the Opposition Divisions were entrusted to ensure patent quality as well.

“Maybe that’s because the number of oppositions is soaring.”One week ago today (also Wednesday) an Opposition Division showed signs of life and demonstrated that in spite of Battistelli’s behaviour it was still able to do its work. This latest comment in IP Kat says: “The discussion seems to shift away from the facts of the case decided by the Opposition Division. Even the proprietor does not allege that there was a consent by all the co-applicants of the provisional to file the internatial application claiming priority from the provisional. As to the form of transfer it seems to be meanwhile uncontested EP practice that it is governed by national law, i.e. in the case of a US provisional US civil law.”

6 days later there was still new press coverage about this opposition. “Broad suffered a stunning blow at the European Patent Office (EPO) last week,” said this latest article.

So much for patent certainty…

“The [European] office also plans to create new specialised directorates to deal with opposition procedures,” said this recent article (translated into German and French by SUEPO last week). Maybe that’s because the number of oppositions is soaring. Yesterday the EPO once again promoted the lie. I told them “it will accomplish the very opposite” of what they claim. They obviously did not reply (they rarely respond to anyone at all).

“No wonder patents tentatively get issued on CRISPR — something that even the US does not allow.”An internal SUEPO memo, according to this article, said that Battistelli’s “division into small units creates obvious issues of unequally distributed expertise (individual patent administration staff cannot master perfectly the many necessary procedures). “Even the patent administration procedures that until now were centralised in a dedicated unit, like the receiving office for WIPO in the EPO, will be decentralised to the small units […] expertise will be much more diluted than before. […] To solve the problem they have created, management has decided to train intensively all patent administration staff in basically all procedures. This is taking place while patent administration staff is already struggling with the workload, further increasing work strain. In any event, one cannot reasonably expect that a hasty training will allow building up the necessary level of expertise in all the small teams.”

We have not yet seen this entire memo (if someone can send it to us, we would appreciate it), but it seems to suggest a further race to the bottom. Yesterday the EPO promoted internships again. “This is what you can expect from our Praktika Intern programme,” it said. Way to lower the quality of work. They reduce the barrier or lower the bar to entry. No wonder patents tentatively get issued on CRISPR — something that even the US does not allow.

It is quite alarming that the EPO lowers patent quality while denying the issue even exists!

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