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01.26.18

Links 26/1/2018: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Plans, Mycroft Mark II

Posted in News Roundup at 6:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • PDP Xbox One Controllers Should Now Work With The Linux 4.15 Kernel

      One of the last minute changes sneaking into the Linux 4.15 kernel is support for PDP Xbox One controllers.

      Linux supports a variety of Xbox controllers and various offshoots while now the controllers from Performance Designed Products is the latest. PDP Xbox One Controllers can be found at a variety of Internet retailers but up to now hasn’t played nicely with the Linux kernel: the devices are rather peculiar about their initialization sequence and needed some extra packets before sending any input reports.

    • Linux Foundation

      • System Startup Gets a Boost with New LinuxBoot Project

        The Linux Foundation is pleased to welcome LinuxBoot to our family of open source projects and to support the growth of the project community. LinuxBoot looks to improve system boot performance and reliability by replacing some firmware functionality with a Linux kernel and runtime.

        Firmware has always had a simple purpose: to boot the OS. Achieving that has become much more difficult due to increasing complexity of both hardware and deployment. Firmware often must set up many components in the system, interface with more varieties of boot media, including high-speed storage and networking interfaces, and support advanced protocols and security features.

        LinuxBoot addresses the often slow, often error-prone, obscured code that executes these steps with a Linux kernel. The result is a system that boots in a fraction of the time of a typical system, and with greater reliability.

      • Linux Foundation Announces “LinuxBoot” To Replace Some Firmware With Linux Code

        Not to be confused with Coreboot or its former name of LinuxBIOS, the Linux Foundation today announced LinuxBoot as a new initiative for replacing system firmware with the Linux kernel/drivers.

        LinuxBoot is backed from the likes of Google and Facebook for improving the system boot speed and reliability by replacing some firmware functionality with the Linux kernel and a runtime.

      • The Linux Foundation creates new umbrella organization for open network projects

        Finding itself close to being overwhelmed by the sheer number of open-source networking projects it manages, the Linux Foundation said Tuesday it has decided to create a single administrative structure to govern them all.

        Called the “LF Networking Fund,” the new initiative is a kind of umbrella organization for several networking projects, including the Open Network Automation Platform, OpenDaylight, the Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization, the Platform for Network Data Analytics, the Streaming Network Analytics System and the Fast data – Input/Output project.

      • Hyperledger creates experimental labs for startups

        As an effort to bring early-stage startups together with companies that are officially recognized by Hyperledger, this measure can accelerate the pace with which new ideas find traction and reach maturity.

        Companies previously had to go through a grueling application process to prove the maturity of their code and a commitment of resources before becoming an “officially recognized” by the consortium and getting “incubation status” for their code.

        To give an idea of ​​how strict the process of applying for this status, there are at least 185 members of Hyperledger, but only eight codebases have been officially granted the status.

        This new measure now gives startups access to some of the benefits accessed only by companies that are officially recognized – for example, IBM, Intel and Monax.

      • Linux Foundation Re-Orgs to Simplify Open Source Networking

        The Linux Foundation is restructuring its operations to better coordinate the activities of multiple open source networking projects that impact the telecom space, including OPNFV, ONAP and OpenDaylight.

      • Linux Foundation brings open source projects together under LFN

        The Linux Foundation recently announced a new project called the LF Networking Fund (LFN), a platform for cross-project collaboration. Among the founding projects of the LFN include FD.io, OpenDaylight, ONAP, OPNFV, PNDA and SNAS.

      • Open source networking projects unite under Linux Foundation

        The Linux Foundation created an umbrella platform, the LF Networking Fund, to promote cross-project collaboration among open source networking projects under its wing.

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLAMOR Acceleration Should Now Work With 30-Bit Deep Color Support

        GLAMOR as a means of providing 2D acceleration over OpenGL in X.Org Server 1.20 will support for 30-bit RGB colors.

        Landing a few days ago was supporting Deep Color / Depth 30 with the Radeon X.Org driver. But initially that support was limited to using the older EXA 2D acceleration method. Fortunately, the generic 2D-over-OpenGL GLAMOR acceleration code within the X.Org Server now supports 30-bit colors.

      • Updated Clock-Gating Comes For NVIDIA Kepler GPUs On Nouveau

        Earlier this month a Red Hat developer managed to achieve full clock-gating for NVIDIA Kepler GPUs using the open-source Nouveau DRM driver. Today the second version of these patches were published.

        Lyude Paul of Red Hat has been tackling this clock-gating support for Kepler1/Kepler2 GPUs, a.k.a. the GeForce GTX 600/700 series. The previous article covers how to enable the support, but when enabled it allows for dropping the GPU power usage by several Watts.

      • Radeon VCN Gets Mesa Patches For HEVC Main Video Encode

        For those planning to pick up a Raven Ridge laptop or the forthcoming desktop APUs, the Mesa driver now has patches for enabling H.265/HEVC video encode support for VCN 1.0 on Raven hardware.

        AMD developers today sent out a set of 12 patches for adding HEVC encode support to the Gallium3D VL interface, Radeon VCN specific HEVC encode bits, and added HEVC encoding support to the Gallium3D VA “video acceleration” state tracker.

    • Benchmarks

      • Pentium G4600 vs. Ryzen 3 1200 On Ubuntu 17.10 Linux Benchmarks

        Earlier this week I posted some benchmarks looking at Intel Pentium vs. AMD Ryzen 3 performance for Linux gaming. Those tests on the Pentium and Ryzen systems were done with both NVIDIA and AMD Radeon graphics for seeing how the gaming performance compares in the spectrum of sub-$100 CPUs and cheap graphics cards. But for those that were just curious about the CPU performance, here are some benchmarks I also carried out with the Pentium G4600 Kabylake and AMD Ryzen 3 1200.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Invites Users to Test Plasma Mobile, Releases First-Ever Dedicated ISO Image

        Last week, KDE pledged to make 2018 the year its Plasma Mobile user interface for mobile devices becomes fully a functional mobile environment and deploy it on as many devices as possible, including the upcoming Librem 5 Linux phone from Purism, which should be available in Q1 2019.

        But they need community’s help to test Plasma Mobile on their devices or virtual machines and report issues they might discover. As such, KDE released today the first-ever dedicated Plasma Mobile ISO image that users can download and boot on real machines or virtual ones like QEMU/KVM or Oracle’s VirtualBox.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • It Just Got Easier to Try the Latest WebKit on Linux

        If you’ve been itching to toy with the latest development builds of WebKit on Linux you’ll be pleased to know it’s just gotten a bit easier.

        It’s all thanks to the newly announced ‘Epiphany Technology Preview‘, a development version of the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web) running atop the latest WebKitGTK+ snapshot.

      • An update on Pipewire – the multimedia revolution – an update

        We launched PipeWire last September with this blog entry. I thought it would be interesting for people to hear about the latest progress on what I believe is going to be a gigantic step forward for the Linux desktop. So I caught up with Pipewire creator Wim Taymans during DevConf 2018 in Brno where Wim is doing a talk about Pipewire and we discussed the current state of the code and Wim demonstrated a few of the things that PipeWire now can do.

      • PipeWire Is Making Progress But Still Needs More Time To Mature

        PipeWire was announced last year as a new Red Hat projects with aspirations to be to video as PulseAudio is to audio on the Linux desktop. Other PipeWire goals include professional audio support equal to or better than JACK, full Wayland/Flatpak support, and more. Red Hat is making a lot of progress on PipeWire, but it’s not yet ready to be the default on the Linux desktop.

        Red Hat’s Christian Schaller has shared a status update on PipeWire after discussing the latest state with PipeWire creator Wim Taymans.

      • Introducing the CSD Initiative

        Unless you’re one of a very lucky few, you probably use apps with title bars. In case you’ve never come across that term, title bars are the largely empty bars at the top of some application windows. They contain only the window title and a close button, and are completely separate from the window’s content. This makes them very inflexible, as they can not contain any additional UI elements, or integrate with the application window’s content.

      • The CSD Initiative Is Pushing For Apps To Abandon Title Bars In Favor Of Header Bars

        GNOME developer Tobias Bernard has announced “The CSD Initiative” in a push for more applications to support client-side decorations and as part of that to abandon boring title bars in favor of modern header bars.

        By using client-side decorations (CSD) rather than server-side decorations, applications are able to draw their own title/header bars and that makes for more interesting possibilities to save precious screen real estate and be more innovative about packing additional functionality into what otherwise would be a rather empty bar on the screen.

  • Distributions

    • Subgraph: This Security-Focused Distro Is Malware’s Worst Nightmare

      By design, Linux is a very secure operating system. In fact, after 20 years of usage, I have personally experienced only one instance where a Linux machine was compromised. That instance was a server hit with a rootkit. On the desktop side, I’ve yet to experience an attack of any kind.
      That doesn’t mean exploits and attacks on the Linux platform don’t exist. They do. One only need consider Heartbleed and Wannacry, to remember that Linux is not invincible.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE – Meltdown & Spectre Update – 26 Jan 2018

        This is an update to our current Meltdown and Spectre situation on openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed.

        We have released kernels with initial Meltdown and Spectre mitigations begin of January.

      • Ruby, YaST, Plasma 5.12 Beta Get Updates in Tumbleweed

        A total of six snapshots arrived and brought new versions of Ruby, YaST, KDE’s Plasma 5.12 Beta and many others.

        The latest snapshot, 20180124, switched the default for Ruby to version 2.5. Package improvements were made to the command line tool SUSEConnect 0.3.7. A change to cups-filters 1.19.0 in order to allow builds on systems without python2 was made with python3-cups rather than using python-cups. Enscript 1.6.6 fixed a handful of bugs and spec-cleaner 1.0.2 added groups for Rust and made the switch to pytest. Git, squid and perl-Encode also received minor updates in the snapshot.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • SolydXK Plasma Rewards Effort With Stunning Results

          SolydXK is a Debian-based Linux distribution that comes with a choice of the Xfce (SolydX) or KDE (SolydK) desktop. The latest edition of SolydXK, released this month, provides a state-of-the-art Linux platform.

          When I first reviewed the SoldXK distro back in 2013, it was an impressive new kid on the Linux block. Schoelje, a key developer of two discontinued desktop options within the Linux Mint distro, has helped the SolydXK distro grow into a reputable Linux offering built around two popular computing options.

          Those two desktop options drew me to the Linux OS years ago. Both have their strong points.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Bionic Beaver 18.04 LTS to use Xorg by default

            Bionic Beaver, the codename for the next Ubuntu LTS release, is due in April 2018 and will ship with both the traditional Xorg graphics stack as well as the newer Wayland based stack, but Xorg will be the default.

            17.10, released in October 2017, ships with the Wayland based graphics server as the default and the Xorg based equivalent is available as an option from the login screen. When we started out on the GNOME Shell route for 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) we knew that we needed to have Wayland as the default option otherwise we wouldn’t know if it would work well for our users in the LTS only 6 months later. The LTS is supported for five years meaning that we need to be certain that what goes out the door on release day will be maintainable and sustainable for the duration and will serve all our users and customers needs, which is no mean feat.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Will Ship with XOrg by Default, Says Canonical
          • Ubuntu Linux 18.04 ‘Bionic Beaver’ LTS will default to Xorg
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Will Default To The X.Org Stack, Not Wayland
          • Canonical Releases New Linux Kernel Update for Ubuntu 17.10 and 16.04 HWE Users

            Coming a few days after the last kernel update released earlier this week, which included mitigations for the Spectre security vulnerability that puts billions of devices at risk of attacks, today’s security update addresses a logic error in Linux kernel’s x86-64 syscall entry implementation, discovered by Jay Vosburgh.

            According to the security advisory published today by Canonica, it would appear that the security issue has been introduced by the mitigations for the Spectre hardware bug, and it could allow a local attacker to either execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS attack).

          • A peek at the Snapcraft Summit

            The Snapcraft Summit, taking place in Seattle from January 29th to February 2nd, is a forward-thinking five day software hackathon being attended by major software vendors and snap developers working to move the industry forward with software delivery.

            In the style introduced by the famous BarCamps of old, the agenda is totally free-form and attendee-generated. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll sit down and relax! There are many things planned that need tackling. Every attendee already has a long laundry list of things to work on; as a group we will move forward and check things off the list as the days go by. We are going to be covering a wide range of technologies and domains, from GUI oriented electron based applications and its development stack to robotics, with a spice and language frameworks and command line tools for the cloud would be the few to mention.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is Switching back to Xorg

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will come with the Xorg display server enabled by default. Canonical cites stability and reliability concerns over Wayland as reason for the change.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Bloomberg Release Open Source “PowerfulSeal” Kubernetes-Specific Chaos Testing Tool

    t the recent KubeCon North America conference, in Austin, USA, Bloomberg presented their new open source “PowerfulSeal” tool, which enables chaos testing within Kubernetes clusters via the termination of targeted pods and underlying node infrastructure. The Kubernetes container orchestration platform is a popular choice for deploying (distributed) microservice-based applications, and practices from chaos engineering can assist with building resilient systems.

    PowerfulSeal follows the Principles of Chaos Engineering, and is inspired by the infamous Netflix Chaos Monkey. The tool allows engineers to “break things on purpose” and observe any issues caused by the introduction of various failure modes. PowerfulSeal, written in Python, is currently Kubernetes-specific and only has “cloud drivers” for managing infrastructure failure for the OpenStack platform, although a Python AbstractDriver class has been specified in order to encourage the contribution of drivers for additional cloud platforms.

  • Do the little things matter?

    In the world of free software engineering, we have lofty goals: the FSF’s High Priority Project list identifies goals like private real-time communication, security and diversity in our communities. Those deploying free software in industry have equally high ambitions, ranging from self-driving cars to beating the stock market.

    Yet over and over again, we can see people taking little shortcuts and compromises. If Admiral McRaven is right, our failure to take care of little decisions, like how we choose an email provider, may be the reason those big projects, like privacy or diversity, appear to be no more than a pie-in-the-sky.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Extensions in Firefox 59

        The development team behind the WebExtensions architecture is no exception, landing a slew of new API and improvements that can now be found in Firefox 59 (just released to the Beta channel).

      • Firefox 59 Beta 6 Testday, February 2nd

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, February 2nd, we are organizing Firefox 59 Beta 6 Testday.

      • How to make a chart of your users’ window sizes

        In preparation for the MDN redesign I examined our analytics to get an idea of how wide our users’ browser windows were. I wanted window widths, not screen sizes and I thought a chart would tell a more compelling story than a table.

      • An Update about Moderators, Administrators, and our new team member

        Throughout the years, we have been extremely lucky to have an amazing array of great people joining us and contributing in many various ways. There has been some spam here and there, we’ve had some people getting very emotional and unhappy about various aspects of SUMO or Mozilla, but so far we have had relatively few cases that needed Administrator investigation.

        Obviously, all that luck does not mean that interpersonal conflicts on different levels do not happen right now or will not happen in the future. We acknowledge this fact and want to be prepared for such moments, as infrequent as they are. Staying a step ahead of potential problems will help us provide you with a SUMO community experience you all can enjoy and be a part of.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • POSITAL Announces New Open Source Interfaces for Motor Feedback Kit Encoders [Ed: Stop characterising mere interfaces as "open source"]

      Rotary encoder specialist POSITAL has expanded its interface offerings for its magnetic Kit Encoders, launched with great success last year, with support for the non-proprietary open-source BiSS Line communication protocol. This enables the practical implementation of single-cable technology, which is becoming increasingly popular with motor and robot manufacturers. POSITAL’s easy-to-install motor feedback kits, which feature 17-bit electronic resolution, bridge the gap between simple resolvers and more complex and expensive optical encoders for servomotors, robot joints and other applications where absolute rotary position feedback is required.

    • No Boo-Boo on API validation with SmartBear

      The product is used to validate and test an Application Programming Interfaces (API) and generate its OpenAPI documentation.

      As the so-called API economy now comes into being — and exists as a defined elemental ‘thing’ inside the wider software application development universe — there is (very arguably) additional need for tools that can quantify, qualify and indeed validate and test how software developers will integrate with APIs and get them to function as intended.

  • BSD

    • Are the BSDs dying? Some security researchers think so

      Struck by the small number of reported BSD kernel vulnerabilities compared to Linux, von Sprundel sat down last summer and reviewed BSD source code in his spare time. “How come there are only a handful of BSD security kernel bugs advisories released every year?” he wanted to know. Is it because the BSDs are so much more secure? Or is it because no one is looking?

      von Sprundel says he easily found around 115 kernel bugs across the three BSDs, including 30 for FreeBSD, 25 for OpenBSD, and 60 for NetBSD. Many of these bugs he called “low-hanging fruit.” He promptly reported all the bugs, but six months later, at the time of his talk, many remained unpatched.

      “By and large, most security flaws in the Linux kernel don’t have a long lifetime. They get found pretty fast,” von Sprundel says. “On the BSD side, that isn’t always true. I found a bunch of bugs that have been around a very long time.” Many of them have been present in code for a decade or more.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • SD Times news digest: Webpack 4 beta, Android Wear SDK 2.2.0, and GCC 7.3 released

      The GNU Project and GCC developers have announced the release of GCC 7.3. GCC is the GNU Compiler Collection. This is a bug fix release as it has important fixes for regressions and bugs in GCC 7.2. It has more than 99 bugs fixed since the previous release of GCC.

    • Linux distros: love, openwashing & the thousand yard stare

      The Linux operating system (OS) will turn 30 in the year 2021.

      We know that Linus Torvalds first penned (typed) his work plans for what turned out to be Linux on a Usenet posting as follows:

      “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like GNU) for 386(486) AT clones,” wrote Torvalds.

      No brief history of Linux is needed here, there are plenty of write ups detailing the origins of UNIX, MINIX, the birth of GNU and Richard Stallman’s creation of the GNU General Public License.

    • Glibc 2.27 Is Being Released Soon With Numerous Performance Optimizations

      Glibc 2.27 will be released as soon as next week as the latest half-year update to the GNU C Library.

      The Glibc 2.27 cycle has been very heavy on performance optimizations. As covered recently, there’s been AVX2/FMA optimizations, other optimized functions, numerous FMA optimizations, and more. Long story short, if you’re running a recent AMD/Intel x86_64 CPU, there are chances you could see good performance improvements out of Glibc 2.27.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Xiaomi needs to adhere to the rules of Android

      Most Android smartphone users understand the operating system which powers their device is “open source.” For many, that’s where their understanding ends. The legality of open source technology like Android is a mystery outside the geeky inner circle of coders and hackers who make a hobby out of tinkering with the system.

      [...]

      Here’s a brief synopsis of the ins and outs of the laws governing Android:

      Android is based on Linux, an open-source operating system. Linux is published under the General Public License (GPL), which regulates how Linux can be used, edited, and distributed.

      On top of the Linux kernel, there are lots of other components to Android. Most are also licensed under an “open source” license. The preferred license for the Android Open Source Project is the Apache Software License, Version 2.0 (“Apache 2.0”), and the majority of the Android software is licensed with Apache 2.0.

      Anyone can download and share the Linux kernel for free. If they edit the Linux code in any way, they can share that too, as long as they make the altered system available for anyone else to freely download. This is because their Linux derivative is still bound to the GPL.

      Since Android is a Linux derivative, it is thus bound by the GPL. Therefore, the Android source code must be freely available to anyone who would like to see it.

      If anyone changes the Android source code, it is also bound to the respective licenses. If that new code is then amended, it is regulated by the same license, and so on ad infinitum.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Siemens, GE Partner With Open-Source Innovation Community

      Siemens PLM Software and Launch Forth are partnering to empower and educate the future workforce by offering free professional CAD software to a co-creation community of 185,000 innovators that are focused on product development, idea generation, and creating solutions for challenges both big and small.

      As businesses and lines of work trend toward a global gig economy, Siemens and Launch Forth hope to enable and support the future workforce by providing them with the tools and tutorials they need to learn and grow within their career. According to Forbes, 57.3 million people make up the freelance community in the US alone.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Genome Of A Man Born In 1784 Recreated From The DNA Of His Descendants

      The privacy implications of collecting DNA are wide-ranging, not least because they don’t relate solely to the person from whom the sample is taken. Our genome is a direct product of our parents’ genetic material, so the DNA strings of siblings from the same mother and father are closely related. Even that of more distant relations has many elements in common, since they derive from common ancestors. Thus a DNA sample contains information not just about the donor, but about many others on the relevant family tree as well. A new paper published in Nature Genetics (behind a paywall, unfortunately) shows how that fact enables the genomes of long-dead ancestors to be reconstructed, using just the DNA of their descendants.

      As an article in Futurism explains, the unique circumstances of the individual chosen for the reconstruction, the Icelander Hans Jonatan, aided the research team as they sought to piece together his genome nearly two centuries after his death in 1827. The scientists mainly came from the Icelandic company deCODE Genetics, one of the pioneers in the world of genomics, and highly-familiar with Iceland’s unique genetic resources.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Importance Of Flu Pandemic Preparedness Confirmed By WHO Board Decision

      One hundred years after the great Spanish flu pandemic, World Health Organization members today underlined their satisfaction with the organisation’s framework to get countries best prepared for the next pandemic: The WHO Executive Board agreed on keeping most of the funds coming to the framework for preparedness measures, and a smaller portion for response measures, unless emergency strikes.

    • WHO Executive Board Agrees On Actions To Boost R&D, Access To Medicines
    • Facing Tense IP And Health Talks, WHO Board Erupts Into Dance (Video)

      Member nations of the World Health Organization became accustomed in recent years to singing by the WHO director general, and sometimes crying, but under the new DG there seems to be a move toward the whole room getting up in the middle of serious negotiations and … dancing.

      After the Executive Board agreed on a decision today on physical activity for health, Assad Hafeez, the Board Chair, suggested a short session of physical activity. Mexican chicken dancing (pajaritos a volar in Spanish or la danse des canards in French) chaos ensued:

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Attacking Network Protocols

      Most of us in the Free and Open Source software world know about Wireshark and using it to capture network traffic information. This book mentions that tool, but focuses on using a different tool that was written by the author, called CANAPE.Core. Along the way, the author calls out multiple other resources for further study. I like and appreciate that very much! This is a complex topic and even a detailed and technically complex book like this one cannot possibly cover every aspect of the topic in 300 pages. What is covered is clearly expressed, technically deep, and valuable.

    • What is Hide ‘N Seek? New IoT botnet uses peer-to-peer communication to infect over 20,000 devices

      “The HNS botnet communicates in a complex and decentralized manner and uses multiple anti-tampering techniques to prevent a third party from hijacking/poisoning it,” Bitdefender researchers wrote in a blog post published on Wednesday (24 January). “The bot can perform web exploitation against a series of devices via the same exploit as Reaper (CVE-2016-10401 and other vulnerabilities against networking equipment).”

    • Intel’s plan to fix Meltdown in silicon raises more questions than answers

      Why this matters: Intel has been busy working with PC makers and OS vendors like Microsoft to release microcode that includes so-called mitigations, microcode updates that patch the vulnerabilities. But even that hasn’t gone so well: Intel advised end users to stop applying patches after systems unexpectedly rebooted. Now, Intel has revealed it’s working on a more permanent fix, but the impact on users remains unknown.

    • WhatsApp Vulnerability
    • DevOps and Security: How to Overcome Cultural Challenges and Transform to True DevSecOps

      Similar to the proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise several years ago where organizations were feeling the pressure to have a mobile strategy but didn’t know where to start, we’re seeing the same situation with development methodologies. To accelerate development velocity, teams are feeling the pressure to “do DevOps,” and when integrating security, to “do DevSecOps.” But much like during the initial mobile wave, many companies say they’re implementing these methodologies, and might even think they are, but in reality, they’re not. Yet.

    • What does DevOps do in 2018?

      In 2018, we’re expecting DevOps to become the new norm for larger enterprise teams. This is because we’re likely to see developers on older, higher value systems implementing a more DevOps centric approach, having seen it work on projects that have traditionally been highly visible, but low value.

    • Cisco Acquires Skyport as Cyber-Security Investments Continue

      January 2018 has emerged to become a banner month for cyber-security acquisitions, with at least 10 acquisitions announced so far, four of which were announced between Jan. 22 and 25. Cisco continued the trend on Jan. 24 by announcing its intention to acquire privately-held server security startup Skyport.

      Financial terms of Cisco’s Skyport acquisition are not being publicly disclosed. A Cisco spokesperson told eWEEK that the deal is expected to close in Cisco’s 2018 fiscal third quarter. However, a Cisco spokesperson said the company doesn’t plan to continue marketing the existing Skyport System server security products.

      [...]

      It’s the Linux-based SkySecure Server platform tied into the SkySecure Center service that further validates the integrity of firmware, BIOS, software and cryptography.

    • S for Security is Google owner Alphabet’s new favorite letter

      The business will be the new home of VirusTotal, which Google acquired in 2012. Chronicle’s other story will be “a new cybersecurity intelligence and analytics platform that we hope can help enterprises better manage and understand their own security-related data.”

    • Github shrugs off drone maker DJI’s crypto key DMCA takedown effort

      Github rejected a DMCA takedown request from Chinese drone-maker DJI after someone forked source code left in the open by a naughty DJI developer, The Register can reveal.

      This included AES keys permitting decryption of flight control firmware, which could allow drone fliers with technical skills to remove geofencing from the flight control software: this software prevents DJI drones from flying in certain areas such as the approach paths for airports, or near government buildings deemed to be sensitive.

      Though the released key is not for the latest firmware version, The Register has seen evidence (detailed below) that drone hackers are already incorporating it in modified firmware available for anyone to download and flash to their drones.

      DJI declined to comment for this article. Github ignored The Register’s invitation to comment.

      [...]

      The code was forked by drone researcher Kevin Finisterre, who submitted a successful rebuttal to the takedown request on the grounds that Github’s terms and conditions explicitly permit forking of public repos.

      “DJI mistakenly marked code repositories as public subsequently granting license for anyone to fork said repos. This accident can be evidenced by their press release,” wrote Finisterre, linking to a DJI statement.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Finance

    • Finance Ministry crackdown on cryptocurrency trade

      The proposed legislative reform is based on forthcoming changes from the European Union, after December decisions from the European Parliament and the European Council to pursue the same agenda. EU authorities say they are targeting bitcoin anonymity in order to tackle tax evasion and other crimes.

    • Magical Thinking At The New York Times

      I’m not the first to critique Johnson’s work. Bryan Clark’s What the NY Times got wrong about Bitcoin is obviously written by a Bitcoin believer, because he missed the whole point of the article. It isn’t about Bitcoin, it is about decentralizing the Web.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Atlas Of Redistricting

      There’s a lot of complaining about gerrymandering, but what should districts look like? We went back to the drawing board and drew a set of alternative congressional maps for the entire country. Each map has a different goal: One is designed to encourage competitive elections, for example, and another to maximize the number of majority-minority districts. See how changes to district boundaries could radically alter the partisan and racial makeup of the U.S. House — without a single voter moving or switching parties. How we did this »

    • Trump says he would re-enter TPP trade deal if it’s made ‘substantially better’

      But it’s unclear what, exactly, could entice Trump to re-enter the agreement. The president did not say what specific changes he wants to see made.

    • Facebook allows dangerous fake news about vaccines to go viral

      If you want a good example that shows how Facebook cares more about pleasing its shareholders than the it does about stopping fake news, look how this fake news story, which claims a CDC doctor says the flu vaccine is causing the flu outbreak, is spreading across Facebook (current number of shares: 691k). Remember, Facebook has complete control over the stories its users see in their timeline, and Facebook uses this power to encourage people to pay it to promote posts. It could just as easily use this power to throttle dangerous fake news like this, but that would mean less user engagement, and therefore less money to Facebook.

    • Tom Perez, the Democratic Party’s Grim Metaphor

      Tom Perez’s lackluster first year as head of the Democratic National Committee provides a metaphoric glimpse into the waning influence of the Democratic Party as a whole, explains Norman Solomon.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook feigns accountability with ‘trusted’ news survey

      Unfortunately, Facebook’s solution to this problem doesn’t seem to be the best one. Last week, it said its plan is to only put front and center links from outlets that users deem to be “trustworthy.” Which just proves that Facebook would rather put the responsibility for policing misinformation on the community instead of itself. This is concerning because Facebook is, essentially, letting people’s biases dictate how outlets are perceived by its algorithms.

    • Spanish Government Uses Hate Speech Law To Arrest Critic Of The Spanish Government

      Spain’s government has gotten into the business of regulating speech with predictably awful results. An early adopter of Blues Lives Matter-esque policies, Spain went full police state, passing a law making it a crime to show “disrespect” to law enforcement officers. The predictable result? The arrest of someone for calling cops “slackers” in a Facebook post.

      Spain’s government is either woefully unaware of the negative consequences of laws like this or, worse, likes the negative consequences. After all, it doesn’t hurt Spain’s government beyond a little reputational damage. It only hurts residents of Spain. When you’re already unpopular, thanks to laws like these and suppression of a Catalan independence vote, what difference does it make if you’re known better for shutting down dissent than actually protecting citizens from hateful speech?

    • China embraces hip-hop even a government censor can love

      Gai strutted onto the stage dressed in a traditional Taoist robe, his arms covered in tattoos, his hip retro glasses reflecting a phalanx of flashing lights.

      “Wake upppp! Beijinggggg!” he shouted to a crowd of 17,000 young fans in a stadium in the city’s west. Then Gai, 27, began rapping.

    • EFF to Court: Don’t Let Celebrities Censor Realistic Art

      A huge range of expressive works—including books, documentaries, televisions shows, and songs—depict real people. Should celebrities have a veto right over speech that happens to be about them? A case currently before the California Court of Appeal raises this question. In this case, actor Olivia de Havilland has sued FX asserting that FX’s television series Feud infringed de Havilland’s right of publicity. The trial court found that de Havilland had a viable claim because FX had attempted to portray her realistically and had benefited financially from that portrayal.

      Together with the Wikimedia Foundation and the Organization for Transformative Works, EFF has filed an amicus brief [PDF] in the de Havilland case arguing that the trial court should be overruled. Our brief argues that the First Amendment should shield creative expression like Feud from right of publicity claims. The right of publicity is a cause of action for commercial use of a person’s identity. It makes good sense when applied to prevent companies from, say, falsely claiming that a celebrity endorsed their product. But when it is asserted against creative expression, it can burden First Amendment rights.

    • Vice Media Goes After Vice Industry Token, A Porn Crypto-Currency Company, For Trademark

      The last time we checked in with Vice Media it was firing off a cease and desist letter to a tiny little punk band called ViceVersa, demanding that it change its name because Vice Media has a trademark for the word “vice” for several markets. In case you thought that occurrence was a one-off for Vice Media, or the result of an overzealous new hire to the company’s legal team, Vice Media is again trademark bullying another comany, Vice Industry Token. VIT is apparently a pornography cryptocurrency company, which is a three-word combination that I bet god herself could never have imagined being uttered. The claim in the C&D notice that VIT got is, of course, that Vice Media has a “vice” trademark and that this use infringes upon it.

    • Vice Media and Porn Cryptocurrency Company Headed to Court Over Trademark

      Vice Industry Token is asking the court to evaluate whether it’s infringing on Vice Media’s trademark.

    • Sarajevo’s City Government Says No One Can Use The Name ‘Sarajevo’ Without Its Permission

      The city of Sarajevo passed a law in 2000 forbidding anyone but the city of Sarajevo from using the name Sarajevo. Not much has been said about it because the Sarajevo city council hasn’t done much about it. But recently owners of Facebook pages containing the word “Sarajevo” have been receiving legal threats from the city’s government.

      Sarajevo resident Aleksandar Todorović wrote a long blog post detailing the stupidity of this law, which contains firsthand accounts of Facebook page owners who’ve been threatened with criminal proceedings for failing to secure permission to use the name of a city on their pages. As Todorović notes, his blog post is illegal, simply because it hasn’t been pre-approved by Sarajevo’s city council.

      The law can be read here (and loosely translated by Google). It basically states the city owns the name and all others wishing to use it must ask the city council for permission before using it. It also states there are some requests that just aren’t going to be granted.

    • “The Problems of Online Censorship and Social Media”: Editor Philipp Gromov on The Cleaners

      German editor Philipp Gromov has cut 11 documentary features, series and shorts since 2010. He began his career on The Other Chelsea: A Story from Donetsk, which tells the story of a small mining town in Ukraine. His latest feature, The Cleaners, premieres in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film offers a rare glimpse into the lives of digital “cleaners”: anonymous people contracted by Silicon Valley companies to scrub the internet of content deemed “inappropriate.” Gromov spoke with Filmmaker about cutting the film and why The Cleaners has inspired him to cut his own use of social media.

    • Facebook Censorship of Conservatives (Updated)
    • Their school deleted an article on a teacher’s firing. So these teens published it themselves
    • Washington Post speaks to Herriman High students who cried censorship over article controversy
    • Two Utah High School Students Start News Publication After School Officials Deleted Their Story
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Europe’s GDPR Meets WHOIS Privacy: Which Way Forward?

      Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in May 2018, and with it, a new set of tough penalties for companies that fail to adequately protect the personal data of European users. Amongst those affected are domain name registries and registrars, who are required by ICANN, the global domain name authority, to list the personal information of domain name registrants in publicly-accessible WHOIS directories. ICANN and European registrars have clashed over this long-standing contractual requirement, which does not comply [PDF] with European data protection law.

      This was one of the highest profile topics at ICANN’s 60th meeting in Abu Dhabi which EFF attended last year, with registries and registrars laying the blame on ICANN, either for their liability under the GDPR if they complied with their WHOIS obligations, or for their contractual liability to ICANN if they didn’t. ICANN has recognized this and has progressively, if belatedly, being taking steps to remediate the clash between its own rules, and the data protection principles that European law upholds.

    • Finnish Parliament starts debate on expanded intelligence law

      Finnish MPs consider allowing intelligence agencies to intercept confidential communications without the suspicion of a crime.

    • EU court to decide if Austrian can bring Facebook class action suit

      The highest court in the European Union will decide on Thursday whether an Austrian privacy activist can bring a class action lawsuit against Facebook for what he says are illegal violations of the privacy of users.

    • Disrupting The Fourth Amendment: Half Of Law Enforcement E-Warrants Approved In 10 Minutes Or Less

      Law enforcement officers will often testify that seeking warrants is a time-consuming process that subjects officers’ sworn statements to strict judicial scrutiny. The testimony implies the process is a hallowed tradition that upholds the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment, hence its many steps and plodding pace. The problem is law enforcement officers make these statements most often when defending their decision to bypass the warrant process.

      Criminals move too fast for the warrant process, they argue. Officers would love to respect the Fourth Amendment, but seem to feel this respect is subject to time constraints. Sometimes they have a point. And when they have a legitimate point, they also have a legitimate exception: exigent circumstances. In truly life-threatening situations, the Fourth Amendment can be shoved aside momentarily to provide access to law enforcement officers. (The exception tends to swallow the rule, though. Courts have pushed back, but deference to officers’ assertions about exigency remains the status quo in most courtrooms.)

    • Senator Demands FBI Director Explain His Encryption Backdoor Bullshit

      “I would like to learn more about how you arrived at and justify this ill-informed policy proposal. Please provide me with a list of the cryptographers with whom you’ve personally discussed this topic since our July 2017 meeting and specifically identify those experts who advised you that companies can feasibly design government access features into their products without weakening cybersecurity. Please provide this information by February 23, 2018.”

    • FBI Director Chris Wray Says Secure Encryption Backdoors Are Possible; Sen. Ron Wyden Asks Him To Produce Receipts

      I cannot wait to see FBI Director Christopher Wray try to escape the petard-hoisting Sen. Ron Wyden has planned for him. Wray has spent most of his time as director complaining about device encryption. He continually points at the climbing number of locked phones the FBI can’t crack. This number signifies nothing, not without more data, but it’s illustrative of Wray’s blunt force approach to encryption.

      I’m sure Wray views himself as a man carefully picking his way through the encryption minefield. But there’s nothing subtle about his approach. He has called encryption a threat to public safety. His lead phone forensics person has called Apple “evil” for offering it to its users. He has claimed the move to default encryption is motivated by profit. And if that’s not the motivation, then it’s probably just anti-FBI malice. Meanwhile, he claims the FBI has nothing but the purest intentions when it calls for encryption backdoors, even while Wray does everything he can to avoid using that term.

      He claims the solution is out there — a perfect, seamless blend of secure encryption and easy law enforcement access. The solution, he claims, is most likely deliberately being withheld by the “smart people.” These tech companies that have made billionaires of their founders are filled with the best nerds, but they’re just not applying themselves. Wray asserts — without evidence — that secure encryption backdoors are not only possible, but probable.

    • Harris Stingray Nondisclosure Agreement Forbids Cops From Telling Legislators About Surveillance Tech

      The FBI set the first (and second!) rules of Stingray Club: DO NOT TALK ABOUT STINGRAY CLUB. Law enforcement agencies seeking to acquire cell tower spoofing tech were forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement forbidding them from disclosing details on the devices to defendants, judges, the general public… sometimes even prosecutors.

      A new wave of parallel construction washed over the land, distancing defendants from the source of evidence used against them. Pen register orders — used to cover the tracks of Stingray searches — started appearing en masse, as though it was 1979 all over again. If curious lawyers and/or judges started sniffing around, agencies were instructed to let accused criminals roam free rather than expose details about Stingray devices. According to the FBI, public safety would be irreparably damaged if Stingray details were exposed. Apparently the return of dangerous criminals to the street poses no harm to the public.

    • A Conspiracy of Silence Assaults Privacy

      During the past three weeks, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law vast new powers for the NSA and the FBI to spy on innocent Americans and selectively to pass on to law enforcement the fruits of that spying.

      Those fruits can now lawfully include all fiber-optic data transmitted to or in the United States, such as digital recordings of all landline and mobile telephone calls and copies in real time of all text messages and emails and banking, medical and legal records electronically stored or transmitted.

    • Did Trump change his mind on domestic spying?

      Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, repeated his public observations that members of the intelligence community — particularly the CIA, the NSA and the intelligence division of the FBI — are not trustworthy with the nation’s intelligence secrets. Because he has a security clearance at the “top secret” level and knows how others who have access to secrets have used and abused them, his allegations are extraordinary.

    • NSA Has Been Running a Voice-Recognition System Since 2004, Says Report

      Siri is one of the earliest digital personal assistants available to consumers, but it was only released in 2011. Then came Amazon’s Alexa in 2014 and Google Assistant in 2016. These programs are designed to take commands by accurately recognizing the voice of the device owner.

    • NSA deletes ‘honesty’, ‘openness’, ‘trust’ and ‘honor’ from Mission Statement

      The super-secret agency that monitors all electronic communications of Americans, a resource that was used to spy on the Trump campaign through a questionable warrant from the FISA Court, suddenly has decided to revise its mission statement page. A spokesman for the NSA is claiming it’s no big deal, but it is one heckuva weird coincidence in the midst of a major scandal regarding what looks like abuse of its spying powers.

    • NSA replaces “honesty” with “commitment to service” in its core values
    • “Honesty” and “Openness” Have Been Literally Deleted as Core Values of the NSA
    • NSA Gets Honest About Its Lack of Honesty
    • NSA quietly removes ‘honesty’ from its stated ‘core values’
    • NHS Digital approves data off-shoring in new guidance

      A cloud service’s technical and support staff may be based in a different country from where the data is hosted but still have access to patient information.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Red Cross Helped an Executive Get a Job at Save the Children After Forcing Him Out For Sexual Harassment

      When Save the Children hired Gerald Anderson in 2013, the global charity believed it was hiring a veteran humanitarian executive with a sterling resume. Anderson had spent more than 15 years working around the world for the American Red Cross, rising through the ranks to lead the group’s massive relief effort after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. After that, the Red Cross made him head of its half-billion-dollar response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

      Perhaps most crucially, the Red Cross gave him “very positive references,” including from a senior official, Save the Children said.

    • A Chicago Cop’s Facebook Posts and a City’s Struggle With Racism

      The Chicago Police Department says complaints against officers for making racial and ethnic slurs and other discriminatory comments have declined in recent years.

      But as a story we published this week shows, it’s a stubborn problem in a city that has long struggled with racism.

      We wrote about Officer John Catanzara, a 23-year veteran who, over the years, two superintendents have tried to fire. In September, he was reprimanded for a controversial Facebook post. Now, he is under investigation for two other complaints about his social media conduct.

      One of the complaints, lodged by his district commander, alleges that the officer displayed “bigoted views” and “hostile remarks” on Facebook, including against Muslims, women, liberals, Michelle Obama and those who are economically disadvantaged.

      This is not the first time I’ve written about an officer accused of similar conduct, which in the sterile language of digital complaint data is coded as “Verbal Abuse: Racial/Ethnic.”

    • Chicago Cop Under Investigation Again Over Social Media Posts

      In September, Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara made headlines after posting on Facebook a picture of himself, in uniform, holding an American flag and a homemade sign that read, “I stand for the anthem. I love the American flag. I support my president and the 2nd Amendment.”

      He was reprimanded for violating rules that prohibit officers from making political statements while on duty. But if that discipline was intended to change his ways on social media, Catanzara instead is living up to the words he uses to describe himself on Facebook: “A give no f#$%s, say it like it is man.”

    • The NYPD’s ‘Cult of Compliance’

      The NYPD reveals itself as an unelected branch of New York City government that elected leaders will not defy.

      In New York City, bills are passed by city council members and signed by the mayor. But when the legislation is about policing, there is another, de-facto branch of government that must sign off: the New York Police Department. Though its leaders are not elected to office, the police bureaucracy acts as an unofficial gatekeeper that must be appeased before bills become law.

      After more than 5 years of pressure from advocates, two measures, once known as the Right to Know Act, became law last week. The bills together were designed to improve police encounters by giving people more information about their rights when being stopped, questioned, and searched.

      Sadly, on its way to the council floor, one of these bills took a detour that has become all-too-familiar for police reform advocates. The NYPD exercised its unofficial but very real veto power, and a bill requiring police to identify themselves to people they stop was rewritten — by the police.

      In a series of closed-door meetings, the city council speaker, the mayor, and lawyers for the NYPD inserted a loophole in the bill that allows police to avoid identifying themselves in the most common types of police interactions, including traffic stops. This compromised provision was designed and agreed to without consultation from any of the advocates or community members who were calling for the bill, including several family members of people killed by the NYPD. Yet, our elected officials made sure the police department had the final word at the negotiating table.

      The power of the police department over New York City elected officials is immense, uncompromising, and resilient.

    • Danish Police Charge Over 1,000 People With Sharing Underage Couple’s Sexting Video And Images

      Techdirt posts about sexting have a depressingly similar story line: young people send explicit photos of themselves to their partners, and one or both of them end up charged with distributing or possessing child pornography. Even more ridiculously, the authorities typically justify branding young people who do this as sex offenders on the grounds that it “protects” the same individuals whose lives they are ruining. Judging by a story in The Local, reporting on a press release that first appeared on the MyNewsDesk site (original in Danish), the police in Denmark seem to be taking a more rational approach.

    • Danish police announce case against 1,000 for sharing sex video

      Police in Denmark are set to take legal action against up to 1,000 people over the distribution of a video and images of a sexual nature across the country.

      The video was primarily sent to and shared between young people, the police said in a major announcement on Monday morning.

    • Migration Reform from a Native American Perspective

      Following a brief government shutdown over the weekend, House Democrats conceded to fund the government until February 8. The deal came after congressional Republicans agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Programs for six years and promised a discussion on DACA. But many viewed this concession as a betrayal by the Democrats, who have not been guaranteed any reasonable action on immigration reform in return for re-opening the government.

    • Prospects of Return to El Salvador Pose Difficult Choice

      On January 8, the Trump administration abruptly put an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans now living and working in the US. Many have been in the country for 15 or 20 years, and have established jobs and families. Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans now living in the U.S. may be affected. According to the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Salvadorans, who account for about 60% of TPS recipients, will have until Sept. 9, 2019 to either adjust their status if eligible, make plans to return to El Salvador, or face deportation.

    • Pennsylvania Imposes Permanent Solitary on Prisoners Facing Death

      Prisoners in Pennsylvania can spend decades in solitary confinement, harming their physical and mental health.

      Imagine an ordinary parking space. Now add walls and a ceiling made of thick concrete, closed off by a solid steel door. The lights are always on, so it’s never dark. You eat there, you sleep there. You are alone. Three times a day an officer slides a food tray through a slot. There is a toilet. A few times a week, if you’re lucky, you’re taken to a small cage where you can “exercise,” alone. If you are visited by family or clergy, you are not allowed to touch them. You cannot participate in any vocational, recreational, or educational programs or any form of communal religious worship or prayer.

      This is life for a prisoner on Pennsylvania’s death row.

      The policy of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is to house all prisoners with death sentences in solitary confinement until they are executed or released. One prisoner has been in solitary for over 35 years. Of the 156 men currently sentenced to death in the commonwealth, almost 80 percent have been held in solitary confinement for more than a decade.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Burger King’s Net Neutrality/Whopper Neutrality video is surprisingly excellent and says something about mainstreaming of net policy

      But Net Neutrality enjoys farcically high support — 83%! — and virtually the only “persons” who oppose Net Neutrality are bots and media corporations, and they don’t buy hamburgers.

    • Why is Burger King better at explaining net neutrality than the FCC?

      Burger King released a new three-minute long commercial on Wednesday that attempted to explain the concept of net neutrality using their trademark burger, the Whopper, as a metaphor.

    • Net neutrality will be enforced in New York under orders from governor

      New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the executive order yesterday, days after Montana Governor Steve Bullock did the same. The states are challenging the Federal Communications Commission, which repealed its own net neutrality rules and preempted states from imposing similar ones.

    • This Is Ajit Pai’s Official Calendar for the Months Leading Up to the Net Neutrality Repeal

      It’s also important to keep in mind that calendars can be carefully managed in case they’re ever made public. There are lots of empty spaces in Pai’s schedule when, I assume, he was doing something, and there’s a lack of any chunks of time devoted to policy development. And lest we forget that not so long ago Pai refused to hand over his calendar and emails to congressional investigators looking into how the FCC developed its net neutrality rules.

    • The GAO Says It Will Investigate Bogus Net Neutrality Comments, Eventually

      The General Accounting Office (GAO) says the agency will launch an investigation into the fraud that occurred during the FCC’s rushed repeal of net neutrality rules. Consumers only had one real chance to weigh in during the public comment period of the agency’s misleadingly-named “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal. But “somebody” paid a group or individual to fill the comment period with bogus comments from fake or even dead people, in a ham-fisted attempt to downplay massive, legitimate public opposition to the plan.

      The FCC then blocked a law enforcement investigation into the fraud, refusing to hand over server logs or API key data that could easily disclose the culprit(s). FOIA requests and public requests for help (one coming from myself) were also promptly ignored by the Trump FCC.

    • Local Communities Can Inject Desperately Needed Competition in the ISP Market

      Last year we witnessed the elimination of critical privacy and network neutrality protections in the broadband market. But these moves would be less dangerous if we were able to vote with our wallets, and choose a provider that respected our privacy and didn’t engage in unfair data discrimination. Unfortunately, most of us have only one choice for high-speed Internet; if Comcast behaves badly we can complain but we can’t hit them where it really hurts by switching to someone else.

      The good news: communities across the country are trying to fix that by developing their own community broadband networks. And some members of Congress trying to help. Led by Congresswoman Eshoo, Congress recently introduced HR 4814, the Community Broadband Act of 2018, to empower local citizens to explore community broadband as a means to induce competition and lower prices. In particular, the bill tackles barriers raised by laws in more than 20 states that prevent local communities from building their own networks.

    • FCC Hopes Its Phony Dedication To Rural Broadband Will Make You Forget It Killed Net Neutrality

      The FCC and its large ISP allies are trying to change the subject in the wake of their hugely unpopular attack on net neutrality. With net neutrality having such broad, bipartisan support, the FCC is trying to shift the conversation away from net neutrality (which remember, is just a symptom of a lack of broadband competition), toward a largely-hollow focus on expanding broadband to rural areas. The apparent goal: to convince partisans that net neutrality is only a concern among out of touch Hollywood elites, and the FCC is hard at work on the real problem: deploying broadband to forgotten America.

  • DRM

    • Apple’s iBooks to become “Books” in forthcoming reading app redesign

      Apple has also reportedly hired a lead executive from Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook platform, to help reinvigorate its e-book efforts. The iBooks app remains one of the few Apple programs that hasn’t received a significant update in years. That is likely due in part to a 2013 ruling by the US Department of Justice covering fixed pricing for e-books in Apple’s iBooks store. Apple was fined $450 million.

    • Denuvo Sold To Irdeto, Which Boasts Of Acquiring ‘The World Leader In Gaming Security’

      Any reading of our thorough coverage of Denuvo DRM could be best summarized as: a spasm of success in 2015 followed by one of the great precipitous falls into failure in the subsequent two years. While some of us are of the opinion that all DRM such as Denuvo are destined for eventual failure, what sticks out about Denuvo is just how stunningly fast its fall from relevancy has come about. Once heralded as “the end of game piracy,” even the most recent iterations of Denuvo’s software is being cracked on the timeline of days and hours. You would be forgiven if, having read through all of this, you thought that Denuvo was nearly toxic in gaming and security circles at this point.

      But apparently not everyone thinks this is true. Irdeto, the company out of the Netherlands we last saw pretending that taking pictures of toys is copyright infringement and insisting that a real driver of piracy was winning an Oscar, has announced that it has acquired Denuvo.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • TPP Is Back, Minus Copyright Provisions And Pharma Patent Extensions, In A Clear Snub To Trump And The US

        That anger means that even in the absence of the copyright and pharma patent extensions, there is still likely to be some resistance to the new deal, and not just in Canada. For example, economists estimate that the CPTPP will boost Australia’s economy by only 0.04% per year — a negligible amount that will be swamped by fluctuations in other factors. Some Australian businesses warn that the continuing existence of bilateral trade deals with eight of the CPTPP countries will lead to a complex “noodle bowl” of rules and regulations that could make it harder, not easier, to conduct business with them. In New Zealand, a long-standing critic of TPP, Professor Jane Kelsey, is particularly worried about a chapter on electronic commerce. And in Malaysia, a consumer group has urged the government there not to sign the deal, which it said would be “even worse” than TPP for the country.

      • Rupert Murdoch Admits, Once Again, He Can’t Make Money Online — Begs Facebook To Just Give Him Money

        There’s no denying that Rupert Murdoch built up quite a media empire over the decades — but that was almost all entirely focused on newspaper and pay TV. While he’s spent the past few decades trying to do stuff on the internet, he has an impressively long list of failures over the years. There are many stories of him buying internet properties (Delphi, MySpace, Photobucket) or starting them himself (iGuide, Fox Interactive, The Daily) and driving them into the ground (or just flopping right out of the gate). While his willingness to embrace the internet early and to try things is to be commended, his regular failures to make his internet ventures successful has pretty clearly soured him on the internet entirely over the years.

        Indeed, over the past few years, Murdoch or Murdoch surrogates (frequently News Corp’s CEO Robert Thomson) have bashed the internet at every opportunity, no matter how ridiculous. Almost all of these complaints can be summed up simply: big internet companies are making money and News Corp. isn’t — and therefore the problem is with those other companies which should be forced to give News Corp. money.

      • Pirate Bay Founder’s Domain Service “Mocks” NY Times Legal Threats

        When The New York Times discovered that a site was sharing copies of their articles without permission, it demanded the associated domain registration service to identify the owner. While some companies may be eager to comply, Njalla is not. The anonymous registration service replied with some unusual responses instead, reminiscent of TPB’s infamous ‘legal threats’ section.

Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) Are Not Inventions, But Sites of the Patent Microcosm (e.g. IAM) Want Us to Believe Otherwise

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 4:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China and South Korea among the latest under the microscope

How on Earth are such simple GUIs being patented as though they are inventions?

Summary: In China and elsewhere the patent maximalists now get patents on GUIs (cascading or otherwise); Section 101 is not exactly designed to deal with such an absurdity

THINGS have gotten ridiculous. Some patents which are being granted nowadays (especially in countries like China) are borderline parodies. At Sun, engineers used to joke about the sorts of patents they could get examiners at the USPTO to approve/grant; they even mocked examiners for granting what they had drafted as (almost) practical jokes. WIPO is happy though because the number of annual patent grants continues to climb. More money for WIPO!

I’m not writing this site as a lobbyist or as a self-serving exercise. In fact, it doesn’t affect my job in any way. It’s almost orthogonal to it. I have been developing software since I was 14 and I created many GUIs in my lifetime (dozens of programs with GUIs, using half a dozen different toolkits); people don’t ‘invent’ GUIs but simply design or piece them together, changing placement of buttons or menu items over time at risk of confusing users who have habits (muscle memory). The developers don’t actually claim this to be an “invention” and it’s barely even like a painting. The element of consistency for predictability is essential for users. That’s where so-called ‘UX experts’ creep in.

Anyway, China’s patents (in Mandarin) are of low quality, but these are difficult for Westerners to assess because very few of them comprehend Mandarin. IAM, being IAM, is making excuses for China. Yesterday it wrote this piece about SIPO and added: “Patent application rates in China are slowing and examiners are getting tougher.”

Or maybe they’ve just run out of nonsense to file. It’s far too late for examiners to get “tough” (after many rubbish patents were granted). We occasionally read about some of these patents, including for instance patents on GUIs (not a joke!) and earlier this week Managing IP posted another example of this. “GUI design patents in China after first infringement decision” is the headline and it’s about China’s Mandarin-only, low-quality patents (even patents on GUIs!). This won’t do their economy any good, but perhaps they obey Xi’s objective of just filing lots of patent applications (nearly 1.5 million per year!) to keep up the illusion of parity with the West in relation to so-called ‘IP’ (the US wants to use that card to impose sanctions and possibly fines on China). Anyway, here is what Managing IP wrote about the Beijing IP Court a few days ago:

Observers bemoan the lack of clear guidance after Beijing IP Court judge rules there was no infringement of a GUI design patent in a highly-anticipated case

China saw its first GUI infringement case since graphical user interface (GUI) design was classified and protected as a type of design patent on May 1 2014.

So this is pretty recent. But don’t think for a second that only China stooped low enough for this foolishness. As if software patents weren’t bad enough (they’re more profound than mere buttons and often refer to implementation of callback functions for respective buttons).

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), where no judge is familiar (firsthand) with the process of software development, has just given an adrenaline rush to the patent microcosm. Early coverage of this came from Patently-O. This is already being cited by vocal patent maximalists and it says the following:

In a split opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed Core Wireless win over LG Electronics [DECISION] – finding the asserted patent claimed eligible subject matter and refusing to disturb the district court’s judgment of no-anticipation and infringement. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,713,476; 8,434,020; and 6,415,164 (UK Priority Date of July 2000). The patents here are directed to user-interfaces — basically users are shown a menu of applications; Selecting on an application takes the user to an “application summary” that includes functions of the application and files (“data”) associated with each application that can be selected to launch the application and enable the file to be seen within the application.

[...]

Holding: Claims are not directed to an abstract idea and therefore are eligible under Alice Step 1.

All judges on the panel agreed with this holding. The disagreement between the majority (Moore & O’Malley) and Dissent-in-Part (Wallach) comes over the definition of the claim term “unlaunched state.” The majority construed the term as “not displayed” while the dissent argues that it should be construed as “not running.” The two definitions result in differing treatment of apps that are running in the background. The changed construction result would likely impact both the infringement and anticipation conclusions. For its part, the majority explained that the patent used the word “launch” in several instances to be synonymous with “displayed” – thus leading to its conclusion.

Patent extremists have gotten so excited that they enter “ALL CAPS” mode and note that it’s “PRECEDENTIAL”. This actually hurts a Korean company, LG, and we hope LG will appeal in order to ensure that the Supreme Court gets a chance to overturn this terrible decision. Does the US really want to enter the crazy realm of patents on GUIs?

Speaking of Korea, LG Chem got mentioned by IAM in relation to Intellectual Discovery, which is proving to be a Korean disaster; it’s a waste of money, it might dissolve into the hands of patent trolls. IAM of course supports all that. To quote:

Intellectual Discovery, South Korea’s sovereign patent fund, will lead the effort. “I believe it would be a win-win situation for the patent holder and potential licencees,” says Dongsuk Bae, who heads ID’s licensing division. Bae adds that LG Chem is open to discuss a range of licence terms apart from just exclusion of competitors. Like many large Korean corporates, LG Chem has not previously focused on licensing out technology. Min says the decision to engage ID came down to both the firm’s international experience and its ability to act as an intermediary: “We want someone who can help us find a partner in China, as well as someone who can help a partner understand our intentions and the benefits of a deal.”

Well, partnering in China because Korean companies such as Samsung are being bullied by Chinese giants like Huawei and various patent trolls? In this current atmosphere of patent maximalism in China Samsung and LG might be better off just exiting the Chinese market altogether (not easy as they rely on manufacturing in mainland China). Sure, Huawei can still sue them in other countries, but not with the same litigation success rates.

How a Microsoft-Sponsored and IBM-Armed Patent Troll Is Used by Lobbyists of Software Patents

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Finjan started suing a lot of companies after Microsoft had paid it in 2005

Microsoft and Finjan

Summary: In an effort to make § 101 seem as though it’s tolerant towards software patents, patent law firms and front groups of trolls cherry-pick what they like in the largely-failed lawsuit against Blue Coat Systems

The relatively new euphemism, "public IP companies", is being promoted by patent trolls and their fronts (such as IAM). They keep looking for new identities. Finjan is one such troll — a troll which has been financially backed by Microsoft for a very long time and last year received more ammunition (from IBM [1, 2]).

Unfortunately, as we noted last week, the patent microcosm uses this troll in order to badmouth § 101 and promote software patents (we shall say more about that in the weekend). For example, a few days ago Dilworth IP’s Shin Hee Lee and Anthony D. Sabatelli published this article in which they wholeheartedly embraced a truly disgusting troll. The patent microcosm, i.e. people who profit from agony and litigation, wants to thwart the (near) ban on software patents and it found itself a ‘champion’:

On January 4th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office updated their webpage on subject matter eligibility with two new supplementary documents providing further guidance under 35 U.S.C. §101. The two new documents are useful summaries and references for practitioners and others having an interest in the area.

[...]

On January 10, 2018, the court decided Finjan, Inc. Blue Coat Systems, Inc., where upon de novo review it affirmed a district court finding that the underlying software-based subject matter was indeed patent eligible.

What they choose not to mention are the many patents which § 101 did, in fact, invalidate. They cherry-pick just the one thing that suits them. We predicted they would attempt this (as soon as the decision had been published). We first covered the outcome 13 days ago.

Hours ago IAM also did this puff piece for Finjan (not even remotely an effort at journalism). It starts with repetition of talking points from a press release:

Finjan has already recouped the $2 million it spent on acquiring a small package of patents from IBM last year as part of a deal which saw the cyber security business form a new subsidiary, Finjan Blue. The news emerged as the company announced its results for the fourth quarter and for 2017 as a whole, revealing a big jump in revenues to more than $50 million – including around $15 million in net income. It was, in short, a banner year for one of the small band of public IP companies (PIPCOs) that has thrived despite recent legal and regulatory headwinds in the US.

[...]

At the time of the announcement, Finjan CEO Phil Hartstein revealed that not only would the new subsidiary be looking to license the IP but that it was also interested in how the acquired patents might be able to support its product business, Finjan Mobile. “This deal augments our licensing business but also adds value to the product side,” Hartstein explained to this blog.

But on a recent call with analysts to discuss the latest results, Hartstein disclosed that such had been the licensing interest in the assets that the PIPCO had shifted its efforts “to existing licensing and settlement discussions in a positive way, with revenues allocated into Finjan Blue having already offset the current invested expense”.

The deal with IBM and licensing agreements that Hartstein and his team put in place last year with the likes of FireEye and Sophos reflect Finjan’s progress in monetising its IP, but, as with many PIPCOs, it has been far from all plain sailing. Most recently the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that a large part of a $39 million damages award against Blue Coat had to be remanded back to district court. That was just the latest stage in what is proving to be an extremely convoluted litigation battle between the two companies.

What they describe as “convoluted litigation battle” alluding to “two companies” is actually one company and one troll, where the battle is fought in just one direction (Finjan has no products to actually sue over) and the courts mostly reject the troll’s claims. But don’t expect IAM et al to tell the full story. They don’t tell, they sell. They sell agenda; they’re funded by trolls.

The Corcoran Incident Demonstrates That the EPO’s Boards of Appeal Are Threatened and Battistelli Violates Laws

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As the Boards themselves are sometimes courageous enough to note

A shocked Battistelli

Summary: The ongoing refusal to obey the rulings of judges (regarding an illegal attack on other judges) shows the Battistelli regime for what it truly is (necessitating immediate removal of immunity)

LAWLESSNESS at the EPO has become so routine that it’s almost banal now. It’s the new norm.

We have just uploaded a local copy of the document regarding immunity and issues associated with it (published earlier this week and mentioning the EPO extensively). It was covered yesterday in relation to Battistelli’s war against justice and against the EPC. This war carries on. It even intensifies further, albeit somewhat covertly (they just keep uttering sound bites like “perception of independence” while sending judges to exile).

We now have two separable but related issues: 1. the EPO breaks laws and; 2. it does not obey the courts, either (when found to have broken laws). It’s not even obeying ILOAT and it’s sending Corcoran to exile. We wrote three articles about it so far [1, 2, 3] and some media belatedly takes note. The only new bit of information there is that Corcoran is being given only weeks’ notice. This cites a letter:

In a letter addressed to the heads of delegations of the administrative council, the EPO’s Central Staff Committee said that the office had informed Corcoran he would be “permanently transferred in February 2018 to a post of senior expert in classification expressly created for him in The Hague”.

The committee argued that “transferring [Corcoran] to a country in which he had never lived is a further burden for him and his family”.

The committee also argued that the office “did not fulfil its duty of care by assessing medically whether the employee was fit for a transfer. For medical or personal reasons, the employee may have to refuse to be transferred and in such case the President may decide to terminate his service”.

If anyone could send us a copy of this letter, we would appreciate it. Without media/public scrutiny, justice remains “in the dark” and can thus never be assured. The same goes for patents.

On another topic, oppositions at the EPO are soaring and even SUEPO took note of it earlier this week (citing the Haseltine Lake research which we cited over two week ago). Onxeo has just paid for a press release to brag about “Intent-to-Grant Notice,” but what are the chances of oppositions on the way? At a pace of about 4,000 oppositions per year now (it used to be far less) certainty for patenters is rather low. The latest-high profile example is Broad Institute’s CRISPR patent. There are “differences between U.S. law and the EPC regarding a priority determination,” Patent Docs has just said, noting the relevance to the EPC and Paris Convention (a subject of debate at IP Kat‘s comments). To quote:

The interference between the Broad Institute and the University of California/Berkeley has been in the spotlight over the past year (see “PTAB Decides CRISPR Interference — No interference-in-fact”; “PTAB Decides CRISPR Interference in Favor of Broad Institute — Their Reasoning”; “University of California/Berkeley Appeals Adverse CRISPR Decision by PTAB”; and “Berkeley Files Opening Brief in CRISPR Appeal”). But there have been other skirmishes between the parties, each of which has recently been (for now) resolved.

[...]

In Europe, under Article 87 EPC and Paragraph IV of the Paris Convention, priority to an earlier-filed application can be validly claimed by the prior applicant or by her successor in interest. In either case, the applicant must be someone having the right to claim priority. In the U.S., provisional applications are filed in the name of the inventor and the EPO requires that there be an assignment of the invention on or before a European or PCT application is filed. (Of course, a PCT can always be filed naming the inventors as applicants.) In this case, proper application of the applicable rules required both the named applicants (The Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard College) and the Rockefeller to have been named as applicants when the application was filed. Rockefeller was not named as an applicant. Accordingly, the OD determined that the named Proprietors could only validly claim priority to the third provisional application, and by the filing date of that application there had published prior art that invalidated the granted claims. In this regard, the preliminary opinion may provide guidance on the OD’s thinking, where that opinion states that “In both the EPC and the Paris convention systems the decisive fact for a valid claim of priority is the status of applicant, rather than the substantial requirement [] to the subject matter of the first application” (emphasis in opinion). The OD determined (preliminarily) that “neither the requirement of the applicant’s identity nor the proof of a valid success in title [had] been fulfilled” for the claimed invention, and stresses that these were requirements to promote legal certainty that would protect third parties’ interests, and that these requirements were not subject to the national law of the priority document. Nor, according to the preliminary opinion could the granted European patent properly claim priority to U.S. 61/758,468 because that document failed to disclose the length of the guide sequence as claimed.

The matter will likely be decided, upon appeal, by the appeal boards which complain about lack of independence (and they typically rule in favour of patent maximalism). The Corcoran incident is relevant to this because it reinforces the perception of partiality, it clearly demonstrates that the Office operates outside the Rule of Law, and it quite likely ensures that the UPC will never come to fruition.

The ‘Collusion’: IP Kat’s (Until Recently) Stephen Jones Meets Battistelli to Lobby for the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This Kat is no watchdog but a lapdog

CIPA meeting with Stephen Jones
Last night’s photo op shows Stephen Jones almost holding hands with Battistelli

Summary: The sad state of affairs in the patent microcosm (or litigation lobby), as Team UPC not only tolerates human rights abuses but also contributes to them by showing support for Battistelli (an alliance of convenience)

WHEN Stephen Jones entered IP Kat (last summer) we immediately complained that it would further embolden censorship of EPO scandals and contribute to UPC lobbying (already rampant there, mostly due to Bristows and more recently also Eibhlin Vardy).

IP Kat’s pushing/advocacy/promotion of the UPC (usually by Bristows) was further bolstered when it began censoring comments critical of the UPC and refused to cover EPO scandals, even deleting entire threads of comments because they criticised abuses at the EPO. Bristows staff was limiting comments while pushing their lobbying agenda (and actually deleting ‘unwanted’ comments). In their own blog, Bristows does not permit comments at all, so yesterday’s post, for example, will remain unchallenged in spite of spin and inaccuracies.

The sad thing is that in a sense, the Kat has been participating in the EPO’s attacks on the Boards of Appeal every time it promoted the unconstitutional and abusive UPC.

Where does the above photo come from? The EPO’s Web site (time-stamped 8 hours ago). It’s specifically aimed at promoting the UPC (warning: epo.org link) and even mentions it explicitly:

High-level representatives and experts of the EPO, led by President Benoît Battistelli, met yesterday in Munich with a delegation of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) headed by its President, Stephen Jones.

The meeting allowed the EPO and CIPA to confirm that Brexit will have no consequence on UK membership of the European Patent Organisation, nor on the effect of European patents in the UK. Accordingly, European patent attorneys based in the UK will continue to be able to represent applicants before the EPO.

[...]

Both the EPO and CIPA acknowledged the good progress made by the UK on the ratification of the UPC Agreement, which it is expected to ratify in the coming months. 15 EU member states have ratified the agreement so far, and more are expected to do so soon.

I used to respect and extensively link to IP Kat (not just on patent matters), but seeing what happened to it after Jeremy (the founder) left is worrying enough that I barely link to them anymore. They have become almost like a front group for Team UPC, CIPA/Stephen Jones etc. and they literally meet with the worst crooks at the EPO (like Lutz and Battistelli, pictured above) to help them.

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