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02.03.18

India and Europe Do Not Permit Software Patents, But Patent Law Firms Try to Work Around the Law

Posted in Asia, Europe, Law, Patents at 12:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They want to be let in through loopholes and trap doors

To let in

Summary: LexOrbis and NLO are two of the latest examples of law firms that scheme to bypass the rules and patent software where these patents are not permitted

WHEN patent lawyers in the US are plotting to get software patents from the USPTO they aren’t doing anything unethical. While software patents have virtually no ‘teeth’ in US courts (and are also harder to get from the examiners, especially once PTAB gets involved), there’s no law or even guidelines actually banning such patents.

In other parts of the world (except China) it’s another matter; LexOrbis and its advocacy [1, 2] for software patents in India was noted here before. IAM helps them a lot with this. A few days ago DPS Parmar (LexOrbis) continued pushing this agenda in India. To quote:

Once the Examiner identified that claims are drafted in the means plus function style the CRI guidelines seeks examiner to further to look for information relating to implementation of the invention in the specification and if the specification supports implementation of the invention solely by the computer program then such means plus function claims may be deemed as only computer programme per se falling within the ambit of non-patentable subject matter under section 3(k). Moreover, though act does not refer the term software, the CRI guidelines directed to keep such software within the scope of non-patentable subject under section 3(k) as seen from the last para of this guideline for “mean plus function claims” where it is stated that “Where no structural features of those means are disclosed in the specification and specification supports implementation of the invention solely by the software then in that case means in the “means plus function” claims are nothing but software.”

They are using the infamous “per se” loophole whilst at the same time lobbying to expand the scope of patents to algorithms. They have not been successful.

There’s also a new article titled “India in 2018″ containing a section about the “artificial intelligence”/”machine learning” hype and then delving into patents as if “tons of existing and filed patents in the area by big players like Google” are innovations…

Here’s the most relevant portion:

Added to the above dilemma is the huge challenge facing start-ups when more established players with much deeper pockets decide to get into the game of obtaining brands or filing patents to undercut a young brand. Every start-up founder working in the artificial intelligence/machine learning space will admit to spending more than her/his fair share of time worrying whether the next breakthrough the company will survive the challenge of proving they have something new over the tons of existing and filed patents in the area by big players like Google.

It is imperative that start-up lawyers develop a unique metric to decide when is the right time to file for relevant registrations, and how far they wish to go in trying to protect their IP. There are, indeed, no right answers here.

There are barely any cases of successful enforcement of software patents in India. So why worry? Or waste a small firm’s time pursuing such patents? The matter of fact is, such patents ought to be off the agenda altogether. India has a very broad software industry and it’s doing just fine without patents.

Looking at Europe, there’s not much to say about the patent offices (in the news at least) except this bit of ‘true’ “journalism” from Reuters. It’s just PR spam and it links to a PDF with text as an image (bad practice, visually unprofessional too in this case). It’s about an EP. Apart from that, there’s another bit of much longer PR spam. It is a shameless self-promotional piece in which NLO promotes software patents in Europe or more specifically at the EPO. There’s a whole section about software patents and it’s rather extraordinary that they mention “as such” twice (Brimelow’s term) and also use the EPO’s nonsensical term, “computer-implemented inventions,” as if people will believe it’s any different from software patents. To quote:

Software patents

In Europe and many other countries, mere software as such is excluded from patentability. For historical reasons, software is regarded as written source code which can only be protected by copyright.

However, many electronic products nowadays have digital functionality, and machinery is often electronically controlled. Due to increasing importance for industry, obtaining patent protection is often desirable. In Europe and around the world, it has been recognized that excluding these products or methods from protection would block innovations and be detrimental to industry.

Therefore, in many jurisdictions, it is possible to patent so-called computer-implemented inventions.

In general, a computer-implemented invention relates to a device — such as a desktop computer, a dedicated processor, or a controller — with a functionality that is implemented by a software component.

Under the present regulations, the European Patent Office (EPO) carries out a number of tests to determine whether a software-based invention merely relates to software as such or is eligible to be patented.

In addition to the regular tests for novelty and inventive step, the EPO tests whether the computer-implemented invention describes an actual implementation of a product or method, rather than just an abstract idea.

Functionality and patents

The EPO further checks whether the functionality of the software goes beyond mere automation of a known process. Obviously, software instructions have the property that a computing device that executes these instructions shows electronic activity. Mere automation of a known process which causes such electronic activity generally is not eligible to be patented.

It’s rather troubling, in our view, that law firms so openly promote the practice of working around the rules and doing something which, as per the regulations, is not permitted. But we suppose that’s exactly what large companies pay such law firms to achieve.

It is a Tough Market for Patent Trolls in the US, But Microsoft-Connected Trolls Still Manage to Harm Android/Linux

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, Patents at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Simon Phipps, OSI President, earlier today: “Microsoft tried to kill open source, conspiring in something called the Halloween documents.”

John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation (FSF),‏ earlier today:

Summary: The litigious climate or atmosphere of litigation in the United States may have moved eastwards to China, where Microsoft and its proxies continue to shake down major Linux-using rivals (such as Huawei)

THE USPTO grants patents at record rates, but patent litigation is falling every year. That’s because the certainty associated with granted patents is decreasing.

“…the certainty associated with granted patents is decreasing.”3 days ago came a new press release which speaks of a “new chief licensing officer” in InterDigital, a company whose entire ‘business’ is patent shakedowns. We are guessing that they have trouble. IAM took note of that. There’s lots of turbulence and resignations (the “rats jumping the sinking ship” so to speak) in the patent trolls ‘industry’ these days, with many examples of that. We have been covering several in the past few months. Now, according to IAM, a few of these entities go east. “Tu joins an organisation that, as well as former Ericsson chief IP officer Kasim Alfalahi [he is a patent troll] at its head,” IAM said about the Marconi Group on Friday.

So they will try their luck in China, the ‘new’ Eastern District of Texas.

“So they will try their luck in China, the ‘new’ Eastern District of Texas.”What we found noteworthy is this report about Nokia, sent to us also by two readers. Nokia is fighting against Linux/Android with patent blackmail ‘on behalf’ of Microsoft; it specifically targets companies that Microsoft could never successfully shake down with patents, notably Apple and Huawei [1, 2]. As the report puts it: “The Finnish telecoms equipment maker said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit grew by 7 percent to 1 billion euros from the previous year, helped along by a patent payment from China’s Huawei.”

Earlier (this morning) we found another report of interest. The Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures tops the chart in “Patent Trolls Activity Update: Transport Zone 2017″ from Unified Patents (published a short while ago). To quote a couple of portions:

NPEs continue to pose a serious risk to automotive companies and account for 72 percent of litigation in 2017. The majority of these threats came from Patent Assertion Entities (entities whose primary purpose is patent assertion), however auto companies also faced threats from a small handful of individual inventors.

[...]

Figure 5: 2017′s most frequent plaintiffs for the Transport zone

Intellectual Ventures (14 assertions)
Somaltus LLC (12 assertions)
Magnacross LLC (11 assertions)
Location Based Services, LLC (9 assertions)
Blue Sky Networks, LLC (8 assertions)

As we have been pointing out for a while, Microsoft likes to arm and unleash trolls at its competition, in order for people to run to Microsoft for perceived ‘safety’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. We gave another example a month ago and days ago. Another serious antitrust probe should be in order.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on “Jurisdictional Immunity of International Organisations and Rights of Their Staff”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Resolution No. 2206 adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 26 January 2018

Local copies of relevant documents (PDF):

Summary: A reader-contributed article about the issues associated with immunity at the EPO and what European officials have been saying lately

On 26 January 2018 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held a debate on a Resolution dealing with the subject of “Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and rights of their staff”.

The Assembly adopted the Resolution (no. 2206) and an accompanying Recommendation (No. 2122).

Both documents can be downloaded from the website of the Council of Europe.

Resolution No. 2206 is here.

Recommendation No. 2122 is here.

The story behind this action of the Parliamentary Assembly goes back to a written declaration (No. 596) of 25 June 2015 entitled “Rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office” which was tabled by the French parliamentarian Mr. Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ and signed by a total of 82 members of the Assembly.

The written declaration was followed by a motion for a resolution tabled by Mr. Le Borgn’ and others on 6 October 2015. The motion for a resolution (Doc. 13905) was entitled “Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and rights of their staff”.

On 29 November 2017 the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly issued a report on the matter including a draft resolution.

The Rapporteur for the Legal Affairs Committee was Mr. Volker Ullrich (a member of the German Federal Parliament). One of the expert witnesses heard by the Committee was the Dutch human rights expert Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld who has played a prominent role in attempting to tackle human rights abuses at the EPO.

Point 44 of the Report refers specifically to the situation at the EPO: “Following the case brought by SUEPO and the other unions before the Dutch courts, EPO management had started a campaign against members of SUEPO; some of them had been dismissed or suspended, or their salaries or pensions had been cut. As the EPO is subject to no public scrutiny, its Administrative Council, the organisation’s supervisory body, has done nothing to prevent unfair disciplinary proceedings and internal investigations. As a result, the activities of IOs, which often lie beyond the democratic scrutiny of national parliaments and the media, should be more transparent and monitored more closely by States, which are held responsible for the abuses taking place in these organisations. This case also shows the importance of upholding freedom of association in cases of disputes with employers, especially if the employer is an IO, and the need for trade unions to have access to all available means of redress.

On 24 January 2018 the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly issued an Opinion on the Report of the Legal Affairs Committee and included some proposed amendments to the draft resolution.

The Rapporteur for the Social Affairs Committee was Mr. Stefan Schennach (a member of the Austrian Parliament).

The Opinion of the Social Affairs Committee contains further comments about the unacceptable situation at the EPO. For example: “It is no secret that the signatories of the original motion for a resolution had the situation at the European Patent Office (EPO) in mind when tabling this motion. The EPO – like other international organisations – is not exactly a paragon of transparency when it comes to its internal workings, but the situation has deteriorated so badly over the last few years that there has even been some media attention. From this media coverage it appears that the President of the EPO installed in 2010 has waged a campaign against staff who oppose his reform efforts (with staff representatives members of the trade union SUEPO being in the first line of fire): by 2016, three elected staff representatives had been dismissed, others had been demoted and/or had seen their salaries or pensions cut. Staff complain about a campaign of intimidation, harassment and discrimination, resulting in burn-out and other sickness, and even suicides: Over the past four years, five EPO staff members have committed suicide, two of them at their place of work.”

The Rapporteur had some strong words of criticism for the current style of management at the EPO: “Quite frankly, if the “success” of an international organisation such as the EPO is built on campaigns of harassment and intimidation which drive staff members to suicide, then the price of this success is too high. This should be obvious to the governing body of the international organisations in question, and thus, ideally, in case of such abuses, the governing body would ensure that the international organisation’s management stops the abuse and goes back to respecting staff rights. If this is not the case, then the internal remedy system of the international organisations should be able to put things right again. This is why I fully support the proposals made by Mr Ullrich and the Committee on Legal Affairs to ensure that all international organisations introduce appropriate mechanisms to protect the rights of staff, along with procedures for lodging appeals.”

Following a debate held on 26 January 2018, the Assembly adopted the proposed Resolution and the accompanying Recommendation.

A video of the debate is accessible on the Council of Europe Web site.

The European Council Confirms That the Unitary/Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) is “Outside the Legal Framework of the European Union”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another unaccountable authority to be pursued?

Siegfried Broß
Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: The vision of the Unitary Patent looks a lot like another Battistelli-type regime rather than a court of justice

THE MANAGEMENT of the EPO did some UPC spin with former (until very recently) IP Kat authors. The EPO and others close to Team UPC then boosted this spin; it goes something along the lines of “Britain remains part of the EPC after Brexit and thus UPC is all fine and dandy for the UK to ratify,” even though the UPC is neither necessary nor desirable for the UK. This spin came from no-one other than Battistelli, who according to rumours wants (or wanted) to be the UPC’s chief.

“The management of the EPO did some UPC spin with former (until very recently) IP Kat authors.”Siegfried Broß (pictured above), who repeatedly explained the issues with the UPC, is back as a discussion topic after an IP Kat comment (mentioned here before) which SUEPO has just/must have noticed, adding that “[a]n article and a lecture by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß, former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court of Karlsruhe.”

SUEPO made copies and added: “Both documents incidentally also deal with the employment situation of staff members of international organisations.”

One of our readers has meanwhile explained another reason to shun the UPC:


The MEP Pascal Arimont submitted a question for written answer to the European Council on 9 February 2017.

“The EPO and others close to Team UPC then boosted this spin…”Mr. Arimont (Wikipedia has information in English) is a Belgian MEP for the Christian Social Party, which sits in the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

“I would go easy on him,” said a reader from Belgium. “As member of the central-right European People’s Party, he can can flip in any direction at any moment.”

The European Council is the institution of the EU that comprises the heads of state or government of the member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.

Arimont’s question was a follow-up to an earlier question about the UPC. This time he specifically asked the following: “What is the Council doing to ensure that the agreement on a unified patent court is finally ratified by a sufficient number of participant States? — From what date is the new European patent system due to be in operation in its entirety?”

“This spin came from no-one other than Battistelli, who according to rumours wants (or wanted) to be the UPC’s chief.”The answer which came from the Council on 2 May 2017 is interesting because it confirms that the Unitary Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) is “an international agreement – concluded outside the legal framework of the European Union – which is subject to ratification by those Member States which are parties to it.”

So from a legal perspective the UPCA is outside the framework of the EU. It’s an “international agreement” much like the European Patent Convention. Although the agreement is concluded among EU states, the EU doesn’t seem to have any effective control over the court which it establishes and the agreement seems destined to create another legal “black hole” on the international stage.

Links 3/2/2018: Wine 3.1, Elisa 0.0.81, Elive 2.9.26 Beta, Glibc 2.27

Posted in News Roundup at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Top 10 Open Source AI Projects in 2018

    These days, it’s hard to escape the hype surround artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. According to a September 2017 forecast from IDC, worldwide spending on cognitive and AI solutions was around $12.0 billion in 2017. That total is likely to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50.1 percent through 2021, when the market will hit a whopping $57.6 billion.

    In its 2018 predictions, Forrester Research predicted that during this year, “AI will reshape analytic and business innovation” and that “AI will make decisions and provide real-time instructions at 20% of firms.” However, it also cautioned that “2018 will be the year that CIOs will realize that new technologies like AI require hard work.”

  • Open source software: 20 years and counting

    Twenty years later, that campaign has proven wildly successful, beyond the imagination of anyone involved at the time. Today open source software is literally everywhere. It is the foundation for the internet and the web. It powers the computers and mobile devices we all use, as well as the networks they connect to. Without it, cloud computing and the nascent Internet of Things would be impossible to scale and perhaps to create. It has enabled new ways of doing business to be tested and proven, allowing giant corporations like Google and Facebook to start from the top of a mountain others already climbed.

  • Open source is 20: How it changed programming and business forever
  • The history behind Christine Peterson’s term ‘open source software’

    Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of open source software. The term open source has become an important phrase in the software development world, but it didn’t always exist.

    The phrase was coined by Christine Peterson, the cofounder and past president of the nontech public interest group Foresight Institute. After 20 years, Peterson is revealing more insight into how the use of the term open source software began. Peterson noted there are a variety of different accounts on coining the term, but hers came from a need to make the field more accessible.

  • Open source turns 20 this weekend

    OPEN SOURCE software is 20 years old this weekend.

    At first, you might say “really, is that all?” but let’s be clear on what we (and the industry) means by ‘open source’.

    It’s not to do with copyright either. US law didn’t allow software to be copyrighted until 1974, but that’s still 24 years in the wilderness. Open source software still has a copyright. Somewhere. Lots of them in fact.

    Open source is not free. Well, it usually is, but that’s not the point. Open source means literally, that – the source code is open and editable and anyone can have it and modify it under the terms of a set licence. It’s free to the end user, providing you don’t profit from it yourself, and (in most cases) you contribute any changes you make back to the community.

  • ADLINK Delivers Open-Source DDS Platform
  • Securing the guts of the Gits with GitLab

    GitLab is expanding… but what is its position in the total source code repository management universe?

    Let’s draw a couple of lines first with a nod to the SESYNC research support community for its clarification.

    GitHub open source and free.

  • Events

    • Call for Proposals Now Open – Speak at Open Source Summit Japan, North America, Europe

      Open Source Summit Japan, North America and Europe are the leading conferences for developers, architects and other technologists – as well as open source community and industry leaders – to collaborate, share information, learn about the the latest technologies and gain a competitive advantage by using innovative open solutions.

    • The Linux Foundation Announces Keynote Speakers for Open Networking Summit North America

      Open Networking Summit (ONS) is the industry’s premier open networking event, gathering enterprises, service providers and cloud providers across the ecosystem to share learnings, highlight innovation and discuss the future of open source networking, including software defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), orchestration and the automation of cloud, network and IoT services.

    • CS3 Workshop 2018 – Global Scale and the future of Federated Cloud Sharing

      At this years CS3 Workshop in Krakow I presented the current state of Nextcloud’s Global Scale architecture. Probably the most interesting part of the talk was the current development in the area of Federated Cloud Sharing, a central component of Global Scale. Originally, Federated Cloud Sharing was developed by Frank Karlitschek and me in 2014 at ownCloud. These day it enables cloud solutions from ownCloud, Pydio and Nextcloud to exchange files.

      As part of Global Scale we will add federated group sharing in the coming months. Further we want to enable apps to provide additional “federated share providers” in order to implement federated calendar sharing, federated contact sharing and more.

    • A division of labor in free software, LinuxConfAu 2018, Sydney, Australia

      FSF campaigns manager Molly de Blanc delivered the talk “A division of labor in free software” in January 2018, at LinuxConfAu 2018. To create this talk, Molly analyzed the results from four community surveys from 2003, 2013, 2016, and 2017 (as well as other bits of data around the internet). With fourteen (incomplete) years of community data, she attempts to quantify the ways the make up of free software has changed, where we’re not doing as well as we’d like, and how we can do better.

    • FOSDEM 2018 Is This Weekend In Brussels

      It’s a bit late to make arrangements if you already weren’t planning on it, but this weekend is FOSDEM in Brussels. FOSDEM remains one of the best open-source/Linux events in the world.

    • IoT Gadgets at FOSDEM 2018 – Brussels, Belgium
    • DevConf 2018: long live containerization

      DevConf is a yearly conference for developers, administrators, and users of Linux and related technologies. It is organized by Red Hat in Brno, home to one of their major development centers. This event was the 10th in a row and the largest ever. It collects Red Hat stuff from all around the world, so I met old and new Red Hat friends from all over Europe, the US, and even from Australia. Many of the talks focused on containerization, even desktop talks, like those about the Atomic Workstation. One of my favorite talks was about documentation

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • These Weeks in Dev-Tools, issue 3

        These Weeks in Dev-Tools will keep you up to date with all the exciting dev tools news. We plan to have a new issue every few weeks. If you have any news you’d like us to report, please comment on the tracking issue.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 31
      • Understanding Extension Permission Requests

        An extension is software developed by a third party that modifies how you experience the web in Firefox. Since they work by tapping into the inner workings of Firefox, but are not built by Mozilla, it’s good practice to understand the permissions they ask for and how to make decisions about what to install. While rare, a malicious extension can do things like steal your data or track your browsing across the web without you realizing it.

        We have been taking steps to reduce the risk of extensions, the most significant of which was moving to a WebExtensions architecture with the release of Firefox 57 last fall. The new APIs limit an extension’s ability to access certain parts of the browser and the information they process. We also have a variety of security measures in place, such as a review process that is designed to make it difficult for malicious developers to publish extensions. Nevertheless, these systems cannot guarantee that extensions will be 100% safe.

      • Janitor project – Newsletter 10

        We hope you’ve had a smooth start into the year, and wish you all the best in your life and projects. This is your recurrent burst of good news about Janitor.

      • Switch from Chrome to Firefox in just a Few Minutes

        You’ve heard about how fast the new Firefox is. You’ve heard it’s made by people who want the web to be awesome for everyone. You like that, you’re curious to try, but you hesitate. Moving from Chrome to Firefox seems like work. Fussy, computer-y IT work. Ugh. ”What about all my “stuff”? I don’t want to set all this up again.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Glibc 2.27 Released With Many Optimizations, Support For Static PIE Executables

      Being released right on time is Glibc 2.27, version 2.27 of the GNU C Library.

      As we have been covering the past few months, exciting us a lot about Glibc 2.27 are many performance optimizations with a number of functions receiving AVX/FMA tuning and other performance tweaks particularly for x86_64. But even on the ARM64/AArch64 side are also some performance optimizations as well as for POWER and SPARC.

    • GNU C Library 2.27 released

      The GNU C Library version 2.27 is now available.

      The GNU C Library is used as *the* C library in the GNU system and in GNU/Linux systems, as well as many other systems that use Linux as the kernel.

    • Everything you didn’t know about FSFE in a picture

      As FSFE’s community begins exploring our future, I thought it would be helpful to start with a visual guide to the current structure.

      All the information I’ve gathered here is publicly available but people rarely see it in one place, hence the heading. There is no suggestion that anything has been deliberately hidden.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Start Your Apollo Collection with an Open Source DSKY

        Given that there have been only six manned moon landings, and that almost all of the hardware that started on the launch pad was discarded along the way, getting your hands on flown hardware is not generally the business of mere mortals. Such artifacts are mostly in museums or in the hands of very rich private collectors. Enthusiasts have to settle for replicas like this open source Apollo Guidance Computer DSKY.

        The DSKY, or Display and Keyboard, was the user interface for the Apollo Guidance Computer, that marvel of 1960s computer engineering that was purpose-built to control the guidance and navigation of the Command and Lunar Excursion modules. [ST-Geotronics] has made a decent replica of the DSKY using 3D-printed parts for the housing and bezel. There’s a custom PCB inside that houses a matrix of Neopixels for the indicator light panel and seven-segment LEDs for the numeric displays. Sadly but understandably, the original electroluminescent display could not be reproduced, but luckily [Fran Blanche] is working on just that project these days. The three-segment displays for the plus and minus signs in the numeric displays proved impossible to source commercially, so the team had to roll their own for that authentic look. With laser cut and engraved overlays for the displays and keycaps, the look is very realistic, and the software even implements a few AGC-like functions.

      • Open-Source IP in Government Electronics

        At the RISC-V conference late last year, one of the keynotes was by Linton Salmon titled A Perspective on the Role of Open-Source IP in Government Electronic Systems. It was not specifically about RISC-V, although the RISC-V ISA and many of the implementations to date (but not all) are open source.

  • Programming/Development

    • Shell Scripting: Dungeons, Dragons and Dice

      In my last article, I talked about a really simple shell script for a game called Bunco, which is a dice game played in rounds where you roll three dice and compare your values to the round number. Match all three and match the round number, and you just got a bunco for 25 points. Otherwise, any die that match the round are worth one point each. It’s simple—a game designed for people who are getting tipsy at the local pub, and it also is easy to program.

    • Pair programming with git

      Git is great. It took the crown of version control systems in just a few years. Baked into the git model is that each commit has a committer and one author. Ofen this is the same person. What if there is more than one author for a commit? This is the case with pair programming or with mob programming or with any other way of collaboration where code is produced by more than one person. I talked about this at the git-merge conference last year. There are some workarounds but there is no native support in git yet.

      It seems that the predominant convention to express multi-authorship in git commits is to add a Co-authored-by entry in the commit message as a so-called trailer. This adds more flexibility than trying to tweak the author and committer fields and is quite widely accepted, especially by the git community.

    • How programmers learn to code

      In terms of how programmers learnt to code, self-teaching is the norm for developers of all ages, stated the report.

      “Even though 67% of developers have computer science degrees, roughly 74% said they were at least partially self-taught.”

      On average, developers know four languages, but they want to learn four more.

    • PHP version 7.1.14 and 7.2.2

      RPM of PHP version 7.2.2 are available in the remi-php72 repository for Fedora 25-27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS) and as Software Collection in the remi-safe repository.

      RPM of PHP version 7.1.14 are available in remi repository for Fedora 26-27 and in remi-php71 repository for Fedora 24-25 and Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).

    • PHPUnit 7.0

Leftovers

  • Remember LinkedIn? A year on from the $27bn Microsoft takeover – was it worth it?
  • Microsoft Office 2019 will only work on Windows 10

    Microsoft is providing an update on Office 2019 today, revealing that the apps will only run on Windows 10. In a support article for service and support of Windows and Office, Microsoft has revealed you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 if you want the latest version of Office without subscribing to the company’s Office 365 service.

  • No, Windows 10 hasn’t overtaken Windows 7

    It’s a contrast that Microsoft is already used to being flummoxed by. We’re coming up on two years since the release of Windows 10. Yet our desktop figures still show people are, for the most part, sticking to Windows 7. This month it has a 42.39 (-0.69) per cent market share.

    Compare that with Windows 10 it’s up slightly as 34.29 (+1.36) and it’s way ahead of Windows 8.x at 6.43 (-0.47) but there’s still no evidence of anything being set to change significantly. If Microsoft wants to ‘fix it’ they’re going to have to try and keep up the subtle efforts to ‘break it’.

  • Apple Results: Flat Sales vs Year Before, Market Share Down One Point (Yet Again)

    For full year numbers, Apple just barely inched better sales than the year before. It was up by 400,000 units from 215.4M to 215.8M but that IS growth, technically. In reality it is less than half of one percent – so it is flat vs year before. Don’t kid yourself. Apple annual sales were flat. And considering its headwinds this past year, that is doing pretty well, all things considered. But market share, that is a different story. Apple annual market share lost another point and is now at 14%.

  • iPhone ‘Super Cycle’ Pronounced Dead

    The iPhone “super cycle” — a wave of upgrades and new customers that was supposed to wash over Apple Inc. this year with the introduction of its model X — was pronounced dead on arrival.

    In Apple’s first earnings report since the launch of the pricey flagship smartphone, the company reported lower-than-expected handset sales from the holiday period. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri also forecast a decline in the average selling price of iPhones in the current quarter, suggesting the most-expensive models aren’t as popular.

  • Apple sells fewer phones but profits rise
  • iPhone sales down, but revenue up in latest quarter

    Apple sold less iPhones in the latest quarter but earned a lot more than a year ago, given the price of its iPhone X began at US$1000, according to the company’s results for the first fiscal quarter of 2018. The user base of active devices rose to 1.3 billion in January.

  • Apple Says It Will Implement Toggle Option for iPhone Slowdowns Next Month

    Apple has confirmed the investigations launched by the US government over slowing down of customer’s iPhone devices without being more transparent and says the promised power management features are coming next month.

    As you may be aware, Apple released last year a new software update that implemented a so-called feature which slowed down the performance of certain iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices with degrated batteries under cold weather and when the battery charge was low.

    The feature was extended to iPhone 7 models as well a year later, and discovered by accident after some users reported slowdowns on their older iPhone devices. Apple wasn’t really transparent about this feature, even so Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview earlier this month that they said so in the release notes of the respective iOS update.

    Anyway, when Apple came clean about slowing down older iPhone devices, numerous customers sued the company, and it now looks like even the U.S. government is asking them about the handling of older iPhone batteries and their transparency to customers, as Bloomberg reported earlier this week.

  • IoT garage opener now more open, a year after customer firestorm

    Last April, Ars reported the curious incident of an Internet-of-Things garage door opener creator who responded to negative reviews and complaints from one customer by shutting down the customer’s account—and in the process, rendering the product unusable. Now, Garadget founder Denis Grisak claims to have reformed his ways, saying he’s opening up the firmware of his company’s eponymous device to allow customers to connect it to the home automation software of their choice, rather than having to rely on Garadget’s own cloud-based service.

  • Science

    • How two sisters brought robotics and coding to young girls

      At their programme, the founders believe in using only hands-on tools to teach. Softwares such as Scratch (an open source software from Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are used to impart technical know-how to the students. “It is as simple as drag and drop but uses fun projects using coding language,” says Prasad, adding, that they as a company also developed and launched Phiro Robots in 2015, that their students now use.

  • Hardware

    • REVIEW: 5 top hardware-based Wi-Fi test tools

      Software tools for testing Wi-Fi can run on a laptop, but dedicated hardware tools offer the convenience of a sometimes less cumbersome form-factor that are compact enough to fit in the pouch of a laptop bag.

      This article looks at five of these devices: AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester (NETSCOUT), Cape Networks Sensor, EyeQ Wi-Fi Monitor (7SIGNAL), NetBeez Wi-Fi Monitor and WiFi Pineapple Tetra.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Growth of open source adoption increases number of security vulnerabilities [Ed: No, Equifax was the opposite. It's proof that patches were available but were not being applied.]

      The 2017 Equifax breach served as a major PSA of the growing size and scope of security vulnerabilities in open source — software components and applications. Despite many of them being “known,” these security flaws pose a potentially debilitating risk to enterprise security.

    • Software Composition Analysis: Identify Risk in Open Source Componentsf

      In March of 2017, it was reported that certain versions of the Apache Struts 2 Framework were vulnerable to Remote Code Execution attacks. If you were using a vulnerable version of the Apache Struts 2, the recommended remediation was to upgrade to Apache Struts 2.3.32 or 2.5.10.1. The issue was a Remote Code Execution bug in the Jakarta Multipart parser of Apache Struts 2 that could allow an attacker to execute malicious commands on the server when uploading files based on the parser.

    • Mitigating known security risks in open source libraries

      This chapter focuses on all you should know about fixing vulnerable packages, including remediation options, tooling, and various nuances. Note that SCA tools traditionally focused on finding or preventing vulnerabilities, and most put little emphasis on fix beyond providing advisory information or logging an issue. Therefore, you may need to implement some of these remediations yourself, at least until more SCA solutions expand to include them.

    • How to eliminate the default route for greater security
    • A giant botnet is forcing Windows servers to mine cryptocurrency

      A massive cyptocurrency mining botnet has taken over half a million machines, and may have made its cybercriminal controllers millions of dollars. The whole operation is powered by EternalBlue, the leaked NSA exploit which made the WannaCry ransomware outbreak so destructive.

      The Smominru miner botnet turns infected machines into miners of the Monero cryptocurrency and is believed to have made its owners around $3.6m since it started operating in May 2017 — about a month after EternalBlue leaked and around the same time as the WannaCry attack.

      While it isn’t uncommon for cybercriminals to leverage the power of hijacked networks of computers to acquire cryptocurrency, this particular network is significant due to its individual size — double that of the Adylkuzz mining botnet.

    • NSA’s Microsoft SMB protocol exploit EternalBlue returns with WannaMine cryptocurrency-jacking malware
    • Fileless WannaMine Cryptojacking Malware Using NSA Exploit
    • WannaMine: Cryptocurrency Mining Malware That Uses An NSA Exploit
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Meltdown-Spectre: Malware is already being tested by attackers
    • How to Check Your Linux PC for Meltdown or Spectre Vulnerability
    • Microsoft disables Spectre patch after bugs reported

      Over the weekend, Microsoft released an update that disables a patch to Intel CPUs after reports that the patch — meant to fix a design flaw known as Spectre — caused unexpected reboots and other other problems. Intel called a halt to installations of the patch one week ago, but Microsoft’s new update goes a step further and disables the patches on any computers that already had them installed.

    • New Adobe Flash Zero-Day Spotted in the Wild

      South Korean authorities have issued a warning regarding a brand new Flash zero-day deployed in the wild.

      According to a security alert issued by the South Korean Computer Emergency Response Team (KR-CERT), the zero-day affects Flash Player installs 28.0.0.137 and earlier. Flash 28.0.0.137 is the current Flash version number.

      “An attacker can persuade users to open Microsoft Office documents, web pages, spam e-mails, etc. that contain Flash files that distribute the malicious [Flash] code,” KR-CERT said. The malicious code is believed to be a Flash SWF file embedded in MS Word documents.

    • An Adobe Flash 0day is being actively exploited in the wild

      The critical, use-after-free vulnerability, which is indexed as CVE-2018-4877, resides in the latest version of the widely installed Flash, researchers from Cisco Systems’ Talos group said in a blog post. Adobe said separately that versions earlier than current Flash 28.0.0.137 are also susceptible. The vulnerability came to light on Wednesday when South Korea’s CERT issued an advisory warning that attack code was circulating in the wild that exploited the zeroday flaw.

      Talos said the exploit is being distributed through a Microsoft Excel document that has a malicious Flash object embedded into it. Once the SWF object is triggered, it installs ROKRAT, a remote administration tool Talos has been tracking since January 2017. Until now, the group behind ROKRAT—which Talos calls Group 123—has relied on social engineering or exploits of older, previously known vulnerabilities that targets hadn’t yet patched. This is the first time the group has used a zeroday exploit.

    • Cryptocurrency botnets are rendering some companies unable to operate

      Like Zealot, Smominru uses other exploit techniques to infect targeted computers, but it can fall back on the NSA-developed EternalBlue in certain cases, presumably for spreading from machine to machine inside infected networks or when other infection techniques fail on a machine that hasn’t been patched. Smominru also makes use of the Windows Management Interface. Proofpoint said that the botnet is also likely exacting a punishing performance impact on the business networks it infects by slowing down servers and driving up electricity costs.

    • 6 important security takeaways from applying Spectre and Meltdown patches

      A flurry of patching commenced across all industries once these vulnerabilities came to light due to the severity involved. Here are seven important lessons I took away from the process:]…

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Defectors Torn by North Korean Olympic Charm Offensive

      The women cheerleaders undergo extensive ideological education to ensure loyalty to the state and to the leadership of the Kim family.

    • Another Warmonger Rewarded for Being Wrong on Iraq War

      How many war-boosters does the Washington Post need? Tuesday, the capital’s most influential paper announced that Max Boot, yet another white, pro-war, pro-Israel, blow-everything-up pundit, would be joining their opinion section. It goes to show, again, that the most certain way to move up in the media pundit universe is to consistently echo US national security orthodoxy—without pause or regret.

      Aside from Nation editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel, Post columnists’ opinions on matters of war and peace range from supporting covert CIA operations and “targeted airstrikes” to outright regime change—with Boot falling on the far right end of this already very right-wing spectrum. One analysis from reporter Kelsey D. Atherton found that in 2012 Max Boot supported starting a new war or escalating an existing one once every 3.5 days. He has long championed the Iraq War (expressly defending it as recently as 2013), the Libya War, the overthrow of Assad, arming dozens of groups throughout the globe and launching an offensive war against Iran. Leftists are often criticized for calling the US an “empire”; Boot, in “The Case for American Empire” (Weekly Standard, 10/20/01), overtly advocated for one.

    • Turkey’s Erdogan in the Shadows of the Ottoman Empire

      It is difficult to fathom why Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who embarked on the most impressive social, political, and economic reforms during his first ten years in office – turned around and systematically destroyed all that he had achieved. In doing so, he transformed the country into a police state where Islamic nationalism reigns supreme.

    • Responding to Bernie’s Promotion of the New Cold War

      In an otherwise fine video response to Tuesday night’s vapid, flag-waving State of the Union address, Bernie Sanders once again promoted the neocon think tank-generated and unproven claim that Russia interfered in America’s 2016 elections via “cyberwarfare,” and repeated the completely baseless insinuation that they colluded with Trump to do so.

    • Vietnam and the U.S. ‘Forever Wars’

      This revisionist history began in 1986 with an article by David Petraeus in the military journal Parameters, in which he argued that the U.S. army was unprepared to fight low intensity conflicts (such as Vietnam), and that “what the country needed wasn’t fewer Vietnams; but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.”

      One strand of military analysis (the Clauswitzian, “go-big” hypothesis), about how to “win” next time, was initiated by a Colonel Harry Summers, who suggested that “civilian policymakers had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than focus on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi: More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.”

      Though H.R. McMaster (the present National Security Advisor) in a 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty, pinned the blame rather on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a lack of honesty in advising the President Johnson on what was needed to “win,” he agreed with Summers that “winning” required a more aggressive offensive strategy – a full ground invasion of the North, or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists

      The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is now accepting applications from professional journalists from mainly developing countries for its 2018 fellowship program. The application deadline is March 12, 2018.

    • WikiLeaks Has Published Leaks On Trump Admin And Russia, And Is Seeking More

      WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange recently posted a harsh criticism of what he calls Trump’s “subservience to Saudi Arabia’s military adventurism in Yemen” and the explosion of civilian deaths caused by this administration’s greatly escalated drone assassination program. This received an angry backlash from many of Assange’s Trump-supporting Twitter followers, one of them exclaiming, “Has your account been taken over by the deep state? Seems like you are trying to turn us against Trump. I have lost a lot of faith in you Julian. I thought you were a Trump supporter but this seems to show otherwise. Keep this up and you can kiss that pardon goodbye, sir.”

      “My principles are not for sale,” Assange replied.

      Over and over and over again you’ll see this exact sort of confusion about Assange and WikiLeaks coming from both sides of America’s illusory partisan divide. Democrats believe that Assange is a Trump-supporting Kremlin asset while Trump supporters believe Assange is a based MAGA hat-wearing ally to their cause, the former because they were told to believe that by CNN and the Washington Post and the latter because they’ve seen him championed by Fox’s Sean Hannity and the elaborate 4chan hoax “QAnon”. Neither could be further from the truth.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on verge of leaving diplomatic sanctuary of Ecuador Embassy in London

      IT is not exactly a song to inspire an image of a self-proclaimed freedom fighter, but on August 16, 2012 Julian Paul Assange had few musical options available.

  • Finance

    • Will the Supreme Court deal a blow to trade unions?
    • Amazon’s international losses cross $3 bn in 2017 on India business growth

      International losses grew to $3 billion in 2017 from $1.28 billion in 2016, while international sales jumped to $54 billion from $43.9 billion. In the quarter ended December, Amazon’s international losses stood at $919 million, almost double the loss of $487 million in the December quarter of 2016.

    • Jeff Bezos adds billions to his fortune as Amazon reports profit surge
    • Amazon Investments Pay Off With Rising Sales and Bigger Profit

      The results on Thursday reassured investors that Amazon can spend money in areas such as advertising, entertainment and groceries while maintaining its dominance in online shopping and cloud computing. Revenue growth is accelerating even as the company is expected to cross $200 billion in sales this year and make more money from its original U.S. online retail business.

    • Amazon fulfillment centers don’t boost employment, analysis finds

      After analyzing data for counties in 25 states containing Amazon fulfillment centers, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that within two years the centers lead to a 30% increase in warehouse and storage employment in the surrounding county. But the analysis also found no increase in overall employment in the county and, in some cases, the data suggested a reduction in overall employment.

    • The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery

      Whether out of social responsibility or frustration with shrinkage, some retailers, including Albertsons, Big Y Supermarket, Pavilions, and Vons, have scaled back or eliminated self-scanning, at least in some stores. But others continue to add it.

    • Kaz Hirai Hands Sony Corp. CEO Reins to Top Lieutenant, Shifts to Chairman Role

      Sony Corp. announced the new management structure late Thursday in advance of its fourth quarter 2017 earnings report early Friday. Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony Corp.’s chief financial officer, will take over as president-CEO as of April 1.

    • Bank of America to bar customers buying cryptocurrencies with credit cards

      Other credit card companies have also taken steps to prohibit consumers from using their cards to purchase cryptocurrencies. Capital One Financial Corp. and Discover Financial Services both do not support the transactions, Bloomberg News reported, while the largest U.S. card issuer JPMorgan Chase & Co. still allows the transactions.

    • Facebook using leverage to get advance notice about public info requests: report

      In states where Facebook reaches deals with the government to establish data centers, the company often reaches deals where it receives tax breaks in exchange for the new center. On more than one occasion, Facebook has arranged clauses which require governments in those regions to give the company several days notice before officials respond to FOIA requests, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.

    • Here Comes the Next Financial Crisis

      There’s been lots of fire and fury around Washington lately, including a brief government shutdown. In Donald Trump’s White House, you can hardly keep up with the ongoing brouhahas from North Korea to Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation, while it already feels like ages since the celebratory mood over the vast corporate tax cuts Congress passed last year. But don’t be fooled: none of that is as important as what’s missing from the picture. Like a disease, in the nation’s capital it’s often what you can’t see that will, in the end, hurt you most.

      Amid a roaring stock market and a planet of upbeat CEOs, few are even thinking about the havoc that a multi-trillion-dollar financial system gone rogue could inflict upon global stability. But watch out. Even in the seemingly best of times, neglecting Wall Street is a dangerous idea. With a rag-tag Trumpian crew of ex-bankers and Goldman Sachs alumni as the only watchdogs in town, it’s time to focus, because one thing is clear: Donald Trump’s economic team is in the process of making the financial system combustible again.

      Collectively, the biggest US banks already have their get-out-out-of-jail-free cards and are now sitting on record profits after, not so long ago, triggering sweeping unemployment, wrecking countless lives, and elevating global instability. (Not a single major bank CEO was given jail time for such acts.) Still, let’s not blame the dangers lurking at the heart of the financial system solely on the Trump doctrine of leaving banks alone. They should be shared by the Democrats who, under President Barack Obama, believed, and still believe, in the perfection of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

    • India ready to explore blockchain tech, but no change in stance on cryptocurrency

      The Indian government is getting more serious about using blockchain technology into the growing digital economy of the country. But this does not mean it is going soft on cryptocurrencies.

    • Thanks to Bitcoin, Buying a PC Is Better Than Building One (for Now)

      Would-be millionaires are snatching up huge numbers of consumer-grade GPUs and cramming them into custom-built PCs that use blockchain software to “make” currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. As a result, graphics cards are thin on the ground, and retailers are raising prices to ludicrous levels to profit off of the inflated demand.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Learning from the New Yorker, Wired’s new paywall aims to build a more “stable financial future”

      Wired’s brand and mission may align it closely with the koan of the internet revolution that “information wants to be free,” but the days of unlimited free content at Wired.com are coming to an end.

      Starting today, visitors to Wired.com will be able to read four articles a month, plus a snippet of a fifth article, before Wired asks them to subscribe. A yearly subscription will have an introductory rate of $20 (final pricing is TBD), and will include access to Wired’s website as well as its print and digital editions.

    • Facebook’s usage decline should have investors worried — no matter what Mark Zuckerberg says

      In its fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday, Facebook reported a 5% drop in daily usage of its service.

    • Facebook lost daily users for the first time ever in the U.S. and Canada

      Each user accounted for $26.76 worth of revenue for the company last quarter, and it went up by 35 percent over the same quarter last year.

    • Good news: Facebook usership declined in the US and Canada for the first time ever

      For the first time ever Facebook usership declined in the US and Canada, from 185 million in Q3 of 2017 to Q4 of 2018.

      Could it be that people are wising up to the fact that Facebook is a depressing, computational-propaganda-spewing, personal-data-abusing, walled-in cesspool of little value to anyone but shareholders, advertisers, and election throwers?

    • Facebook didn’t catch fake ‘supermoon’ video as it racked up 16 million views

      A Facebook Live video purportedly showing a live view of a “supermoon” over Greece but which in fact was a still image with wind sounds added was viewed more than 16 million times over four hours on Wednesday, apparently going undetected by the company even as some commenters pointed out that something fishy was going on.

    • Russia probe lawyers think Mueller could indict Trump

      Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has gathered enough steam that some lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates are considering the possibility of a historic first: an indictment against a sitting president.

      While many legal experts contend that Mueller lacks the standing to bring criminal charges against Trump, at least two attorneys working with clients swept up in the Russia probe told POLITICO they consider it possible that Mueller could indict the president for obstruction of justice.

    • Some Republicans uneasy with Trump releasing the Russia memo

      Many Republicans are clamoring to give the public a classified memo about intelligence collection in the Russia investigation.

      But not all of them.

      At least a handful of GOP lawmakers worry that its release could compromise intelligence-gathering and further enflame President Donald Trump’s conflict with his own law-enforcement agencies.

    • Newsweek and USA Today Need Standards for Opinion Writers

      Facts don’t matter in commentaries printed by Newsweek, so long as the writer “seems genuine.” That’s the takeaway from a troubling email exchange with Newsweek opinion editor Nicholas Wapshott in response to concerns and questions I raised about a recent commentary attacking the organic industry.

    • U.S. Media’s Objectivity Questioned Abroad

      The mainstream media’s nonstop Russiagate coverage and its embrace of #TheResistance has undermined its reputation for objectivity in Europe, reports Andrew Spannaus.

    • Revelations About the FBI’s Delay on Clinton Emails May Be Less Than They Seem

      Media reports this week have focused fresh attention on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation managed the dramatic discovery — five weeks before the 2016 presidential election — of what seemed to be a fresh trove of Hillary Clinton emails and the delay in investigating them that ensued. The articles are fueling Republican charges of an FBI cabal, intent on protecting the Democratic nominee.

    • Trump’s All-Out Attack on the Rule of Law

      With the imminent release of the jury-rigged “Nunes memo” and the resignation of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who had been under fire from the president, Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have expanded their all-out assault on the American system of justice, including the FBI, the Justice Department, the US intelligence community, and the Office of the Special Counsel. It’s an unprecedented attack on what Team Trump refers to as an imagined “Deep State,” a “secret society” within the FBI, and a conspiracy of judges, courts, and intelligence officials who have allegedly banded together to bring down his presidency.

      There is of course a reality-based way to look at these events—namely, that the White House and the Trump campaign are under investigation by seasoned prosecutors and several congressional committees over plausible allegations that the president’s 2016 campaign colluded with or encouraged a Russian effort to influence the election’s outcome, and that since his inauguration Trump has engaged in a systematic effort to obstruct justice.

    • Donald Trump Incorrectly Asserts His State of the Union Was the Most Watched Ever

      On February 1, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to assert that people tuned into his first State of the Union in record numbers, claiming that it was the biggest audience in the entire history of the addresses. “Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech,” he wrote. “45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!”

      [...]

      While Trump could correctly boast that it was the most watched address since 2010 — again, citing data provided by Nielsen — numerous presidents prior to him had higher numbers. For instance, 51.7 million watched George W. Bush’s speech in 2002, 48 million watched Barack Obama’s address in 2010, and 45.8 million watched Bill Clinton’s remarks in 1994.

    • Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes Are Betraying the Constitution in the Service of Donald Trump

      Asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 if the delegates had created a republic or a monarchy, Benjamin Franklin is reported to have replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

      Paul Ryan has abandoned the effort to keep it.

      At the heart of the US Constitution is a system of checks and balances that was established primarily to guard against the concentration of power in an executive branch that might tend toward royalism. The founders of the American experiment wanted to prevent a repeat of the monarchical abuses of King George III, against which their constituents had risen in revolution.

      “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny,” warned James Madison, the essential author of the Constitution, who explained, “The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook Shuts Down ‘Black Panther’ Troll Group

      Facebook has removed the Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys page, which was led by a professed member of the alt-right. The group created a Facebook event called “Give Black Panther a Rotten Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes” with the intention of falsely deflating the movie score on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes as revenge for the perceived slights against fans of DC films due to their low scores. Before it was taken down, the event had over 4,000 Facebook users who indicated they were either “interested” or “going.”

    • Comedy should never be a safe space

      The problem also stems from the breakneck evolution of politicised social media. It used to be a choice to be politically incorrect. There were a smaller set of rules which you could consciously observe or object. Now the debate and lexicon move forward at a startling pace. The chattering classes are debating in hermetically sealed chambers, tossing out new codes and protocols at a rate many people struggle to keep up with.

    • ‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth

      Yet one stone has so far been largely unturned. Much has been written about Facebook and Twitter’s impact on politics, but in recent months academics have speculated that YouTube’s algorithms may have been instrumental in fuelling disinformation during the 2016 presidential election. “YouTube is the most overlooked story of 2016,” Zeynep Tufekci, a widely respected sociologist and technology critic, tweeted back in October. “Its search and recommender algorithms are misinformation engines.”

      If YouTube’s recommendation algorithm really has evolved to promote more disturbing content, how did that happen? And what is it doing to our politics?

    • It’s time for the G20’s first digital agenda [Ed: Mozilla would not (no longer?), for a change, suggest censoring the Web]

      Thoughtful and proactive digital policies are needed to reap social and economic benefits for all, the G20 and beyond. A G20 digital agenda can help us to address the challenges facing the health of the internet and future of the web and establish trust in the development of our digital lives.

    • Implementing Transparency About Content Moderation

      When people express free speech-based concerns about content removal by platforms, one type of suggestion they generally offer is — increase transparency. Tell us (on a website or in a report or with an informative “tombstone” left at the URL where the content used to be) details about what content was removed. This could happen lots of different ways, voluntarily or not, by law or industry standard or social norms. The content may come down, but at least we’ll have a record and some insight into what happened, at whose request, and why.

      In light of public discussions about platform transparency, especially in the past year, this post offers a few practical thoughts about transparency by online UGC platforms. First, some of the challenges platforms face in figuring out how to be transparent with users and the public about their content moderation processes. Second, the industry practice of transparency reports and what might be done to make them as useful as possible.

    • Censorship or debate starter? Here’s why removing Waterhouse’s Nymphs was a bad idea

      Manchester Art Gallery’s decision to temporarily remove John William Waterhouse’s 1896 work, Hylas and the Nymphs, has undeniably succeeded in its stated aim to “prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artwork”.

      The painting, which usually hangs in a gallery full of 19th-century works entitled In Pursuit of Beauty, has been temporarily removed, according to the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, Clare Gannaway. The painting was replaced by a notice telling visitors that the decision to take down the painting is itself an artistic act which will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March. Post-it notes were provided for people to leave their reactions.

    • Removing nymphs from a gallery is provocative – but does not merit contempt

      Manchester Art Gallery, was replaced with a notice explaining that a temporary space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. Members of the public have stuck Post-it notes on the wall giving their reaction.

      But the response from some critics to the removal from public view of the painting, Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse, has been a torrent of barely disguised contempt and ire, and accusations of censorship.

      Such complaints wilfully obscure the role that art institutions play in shaping our cultural identities through exhibitions and displays. Who chooses these important narratives and determines what is, or is not, a legitimate part of the national cultural story?

    • What Winds of Freedom? An Experience With Censorship At Stanford

      On Tuesday, January 23rd, I woke up to hundreds of flyers adorning the walls of Stanford’s Kimball Hall urging students to call a hotline number to report Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity. The next day, I posted my own satirical flyer, which asked students to “protect community criminals” by reporting law enforcement officers doing their job.

      Asking students to report ICE activities against illegal immigrants is hardly different from asking them to report police officers and FBI agents to protect common criminals. And yet, on Wednesday afternoon, I discovered that all my flyers had been removed. Kimball Residential Fellows (RFs), biology Lecturer Andrew Todhunter and his wife Mrs. Erin Todhunter, informed me that since three students felt unsafe and hurt, they and the Kimball RAs had removed my flyers.

    • Chinese hip-hop ban aligns with state censorship, hypocritical to state’s methods

      China has long been a place of contradiction: it is the world’s newest super power, yet has the largest authoritarian government. It has the fastest-growing economy and a communist government, but still has stark income inequality. It is home to some of the greatest innovators, yet it has an intricate censorship system.

      The Chinese constitution grants citizens freedom of speech and press; however, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, the government has long kept a tight reign on citizens’ media consumption as a way to prevent subversion to authority. The government enforces these strict media controls by using monitoring systems and firewalls, outlawing certain websites, and jailing bloggers and journalists who speak out against the communist regime.

    • China orders microblog operators to tighten censorship

      Ratcheting up control over Chinese microblogs, regulators ordered operators on Friday to set up a mechanism to remove false information after the most popular service was criticized for allowing prohibited material to spread.

      The order adds to a steady drumbeat of new measures imposed by the government of President Xi Jiinping to tighten control over what China’s public can see and say online while still trying to reap the economic benefits of internet use.

    • China orders microblog companies to ramp up censorship

      China ordered the country’s microblog operators to establish mechanisms to remove false information on Friday (Feb 2), in the latest move by authorities to tighten policing of the web.

      The Cyberspace Administration of China said the Twitter-like microblog platforms have allowed the spread of pornographic, vulgar and fraudulent content.

    • Court Dismisses — For A Second Time — Lawsuit Seeking To Hold Facebook Responsible For Acts Of Terrorism

      Back in May of last year, a New York federal court tossed two lawsuits from plaintiffs attempting to hold social media companies responsible for terrorist attacks. Cohen v. Facebook and Force v. Facebook were both booted for failing to state a claim, pointing out the obvious: the fact that terrorists use social media to recruit and communicate does not somehow turn social media platforms into material support for terrorism.

    • Federal Appeals Court Misses Opportunity to Rule that Section 230 Bars Claims Against Online Platforms for Hosting Terrorist Content

      Although a federal appeals court this week agreed to dismiss a case alleging that Twitter provided material support for terrorists in the form of accounts and direct messaging services, the court left the door open for similar lawsuits to proceed in the future. This is troubling because the threat of liability created by these types of cases may lead platforms further filter and censor users’ speech.

      The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Fields v. Twitter is good news inasmuch as it ends the case. But the court failed to rule on whether 47 U.S.C. § 230 (known as “Section 230”) applied and barred the plaintiffs’ claims.

    • Student journalism law would protect student publications from censorship

      Joey Bowling is learning how to develop stories, run an Opinions page, handle articles with a sensitive nature and protect anonymous sources. As a senior at Floyd Central High School and Opinions editor for The Bagpiper, Bowling says he joined the student publication because he “really admired the fact that people were able to put themselves out there, were able to have the courage to pursue stories that not everyone wants to hear and I wanted to emulate that.”

    • Texas wages war against imaginary censorship — in support of hate

      Universities in Texas have a white supremacist problem. In the past couple of years, but especially since the election of Donald Trump, hate groups have targeted campuses in the Lone Star State with recruiting events and leafletting campaigns. In one case, a group of torch-wielding neo-Nazis had to be booted off the University of Texas campus, and that was in the liberal bastion of Austin. A new report out by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows a threefold growth in the number of white-supremacist propaganda efforts on college campuses, with schools in Texas being hit the hardest, racking up dozens of incidents in the past couple of years.

      But the Republicans who run the state government in Texas aren’t really concerned about the explosion of hate-group recruitment in their state. Instead, they are focusing their attention on a problem that seems to be largely imaginary: the supposed censorship of conservatives at the hands of “politically correctness.” By redirecting the discussion away from the real problem and towards a fake one, Texas Republicans in the state are providing cover — and at least implicit sympathy — to racist extremists who view young college populations as hot targets for recruiting campaigns.

    • In French court, Facebook denies ‘censoring’ 19th-century vagina painting
    • Paris court hears Facebook ‘censorship’ case over nude art
    • Facebook denies censorship in closing of Paris user’s page
    • Teacher sues Facebook for suspending his account after he posted a photo of a famous 19th century nude painting
    • Facebook Denies Censorship in Closing of Paris User’s Page
    • Virginia Politicians Looks To Tax Speech In The Form Of Porn In The Name Of Stemming Human Trafficking

      Every once in a while, you’ll come across stories about one government or another looking to censor or discourage pornography online, typically through outright censorship or some sort of taxation. While most of these stories come from countries that have religious reasoning behind censorship of speech, more secular countries in Europe have also entertained the idea of a tax or license for viewing naughty things online. Occasionally, a state or local government here in America will try something similar before those efforts run face first into the First Amendment. It should be noted, however, that any and all implementations of this type of censorship or taxation of speech have failed spectacularly with a truly obscene amount of collateral damage as a result. Not that any of that keeps some politicians from trying, it seems.

      The latest evidence of that unfortunate persistence would be from the great state of Virginia, where the General Assembly will be entertaining legislation to make the state the toll booth operators of internet porn. The bill (which you can see here) was introduced by Viriginia House member David LaRock (and there’s a Senate version introduced by State Senator Richard Black).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Nunes Memo Reports Crimes at Top of FBI & DOJ

      The long-awaited House Intelligence Committee report made public today identifies current and former top officials of the FBI and the Department of Justice as guilty of the felony of misrepresenting evidence required to obtain a court warrant before surveilling American citizens. The target was candidate Donald Trump’s adviser Carter Page.

    • No messaging app for kids please: Child health experts to FB

      Many preteens have already found their way onto Facebook and more youthoriented social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, despite internal rules that require users to be at least 13 years old.

    • Leaked Document Appears to Show NSA Infiltrated Cryptos, Tor, VPN

      “The success we have had with Tor, I2P, and VPN,” begins a reportedly leaked picture of a memorandum on imageboard 4chan, complete with Department of Defense letterhead, appearing to be from the United States Army’s Cyber Protection Brigade “cannot be replicated with those currencies that do not rely on nodes. There is a growing trend in the employment of Stealth address and ring signatures that will require additional R&D.”

      It has been long assumed government military and law enforcement infiltrated and compromised aspects of The Onion Router (Tor), Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and other ways of masking online activity, but confirmations were hard to come by.

    • Keep Border Spy Tech Out of Dreamer Protection Bills

      If Congress votes this month on legislation to protect Dreamers from deportation, any bill it considers should not include invasive surveillance technologies like biometric screening, social media snooping, automatic license plate readers, and drones. Such high tech spying would unduly intrude on the privacy of immigrants and Americans who live near the border and travel abroad.

    • New Head Of The NSA A Likely Choice

      The National Security Agency — or the NSA — is about to get a new leader, and Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone is the likely choice, according to Patrick Tucker, technology editor for national security publication Defense One.

    • NSA Chief Adm. Mike Rogers Expected to Retire this Spring; Leaves Complicated Legacy

      The search is on for a replacement for Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and the last Obama intelligence appointee remaining in the Trump administration. Rogers is expected to retire this spring after an eventful – and often controversial – four years.

    • webmail saga continues

      Similarly, zeronet.io is another service which claimed to use de-centralization but for last year or so I haven’t been able to send one email to another user till date.

      I used both these examples as both are foss and both have considerable communities and traction built around them. Security or/and anonymity is still at a lower path though as of yet.

      I hope I was able to share where I’m coming from.

    • Aadhaar case: Why SC needs to look into technical evidence of Aadhaar’s surveillance capabilities

      Aadhaar and its alleged surveillance capabilities has been a major subject of dispute among those for and against Aadhaar. In yesterday’s Twitter Q&A session, the UIDAI yet against insisted that Aadhaar is nothing but a tool for identification. Technical experts, on the other hand, have long since been asserting the surveillance capabilities of Aadhaar, and this has now taken the form of affidavits before the Supreme Court in the ongoing Aadhaar case. The Bench, however, expressed some apprehensions as to the extent to which they could go into highly technical details of the Aadhaar system. Moreover, as per the Bench, every technology is capable of misuse, so shouldn’t the real solution lie in suitable laws.

    • UK Court Delivers Blow to Mass Surveillance State, Win for Privacy Advocates

      The ruling, which was issued by three appellate judges, said that DRIPA was “inconsistent with EU law” because it failed to safeguard citizens’ phone records and internet browsing history from unauthorized access by police officers, according to a report in The Guardian.

      DRIPA had been passed as “emergency legislation” in 2014 after just a single day of parliamentary debate, and it laid the foundation for its eventual replacement, the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act.

    • Data is the new lifeblood of capitalism – don’t hand corporate America control

      The flow of data now contributes more to world GDP than the flow of physical goods. In other words, there’s more money in moving information across borders than in moving soybeans and refrigerators.

      [...]

      The corporate crusade against data governance is only getting started. If it succeeds, the world’s most important resource will be entrusted to the private sector and the profit motive, and the rest of us will have even less power to participate in the decisions that most affect our lives.

    • Facebook’s Future Rests on Knowing You Even Better

      How does Facebook get away with jacking up its prices so dramatically? For one, it operates in an unregulated duopoly alongside Google. Together they control more than 60% of the digital-advertising market. But second, Facebook’s ability to target its users with highly tailored (and, in theory, highly effective) ads means marketers are willing to pay more.

    • Amazon patents wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ movements

      A less generous interpretation would be that the wristbands provide Amazon management with new workplace surveillance capabilities that can identify the workers wasting time scratching, fidgeting or dilly-dallying.

    • Facebook patents technology that would estimate users’ socioeconomic status

      The patent, according to CBInsights, shows a decision tree that collects data points on a user’s education level, travel history, the number of devices they own, homeownership and where they live to guess the probability of them falling in a given socioeconomic class.

    • Internet of Dildos: A Long Way to a Vibrant Future – From IoT to IoD

      The results are the foundations for a Master thesis written by Werner Schober in cooperation with SEC Consult and the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten. The first available results can be found in the following chapters of this blog post.

    • How WeChat came to rule China

      China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, has always had a close relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been subsidized by the government since its creation in 2011, and it’s an accepted reality that officials censor and monitor users. Now, WeChat is poised to take on an even greater role: an initiative is underway to integrate WeChat with China’s electronic ID system.

    • Dark web [sic] users are easy to unmask through their bitcoin use

      By linking bitcoin wallets with transactions on the dark web, researchers at Qatar University in Doha were able to unmask 125 Tor users.

    • Missouri governor fighting lawsuit over disappearing messages app

      Greitens’s argument comes after two Missouri lawyers filed a lawsuit against the governor’s office over its use of the app saying it violates Missouri’s public records laws, according to a report from the technology website Ars Technica.

    • The FBI Is Setting Up a Task Force to Monitor Social Media

      It is entirely legitimate to be concerned about foreign interference in our democracy, be it by Russia or any other country. However, this does not mean the FBI should be given carte blanche to carry on free from criticism. And we certainly should be wary of any attempts to expand the FBI’s capabilities to spy on dissent. Social media should be safeguarded from censorship—both public and private—the same way traditional media should be safeguarded. Of all the possible bodies to be given the power to delegitimize online speech, the FBI may very well be the worst.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love to hear extradition appeal result next week

      Authorities in America have been fighting for Mr Love to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking [sic], which lawyers have said could mean a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if he is found guilty.

    • Finally I Am American at Heart

      Novelist Ha Jin explains why the courts stopping Trump’s first Muslim Ban made him feel at peace with being American.

      I have often been asked two questions. One is: What was the most surprising incident when you served in the Chinese People’s Army? The other: What surprised you most in America?

      To both questions my answers are rather personal and internal. I served in the Chinese army for five years and saw terrible accidents. Soldiers got killed in military exercises and in collapsed constructions, but what surprised me most is something that none of my comrades might remember. A fellow soldier in our company was a wonderful basketball player, handsome and agile and six feet two inches tall. His parents were both senior officials in Beijing, in the Ministry of Railways. By contrast, most of us were from remote provinces, and many were sons of peasants. Toward the end of my third year in the army, word came that the basketball player’s mother was dying in Beijing and left him her final words. We all knew she was a revolutionary, and thought her last words must be wise and edifying, so we were eager to learn about them too. Then her final words for her son came: “Don’t ever give up your Beijing residence certificate.”

      Without a residence certificate, one couldn’t live in Beijing permanently. But if you were not born in the capital, the only chance for you to get such a certificate was to find a permanent job in an official department or company that could help you get it. I was shocked by the mother’s last words, because they suddenly revealed to me that people in China were not born equal. Her words stayed with me and went deeper and deeper in my consciousness. For decades afterward I carried the bitterness, not just for myself but also for tens of millions of people who could never have such a privilege of living in the capital and who, by birth, were citizens of lower class, although China’s constitution guarantees equality to all its citizens. This inequality in residential status among the citizens actually contravenes China’s constitution, which has become meaningless in the eyes of the public.

    • Congress Needs To Hold ICE Accountable for Abuses

      ICE arrested Fabiano, who became one of many members of our communities who have been arrested while trying to normalize their status, in the latest example of how aggressive ICE has become since President Trump’s inauguration.

    • Georgia Must Block This Flawed Computer Crime Bill

      The State of Georgia must decide: will it be a hub of technological and online media innovation, or will it be the state that criminalized terms of service violations? Will it support security research that makes us all safer, or will they chill the ability of Georgia’s infosec community to identify vulnerabilities that need to be fixed to protect our private information? This is what’s at stake with Georgia’s S.B. 315, and state lawmakers should stop it dead in its tracks. As EFF wrote in its letter opposing the bill, this legislation would hand immense power to prosecutors to go after anyone for “checking baseball scores on a work computer, lying about your age or height in your user profile contrary to a website’s policy, or sharing passwords with family members in violation of the service provider’s rules.” The bill also fails to clearly exempt legitimate, independent security research—such as that conducted by Georgia Tech’s renowned cybersecurity department—from the computer crime law. Georgia already has a robust computer crime statute that covers a wide range of malicious activities online, but S.B. 315 would criminalize simply accessing a computer, app, or website contrary to how the service provider tells you, even if you never cause or intend to cause harm. A violation under S.B. 315 would be classified as “a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature,” punishable by up to $5,000 and 12 months in jail. EFF has long criticized how stretched interpretations of the federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act have resulted in the prosecution of computer scientists, such as Aaron Swartz. Georgia’s S.B. 315 is even worse in terms of how broadly it may be applied to regular users engaged in benign online behavior. Fortunately, the digital rights community in Georgia is mobilizing. Electronic Frontiers Georgia, an ally in the Electronic Frontiers Alliance network, is speaking out against S.B. 315. Andy Green, an infosec lecturer at Kennesaw State University, is also calling for an overhaul of the bill to ensure computer researchers can carry out their work “without fear of arrest and prosecution.” If Georgia lawmakers want to protect their residents from computer crime, it does not help to open them up to prosecution for the tiniest violation of the fine print in a buried terms of service agreement. And if lawmakers want Georgia to remain a welcoming destination for tech talent who can identify and stop breaches, they should spike S.B. 315 immediately. Read EFF’s letter to the Georgia legislature by EFF Staff Attorney Jamie Williams.

    • Media Consensus: Dreamers Weren’t Worth a Shutdown

      The opinions showcased during the recent government shutdown in three major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal—showed a striking lack of concern for the fate of the Dreamers and many variations of the same take on the need for a “bipartisan compromise” for immigration reform.

      Out of 34 op-eds and editorials from three days before to three days after the shutdown (1/17–25/18), only Times columnist Michelle Goldberg (1/22/18) criticized the Democrats for selling out the Dreamers—young undocumented immigrants who had been granted limited protection by the Obama administration—by agreeing to end the government shutdown in exchange for a vague promise for a future vote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Most of the op-eds and editorials argued that giving up on the Dreamers was an inevitable or smart choice for the Democrats, or that securing a resolution for the Dreamers wasn’t worth a government shutdown.

    • Ohio Appeals Court Says Speed Trap Town Must Pay Back $3 Million In Unconstitutional Speed Camera Tickets

      This is the end of six year legal battle over New Miami’s speed cameras. The lower court had problems with the lack of options made available to ticket recipients to challenge speeding tickets. It also had problems with New Miami’s cozy relationship with the speed camera company, which provided free cameras in exchange for a percentage of collected fines. This fostered an unhealthy relationship between the two, leading to the town becoming most famous for being a speed trap. The company saddled New Miami with a minimum of 100 operating hours per camera each month. This led to spike in tickets and a healthy thirst for continual cash infusions on the part of New Miami’s governance.

    • Forced Migration vs. ‘Chain Migration’

      According to Senator De Leon, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “is exploring pressing criminal charges against state and local officials who implement ‘sanctuary’ policies. “The Department of Homeland Security has even admitted they are considering a move to arrest political leaders such as myself,” De Leon continued, “ who have led the charge in California to prevent the feds from commandeering state and local resources to tear hard working families apart. These extraordinary threats against the President’s political opponents are meant to intimidate us, designed to silence and subjugate us. But they will do the opposite.”

      Indeed, an army of immigrants right supporters, in the form of lawyers, human rights and local community activist, and concerned politicians are now mobilizing from one end of the state to the other to fight back.

      I spoke about the significance of the ICE threats and the grassroots uprising in response, with Nativo Lopez. Lopez is a longtime advocate for the undocumented Spanish-speaking communities in Southern California, and a spokesperson for Hermandad Mexicana, a social, cultural and political organization based in Los Angeles. I spoke to Lopez in Los Angeles on January 30.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • San Francisco seeks universal fiber broadband with net neutrality and privacy

      The city yesterday issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find companies that are qualified “to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain a ubiquitous broadband FTTP [fiber-to-the-premises] network that permits retail service providers to lease capacity on the network.” The project would also involve a free Wi-Fi service for city parks, city buildings, major thoroughfares, and visitor areas. Low-income residents would qualify for subsidies that make home Internet service more affordable.

    • California’s net neutrality bill is vulnerable to legal attack, EFF says

      State laws can be preempted by federal policy, and the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal ordered states to refrain from imposing their own net neutrality laws.

      There are still ways for states to protect net neutrality, but California’s approach—which essentially replicates the FCC’s repealed rules—isn’t likely to be the most effective option, the EFF argues. “It’s a waste to pass a bill that is vulnerable to legal challenge by ISPs when strong alternatives are available,” Falcon wrote.

    • The punk rock internet – how DIY rebels are working to replace the tech giants

      Balkan and Kalbag form one small part of a fragmented rebellion whose prime movers tend to be located a long way from Silicon Valley. These people often talk in withering terms about Big Tech titans such as Mark Zuckerberg, and pay glowing tribute to Edward Snowden. Their politics vary, but they all have a deep dislike of large concentrations of power and a belief in the kind of egalitarian, pluralistic ideas they say the [I]nternet initially embodied.

      What they are doing could be seen as the online world’s equivalent of punk rock: a scattered revolt against an industry that many now think has grown greedy, intrusive and arrogant – as well as governments whose surveillance programmes have fuelled the same anxieties. As concerns grow about an online realm dominated by a few huge corporations, everyone involved shares one common goal: a comprehensively decentralised [I]nternet.

    • California’s Net Neutrality Law Takes Another Step Forward

      In the wake of the FCC’s repeal of federal net neutrality rules, countless states have rushed to create their own protections. Numerous states from Rhode Island to Washington State are considering new net neutrality legislation, while other states (like Wyoming and New York) are modifying state procurement policies to block net neutrality violating ISPs from securing state contracts. These states are proceeding with these efforts despite an FCC attempt to “pre-empt” (read: ban) states from stepping in and protecting consumers, something directly lobbied for by both Verizon and Comcast.

    • The FCC Hopes its Empty Dedication to Rural Broadband Will Make You Forget it Killed Net Neutrality

      The goal is to frame net neutrality as a fringe issue favored by the Hollywood elite, while suggesting the FCC’s hard at work tackling the real problem: rural broadband availability.

    • The Hypocrisy of AT&T’s “Internet Bill of Rights”

      Last week AT&T has decided it’s good business to advocate for an “Internet Bill of Rights.” Of course, that catchy name doesn’t in any way mean that what AT&T wants is a codified list of rights for Internet users. No, what AT&T wants is to keep a firm hold on the gains it has made in the last year at the expense of its customers’ rights.

      There is nothing in the history—the very recent history—of AT&T to make anyone believe that it has anyone’s actual best interests at heart. Let’s take a look at how this company has traditionally felt about privacy and network neutrality.
      Few companies have done more to combat privacy and network neutrality than AT&T.

      It takes an incredible amount of arrogance for AT&T to take out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for an “Internet Bill of Rights” after spending years effectively waging the most far-reaching lobbying campaign to eliminate every consumer right. In some ways, it should strike you as a type of conquerors decree after successfully laying waste to the legal landscape to remake it in its own image. But AT&T’s goal is abundantly clear: It does not like the laws that exist today to police its conduct in privacy and network neutrality so it wishes to rewrite them while hoping Americans ignore its past actions.

  • DRM

    • Catalog of Missing Devices Illustrates Gadgets that Could and Should Exist

      Bad Copyright Law Prevents Innovators from Creating Cool New Tools

      San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched its “Catalog of Missing Devices”—a project that illustrates the gadgets that could and should exist, if not for bad copyright laws that prevent innovators from creating the cool new tools that could enrich our lives.

      “The law that is supposed to restrict copying has instead been misused to crack down on competition, strangling a future’s worth of gadgets in their cradles,” said EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow. “But it’s hard to notice what isn’t there. We’re aiming to fix that with this Catalog of Missing Devices. It’s a collection of tools, services, and products that could have been, and should have been, but never were.”

    • Remove the DRM from iTunes movies with TunesKit

      Since then, I’m able to watch videos purchased through iTunes using any iOS video app I want to, on my computer or Android handset. If you’re so inclined, you can still watch your videos and transfer them to your iPhone using iTunes, too. It’s worth mentioning that the software works on content rented from iTunes as well. But removing the DRM from rented videos to keep after the rental period is up is theft, plain and simple. Do what’s right for you.

    • Documentary on the DRM-breaking farmers who just want to fix their tractors, even if they have to download bootleg Ukrainian firmware to do it

      Motherboard’s short documentary, “Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech’s Repair Monopoly” is an excellent look at the absurd situation created by John Deere’s position that you can’t own your tractor because you only license the software inside it, meaning that only Deere can fix Deere’s tractors, and the centuries-old tradition of farmers fixing their agricultural equipment should end because Deere’s shareholders would prefer it that way.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • You Can Call the Super Bowl the “Super Bowl”

        Are you going to a Big Game party on Sunday? Or perhaps going to watch the pro football championship game? Or take in the majestic splendor of the Superb Owl? You can also just call it by its real name: the Super Bowl.

        The NFL is infamous for coming down like a ton of bricks on anyone who dares use the actual name for the game in public. And it’s also famous for trying to grab control of the names people started using when the NFL’s tactics worked and scared everyone away from saying “Super Bowl.” No matter how hard the NFL tries, it doesn’t own the phrase “The Big Game,” which has been used for longer than there’s been a Super Bowl. But anything that looks like someone making money off of the name will attract the NFL’s attention. In 2007, the NFL put a stop to an Indiana church’s party for a number of reasons, including that the church promoted it as a “Super Bowl bash.”

      • Atari Gets The Settlement It Was Surely Fishing For Over An Homage To ‘Breakout’ In KitKat Commercial

        As readers of this site will know, once-venerated gaming giant Atari long ago reduced itself to an intellectual property troll mostly seeking to siphon money away from companies that actually produce things. The fall of one of gamings historical players is both disappointing and sad, given just how much love and nostalgia there is for its classic games. It was just that nostalgia that likely led Nestle to craft an advertisement in Europe encouraging buyers of candy to “breakout” KitKats and included imagery of the candy replacing a simulation of a game of Breakout. For this, Atari sued over both trademark and copyright infringement, stating for the latter claim that the video reproduction of a mock-game that kind of looks like Breakout constituted copyright infringement.

        As we discussed in that original post, both claims are patently absurd. Nestle and Atari are not competitors and anyone with a working frontal lobe will understand that the ad was a mere homage to a classic game made decades ago. If the products aren’t competing, and if there is no real potential for public confusion, there is not trademark infringement. As for the copyright claim, the expression in the homage was markedly different from Atari’s original game, and there’s that little fact that Nestle didn’t actually make a game to begin with. They mocked up a video. Nothing in there is copyright infringement.

    • Copyrights

      • Playboy’s Copyright Lawsuit Threatens Online Expression, Boing Boing Argues

        After being branded a clickbait site by Playboy, popular blog Boing Boing has stressed the importance of hyperlinks to a Federal Court in California. Links are a crucial part of the Internet and an important tool for free speech, it argues. This means that, under the right conditions, linking to copyright-infringing material should be considered fair use.

      • Federal Jurisdiction when Copyright/Patent Claim Found in Permissive Counterclaim?

        This is an odd case to raise the America Invents Act. It is a continuation of the break between Conservative Eagle Phyllis Schafly (d.2016) and some members of her Eagle Forum (including her daughter Anne Schafly Cori – the break was precipitated by Phyllis Shafly’s support of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and ouster of dissenters (including the plaintiff) from the Eagle Forum.

        The basic setup in this particular case is that the plaintiff (Schafly Cori) alleged breach of fiduciary duty, trademark infringement and unfair competition against the Eagle Forum. The defendants counterclaimed alleging copyright infringement along with trademark infringement, rights of publicity, unfair competition, and challenging the validity of a license to use certain trademarks. Rather than filing in Federal Court, the Plaintiff originally filed in Illinois State Court (Madison County) and the Defendants removed the case to Federal Court.

      • Three national corporations control nearly all of San Francisco’s live music

        Zawinski makes some educated guesses about the grim economics that drove Slim’s and GAMH to sign up with Golden Voice, but he widens the frame to tell the story of how mass-scale consolidation in the live music industry has homogenized the kinds of music American clubs feature, the choices American musicians get, and driven the independent sector to the brink with anti-competitive tactics that binds managers and acts to buy into the system or be frozen out altogether.

      • Judge Pushes Pirate Set-Top Box Cases Back, Demands Quality Evidence

        Two ground-breaking legal actions in Australia, in which rightsholders are hoping to block Internet-based set-top box piracy for the first time, have been pushed back to April. Movie outfit Village Roadshow and Hong Kong broadcaster TVB were warned in court today that their evidence needs to meet a high standard or they might not obtain the injunctions they require.

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