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01.25.18

Links 25/1/2018: Qt 5.11 Feature Freeze Soon, GCC 7.3 Ready

Posted in News Roundup at 5:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • “Anyone and Everyone,” Leslie Hawthorn Reflects on 20 Years of Open Source.

    The Open Source Software Movement and the Open Source Initiative will celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2018. As part of that celebration, we’re asking open source luminaries to reflect on the past twenty years—the milestones, success, controversies, and even failures—to capture and understand our shared history, and the impact of the open source movement on not only software and technology, but also business, community and culture. We’re also curious to hear what those who have done so much to help drive open source to where it is today, on where it should go tomorrow.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 58 “Quantum” Web Browser Is Now Available for Ubuntu Linux Users

        Canonical announced today that the recently released Mozilla Firefox 58.0 web browser is now available for download from the software repositories of all supported Ubuntu Linux releases.

        Mozilla officially launched the Firefox 58.0 “Quantum” web browser the other day, on January 23, 2018, bringing numerous improvements and new features like a two-tiered compiler and streaming compilation support to make WebAssembly even faster, WebVR support for Mac OS X users, and support for credit card info in the autofill feature.

      • Update on Pocket and Firefox Integration

        When Mozilla and Pocket joined forces less than a year ago, we said that together we will work to provide people everywhere with the tools to discover and access high-quality web content across platforms and silos, for a safer, empowered, independent online experience.

      • Rolling up our sleeves

        Yet, as I said in my last post, I don’t think all is lost for the open internet, as headlines the headlines might suggest. The internet remains a place of joy, opportunity and empowerment for many. I want to make sure it stays that way — that we don’t end up with a divide between slow, ad-laden, compromised internet for most people, and fast, private, secure internet for those who can pay for it.

      • We’re Hiring a Developer to Work on Thunderbird Full-Time!

        The Thunderbird Project is hiring for a software engineer! We’re looking for an amazing developer to come on board to help make Thunderbird the best Email client on the planet! If you are interested you can apply via the link below, following the job description.

      • Get Firefox on your Amazon Fire TV, now with Turbo Mode

        Amazon Fire TV users! Here at Mozilla, we believe you should have the ability to watch what you want or view the web how you want. Firefox for Fire TV, our browser for discovering and watching web video on TV, is here on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick. You can launch popular video websites, like YouTube or Vimeo, load any website address and search the web for videos to play full screen on your TV, all from the comfort of your couch.

      • Firefox 59 Might Ship With Working Wayland Support

        Besides Firefox 59 being the release doing away with GTK2 support, this next Mozilla web-browser release might be the one to achieve working native Wayland support.

        For seven years there has been Bug 635134 for tracking a Firefox Wayland port so the web-browser would play nicely on this next-gen alternative to the X.Org Server.

      • Lessons learned from the A-Frame category in the js13kGames competition

        It’s been a while since the js13kGames 2017 competition ended in September last year, but it’s worth recalling as it was the first time with a brand new category – A-Frame. Let’s see what some of the competition participants have to say about the challenges of developing playable WebVR entries limited to just 13 kilobytes each.

      • Mozilla Empowers Journalists with the Power of A-Frame

        Technology is continually providing us with new ways to create and publish stories. For these stories to achieve their full impact, it requires that the tools to deploy them become accessible and easy to use.

        That’s one of the reasons why Mozilla has worked to develop A-Frame, a framework that makes it easy for anyone to build virtual reality experiences for the web.

      • Celebrating the tenth anniversary of International Data Privacy Day

        As we gear up to celebrate the tenth anniversary of International Data Privacy Day on January 28, we want to highlight Mozilla’s efforts to create awareness and help protect your personal information.

        As champions of a healthy and safer internet, we don’t care about your privacy just one day a year. Every day is data privacy day for us. And we don’t mean this as a gimmick. Mozilla isn’t your average tech company. We are a not-for-profit dedicated to keeping the web open and accessible to all. Privacy and safeguarding your personal data is the core of our mission. And of our products. Firefox Quantum and everything else we do from policy to advocacy or fun social media activities are rooted in that principle.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 7.3 Released

      The GNU Compiler Collection version 7.3 has been released.

      GCC 7.3 is a bug-fix release from the GCC 7 branch containing important fixes for regressions and serious bugs in GCC 7.2 with more than 99 bugs fixed since the previous release.

      This release includes code generation options to mitigate Spectre Variant 2 (CVE 2017-5715) for the x86 and powerpc targets.

    • GCC 7.3 Released With Spectre V2 Mitigation Support

      GNU Compiler Collection 7.3 is now available as the latest GCC7 point release and the prominent changes being support for helping mitigate Spectre variant two using some new compiler switches.

      GCC 7.3 has backported Retpoline support after GCC 8.0 development code initially received the support earlier this month. This GCC support building out a patched kernel can lead to “full” retpoline protection for the system.

      The Retpoline support adds a few new compiler switches, namely -mindirect-branch= for dealing with indirect branches to avoid speculative execution.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Asgard: The Open Source Air Data Computer

        We get a lot of awesome projects sent our way via the tip line. Well, mainly it seems like we get spam, but the emails that aren’t trying to sell us something are invariably awesome. Even so, it’s not often we get a tip that contains the magic phrase “determine Mach number” in its list of features. So to say we were interested in the Asgard Air Data Computer (ADC) is something of an understatement.

  • Programming/Development

    • Report: 80’s kids started programming at an earlier age than today’s millennials

      Almost immediately, you notice an interesting trend. Those in the 18 to 24 age group overwhelmingly started their programming journey in their late teens. 68.2 percent started coding between the ages of 16 to 20.

      When you look at older generations, you notice another striking trend: a comparatively larger proportion started programming between the ages of five and ten. 12.2 percent of those aged between 35 and 44 started programming then.

Leftovers

  • North, South Korea hockey players team up for Olympics

    Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other Thursday to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions.

    A dozen North Korean hockey players wearing white-and-red winter parkas crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea earlier Thursday, as about 30-40 conservative activists shouted anti-Pyongyang slogans at a nearby border area.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin on the Future of the Left
  • Science

    • Bugatti eyes 3-D printing with titanium

      For that feat, Bugatti knew there was a Germany-based Laser Zentrum Nord in Hamburg, an institute that formed part of the Fraunhofer research organization. The latter party has a 3-D printer which Bugatti said was the largest printer in the world suitable for titanium, equipped with four 400-watt lasers.

      Frank Götzke, head of new technologies at Bugatti Automobiles, recognized the Hamburg group had the selective laser melting units needed for the job.

    • Trump administration wants to end NASA funding for the International Space Station by 2025

      The Trump administration is preparing to end support for the International Space Station program by 2025, according to a draft budget proposal reviewed by The Verge. Without the ISS, American astronauts could be grounded on Earth for years with no destination in space until NASA develops new vehicles for its deep space travel plans.

      The draft may change before an official budget request is released on February 12th. However, two people familiar with the matter have confirmed to The Verge that the directive will be in the final proposal. We reached out to NASA for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

    • Never-Before-Seen Viruses With Weird DNA Were Just Discovered in The Ocean

      The ocean is crowded. As many as 10 million viruses can be found squirming in a single millilitre of its water, and it turns out they have friends we never even knew about.

      Scientists have discovered a previously unknown family of viruses that dominate the ocean and can’t be detected by standard lab tests. Researchers suspect this viral multitude may already exist outside the water – maybe even inside us.

    • Better than holograms: A new 3-D projection into thin air

      One of the enduring sci-fi moments of the big screen—R2-D2 beaming a 3-D image of Princess Leia into thin air in “Star Wars”—is closer to reality thanks to the smallest of screens: dust-like particles.

      Scientists have figured out how to manipulate nearly unseen specks in the air and use them to create 3-D images that are more realistic and clearer than holograms, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature . The study’s lead author, Daniel Smalley, said the new technology is “printing something in space, just erasing it very quickly.”

      In this case, scientists created a small butterfly appearing to dance above a finger and an image of a graduate student imitating Leia in the Star Wars scene.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ​Linux and Intel slowly hack their way to a Spectre patch

      Spectre and Meltdown are major design flaws in modern CPUs. While they’re present in almost all recent processors, because Intel chips are so widely used, Intel is taking most of the heat for these bugs. Nowhere has the criticism been hotter than on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML). That’s because unlike Apple and Microsoft operating system developers and OEMS like Dell and HP, Linux programmers do their work in the open. But, when Linux and Intel developers aren’t arguing, they are making progress.

    • Meltdown and Spectre – Performance and stability

      There’s no perceivable slowness of any kind. So that further helps our experiment, as we have a completely different set of operating systems and kernels to confirm the Windows findings.

    • Randomness in virtual machines

      I always felt that entropy available to the operating system must be affected by running said operating system in a virtual environment – after all, unpredictable phenomena used to feed the entropy pool are commonly based on hardware and in a VM most hardware either is simulated or has the hypervisor mediate access to it. While looking for something tangentially related to the subject, I have recently stumbled upon a paper commissioned by the German Federal Office for Information Security which covers this subject, with particular emphasis on entropy sources used by the standard Linux random-number generator (i.e. what feeds /dev/random and /dev/urandom), in extreme detail:

    • Linus Rants, Cryptojacking Protection, openSUSE and Games

      Linus Torvalds slams Intel’s Spectre and Meltdown patches, calling them “COMPLETE and UTTER GARBAGE”. See LKML for more.

    • Pastejacking

      This demo uses JavaScript to hook into the copy event, which will fire via ctrl+c or right-click copy. Right now this demo does works in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari but not with Internet Explorer, however there is a demo below which is IE compatible.

    • ‘A sign that you’re not keeping up’ – the trouble with Hotmail in 2018

      With the passage of time and the absence of a brand overhaul, the word “hotmail” near your name started to be quite ageing; like “ntlworld” or “blueyonder”, it was a sign that you weren’t keeping up. It was a deduction that wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, but online it is inference, not certainty, that drags you down. When you could have an ageless Yahoo address, there is just no call to leave this kind of footprint, unless “incredibly old” is your calling card.

    • Shocking data breach exposes more than 220,000 organ donor records

      Lowyat.net, which previously exposed a leak of 46m citizen records belonging to Malaysian communications firms – reported Tuesday (23 January) that the details appeared to be from a central database linked to state hospitals and national transplant resource centres.

      Complete entries of personal information included ID numbers, names, email addresses, home addresses and phone numbers of 220,000 citizens recorded between January 2009 and August 2016.

    • Researchers warn new Lebal malware is seeking high-profile targets

      The vector for the attacks, which are described as being specifically targeted versus random attempts, was not through usual email attacks but camouflaged through several layers. The first attempt involves a phishing email disguised as a message from Federal Express, while the second attempt involves a malicious link pretending to be a link to Google Drive.

    • What is Lebal? New sophisticated malware found targeting several universities, government agencies

      It requests users to click on a link to download and print out an “attached label” that needs to be submitted in order to receive the parcel. The malicious link itself is disguised as a Google Drive link. Once a user clicks on it, the hackers’ website pops up with the malicious “Lebal copy.exe” file ready to download.

    • Cyber crime hit 978m in 2017, caused US$172b loss

      It said that as as a result, victims globally lost US$172 billion – an average of US$142 per victim. The figure for Australia was US$1.9 billion in total. Each of these people also spent about 24 hours — or almost three full workdays — dealing with the aftermath.

    • January 2018 Web Server Survey

      While 1.5 million web-facing computers currently run Microsoft web server software, a slightly larger number – 1.8 million – run Windows operating systems. The bulk of the difference is made up of Windows computers that either run Apache or reverse-proxy traffic from backend Apache servers. The most commonly used Windows version is Windows Server 2008, followed by 2012 and then the aging, unsupported Windows Server 2003. Windows Server 2016 accounts for only 3.7% of all Windows web-facing computers at the moment, but it is steadily growing – this month, the number of Windows Server 2016 computers grew by 14% to 66,800.

    • Security Chaos Engineering: A new paradigm for cybersecurity

      Security is always changing and failure always exists.

      This toxic scenario requires a fresh perspective on how we think about operational security. We must understand that we are often the primary cause of our own security flaws. The industry typically looks at cybersecurity and failure in isolation or as separate matters. We believe that our lack of insight and operational intelligence into our own security control failures is one of the most common causes of security incidents and, subsequently, data breaches.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Dawn of Solar Windows

      Future skyscrapers will harvest energy from the sun with photovoltaic windows

    • China surges with 52 Gigs of new Solar as Trump kneecaps US sector with 30% Tariffs

      Clean Technica reports that China blew the top off expectations for its solar installations in 2017, It put in 52.83 gigawatts.

      The incredible 2017 solar surge in China brought its total solar installed capacity up to 130 gigawatts. As a cursory look at these statistics makes obvious, in one year China increased its solar by nearly 70 percent. In short, it wasn’t so far from doubling its ability to generate electricity from solar sources.

    • China Officially Installed 52.83 Gigawatts Worth Of Solar In 2017

      Floating solar power plantA lot of attention has been given over to watching China’s solar capacity additions in 2017, as the country seemed hell-bent on stupefying analyst expectations. China installed a total of 34.2 GW (gigawatts) of new solar PV capacity in 2016 which was well up on analyst expectations at the time. Looking forward, analysts seemed not to have learned their lesson, with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicting that China would install “more than 30 GW.”

    • Trump’s solar tariff backfires: It hits red states and U.S. taxpayers harder than China

      On Monday, President Donald Trump slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels.

      But while the White House said the goal was to punish China for an industrial policy aimed at taking over the global solar market, the harsh reality is that the president is going to end up punishing the states that voted for him the most. On top of that, U.S. taxpayers are actually going to end up paying for half of any tariff.

  • Finance

    • Lobbying for the Dead – Vampire larp at the European Parliament

      While the MEPs and the law were real, the lobbyists were not: They were participating in a larp called Parliament of Shadows, based on the tabletop roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade. The MEPs played themselves in a larp seeking to bring reality and fiction as close as possible in the world of vampire lobbying.

    • Apple Can’t Resist Playing by China’s Rules

      In short, all personal user information stored on the iCloud — including photos, videos, text files, contacts, calendars and iCloud email — will be shared with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data and could be available to the Chinese authorities as well. Apple has said that G.C.B.D. will not have access to the personal data stored in its facility without Apple’s permission, but the new terms and conditions agreement appears to say the opposite.

    • GOP senator’s bill seeks to more than double H-1B visas

      Orrin Hatch’s bill, which he said, could be folded into an immigration measure now being discussed by members of Congress, would raise the number of H-1B visas issued each year to 195,000 from the current number of 85,000.

    • GOP Lawmaker Wants to More Than Double High-Skilled Worker Visas

      In addition to the provisions for high-skilled immigrants, the legislation would eliminate caps on how many permanent residents can come from a particular country — a provision that has often stymied workers from India and China. It would also create more exemptions from an overall cap on those authorized to live and work in the U.S. permanently, including for some family members and those with advanced degrees in science and technology.

    • Kelsey: Labour has shown a lack of political backbone on so-called ‘progressive’ TPPA

      If it signs the latest version of this controversial deal, Jacinda Ardern’s government can hardly expect people to take the promise of a progressive new model for New Zealand’s international trading relations seriously, argues leading TPPA critic Jane Kelsey.

      [...]

      To be fair, the Labour-led government was handed a poison chalice. National excluded the opposition parties from information about the negotiations, leaving them dependent on leaks like everyone else. It expected – and senior Labour officials had hoped – the agreement would have been in force before the 2017 election.

    • Amazon’s First Cashierless Store Looks an Awful Lot Like Whole Foods Without Employees

      After over a year of testing (some of which didn’t go so hot), Amazon is ready at last to unveil its automated 7-Eleven killer to the public today. Doors opened at 7 o’clock this morning at the inaugural Amazon Go, which is located, conveniently, at the bottom of Amazon’s main Seattle office tower, a symbolic reminder that Jeff Bezos & Co. are watching over your every move once you step inside this fancy, checkout-free store.

    • Record high Chinese investment in Germany in 2017

      China invested more than ever before, €11bn, in German companies in 2017, according to a study from consulting firm EY, reported by Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Most transactions involved Hong Kong-based investors who are not affected by strict Chinese capital controls. The European Commission is pondering wether to set up a screening mechanism to sound the alarm bell on investments in sensitive sectors.

    • Sony Falls as JPMorgan Questions Bull Case for Image Sensors

      The Tokyo-based company’s image sensor business is likely to weaken amid slowing momentum for Apple Inc.’s iPhones, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote as he downgraded the company to neutral from overweight. IPhone X production will probably fall 50 percent quarter over quarter and the weakness is likely to continue for the first half of the year as demand for high-end smartphones plateaus, according to J.J. Park. Sony shares fell as much as 5.2 percent by midday in Tokyo.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A severe case of “truth decay”
    • Disinformation Is Becoming Unstoppable

      This market paradigm encourages a subtle and unwitting alignment: These sites sustain themselves by finding like-minded groups and selling information about their behavior; disinformation propagators sustain themselves by manipulating the behavior of like-minded groups. Until this system is restructured, it is unlikely political disinformation operations can be stopped or even slowed. That rebuilding would be enormously difficult, since digital advertising is absolutely central to Internet commerce. But it is essential.

    • New York Times Aids Democrats Worried About Trump Bashing

      Days ago, the Democratic Party disappointingly caved to Republicans and President Donald Trump and ended the government shut down without achieving anything meaningful. They were promised the potential for action by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that could help 800,000-plus immigrants known as Dreamers avoid deportation, but there are few signs that will materialize.

      Democrats balked at an opportunity to take a stand because they did not want to be divisive and disruptive. They did not have the fortitude to stick to a message that would communicate to Americans that the political party in power was shirking its responsibility to protect immigrants whose lives hang in the balance.

      Enter the New York Times and its opinion section, which published an “online conversation” on January 24 under the headline, “Enough Trump Bashing, Democrats.”

      What exactly do the editors overseeing the opinion section believe about Trump? Do the editors really think Democrats can negotiate in good faith or compromise with the president? What do they think Democrats can work on and get done with Trump when Republicans pay lip service to a policy change and then pursue a different and destructive policy?

    • The inexperienced man-child frat-rat that Trump made deputy drug czar got fired from his only real job for not showing up

      Taylor Weyeneth is America’s number two official in charge of drug policy. He’s a 24-year-old former Trump campaign volunteer whose resume is singularly unimpressive: apart from being a frat brother in good standing at St John’s University and organizing a single charity golf tournament, the only real jobs he’s ever held were working in his daddy’s chia seed factory (which closed when his dad went to jail for illegally processing Mexican steroids) and working as a legal assistant at the New York white shoe law firm of O’Dwyer & Bernstien.

      But this job was a bit of a mystery, because different versions of Weyeneth’s resumes listed different tenures at this firm. However, one of the partners at the firm, Brian O’Dwyer, has clarified the mystery. Weyeneth was fired because he “just didn’t show.”

    • ‘Don’t ever preach to me again!’: Ex-GOP chair tells evangelicals who still support Trump to ‘shut the hell up!’

      Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele blasted Family Research Council president Tony Perkins for giving President Donald Trump a “mulligan” on paying hush money to former adult film star Stormy Daniels.

      “When it comes down to giving Trump a pass, some top evangelical leaders are turning a blind eye to his past indiscretions and came to his defense following recent reports about his alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews explained.

      “I have very simple admonition: just shut the hell up and don’t preach to me about anything ever again,” Steele suggested.

      “After telling me who to love, what to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter, the grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter, the outright behavior and lies don’t matter, just shut up!” Steele blasted.

    • Neil Gorsuch Is a Terrible Writer

      Neil Gorsuch is supposed to be a good writer. In fact, he once was: During his tenure on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch produced a number of witty, lucid, and pithy opinions. But since his elevation to the Supreme Court, Gorsuch’s prose has curdled into a glop of cutesy idioms, pointless metaphors, and garbled diction that’s exhausting to read and impossible to take seriously. It may even be alienating the conservative justices whom Gorsuch was supposed to beguile with his ostensibly impeccable reasoning.

    • Ivanka Trump Won’t Stop Promoting Her Brand, Might Be Running Afoul of Federal Law

      Federal employees may not use their positions for private gain, according to federal law in the United States. Yet, this is exactly what Ivanka Trump is doing, according to Democracy Forward. The nonpartisan watchdog organization, which scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas and challenges unlawful actions through litigation, sent a formal letter to the Office of Government Ethics claiming that Ms. Trump is the latest member of the administration to run afoul of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations by using her position as a highly-ranking government employee to promote her fashion brand.

      Democracy Forward’s most central claim in its letter to David J. Apol, Acting Director of the Office of Government Ethics, stems from 5 CFR 2635.702, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Listed under the heading, “Subpart G—Misuse of Position,” the statute states that a federal employee “shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Government announces anti-fake news unit

      “We will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others. It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities.”

    • Censorship By Weaponizing Free Speech: Rethinking How The Marketplace Of Ideas Works

      It should be no surprise that I’m an unabashed supporter of free speech. Usually essays that start that way are then followed with a “but…” and that “but…” undermines everything in that opening sentence. This is not such an essay. However, I am going to talk about some interesting challenges that have been facing our concepts of free speech over the past few years — often in regards to how free speech and the internet interact. Back in 2015, at our Copia Summit we had a panel that tried to lay out some of these challenges, which acknowledged that our traditional concepts of free speech don’t fully work in the internet age.

      There are those who argue that internet platforms should never do any moderation at all, and that they should just let all content flow. And while that may be compelling at a first pass, thinking beyond that proves that’s unworkable for a very basic reason: spam. Almost everyone (outside of spammers, I guess) would argue that it makes sense to filter out/moderate/delete spam. It serves no useful purpose. It clutters inboxes/comments/forums with off-topic and annoying messages. So, as Dave Willner mentions in that talk back in 2015, once you’ve admitted that spam can be filtered, you’ve admitted that some moderation is appropriate for any functioning forum to exist. Then you get to the actual challenges of when and how that moderation should occur. And that’s where things get really tricky. Because I think we all agree that when platforms do try to moderate speech… they tend to be really bad at it. And that leads to all sorts of stories that we like to cover of social media companies banning people for dumb reasons. But sometimes it crosses over into the absurd or dangerous — like YouTube deleting channels that were documenting war crimes, because it’s difficult to distinguish war crimes from terrorist propaganda (and, sometimes, they can be one and the same).

    • Wherein We Ask The California Supreme Court To Lessen The Damage The Court Of Appeal Caused To Speech

      A few weeks ago we posted an update on Montagna v. Nunis. This was a case where a plaintiff subpoenaed Yelp for the identity of a user. The trial court originally denied Yelp’s attempt to quash the subpoena – and sanctioned it for trying – on the grounds that platforms had no right to stand in for their users to assert their First Amendment rights. We filed an amicus brief in support of Yelp’s appeal of that decision, which fortunately the Court of Appeal reversed, joining another Court of Appeal that earlier in the year had also decided that of course it was ok for platforms to try to quash subpoenas seeking to unmask their users.

      Unfortunately, that was only part of what this Court of Appeal decided. Even though it agreed that Yelp could TRY to quash a subpoena, it decided that it couldn’t quash this particular one. That’s unfortunate for the user, who was just unmasked. But what made it unfortunate for everyone is that this decision was fully published, which means it can be cited as precedent by other plaintiffs who want to unmask users. While having the first part of the decision affirming Yelp’s right to quash the subpoena is a good thing, the logic that the Court used in the second part is making it a lot easier for plaintiffs to unmask users – even when they really shouldn’t be entitled to.

    • Thought Police for the 21st Century

      The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it. And for that reason I traveled last week to Detroit to join David North, the chairperson of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, in a live-stream event calling for the formation of a broad front to block an escalating censorship while we still have a voice.

      “The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans,” Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a statement issued in support of the event. “Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence. While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities.”

    • Facebook Will Change Your News Feed Just By Asking 2 Questions

      few days back, Facebook said they would bring down the amount of news content in people’s News Feed and fill it with personal content from friends and family. But it might take some time for the company to do that.

      There was another change that CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted in a post last week. Facebook would show news content from high-quality, trustworthy sources. And rather than taking the help of some expert or AI-powered system, Facebook would go the old-school way and conduct public surveys.

    • U.N. experts urge Philippines to preserve free media

      U.N. human rights experts called on the Philippines government on Thursday to allow independent news website Rappler to operate, voicing concern at rising rhetoric against voices critical of President Rodrigo Duterte.

      The country’s Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s licence on Jan 11 for ownership violations. Maria Ressa, chief of Rappler (www.rappler.com), met state investigators on Monday to answer what she called a suspicious complaint about a 2012 story.

      “We are gravely concerned that the government is moving to revoke Rappler’s licence,” three U.N. human rights experts said in a joint statement. “We are especially concerned that this move against Rappler comes at a time of rising rhetoric against independent voices in the country.”

    • Latin American News Outlet’s Facebook Page Mysteriously Disappears For 24 Hours

      The Facebook page for teleSUR English, a leftist online news site oriented to English-speaking audiences launched in 2014 by teleSUR, a public Latin American multimedia news company, appeared to have been deleted on Tuesday night.

      By Wednesday morning, teleSUR English’s Facebook page was up and running again.

    • Facebook should be ‘regulated like cigarette industry’, says tech CEO
    • ‘Never get high on your own supply’ – why social media bosses don’t use social media

      Developers of platforms such as Facebook have admitted that they were designed to be addictive. Should we be following the executives’ example and going cold turkey – and is it even possible for mere mortals?

    • An Inside Look At The Accounts Twitter Has Censored In Countries Around The World

      The second half of 2017 saw an unprecedented number of Twitter accounts banned in Germany and France thanks to an increase in removal requests from governments, NGOs, and other entities, according to data gathered by BuzzFeed News. The data also reveal that demands from the Turkish government have led Twitter to block hundreds of users for what appear to be political reasons.

    • Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ lawyers urge Defence Secretary to end ‘censorship’ of inmate’s artwork

      Lawyers for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who have been refused permission to transfer artwork from the jail – some of it containing images of torture and abuse – have urged the US Defence Secretary to overturn a ban that activists claim amounts to “censorship”.

      A number of the 41 prisoners still being held at the prison camp located at the US naval base in Cuba, often turn to art for relaxation. At the beginning of last year, the authorities there reportedly made it easier for prisoners to participate in drawing, painting and model-making.

      But last November, after a number of works of art were displayed at a New York gallery, officials suspended all transfers of art. In addition, the inmates were told all their art was government property and would be destroyed if they were ever released from the prison.

    • China’s #MeToo movement emerges, testing censors’ limits

      Former doctoral student Luo Qianqian was “amazed” that her sexual assault story went viral in China, inspiring other women to denounce rampant harassment on campuses and unleashing a #MeToo movement in the country despite censorship challenges.

      Before she accused her professor of assaulting her, under the pretence of asking for help watering his plants, #MeToo had been slow to catch on in China.

      [...]

      But in a rare show of solidarity among intellectuals, more than 50 professors from over 30 colleges have signed an anti-sexual harassment manifesto.

      Amid the uproar, the education ministry said it had a “zero tolerance” policy and will establish a new mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.

      “The ministry’s response was really a surprise, because it’s a commitment from our country. I’m very glad my country is finally making this move,” Luo told AFP.

    • ‘Censorship’ or ‘insult’? Russians react to The Death of Stalin ban
    • Opinion: Stalin, a Russian imposition
    • Tyrannies can’t stand being laughed at
    • Kremlin Denies Censorship After ‘Death of Stalin’ Pulled from Cinemas
    • ‘Death of Stalin’ Cast Holds Out Hope for Russian Screening Despite Ban
    • Introducing the Open Research Collective on Information Pollution

      Misinformation online is a relatively new problem for platforms, researchers, and communities. Understanding the problem, and staying abreast of the latest insights from social science and computer science research about how misinformation is created, spreads online, and affects users are necessary steps towards designing and launching impactful projects.

      To help surface actionable insights for researchers and communities working on information-pollution challenges, the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI) is supporting a community repository of recently published articles from thoughtful researchers across disciplines, spanning from communications to political science to human-computer interaction.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Software used in judicial decisions meets its equal in random amateurs

      The Dartmouth researchers, Julia Dressel and Hany Farid, decided not to focus on bias but on the overall accuracy. To do so, they took the records of 1,000 defendants and extracted their age, sex, and criminal history. These were split up into pools of 20, and Mechanical Turk was used to recruit people who were asked to guess the probability that each of the 20 individuals would commit another crime within the next two years.

    • Customs and Border Protection Violated Court Orders During the First Muslim Ban Implementation

      It’s been nearly a year since the Trump Administration issued its first Muslim ban, unleashing chaos at airports across the country. A new report provides some details about why that chaos unfolded the way it did.

      Last week, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general issued a long-delayed review of the agency’s implementation of the first Muslim ban. Despite redactions and a delay in the report’s release of more than three months by DHS, this report still confirms an alarming lack of guidance, preparation, and information given to government officers that weekend. It also shows that Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with implementing the ban, repeatedly violated court orders as they were issued in the week following the announcement of the ban. Similar conclusions have emerged from FOIA documents released to ACLU affiliates that filed 13 separate lawsuits seeking information on the ban’s implementation from CBP offices across the country.

    • A prominent member of Germany’s far-right anti-Islam party just converted to Islam

      Arthur Wagner was a leading member of a state chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose slogan “Islam doesn’t belong in Germany” encapsulates its extreme nativist and anti-Muslim views.

      The AfD, which is now the third-largest political party in Germany after its stunning success in last September’s elections, has tried to ban the construction of mosques in Germany, called on the country’s border police to shoot refugees and migrants if necessary to stop them from entering the country, and run ads reminiscent of World War II-era Nazi propaganda warning of the threat posed by Muslims coming into Germany.

    • Murder in Hampstead: did a secret trial put the wrong man in jail?

      Lacey was not interested in the chaotic debris in the hallway, or the swarm of bluebottle flies on the stairs, as she made her way through the house at No 9 Downshire Hill in Hampstead on a warm June afternoon in 2006. But as she approached a room to her right, which was piled high with an assortment of papers, she let out a bark and started digging at the mess in front of her with her paws. What had caught the interest of Lacey, a black-and-tan German shepherd attached to the Metropolitan police’s dog unit, was a decomposing body.

      [...]

      Hall, who said he had taken part in BDSM activities in the past, believes Chappelow’s death could well have been a sex encounter that ended in murder. He said that the wax burns and asphyxiation were indications of this kind of sexual encounter, and that he is surprised that the police did not look further into Chappelow’s private life. “Most of the crimes that occur on the Heath at night go unreported for various reasons,” said Hall. “This (Chappelow’s murder) was very unlikely to have been a burglary gone wrong.”

      Despite what the appeal court said, the jury in the first trial “clearly concluded” nothing: they could not reach a verdict at all, and a small majority of them actually favoured acquittal. Their deliberations might have been very different if the evidence from both Jonathan Bean and Peter Hall had been available.

      “When I submitted the application to the CCRC, I was confident that the fresh evidence – particularly that obtained by the Guardian – would lead to a referral back to the court of appeal,” said Kirsty Brimelow QC, who has represented Wang. “Evidence of a person stealing mail and threatening violence would have had a significant impact upon the jury. Also, the prosecution case focused on Mr Chappelow’s life as a recluse who never went out, and could not have met his assailant other than surprising a mail thief. Evidence of another side to his life would have challenged this focus, and in my view may well have changed the verdict. There always must be potential for unfairness with secret hearings.”

      Geoffrey Robertson QC agrees. “Had the fresh evidence been available at the first trial, I do think it likely that Wang Yam would have been acquitted. I had, for example, raised the possibility of an assailant picked up on the Heath, but without the evidence that emerged years later that gave credence to the theory, consistent with some of the pathology, of a sadomasochistic ritual gone wrong. You cannot prove Wang Yam innocent – until someone confesses or they identify the DNA on the cigarettes – but doubts about his guilt are reasonable.”

      The crumbling house in which Chappelow was murdered was later bought by developers, who demolished it and rebuilt a home in the Regency style, complete with an indoor swimming pool, private cinema and staff quarters. It went on the market last year for £14.5m, and has since been sold. This week, a black Range Rover stands in its driveway, there is not a leaf out of place in the garden, and the immaculately painted letterbox has the word “Post” painted helpfully on it. All traces of Allan Chappelow are gone.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Please, Keep your Blog Light

      keeping your blog lightweight is important, I show you how to design a blog fitting in less than 10kB.

      You’re already convinced weight really matters when it comes to web pages? You can skip the introduction and directly see how you can reduce your blog’s weight through a practical example.

    • A Governor Renews Net-Neutrality Protections With the Stroke of a Pen

      Unfortunately, the telecoms are notoriously shortsighted—and litigious. As such, it’s likely that there will be legal wrangling over the Montana order. Bullock and his team think they have gotten around FCC attempts to prevent state action by creating a requirement for companies that seek to contract with the state—rather than simply ordering restoration of net neutrality.

    • New Bill Would Prevent Comcast-Loyal States From Blocking Broadband Competition

      We’ve long noted how state legislatures are so corrupt, they often quite literally let entrenched telecom operators write horrible, protectionist laws that hamstring competition. That’s why there’s now 21 states where companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have successfully lobbied for laws banning towns and cities from building their own broadband networks, even in instances where the incumbent refuses to. In many states, these laws even ban public/private partnerships, often the only creative solution for better broadband in low ROI markets.

    • Allow Burger King’s New Ad to Explain Net Neutrality to You

      In the ad, Burger King customers discover that the typical Whopper price only gets them a “slow access Whopper pass,” meaning they’ll have to wait longer for their burger unless they pay as much as $26 to receive their food quickly. The spot features Burger King employees explaining the new rules to angry and confused customers by calling it “Whopper neutrality.”

    • AT&T CEO’s net neutrality plan calls for regulation of websites

      AT&T is lobbying Congress for a net neutrality law that isn’t nearly as strict as the rules just recently repealed by the Federal Communications Commission. But the most notable aspect of AT&T’s rather vague proposal is that the telco wants this law to apply to website operators in addition to Internet service providers.

    • AT&T wants Congress to draft a net neutrality law. Here’s why that’s a big deal.

      AT&T’s legislative campaign aims to head off what many analysts say could be another swing of the regulatory pendulum against broadband providers. In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal its net neutrality rules — a move that largely benefited AT&T and other broadband companies. But that decision is being challenged in court and in Congress. Many states are also moving to pass their own net neutrality rules to replace the federal regulations.

    • Net neutrality comment fraud will be investigated by government

      The FCC’s net neutrality repeal received more than 22 million comments, but millions were apparently submitted by bots and falsely attributed to real Americans (including some dead ones) who didn’t actually submit comments. Various analyses confirmed the widespread spam and fraud; one analysis found that 98.5 percent of unique comments opposed the repeal plan.

    • States and Cities Keep the Battle for Net Neutrality Alive

      Activists and lawmakers are still trying to restore net neutrality protections at the federal level, but former FCC enforcement chief Travis LeBlanc says state and local action probably has the best chance of making an impact in the short term.

    • Net Neutrality in Europe: What’s Next? With Thomas Lohninger

      Net neutrality: the notion that all data on the Internet should be treated the same, without discrimination or differential pricing — is at risk in the United States but protected by law in Europe. But is it really being enforced?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Rise of Trade Secret Litigation in the Digital Age

      The availability of federal jurisdiction under the DTSA and powerful DTSA procedural tools, like ex parte seizure of allegedly purloined trade secrets, mean that conditions are ripe for trade secret litigation to increase.

    • Trademarks

      • Bad faith confirmed for ALEXANDER trade mark application

        A recent decision of Geoffrey Hobbs QC, sitting as an Appointed Person, has rejected an appeal against the Hearing Officer’s decision to refuse to register ALEXANDER as a UK trade mark for mirrors an picture frames, on the ground of bad faith, following an opposition from Paper Stacked Limited.

    • Copyrights

      • Grumpy Cat wins $710,000 payout in copyright lawsuit

        Grumpy Cat Limited sued the owners of US coffee company Grenade for exceeding an agreement over the cat’s image.

        The company only had rights to use the cat to sell its “Grumppuccino” iced drink, but sold other Grumpy products.

        The cat, real name Tardar Sauce, went viral in 2012 after photographs of her sour expression emerged online.

      • New Kodi Addon Tool Might Carry Interesting Copyright Liability Implications

        A tool just released by the TVAddons team might carry interesting copyright implications. Github Browser enables Kodi users to install third-party addons directly from development platform Github. This removes the requirement for sites like TVAddons to host repositories containing potentially infringing add-ons, something which forms the basis of two lawsuits against the platform.

      • The EU is Working On Its Own Piracy Watch-List

        Following in the footsteps of the United States, the European Union plans to launch its own piracy “watch list”. Based on input from relevant stakeholders, the list will identify sites and services that facilitate copyright infringement, to encourage foreign governments to take action in response. Unlike the USTR’s version, the EU list can include American companies as well.

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