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02.08.18

When INPI Met INPI and IAM Met the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The three Frenchmen (context)

The three Frenchmen

Summary: The relationship between the EPO and the media (financial relationship) gives room for thought ahead of the appointment of an ex-banker, an old friend of Battistelli, as EPO President

THE EPO has not made many announcements this year. Battistelli too has kept a relatively low profile, maybe because he’s leaving soon. A lot of the ‘action’ is now at the USPTO (which we mostly cover during weekends).

“Battistelli too has kept a relatively low profile, maybe because he’s leaving soon.”A few days ago Battistelli added another photo op (warning: epo.org link) to his portfolio. The politician from INPI (who brought his cronies from INPI to the EPO) shakes hands with another INPI, the one in Argentina. To quote:

At the meeting, the EPO and INPI presidents also discussed progress on other joint projects laid out in a memorandum of understanding on bilateral co-operation signed by the two offices in May 2017. This agreement covers areas such as access to information, sharing data and tools, improved patent procedures, and training.

The Latin American Herald Tribune then published this puff piece about it, not adding anything particularly interesting. Argentina is barely relevant to the EPO (several orders of magnitude less than Germany, for instance).

“No doubt the EPO and IAM will continue their sick relationship; they already groom Campinos on a regular basis, giving him all sorts of awards (e.g. “personality of the year”) before he even enters the EPO.”EPO puff pieces have become the norm. Thankfully we already have hard evidence of EPO payments to media firms. That helps explain it. Sometimes the EPO pays the media directly, but sometimes the money gets funneled indirectly, e.g. via PR agencies. That’s what seems to have happened with IAM, which seems like it’s already preparing the next “EPO is awesome” report. A few days ago IAM became ‘incestuous’ with Battistelli again [1, 2]. It’s no laughing matter because it makes IAM complicit in a lot of human suffering. IAM has also just published ads for Carpmaels & Ransford LLP and for Awapatent AB on Wednesday (the ads are euphemistically labeled “international reports”). The latter is SPC promotion (indirectly related to UPC). It then promoted the AI hype. Can we please stop promoting the AI hype? It’s not new (a century old) and patents should be pursued by humans, not some lousy algorithms; same for academic papers; don’t corrupt these like the stock market (played primarily by bots now).

No doubt the EPO and IAM will continue their sick relationship; they already groom Campinos on a regular basis, giving him all sorts of awards (e.g. “personality of the year”) before he even enters the EPO. This banker will just drive the 'investment bank' into the ground for short-term cash, just like Battistelli.

The UPC Lobby Wants to Crush the Boards of Appeal (BoA) While EPO Changes Rules of Procedure of the BoA

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Crazed Battistelli is Trying Plan B to Demolish the Boards of Appeal (Quality Control), Praesidium/Association of Members Strikes Back

Battistellius

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) push has slowed down if not ground to a halt, but attacks on the Boards of Appeal (BoA), which UPC lobbyists are hoping to replace, appear to carry on under the guise of “consultation” (a concept that Battistelli never seems to have grasped)

THE UPC lobby has been relatively quiet, knowing that Germany put the whole thing on the ice if not in the bin. It may take several years for Team UPC to even know the outcome.

A US-based front group, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) (not to be mistaken for Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU)), was mentioned here a couple of years back (amongst other times). It’s USPTO-centric and it’s now pushing for the UPC, so it’s simpler to know it’s not a good thing for Europe. It said: “This new paper from our Patent Valuation Symposium by Roya Ghafele et al. is already having an impact in Europe: Using Patent Valuation Methods to Assess Damages in Patent Infringement Cases Under the Unified Patent Court…”

We attempted to find out who sponsored the work, knowing that the EPO already corrupts academia for so-called ‘studies’ which are really UPC advocacy. The EPO corrupted academia both in the US and in the UK for this. The author, Ghafele, is based in Oxford and works for a private consultancy. From the abstract:

We illustrate how publicly sanctioned IP valuation guidelines prevailing in Europe can be applied to assess damages as foreseen under the provisions of the UPC Agreement. With the help of a hypothetical example, we then evaluate if and to what extent the various ways proposed by European institutions to value IP fit with the provisions of the UPCA. We find that in situations where courts have all the necessary information required to determine damages, the IP valuation methods are a very useful tool in determining damages. It can however be expensive to obtain the necessary data to adequately determine damages.

The author has history with the EPO. From his LinkedIn account:

A changing climate: the IP landscape of clean energy technologies

Oxford Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice

2012

This article is a review of a report titled ‘Patents and Clean Energy Technologies: Bridging the Gap between Evidence and Policy’, published in 2010 by the European Patent Office and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

Maybe the apple does not fall far from the tree after all…

Either way, UPC lobbying can be seen elsewhere. “Both the UPC’s Court of Appeal and Registry will be in Luxembourg,” Bristows’ Brian Cordery wrote a couple of days ago. No, there’s no “will” (at best “would”) because there’s no UPC, but Team UPC does not care about facts and truths. A “unitary” patent system would mean more lawsuits, hence more money for such litigators. They just keep pushing fake predictions to mislead clients and politicians, hoping that they would ratify things hastily, in a great rush, even recklessly.

“They just try to give the public or the “users” the mere impression that they get to decide.”What about the EPO itself? Well, yesterday (for the second time in a week) it said: “Our online consultation on the proposed revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal will close on 30 April. To take part go to http://bit.ly/2nDHz6V” (that’s the direct link, but be aware that it’s an epo.org link).

“What makes Battistelli so dangerous is that he very routinely breaks the law and always gets away with it.”They just try to give the public or the “users” the mere impression that they get to decide. On Boards of Appeal, however — like anything else at the EPO — management doesn’t care what anyone but Battistelli thinks. If Battistelli ever saw the UPC (he would never see it, not from within the EPO anyway), there would be no Boards of Appeal left at all. He tries to make them completely obsolete while maintaining not an impression of independence but an perception that he gives a damn about the EPC. What makes Battistelli so dangerous is that he very routinely breaks the law and always gets away with it.

Mark Rutte Under Pressure to Stop Battistelli’s EPO From Violating Laws With Impunity

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli Orb

Summary: Pressure is growing in the EPO’s second-largest ‘base’ to actually enforce the law because Germany does not seem to be interested

THE staff union of the EPO, SUEPO, has finally translated a bunch of articles which we hoped it would translate. These were translated into several languages, but English is the language we focus on (Spanish is the second language). We have converted these translations into HTML and highlighted a few bits which we found more important (not much new information there). Here is the original from FNV:

FNV: ‘Rutte must intervene at the European Patent Office to prevent infringement of employees’ rights’

The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) has called on Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees in a letter to intervene at the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO is once again breaking Dutch law.

The Netherlands partly responsible

Marieke Manschot, Director of FNV Government: “As a host country for foreign businesses, the Netherlands is (partly) responsible for the rights of the employees on its territory and must therefore intervene to protect employees’ rights. In order to continue attracting and retaining foreign investors, good working conditions are necessary.’

Management conducting a reign of terror

The EPO is proposing to abolish the majority of permanent employment contracts, even if the nature of the work does not require this. The contracts for future employees will be replaced by temporary contracts with a maximum duration of five years, which is extendible. This is in breach of the Dutch Work and Security Act. Staff representatives, such as the works council or union representatives, will also no longer be involved in the hiring policy for new employees.

‘The abuses at the EPO are stacking up,’ says Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV. ‘We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect. Now the employees are also being denied the security of a permanent contract. The Dutch government must intervene to stop this reign of terror by the management.’

Infringement of European legislation

Like all other Member States of the European Union, the Netherlands has a responsibility towards employees working on its territory. This means, among other things, that employees in temporary employment are not treated worse than employees in permanent employment. Abuse by switching to only successive temporary employment contracts, for example, must therefore be prevented. In this context, the FNV also refers to infringements of European legislation (Directive 1999/70/EC).

On 30 January 2018, the proposal to abolish permanent employment contracts will be discussed by the EPO in Munich. In March, the proposal will be presented to the Administrative Council of the EPO. Elzinga: ‘Dutch representatives at the EPO will be present at both meetings. This will be an excellent opportunity to raise the issue of the breach of the employees’ rights.’

Another short article about that. Note Mark Rutte’s role in all this:

‘New abuses at European Patent Office’

The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) is sounding the alarm on new abuses at the European Patent Office. According to the union, the European organisation, which is based in Rijswijk, is on the cusp of breaking Dutch law.

The patent office has plans to abolish the majority of permanent contracts.

The contracts for future employees will be replaced by temporary contracts with a maximum duration of five years, which is extendible. You can’t simply do that here, states the FNV in a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees. The union believes that the government needs to intervene.

“The abuses at the European Patent Office are stacking up,” says Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV. “We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect.”

A somewhat long article with an old photo:

‘Further abuses at European Patent Office’

[Photo]

Demonstration against patent office, Archive photograph 2016, Remco Out

RIJSWIJK – The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) is sounding the alarm on new abuses at the European Patent Office. According to the union, the organisation, which is based in Rijswijk, is on the cusp of breaking Dutch law with plans to abolish the majority of permanent contracts. The Patent Office refutes the claim.

The FNV is complaining about a plan to replace contracts for future employees with temporary contracts with a maximum duration of five years, which is extendible. You can’t simply do that here, states the union in a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees. The union believes that the government needs to intervene.

‘The abuses at the European Patent Office are stacking up,’ says Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV. ‘We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect.’

‘Nothing decided yet’

The Patent Office denies that anything has been decided yet. The office is also absolutely not bound by national employment laws, as an international organisation, a spokesperson responded. According to him, European legislation is also not applicable, as the office is not an EU institution.

The European Patent Office was set up in 1977. Countries outside the EU are also members. 6800 people work there, 2700 of these in Rijswijk. These are mainly permanent employees. The organisation’s Administrative Council is meeting in March about ways to hire temporary employees more easily.

And more from the local media:

FNV: ‘European Patent Office infringing on employees’ rights’

The Financieel Dagblad newspaper has reported that the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) has called on Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Koolmees in a letter to intervene at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk.

The FNV has sent the letter because the EPO, which is located in Rijswijk, is planning to abolish the majority of permanent contracts. For future employees, only contracts for a maximum of five years will be available. These contracts would be extendible. This is not currently legal in the Netherlands.

‘The abuses at the EPO are stacking up,’ Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV, tells Financieel Dagblad. ‘We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect. Now the employees are also being denied the security of a permanent contract.’

According to Marieke Manschot, Director of FNV Government, immunity is the major problem. ‘Thanks to the Vienna Convention, the EPO enjoys immunity as an international organisation. So it is very difficult to tackle things, as you cannot make any demands. The EPO must observe Dutch employment law, but it is not doing so.’

The plan to abolish permanent employment contracts will be discussed by the EPO on 30 January.

Considering the attacks SUEPO has come under over the years, we generally regard copies to be necessary. Quite a few times in the past SUEPO was forced to withdraw something it had published. SUEPO’s Web site has more translations as PDF files.

Links 8/2/2018: Belated Coverage of Plasma 5.12.0, Mozilla’s ‘IoT’

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 23 open source audio-visual production tools

    Open source is well established in cloud infrastructure, web hosting, embedded devices, and many other areas. Fewer people know that open source is a great option for producing professional-level audio-visual materials.

    As a product owner and sometimes marketing support person, I produce a lot of content for end users: documentation, web articles, video tutorials, event booth materials, white papers, interviews, and more. I have found plenty of great open source software that helps me do my job producing audio, video, print, and screen graphics. There are a lot of reasons that people choose open source over proprietary options, and I’ve compiled this list of open source audio and video tools for people who…

  • GStreamer 1.14 Working On AV1 & RTSP 2.0 Support, Promote MP3 Encoder/Decoder

    GStreamer core developer Tim-Philipp Müller has provided some insight about some current and upcoming happenings for the GStreamer multimedia framework project. He also addressed the recurring comment of “write it in Rust!” for better security/safety/reliability.

  • Happy birthday open source: A look back at the software that’s pushing tech forward

    From that original definition, the idea of “free” (as in “freedom,” not “price”) software was born. In part, because of the Open Source Definition, plenty of game-changing software has been developed. However, even before the Open Source Definition came into being, there was Richard Stallman, who launched the GNU Project, aimed at creating an operating system free from source code restraints. In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto in Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Software Tools. Eight years after that, Eric S. Raymond would go on to publish The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which was a detailed analysis of the hacker community as it pertains to free software principles. It was Raymond’s publication that led Netscape to release their Navigator browser as free software.

  • Nextcloud 13 Released With Better Interface, End-To-End Encryption

    The ownCloud-forked Nextcloud software for file hosting and communication is out with their latest major release.

    Nextcloud 13 is a big release with improvements to the user-interface, end-to-end encryption support is available as a tech preview, much better performance, new collaboration capabilities, Nextcloud Talk is available for built-in audio/video/text communication, and a wide range of other work has taken place over the last nine months.

  • For Open-Source Software, the Developers Are All of Us

    This problem goes back decades and has multiple root causes that culminate in the mess we have today. Hardware and software makers lack liability for flaws, which leads to sub-par rigor in verifying that systems are hardened against known vulnerabilities. A rise in advertising revenue from “big data” encourages firms to hoard information, looking for the right time to cash out their users’ information. Privacy violations go largely unpunished in courts, and firms regularly get away with enormous data breaches without paying any real price other than pride.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. Open software development has been a resounding success for businesses, in the form of Linux, BSD and the hundreds of interconnected projects for their platforms. These open platforms now account for the lion’s share of the market for servers, and businesses are increasingly looking to open software for their client structure as well as for being a low-cost and high-security alternative to Windows and OS X.

  • Open-Source Single Sign-On (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) solutions are a popular category within the identity and access management (IAM) sector. This is especially true when you look at the fact that SaaS adoption among small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) doubled in 2014, and has quadrupled since 2015 (Blissfully). According to the same report, SMBs use 50+ SaaS products on average, and IT admins have been adopting SSO solutions to help manage user access to these 50+ SaaS applications. However, single sign-on solutions can get extremely pricey, so it’s no wonder that IT organizations are searching for open-source single sign-on alternatives.

  • Increasing open-source inclusivity with paper circuits

    Open-source software has an inclusiveness problem that will take some innovative approaches to fix. But, Andrew “bunnie” Huang said in his fast-moving linux.conf.au 2018 talk, if we don’t fix it we may find we have bigger problems in the near future. His approach to improving the situation is to make technology more accessible — by enabling people to create electronic circuits on paper and write code for them.

    Huang started by asking why we should care about making technology more inclusive. Open-source software gets its power from inclusiveness; that power is so strong that we can (quoting Chris DiBona) claim that, without open-source software, the Internet as we know it would not exist. As an engineer, he thinks that’s great, but he has a concern: that means that the user base now include politicians.

  • Google gave the world powerful AI tools, and the world made porn with them

    In 2015, Google announced it would release its internal tool for developing artificial intelligence algorithms, TensorFlow, a move that would change the tone of how AI research and development would be conducted around the world. The means to build technology that could have an impact as profound as electricity, to borrow phrasing from Google’s CEO, would be open, accessible, and free to use. The barrier to entry was lowered from a Ph.D to a laptop.

  • Events

    • Where to Stay, Getting Around Prague for oSC18

      Prague is a beautiful city and you can bet that the city will be crowded during the openSUSE Conference. Hotels are already starting to fill up, so it’s best to take a look at the hotels we recommend now before all the hotels are booked out.

      There are six hotels that are recommended, but feel free to book at other hotels in the city. The section for recommended lodging on the openSUSE Conference 2018 webpage gives options for hotels as low as 40 EUR a night to above 120 EUR. Each listing on the section gives a little info about the hotel.

    • Freedom Embedded: Devices that Respect Users and Communities: LinuxConfAu 2018, Sydney, Australia

      FSF executive director John Sullivan delivered the talk “Freedom Embedded: Devices that Respect Users and Communities” in January 2018, at LinuxConfAu 2018. In this talk, John explains the FSF’s certification program called “Respects Your Freedom” (RYF) that awards a certification mark to hardware meeting a set of free software standards (fsf.org/ryf).

    • Linux Conference Australia heads to Christchurch in 2019

      Up to 800 delegates from around Australasia and the world will meet in Christchurch for Linux Conference Australia in 2019.

      The 20th anniversary of the annual conference will run from 21-25 January next year at the University of Canterbury, organisers have announced.

      Content will feature up to 100 speakers covering topics such as the Linux kernel, open source hardware and software, open government data and the various communities that have evolved around them.

    • Major tech conference confirmed for Christchurch

      One of the most respected technical conferences to be held in Australasia is coming to Christchurch.

      Between 500-800 delegates from around Australasia and the world will meet in the city in 2019 for linux.conf.au. It will be the 20th anniversary of the annual conference, which will run from 21-25 January 2019 at the University of Canterbury.

    • More XEPs for Smack

      I spent the last weekend from Thursday to Sunday in Brussels at the XSF-Summit (here is a very nice post about it by JCBrand) and the FOSDEM. It was really nice to meet all the faces belonging to the JIDs you otherwise only see in the MUCs or on GitHub in real life.

      [...]

      Ge0rG gave a talk about what’s currently wrong with the XMPP protocol. One suggested improvement was to rely more on Stable and Unique Stanza IDs to improve message identification in various use-cases, so I quickly implemented XEP-0359.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Easy Passwords is now PfP: Pain-free Passwords

        With the important 2.0 milestone I decided to give my Easy Passwords project a more meaningful name. So now it is called PfP: Pain-free Passwords and even has its own website. And that’s the only thing most people will notice, because the most important changes in this release are well-hidden: the crypto powering the extension got an important upgrade. First of all, the PBKDF2 algorithm for generating passwords was dumped in favor of scrypt which is more resistant to brute-force attacks. Also, all metadata written by PfP as well as backups are encrypted now, so that they won’t even leak information about the websites used. Both changes required much consideration and took a while to implement, but now I am way more confident about the crypto than I was back when Easy Passwords 1.0 was released. Finally, there is now an online version compiled from the same source code as the extensions and having mostly the same functionality (yes, usability isn’t really great yet, the user interface wasn’t meant for this use case).

      • Announcing the Reality Redrawn Challenge Winners!

        I’m delighted to announce the winners of Mozilla’s Reality Redrawn Challenge after my fellow judges and I received entries from around the globe. Since we issued the challenge just two months ago we have been astonished by the quality and imagination behind proposals that use mixed reality and other media to make the power of misinformation and its potential impacts visible and visceral.

        If you have tried to imagine the impact of fake news – even what it smells like – when it touches your world, I hope you will come to experience the Reality Redrawn exhibit at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Our opening night runs from 6-9pm on May 17th and free tickets are available here. Keep an eye on Twitter @mozilla with the hashtag #RealityRedrawn for more details in the coming weeks. After opening night you can experience the exhibit in normal daily museum hours for a limited engagement of two weeks, 10am-5pm. We will be looking to bring the winning entries to life also for those who are not in the Bay Area.

      • MDN Changelog for January 2018
      • Mozilla reveals Project Things IoT open-source framework
      • Mozilla’s new Things Gateway is an open home for your smart devices
      • Mozilla launches Raspberry Pi-powered ‘Project Things’ to unite smart home kit
      • Mozilla releases Internet of Things gateway solution
      • Mozilla’s open gateway project can stop tech giants from controlling IoT ecosystem
      • Forging Better Tools for the Web

        2017 was a big year for Firefox DevTools. We updated and refined the UI, refactored three of the panels, squashed countless bugs, and shipped several new features. This work not only provides a faster and better DevTools experience, but lays the groundwork for some exciting new features and improvements for 2018 and beyond. We’re always striving to make tools and features that help developers build websites using the latest technologies and standards, including JavaScript frameworks and, of course, CSS Grid.

      • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 220
      • L10N Report: February Edition
  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Who really contributes to open source [Ed: Mac Asay keeps attacking FOSS and promoting Microsoft lies. Is he still pursuing that Microsoft job he once applied for?]
    • Deutsche Bank open sources more code

      Deutsche Bank has taken a second step in its open source odyssey, making software code publicly available designed to help firms better understand their IT environments.

      [...]

      Waltz is the second major batch of code Deutsche Bank has made public as part of its new commitment to open source. Late last year, over 150,000 lines of code – known as ‘Plexus Interop’ – from its electronic trading platform Autobahn was put into the public domain.

    • In Digital Health, Open Source Warrants Due Diligence [Ed: FUD. None of this is not applicable to proprietary software where the risks are even greater. Lawyers or law firms can't help reminding us that they're natural enemies of FOSS because they look to just prey on it with their FUD.]
  • BSD

    • LLVM 6.0 RC2 Released, Retpoline Support Still Settling

      The second release candidate of LLVM 6.0 has been tagged.

      Hans Wennborg announced the availability of LLVM 6.0 RC2 a short time ago. He noted in the brief release announcement, “There’s been a lot of merges since rc1, and hopefully the tests are in a better state now.”

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Google ignores licence-violating clones of VLC

      Cloned versions of the popular VideoLAN media player, better known as VLC, with ads embedded and in violation of the VLC licence, have been residing on the Google Play Store for a long time with the search company doing nothing about them, it is claimed.

      The website Torrent Freak reported that a clone of VLC, named 321 Media Player, had been downloaded between five and ten million times and earned a 4.5 score from 101,000 reviews.

      A second clone, known as Indian VLC Player, has more than 500,000 downloads.

    • Google not taking down adware VLC clone for Android

      ideoLAN, the developers of VLC media player, told TorrentFreak it is struggling to get clones of its software removed from Google Play.

      This follows the company recently turning down millions of euros to bundle its software with advertising.

      VLC is an open source application licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means you may use its code as long as you publish any software you develop based on it.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New Open Source Drug Discovery Initiative Takes Aim At “Devastating” Disease

      A consortium including the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative has launched a groundbreaking open source drug discovery project as way to find new drugs to treat mycetoma, a “devastating disease for which current treatments are ineffective, expensive, and toxic,” the group said.

      According to a paper laying out the “open pharma” drug development concept, “There are many potential advantages of an open source approach, such as improved efficiency, the quality and relevance of the research, and wider participation by the scientific and patient communities; a blend of traditional and innovative financing mechanisms will have to be adopted.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • SiFive Launches World’s First Linux-Capable RISC-V Based SoC

        SiFive, the leading provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP, launched the industry’s first Linux-capable RISC-V based processor SoC. The company demonstrated the first real-world use of the HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP, at the FOSDEM open source developer conference on Saturday.

        During the session, SiFive provided updates on the RISC-V Linux effort, surprising attendees with an announcement that the presentation had been run on the HiFive Unleashed development board. With the availability of the HiFive Unleashed board and Freedom U540 SoC, SiFive has brought to market the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization, and now offers the industry’s widest array of RISC-V based Core IP.

      • 3D printing – Downloading the world [Ed: People now print the parts they need and greedy lawyers start bickering about "intellectual property (IP) rights."]

        The growth of the World Wide Web has transformed the process of copying digital files from an onerous task requiring the swapping of data carriers (tape-to-tape copying anyone?) to one where digital files are only ever a few commands away or are delivered automatically without user interaction. While this has made life easier in many respects, disruption on this scale also presents challenges. The music industry, for example, has spent millions trying to solve the resulting unauthorised copying issues.

      • First Linux-Based RISC-V Board Prepares for Take-Off

        It’s been two years since the open source RISC-V architecture emerged from computer labs at UC Berkeley and elsewhere and began appearing in soft-core implementations designed for FPGAs, and over a year since the first commercial silicon arrived. So far, the focus has primarily been on MCU-like processors, but last October, SiFive announced the first Linux-driven RISC-V SoC with its quad-core, 64-bit Freedom U540 (AKA U54-MC Coreplex). A few days ago at FOSDEM, SiFive opened pre-sales for an open source HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U540.

      • RISC-V Changes For Linux 4.16 Aren’t As Big As Hoped For

        While initial RISC-V support was added to Linux 4.15, it was only the architecture code and not any device drivers. With Linux 4.16, the RISC-V developers admit this time around they didn’t get as many changes in as they were hoping for, but they do have some improvements to land this cycle.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • France’s new law bans texting in your car even when pulled over

    The ruling came after a 2017 appeal where a driver protested a fine he received for using a phone while he was parked at a roundabout with hazard lights on. Under the new law, those who text in non-approved areas while in a vehicle will receive a fine of 135 euros ($166) and will receive three points on their driving license that will stay for three years. This is the same punishment currently given to those who use their phone while driving. The law does not apply to hands-free devices (but does restrict wireless headsets), and it makes exceptions for emergency calls, like being stranded on the side of the road.

  • NYPD cops are starting to get their shiny new iPhones for 21st century policing

    Best of all, the new phones are costing the taxpayer dollar zero, as AT&T is rolling them out gratis as upgrades to their old contracts under the Nokia/Lumia/Microsoft system.

    As for the Lumia handsets, they’re not going to waste either. They’re being securely wiped and sold back to Microsoft.

  • The Franco-Dutch fish fight over electric pulse trawling

    Pim Visser plunges his arm into an aquarium rigged to deliver an electric jolt.

    The demonstration is part of the towering Dutchman’s campaign to convince EU lawmakers about the safety of electric pulse fishing — a technology that uses small shocks to drive fish from the bottom of the sea into nets floating above.

    “It’s just a little tickle,” said Visser, who is the director of Dutch fishing lobby VisNed. “The only purpose of the pulse is to have the sole contract its muscles so that it starts swimming.”

    [...]

    Electric pulse fishing is a method of trawl fishing that uses cables to send weak electric pulses along the seabed. The small shocks causes fish muscles to contract so they jump out of the sand into the fisherman’s nets.

    Fishing with electricity has been banned in the EU since 1998, but in 2007 an exception was made for electric pulse fishing. Countries in the North Sea were allowed to outfit 5 percent of their fleet with the technology in order to test its impact on fish stocks and the ocean ecosystem.

  • Science

    • Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth

      We all know viruses cause colds and flu this time of year, but you might be surprised to learn that a virus may have played a key role in the evolution of nearly all life forms on Earth.

      In a new study, a University of Iowa biologist identified a virus family whose set of genes is similar to that of eukaryotes, an organism classification that includes all plants and animals.

      The finding is important because it helps clarify how eukaryotes evolved after branching from prokaryotes some 2 billion years ago.

      “It’s exciting and significant to find a living family of giant viruses with eukaryote-specific genes in a form that predates the latest common ancestor of all eukaryotes,” says Albert Erives, associate professor in the Department of Biology. “These viruses are like time machines that tell us more about how life on our planet came to be.”

    • First step towards flying cars: Incredible footage shows driverless drone flying people around China

      Ehang, a Chinese drone manufacturer, has recently released an unbelievable video of their new people carrying drone undergoing test flights.

      The company boldly states their Ehang 184 is the first passenger drone in the world and will revolutionize transport in built-up areas.

    • Geneticists are using laser-powered chips to search through DNA faster

      As Moore’s Law collapses and we reach the limits of what normal processors can do, unconventional techniques—often dismissed in the past as too complex—start looking like feasible ways to bite off niche computing problems and gain speed advantages. A UK startup called Optalysys thinks optical computing, which has failed to live up to its promise for years, could be used to spot similarities in large data sets like genomes (see “Computing with lasers could power up genomics and AI”).

    • A new DNA test will look for 190 diseases in your newborn’s genetic code

      The $649 test is meant for healthy babies, as a supplement to existing screening tests.

      In the US, the government recommends a newborn screening test that looks for a minimum of 34 disorders (though some states have additional requirements as well). The standard test involves a small sample of blood taken from a baby’s heel.

    • The first Britons were black, Natural History Museum DNA study reveals

      The earliest Britons were black-skinned, with dark curly hair and possibly blue eyes, new analysis of a 10,000-year-old Somerset skeleton has revealed.

      Scientists at the Natural History Museum have used pioneering genetic sequencing and facial reconstruction techniques to prove that the first hunter-gatherers successfully to inhabit Britain were far darker in complexion than previously thought.

    • Nissan Embeds Self-Parking Tech in Pillows and Slippers
    • A newly discovered prime number makes its debut

      On December 26, 2017, J. Pace, G. Woltman, S. Kurowski, A. Blosser, and their co-authors announced the discovery of a new prime number): 2⁷⁷²³²⁹¹⁷-1. It’s an excellent opportunity to take a small tour through the wonderful world of prime numbers to see how this result was achieved and why it is so interesting.

    • Akili Interactive Announces Trial Results for Video Game Treatment of ADHD

      Akili Interactive recently announced results of a trial on the company’s digital medicine product, AKL-T01. According to FierceBiotech, Akili plans to file AKL-T01 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clearance under the 510(k) medical device pathway as a novel treatment for children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    • Erasing a Billion Years of Geologic Time Across the Globe

      The Great Unconformity—a huge time gap in the rock record—may have been triggered by the uplift of an ancient supercontinent, say researchers using a novel method for dating rocks.

    • Cash Comes in for Nanowire Display Startups

      While much of the near-term innovation of future TVs will come from the processing horsepower behind the screen, farther out you can expect a big change in the pixels themselves: micro-LEDs. These displays would be made up of pixels made of miniaturized gallium-nitride LEDs, which are so efficient that displays would consume half or even one-third of the energy used by OLED or LCD displays while being considerably brighter than both.

      Samsung, seemingly at great cost, assembled a huge microLED display for CES that it called “The Wall,” but the technology is likely to make its mark much sooner in small displays for augmented reality and smartwatches. Apple, for example, acquired micro-LED display startup LuxVue in 2014, which reportedly had raised $43-million to that point. MicroLED displays still haven’t appeared in the Apple Watch, though.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • FDA Declares Kratom an Opioid. We’re Here to Explain What It Does.

      But phasing it into Schedule 1 makes it very hard to further conduct research. And this is a new class of endo-alkaloids that act very distinctly different on opioid receptors. And just because the FDA hasn’t received an NDA [New Drug Application] or IND [Investigational New Drug application] to actually conduct a study with mitragynine to move it into a clinical trial, which we know costs . . . millions of dollars, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value for these 4 or 5 million kratom users, who I feel would have to go back to using prescription opioids or potentially going to street drugs.

    • Leaked Letter Shows Pressure On Colombia Not To Issue Compulsory Licence For Glivec

      A newly leaked 2016 letter from the CEO of Novartis to the president of Colombia, made available by Swiss group Public Eye, shows the level of concern the Swiss pharmaceutical company had over the effect of possible issuance of a compulsory licence for Novartis drug Glivec in the pivotal South American economy.

    • Viruses—lots of them—are falling from the sky

      An astonishing number of viruses are circulating around the Earth’s atmosphere – and falling from it – according to new research from scientists in Canada, Spain and the U.S.

      The study marks the first time scientists have quantified the viruses being swept up from the Earth’s surface into the free troposphere, beyond Earth’s weather systems but below the stratosphere where jet airplanes fly. The viruses can be carried thousands of kilometres there before being deposited back onto the Earth’s surface.

    • Untreatable gonorrhea is on the rise in China

      The sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is becoming resistant to the only two antibiotics left to treat it — and it’s spreading in China, according to new research.

      Gonorrhea is currently treated using a cocktail of two drugs, azithromycin and ceftriaxone, but the antibiotics are losing their efficacy. In China, almost 19 percent of gonorrhea cases are resistant to azithromycin and almost 11 percent to ceftriaxone, according to a study published today in Plos Medicine. This latest number is what’s most concerning, says Vanessa Allen, chief of medical microbiology at Public Health Ontario, who was not involved in the research.

      “Ceftriaxone is the last drug that we have for the treatment of gonorrhea,” Allen tells The Verge. “We don’t have any replacement drugs after ceftriaxone right now.”

      “CEFTRIAXONE IS THE LAST DRUG THAT WE HAVE FOR THE TREATMENT OF GONORRHEA.”

  • Security

    • The worst types of ransomware attacks [Ed: Windows]
    • All versions’ of Windows vulnerable to tweaked Shadow Broker NSA exploits

      A security researcher has revealed how sophisticated NSA exploits, which were stolen and published online by hacker group Shadow Brokers, can be tweaked to exploit vulnerabilities in all versions of Windows, including Windows 10.

      Back in 2016, the hacker group named Shadow Brokers stole weaponised cyber-tools from the US National Security Agency and published them online, thereby enabling other cyber- criminals to use the tools to attack targeted organisations and to gain access to systems.

    • Leaked NSA Exploits Modified To Attack Every Windows Version Since 2000

      Probably, the most famous of the NSA tools leaked by the hacker group Shadow Brokers was EnternalBlue which gave birth to dangerous malware like WannaCry, Petya, and more recently, the cryptojacking malware WannaMine.

      Now, Sean Dillion, a security researcher at RiskSense, has modified the source code of three other leaked NSA tools called EnternalRomance, EternalChampion, and EnternalSynergy. In the past, he also ported the EternalBlue exploit to work on Windows 10.

    • WiFi Routers Riddled With Holes: Report [Ed: default passwords]

      Insignary, a startup security firm based in South Korea, conducted comprehensive binary code scans for known security vulnerabilities in WiFi routers. The company conducted scans across a spectrum of the firmware used by the most popular home, small and mid-sized business and enterprise-class WiFi routers.

    • As data protection laws strengthen open-source software governance becomes critical [Ed: Nothing to do with FOSS. Proprietary software has more holes and some cannot/will not be patched.]

      The cadence of delivery isn’t hampered by new layers of governance (as using automated security audits allows for real-time testing as new code is developed). And with accurate audit trails, organisations can prove the extent to which they have gone, to ensure secure code that culminates in safe and compliant applications.

    • Episode 81 – Autosploit, bug bounties, and the future of security
    • Bad Influence: How A Marketing Startup Exposed Thousands of Social Media Stars
    • More Than 12,000 Influencers, Brands Targeted in Latest Data Breach

      It happened to Target, Forever 21, Neiman Marcus, TJX Companies, and Yahoo. Their systems were infiltrated by hackers and the data that they had stored, including consumers’ names, addresses, payment information, and in some cases, social security numbers, were stolen. Now, influencers and high-end beauty and fashion brands, are the target, as Octoly, a Paris-based influencer agency, has confirmed that it has experienced a data breach, putting more than 12,000 prominent social media influencers from YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter at risk.

    • 12,000 Influencers Had Their Data Leaked by Marketing Firm Octoly

      Unfortunately, that is just what happened last month to around 12,000 social media stars who work with Paris-based influencer marketplace Octoly. According to cyber risk company UpGuard, carelessness on the part of Octoly led to influencers’ personal information — like street addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, email addresses and more — becoming accessible in a public database.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • 6 Easy Ways To Block Cryptocurrency Mining In Your Web Browser

      Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies that make use of encryption for security. As they are anonymous and decentralized in nature, one can use them for making payments that can’t be tracked by governments.

    • The effect of Meltdown and Spectre in our communities

      A late-breaking development in the computing world led to a somewhat hastily arranged panel discussion at this year’s linux.conf.au in Sydney. The embargo for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities broke on January 4; three weeks later, Jonathan Corbet convened representatives from five separate parts of our community, from cloud to kernel to the BSDs and beyond. As Corbet noted in the opening, the panel itself was organized much like the response to the vulnerabilities themselves, which is why it didn’t even make it onto the conference schedule until a few hours earlier.
      Introductions

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Pentagon: Afghan war costing US $45 billion per year

      The costs now are still significantly lower than during the high point of the war in Afghanistan. From 2010 to 2012, when the U.S. had as many as 100,000 soldiers in the country, the price for American taxpayers surpassed $100 billion each year. There are currently around 16,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

    • India, Pakistan moving towards war-like situation: Farooq Abdullah

      Abdullah, along with several other leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, has often claimed that dialogue between both India and Pakistan is the only way forward.

    • Turkey Detains 449 People For Criticizing Invasion Of Syria On Social Media

      As Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria continues, so too does their policy of arresting anyone seen as even sort of opposed to the attack.

    • If There’s a War in Korea, Blame Trump

      Brainwashed Americans believe that Kim Jong-un is responsible for the confrontation between Pyongyang and Washington, but nothing could be further from the truth. The real problem is not Kim’s nuclear weapons but Washington’s 65 year-long military occupation that continues to reinforce a political solution that was arbitrarily imposed on a sovereign nation in order to split the country in two, install a puppet regime in the south, establish a permanent military presence to defend US commercial interests, and maintain control of a strategically-located territory that is a critical part of Washington’s plan to encircle Russia and China to remain the dominant global power throughout the century. Simply put, Washington is 100 percent responsible for the current confrontation just as it has been responsible for every flare-up for the last 7 decades.

      Even so, fighting back against the relentless outpouring of US-backed state propaganda is no easy task. So allow me to defend the position of the DPRK with just one, brief analogy that will help to put things into perspective:

      Imagine if the Korean army decided to deploy tens of thousands of combat troops to fight on the side of the South during the Civil War. And let’s say, that these forces were so successful that they were able to kill 3 million Americans while reducing every business and factory, every home and hospital, every church and university, to smoldering rubble. As a result of Korean meddling, the North was unable to win the war, but was forced to settle for an armistice that permanently split the US into North and South allowing Korea to install its stooges in the capitol of Richmond while it established military bases in every southern state from Virginia to Louisiana.

    • Pentagon planning grand military parade for Trump

      President Trump has asked the Pentagon to explore holding “a celebration” for Americans to show their appreciation for the armed forces, the White House said, amid reports that military leaders have begun planning a military parade at his request.

      Trump repeatedly has expressed an interest in holding a display of America’s military might and upped his calls for a parade after witnessing the Bastille Day celebrations on a trip to France last summer.

      The Washington Post reported Tuesday that at a recent meeting between Trump and top military officials, Trump’s wishes were “suddenly heard as a presidential directive.”

    • No Time for Complacency over Korea War Threat

      Like the proverbial calm before the storm, war scares on the Korean peninsula have temporarily gone quiet while its two governments make nice over the 2018 Winter Olympics. But when the games end, count on the Trump administration reviving its ultimatum to North Korea: Stop all nuclear and missile testing and begin to denuclearize, or face a devastating, preemptive attack.

    • New German Warship Fails Sea Trials Due to Tech Woes

      Reducing the size of a combat ship’s complement through advanced automation has been a goal of the world’s navies for decades [pdf]. However, as the U.S. Navy has already discovered, the German Navy is now finding out that this is easier desired than done.

      In December, the German Navy refused to commission the lead ship of its new Baden-Wurttemberg class Type 125 (F125) frigate after it failed its latest at-sea trials. This was the first time that Germany’s navy has ever refused to commission a ship after delivery. The refusal was due in part to unresolved hardware and software integration problems affecting the Baden-Wurttemberg’s ATLAS Naval Combat System [pdf] and other ship systems, which have plagued the frigate’s sea trials since it entered them in April 2016.

    • A Treacherous Crossing

      Paul Ryan’s recent trip to the Gulf reiterated the U.S. government’s support of the Saudi-led assault on Yemen and a bellicose stance towards Iran, which has created a watershed of human suffering, writes Kathy Kelly.

    • Who is Containing Whom?

      Over the years “containment” has been a key U.S. political instrument by which it has sought to isolate, starve out, or excommunicate from the “international community” regimes unwilling to accept the U.S.-dominated world order.

    • Syria’s White Helmets Go Global
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Reduced energy from the sun might occur by mid-century—now, scientists know by how much

      The sun might emit less radiation by mid-century, giving planet Earth a chance to warm a bit more slowly but not halt the trend of human-induced climate change.

    • Coal Lobbyist Hosted Fundraisers for Senators Evaluating His Nomination for Top EPA Post

      While waiting for a nomination to the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, cozied up with the senators who would decide upon his appointment in the most direct way possible: giving them money.

      Wheeler, who was first rumored to be tapped for the EPA last March, raised funds for Republican senators on the committee that makes the preliminary decision on confirming appointments to the agency.

      Fundraising documents obtained by The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented show that Wheeler hosted campaign fundraisers for two members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works — Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. — last May. The event for Inhofe was held at Rosa Mexicano, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C., and the event for Barrasso took place at Wheeler’s office on K Street in the capital. Federal Election Committee records show both senators received donations of Wheeler’s law firm PAC last year. Barrasso received $2,500 and Inhofe’s leadership PAC received $1,000.

    • How nuclear weapons research revealed new climate threats

      After atmospheric scientist Ivana Cvijanovic began pushing a computerized climate simulation to its limits, she noticed a disturbing result: as Arctic sea ice nearly disappeared, massive high-pressure systems built up thousands of miles away, off the west coast of the United States.

      The atmospheric ridge blocked major storms bound for California, cutting off rainfall. Cvijanovic’s model shows that as the North Pole’s summer sea ice vanishes, as expected in the next few decades, it could turn down the tap for Central Valley farmers, Sierra Nevada ski resorts, and cities throughout the nation’s most populous state (see “The Year Climate Change Began to Spin Out of Control”).

    • This new company wants to sequence your genome and let you share it on a blockchain

      Cryptocurrency in exchange for your genetic data! Sounds a bit like a scam, but it’s the premise behind a new company founded by a leading geneticist. Nebula Genomics says it plans to sequence your genome for under $1,000, give you insights about it, secure it using a blockchain, and allow you to do whatever you want with the data.

      Nebula is the brainchild of PhD student Dennis Grishin, graduate Kamal Obbad, and geneticist George Church, all from Harvard. Mirza Cifric, CEO of Veritas Genetics, which offers a genome-sequencing service for $999, is a founding advisor.

  • Finance

    • Mike Pence hints at possible US return to TPP in talks with Japan DPM Aso: Kyodo

      US Vice-President Mike Pence referred to the possibility of the United States returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal when he met Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on Wednesday (Feb 7), a Japanese government source said, reported Kyodo News.

    • Move aside Uber, London cabbies have it all mapped out in driver battles

      Pearson’s goal is to drive one of London’s 21,000 iconic black cabs. But first he has to memorize nearly every street and landmark in London as part of a process called the Knowledge. Put in place in 1865, the Knowledge exam requires cabbies to navigate between any two points in central London without following a map or GPS. It can take four years to learn the information and pass a series of stringent oral tests.

    • A Serious Push for Free College in California

      Up until the 1970s, public higher education in California was virtually free. Hundreds of thousands of baby boomers benefitted from this opportunity, attending college for modest fees. These graduates went on to get jobs, purchase homes, save money, build wealth, raise families, pay taxes, and propel their lives forward without the crucible of huge amounts of college debt.

    • More Thoughts on the Stock Crash

      Before anyone starts jumping off buildings, let me give you a few items to think about.

      1) The stock market is not the economy. It moves in mysterious ways that often have little or nothing to do with the economy. In October of 1987, it plunged more than 20 percent in a single day. GDP grew 4.2 percent in 1988 and 3.7 percent in 1989. The market did recover much of its value over this period, but we don’t know whether or not it will recover the ground lost in the last week either.

      2) The market has gone through an enormous run-up over the last nine years. The current level is more than 230 percent above its 2009 lows. That translates into an average nominal return of more than 14.0 percent annually, before taking into account dividends.

    • The Conservatives have turned universal suffrage into a contest for manipulation. Here’s what we must do.

      The UK Government has announced that it will celebrate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act by establishing a National Democracy Week. Yet Conservative-led governments have, since 2010, repeatedly undermined democracy. For example, after the Electoral Commission warned the government in 2014 against being too hasty in bringing in a new untested voter registration system, they not only ignored the advice, but instead accelerated the process, and consequently, almost 2 million people dropped off the electoral register – comprising mainly those who were among the most disempowered in society, such as students, the poor and minority ethnic groups in inner cities. Furthermore, when the Electoral Commission advised all parties to abide by the agreed limits on spending on election campaign, the Conservative government changed the law and increased the limit by 23%, so it could outspend other parties in the 2015 elections. But their spending still ended up exceeding the raised limits. And they are not likely to be deterred from doing it again since they were fined a paltry £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for their transgression.

    • Chevrolet Sold One (1) New Car In The United Kingdom Last Month

      The increase of one (1) sale last month called to mind that hilarious story a few years back, when Chevrolet spent $600 million in a sponsorship deal for the English soccer team Manchester United.

    • US startups don’t want to go public anymore. That’s bad news for Americans

      Going public was once a sign of a young startup’s promise. But these days, a growing number of young companies are avoiding IPOs altogether. In 1997, the average age of US-listed firms was a sprightly 12 years old. Now the average age is 20. US public companies have also gotten bigger. Between 1975 and 1991, around half of listed companies had a market capital of less than $100 million (in 2015 dollars)—compared with 22% in 2016.

    • NYC Taxi Driver Kills Himself at City Hall after Condemning Uber & Politicians for Financial Ruin

      New York City taxi drivers held a vigil on Tuesday to honor livery car driver Douglas Schifter, who killed himself in front of City Hall Monday morning after writing a long Facebook post condemning local politicians and Wall Street-backed apps like Uber for pushing him into financial ruin. He wrote, “I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen plus years. When the industry started in 1981, I averaged 40-50 hours. I cannot survive any longer with working 120 hours! I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one. … There seems to be a strong bias by the Mayor and Governor in favor of Uber. A Company that is a known liar, cheat and thief.” Over the past five years, the number of for-hire cars has more than doubled in the city, largely thanks to Uber. But the soaring number of cars has resulted in a financial crisis for many longtime taxi drivers who now struggle to get customers. We speak to Bhairavi Desai, executive director and co-founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents over 19,000 taxi drivers in New York City.

    • Judge Koh sets aside sanctions order against Apple in FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust case

      Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted an Apple motion for relief from a non-dispositive order by Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins, who imposed sanctions on Apple for failure to timely provide documents sought by Qualcomm in its defense against the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit.

      [...]

      Apple is indeed a party to other Qualcomm cases. For example, the Munich I Regional Court will hold a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement hearing–not yet a trial, but a discussion of key outcome-determinative issues–in a few hours. Presiding Judge Dr. Matthias Zigann, one of Germany’s leading patent judges, will hear the parties’ arguments, with Qualcomm claiming that Apple’s iPhones using Intel chips (at least that’s what Qualcomm’s public statements and its litigation strategy for the United States International Trade Commission indicate) infringe European Patent EP2724461 on a low-voltage power-efficient envelope tracker. This is just one of various cases pending in Germany. The Mannheim Regional Court informed me of hearings scheduled for June, September, and October, over three different European patents–and it’s unclear whether today’s patent-in-suit is the only one Qualcomm is asserting in Munich (Qualcomm originally announced one Mannheim lawsuit and now I’m aware of three).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Pollster hired to track Mark Zuckerberg’s popularity couldn’t stand it and left Facebook

      “It’s a bit like a political campaign,” said former pollster Tavis McGinn.

    • Facebook deletes claims it helped influence 2015 general election for Scottish National Party

      The social media giant has deleted half a dozen posts from a page promoting “success stories” on Facebook’s electioneering to clients, including a page called “Triggering a landslide” claiming Facebook helped the SNP secure a near total victory in Scotland during the election.

    • Facebook hired a full-time pollster to monitor Zuckerberg’s approval ratings

      McGinn tracked a wide range of questions related to Zuckerberg’s public perception. “Not just him in the abstract, but do people like Mark’s speeches? Do they like his interviews with the press? Do people like his posts on Facebook? It’s a bit like a political campaign, in the sense that you’re constantly measuring how every piece of communication lands. If Mark’s doing a barbecue in his backyard and he hops on Facebook Live, how do people respond to that?”

      [...]

      “Facebook is Mark, and Mark is Facebook,” McGinn says. “Mark has 60 percent voting rights for Facebook. So you have one individual, 33 years old, who has basically full control of the experience of 2 billion people around the world. That’s unprecedented. Even the president of the United States has checks and balances. At Facebook, it’s really this one person.”

      McGinn declined to discuss the results of his polling at Facebook, saying nondisclosure agreements prevented him from doing so. But he said he decided to leave the company after only six months after coming to believe that Facebook had a negative effect on the world.

    • Fake news sharing in US is a rightwing thing, says study

      Low-quality, extremist, sensationalist and conspiratorial news published in the US was overwhelmingly consumed and shared by rightwing social network users, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.

      The study, from the university’s “computational propaganda project”, looked at the most significant sources of “junk news” shared in the three months leading up to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address this January, and tried to find out who was sharing them and why.

    • Media’s State of the Union: Normalizing Lies and Hoping for Compromise

      President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address did not disappoint those who expected it to contain the same bombast, exaggeration and outright lies that have characterized his rhetoric since he announced he was running for president in June 2015. While media factchecking projects should be taken with a hefty grain of salt, leading papers have amassed lengthy compendiums of Trump’s lies: The New York Times documented a “public lie or falsehood” on every one of Trump’s first 40 days in office, while the Washington Post counted 2,140 “false or misleading claims” in his entire first year.

      But corporate media continue to grant Trump the same automatic legitimacy granted to past presidents whenever he reads the words of a professional speechwriter off a teleprompter, rather than tweeting or yelling whatever thoughts pop into his head. The response from top newspapers to his State of the Union address illustrate how the lies and false narratives perpetuated by Trump and his administration continue to be normalized.

      In their lead story for the Washington Post (1/30/18), “Trump Calls for Unity, Pushes GOP Agenda in State of the Union Speech,” Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker described “the conciliatory tone of Trump’s first State of the Union address,” contrasting it with “the combative manner in which he has conducted his presidency”—though allowing that the speech also included “polarizing language when lamenting crime from MS-13 and other gangs, which he blamed on ‘open borders.’”

    • ‘Violence’ Becomes ‘Unruliness’ When It’s Sports Fans, Not BLM Protesters, Breaking Rules

      After the Philadelphia Eagles mounted an exciting and improbable underdog victory over the New England Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday, Philly fans poured into the city’s streets to celebrate. Fires were set, some stores were broken into, and drunk people fought and caroused across the city. Crowds of (overwhelmingly) white male fans climbed poles, leapt off of building awnings, uprooted lamp posts and generally caused mayhem and havoc across the City of Brotherly Love. The celebration ended Monday morning with only four arrests, and with what NBC Sports (2/5/18) described vaguely as “vandalism and injuries.”

    • If Anti-Immigrant Wish List Not Accepted, Trump Says, ‘I’d Love to See a Shutdown’

      President Donald Trump—who has repeatedly wailed about how “devastating” a government shutdown would be to “our military” and federal employees—said during an immigration roundtable on Tuesday that he would “love to see a shutdown” if Democrats refuse to accept his expansive anti-immigrant wish list.

    • Glad you talked about corruption, now walk the talk, Siddaramaiah tweets to PM Modi

      Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to be taking a leaf out of his party chief Rahul Gandhi’s book. For the third day in a row, Siddaramaiah, who is facing an assembly election this year, tweeted directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
      Siddaramaiah launched a subtle attack, targeting Prime Minister Modi for comments he made during an election rally in Karnataka over the weekend.
      “I am glad PM @narendramodi is talking about corruption,” Siddaramaiah began his tweet today, referring to the PM tearing into the Congress government on Sunday by accusing it of setting “new records” in corruption.

    • Maldives’ former President Nasheed seeks Indian military intervention in crisis-ridden country

      Exiled former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday sought India’s military intervention in the country to release dissidents in prison.

      However, three Supreme Court judges annulled a portion of the order that set off a crisis in the Maldives, revoking the earlier order for releasing the nine Opposition leaders including Mr. Nasheed, who is currently in Colombo.

      The development comes on the day that the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court judge were arrested, after troops stormed the Supreme Court in the wee hours. It follows President Abdulla Yameen’s declaration of a state of emergency on Monday.

    • Introducing ‘Trump, Inc.,’ a Podcast on the Many Mysteries of Our President’s Businesses

      A couple of months ago, a few of us from ProPublica and WNYC sat together in a conference room and started scribbling on a whiteboard. We were brainstorming all the possible paths to investigate around President Donald Trump and his family businesses.

      It looked like Carrie Mathison’s wall. There’s so much that’s still unknown. We don’t know if the president is taking money from his businesses, or what deals are happening, or who his partners are, who’s providing the financing. It goes on and on.

    • Coming From ProPublica and WNYC: ‘Trump, Inc.,’ the Podcast
    • ProPublica and WNYC Studios Announce ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast Series

      Today, WNYC and ProPublica announced a new partnership and reporting project. “Trump, Inc.,” a 12-episode podcast series, will dig deeply into the central questions surrounding the business dealings of President Donald Trump and his family, including how his role as President may be working to his financial benefit.

      A year after his election, basic yet vital questions about President Trump and his family’s business empire remain unanswered: Who are their partners? Is the business benefiting from its close relationship with the Trump administration? What deals are happening? Who’s financing them? And most fundamentally — is Trump acting on behalf of his country, or his company?

    • Outlets in Eight Countries Are Using Our Tool to Monitor Political Ads on Facebook

      As the Australian government was conducting a national mail-in survey to gauge support for legislation legalizing same-sex marriage this fall, ads appeared on Facebook trying to sway specific groups of voters.

      Opponents of gay marriage targeted people who, based on pages they liked and posts they had clicked on, were interested in “prayer” and “Christianity.” It is “a child’s right to be raised and loved by their married mother and father,” one video ad said. An advertiser who favors same-sex marriage pitched other users for whom “family” was a priority, contending that the legislation would help children “grow more securely, in less fear of the possibility that they could be different from others.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The new puritans waging war on art

      # SJWs at catspaws for sharia activists

      But this incident isn’t simply a matter of bad judgement on the part of MAG’s curators. After all, this was not an isolated example of censorship in the arts. Feminist and anti-racist campaigners are increasingly targeting the arts to further their causes, and arts institutions are capitulating to their demands – or, even worse, pre-empting them by engaging in self-censorship.

    • Moderation Is The Commodity

      Content moderation is such a complex and laborious undertaking that, all things considered, it’s amazing that it works at all, and as well as it does. Moderation is hard. This should be obvious, but it is easily forgotten. It is resource intensive and relentless; it requires making difficult and often untenable distinctions; it is wholly unclear what the standards should be, especially on a global scale; and one failure can incur enough public outrage to overshadow a million quiet successes. And we are partly to blame for having put platforms in this untenable situation, by asking way too much of them. We sometimes decry the intrusion of platform moderation, and sometimes decry its absence. Users probably should not expect platforms to be hands-off and expect them to solve problems perfectly and expect them to get with the times and expect them to be impartial and automatic.

      Even so, as a society we have once again handed over to private companies the power to set and enforce the boundaries of appropriate public speech for us. That is an enormous cultural power, held by a few deeply invested stakeholders, and it is being done behind closed doors, making it difficult for anyone else to inspect or challenge. Platforms frequently, and conspicuously, fail to live up to our expectations—in fact, given the enormity of the undertaking, most platforms’ own definition of success includes failing users on a regular basis.

      The companies that have profited most from our commitment to platforms have done so by selling back to us the promises of the web and participatory culture. But as those promises have begun to sour, and the reality of their impact on public life has become more obvious and more complicated, these companies are now grappling with how best to be stewards of public culture, a responsibility that was not evident to them at the start.

    • New Stages play in Peterborough examines censorship

      The slippery slope of censorship and where, or even if, a line can be drawn will be in focus during the next instalment of New Stages Theatre Company’s Page on Stage reading series, which returns to Market Hall Performing Arts Centre on Sunday.

      The topic couldn’t be any more relevant to the current social and political climate because of the ultra-conservative factions that exist both in Canada and south of the border, New Stages artistic director Randy Read pointed out.

      Written by Beverley Cooper and based on an idea by Read, the play If Truth Be Told – which premiered at the Blythe Festival – was inspired by events that happened in Peterborough in 1976.

    • “Emperor of Hell” neutralized by censorship: producer

      “The screenplay was revised 27 times to get the approval of cultural officials and everybody tried to prevent the film from being made,” Khazaei said in a press conference on Tuesday after a screening of the movie during the 36th Fajr Film Festival.

      Directed by Parviz Sheikhtadi, “Emperor of Hell” was scheduled to have its premiere at the festival in 2017, but the organizers refused to screen it in the official competition. Therefore, Sheikhtadi and Khazaei withdrew the film from the festival.

    • Royal Court commits to staging Tibet play following censorship claims

      The Royal Court Theatre in London has vowed that it will stage a play about Tibet that has been at the heart of a censorship row.

      Indian playwright Abhishek Majumdar’s work Pah-la, which draws on personal stories of Tibetans he worked with in India, was initially due to run at the Royal Court in October 2017.

      However, the play was delayed, which Majumdar claimed was due to pressure from British Council in China, and then subsequently withdrawn in January 2018 due to what the theatre has now claimed was down to “financial reasons”.

      [...]

      Majumdar added that the play was facing censorship “over and over again from one of the premiere theatres in the world and of course the Chinese government even before it has opened”.

      A spokeswoman for the Royal Court said: “The Royal Court Theatre apologises to the Tibetan community for having had to postpone and subsequently withdraw Pah-la for financial reasons earlier this year.

    • The Guardian view on Hylas and the Nymphs: not censorship

      As a stimulus for debate, last week’s removal of John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs from the walls of the Manchester Art Gallery certainly did the trick. After its exile to the museum store hit the news, the air became thick with protest and cries of “censorship”. Its banishment was regarded as dangerous political correctness, and the thin end of the wedge. If Waterhouse’s image of a youth surrounded by naked young women was to be taken down, where would it end? Would all our museums and galleries be dismantled, their “offensive” works, aka most Old Masters, locked away from the gaze of the public?

      The painting’s week-long absence (it is back in its place by popular demand) probably focused more attention and thought upon it than it would have received over six months on the wall. Its removal was part of a project by artist Sonia Boyce, an exhibition of whose work opens at the museum in March. The action had arisen from discussions between the artist and staff about power and taste, about who decides what is seen and not seen on the walls of museums and galleries.

    • For an International Coalition to Fight Internet Censorship

      The United States government, in the closest collaboration with Google, Facebook, Twitter and other powerful information technology corporations, is implementing massive restrictions on Internet access to socialist, antiwar and progressive websites. Similar repressive policies are being enacted by capitalist governments in Europe and throughout the world.

      The new regime of censorship is being combined with an intensification of surveillance operations, aimed at monitoring what people read, write and think while on the Internet. The actions of this alliance of the state, military-intelligence agencies and oligopolistic technology corporations are a dangerous threat to freedom of speech and other core democratic rights.

    • NCAC Opposes Removal of To Kill A Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from Minnesota Classrooms

      While it is understandable that a novel that repeatedly uses a highly offensive racial slur would generate discomfort among some parents and students, the problems of living in a society where racial tensions persist will not be resolved by banishing literary classics from the classroom. On the contrary, the classroom is where the history, use and destructiveness of this language should be examined and discussed. It is there that the books’ complexities can be contextualized and their anti-racist message can be understood. Rather than ignore difficult speech, educators should create spaces for open dialogue that teaches students to confront the vestiges of racism and the oppression people of color.

    • Anti-censorship group urges reversal of Duluth school district’s decision on ‘Mockingbird,’ ‘Finn’
    • Facebook on Trial in France for Allegedly Censoring Courbet’s “Origin of the World”
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook’s app for kids should freak parents out

      That’s what the world’s largest social network is asking parents with the release of its first app for children, Messenger Kids. It’s a pint-size version of Facebook’s chat app, Messenger (which, like Facebook itself, is intended only for those 13 and older). With Messenger Kids, Facebook becomes the first of the major social networks to put out an app specifically for children under 13.

      The move makes sense in some ways. Chat apps are everywhere, so why keep them out of the hands of children? It could even help parents teach them about online etiquette.

      And it’s a no-brainer for Facebook, whose teenage users are becoming increasingly enamored of competing apps like Snapchat, Twitter, and Kik. With Messenger Kids, perhaps, Facebook can hook younger children on its brand.

    • Macau’s Cybersecurity Law: Less About Security, More About Surveillance (And Censorship)

      Macau, a former Portuguese colony and a special administrative region on the south coast of China, has begun public consultations on a proposed Cybersecurity Law.

      The Macau government is proposing the legislation in an effort to ensure the “security of network communications.” The law would establish a local cybersecurity standing committee and a cybersecurity center which would monitor online information flows in binary code to keep track of and investigate future cyber attacks. The center would coordinate with government departments to supervise and implement protection procedures for companies in 11 crucial sectors, including internet operators, media organizations, water and energy suppliers, financial and banking companies, gambling companies and medical institutions, among others.

    • Newly Released Surveillance Orders Show That Even with Individualized Court Oversight, Spying Powers Are Misused

      Once-secret surveillance court orders obtained by EFF last week show that even when the court authorizes the government to spy on specific Americans for national security purposes, that authorization can be misused to potentially violate other people’s civil liberties.

      These documents raise larger questions about whether the government can meaningfully protect people’s privacy and free expression rights under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits officials to engage in warrantless mass surveillance with far less court oversight than is required under the “traditional” FISA warrant process.

      The documents are the third and final batch of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions released to EFF as part of a FOIA lawsuit seeking all significant orders and opinions of the secret court. Previously, the government released opinions dealing with FISA’s business records and pen register provisions, along with opinions under Section 702.

    • Abbas’ government sued over alleged CIA-backed wiretapping

      A former Palestinian intelligence chief and the head of the West Bank bar association are suing the Palestinian self-rule government after a purported whistleblower alleged the two were targeted, along with many other allies and rivals of President Mahmoud Abbas, in a large-scale CIA-backed wiretapping operation.

      Allegations of continued intelligence-sharing with the United States could prove embarrassing for Abbas who has been on a political collision course with Washington since President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    • Canadian Privacy Commissioner Report Says Existing Law Already Gives Canadians A Right To Be Forgotten

      In other words, the Commissioner is looking to import Europe’s right-to-be-forgotten law, but without having to amend or rewrite any Canadian laws. The report interprets existing Canadian privacy protections as offering RTBF to Canadian citizens. And if it offers it to Canadians, it can be enforced worldwide, despite their being no local statutory right to be forgotten.

      Geist notes there are several problems with the troubling conclusion the Commissioner has drawn. First, the privacy protections included in PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) cover commercial activity only, regulating use of users’ personal data. When it comes to search results, no commercial transaction takes place. The search engine simply returns results the user asks for. Search engines display ads with the results, but there’s no purchase involved, nor is there necessarily a relinquishment of user info.

      Just as importantly, the Commissioner’s conclusion — even if statutorily sound (though it isn’t) — runs directly contrary to the comments received from numerous stakeholders, including privacy groups.

    • Twilio Demonstrates Why Courts Should Review Every National Security Letter

      The list of companies who exercise their right to ask for judicial review when handed national security letter gag orders from the FBI is growing. Last week, the communications platform Twilio posted two NSLs after the FBI backed down from its gag orders. As Twilio’s accompanying blog post documents, the FBI simply couldn’t or didn’t want to justify its nondisclosure requirements in court. This might be the starkest public example yet of why courts should be involved in reviewing NSL gag orders in all cases.

      National security letters are a kind of subpoena that give the FBI the power to require telecommunications and Internet providers to hand over private customer records—including names, addresses, and financial records. The FBI nearly always accompanies these requests with a blanket gag order, shutting up the providers and keeping the practice in the shadows, away from public knowledge or criticism.

    • Facial recognition bill introduced into parliament

      Legislation has been introduced into parliament to set up a national facial recognition database, as agreed upon by the Coalition Government and the states in October last year.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Foreign passport no amulet in China: Global Times

      In 2015, Gui was abducted in Thailand while on holiday, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

    • Several Philadelphia Eagles Players Will Boycott the Post–Super Bowl White House Visit

      The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII on February 4, and some players have already said they won’t attend any White House celebration their team may be invited to this year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    • Immigrant Children Do Not Have the Right to an Attorney Unless They Can Pay, Rules Appeals Court
    • 6 Ways Government Is Going After Environmental Activists

      A preview of some of the shady tactics we might see in response to protests over construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

      Thanks in large part to the indigenous-led mass mobilization at Standing Rock, there has been a major shift in public awareness and celebrity support for environmental activism. In turn, the government has gone to new lengths to suppress and criminalize this brand of activism.

    • Florida Bill Seeks to Stop Arrests of Injured Immigrant Workers

      A new bill under consideration by Florida lawmakers would stop insurance companies from dodging payouts by aiding in the arrest and deportation of unauthorized immigrants who are injured on the job.

      Legislators and advocates have been pushing for the measure since last summer when ProPublica and NPR documented more than 130 cases in which immigrants who had suffered legitimate workplace injuries were flagged to law enforcement agencies by their employers’ insurers. The workers faced felony fraud charges for using a fake ID when they sought medical care. Meanwhile, the insurers often avoided paying the workers’ compensation benefits legally due to all employees injured at work.

      Some workers were detained by federal immigration agents and deported without getting proper medical treatment for serious injuries.

      The practice stems from a provision in a 2003 workers’ comp law that made it a crime to file a claim using false identification. Many injured immigrants never pursued compensation themselves, ProPublica and NPR found. Instead, insurers turned them in after they sought treatment, and their employers transmitted paperwork containing the Social Security number they’d used to get hired.

      Because the law also made it a crime to apply for a job with a fake ID, hundreds of immigrant workers were charged with workers’ comp fraud even though they had never been injured or filed a claim.

    • Hacker Lauri Love Wins Extradition Appeal; Won’t Be Shipped Off To The US

      We’ve been writing about the saga of Lauri Love for almost four years now. If you don’t recall, he’s the British student who was accused of hacking into various US government systems, and who has been fighting a battle against being extradited to the US for all these years. For those of you old timers, the situation was quite similar to the story of Gary McKinnon, another UK citizen accused of hacking into US government computers, and who fought extradition for years. In McKinnon’s case, he lost his court appeals, but the extradition was eventually blocked by the UK’s Home Secretary… Theresa May.

    • Court Shuts Down Trooper’s Attempt To Portray New-ish Minivans With Imperfect Drivers As Justification For A Traffic Stop

      Anything you do can be suspicious. Just ask our guardians of public safety. People interacting with law enforcement can’t be too nervous. Or too calm. Or stare straight ahead. Or directly at officers. When traveling, travelers need to ensure they’re not the first person off the plane. Or the last. Or in the middle. When driving, people can’t drive too carefully. Or too carelessly. Traveling on interstate highways is right out, considering those are used by drug traffickers. Traveling along back roads probably just looks like avoiding more heavily-patrolled interstates, thus suspicious.

      Having too much trash in your car might get you labelled a drug trafficker — someone making a long haul between supply and destination cities. Conversely, a car that’s too clean looks like a “trap” car — a vehicle carefully kept in top condition to avoid raising law enforcement’s suspicion. Too clean is just as suspicious as too dirty. Air fresheners, a common fixture in vehicles, are also suspicious. Having too many of them is taken as an attempt to cover the odor of drugs. There’s no specific number that triggers suspicion. It’s all left up to the officer on the scene.

    • When You’re in Prison No One Prepares You for Coming Home

      Prison did little to prepare me for life after incarceration. And that has to change.

      In my memories of prison, there are no colors. It was a dark, cold, and gray place. Incarceration, for me, was defined by deprivation — not just deprivation of freedom, opportunity, and safety, but deprivation of the senses.

      On the day of my release, I stepped off a bus at Port Authority and walked out into the world for the first time in 13 years. I remember feeling suddenly overwhelmed by the oranges, blues, reds, and neon greens of New York City streets. After so many years in a concrete box, I was finally free. That excitement, however, soon gave way to anxiety. What I remember most clearly from that day is the feeling of fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it.

      I spent 13 years in prison, but no one started talking to me about my release until 90 days before I finished my sentence. During those conversations, the burden of responsibility was placed on me. I was asked where I would be living, the clinics and reentry programs I would be taking part in, but at no time was I given tools to do research about my options.

    • Leaked DHS Report Uses Junk Science to Argue for Surveillance of Muslims

      The report assumes that Sunni Muslims, by virtue of their religion, should be subject to heightened surveillance.

      A recent draft report from the Department of Homeland Security called for the discriminatory surveillance of Sunni Muslims in the United States.

      The report originated in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Intelligence and was obtained and published by Foreign Policy magazine. It “examines 29 perpetrators of 25 terrorist incidents in the United States” that CBP “assesses were driven by radical Sunni Islamist militancy.” It concludes, based on the “common demographics” of those in the study, that the government should “continuously evaluate” those with similar characteristics in order to identify “individuals who might have a higher risk of becoming radicalized.” A CBP spokesperson stated that the report was an initial draft and has since been revised.

      The report is nonetheless alarming. First, let’s dispense with the euphemisms: When CBP calls for “vetting,” “recurrent screening,” and “on-going evaluations,” it is talking about long-term surveillance. And that surveillance would be nakedly discriminatory: The report focuses exclusively on Sunni Muslims in the United States and identifies religion and national origin in the “Middle East, South Asia or Africa” as reasons to “continuously evaluate” those who meet the profile. It also oozes religious animus, referring without evidence or explanation to “the long-term difficulty for some Muslim immigrants to integrate into U.S. society,” and casting particular suspicion on “Muslim converts.”

      Because this bias is baked into the report, its conclusions are nonsensical from a scientific standpoint. It analyzes only incidents involving what it calls “radical Sunni Islamist militancy” — ignoring other significant drivers of attacks, like violent right-wing extremism. It then concludes that those with characteristics similar to the 29 perpetrators should be surveilled. And even using this absurdly limited data set, the report still can’t identify meaningful trends or commonalities, leaving only what the attackers in the analysis shared: their Sunni Muslim identity. In other words, the report assumes its own conclusion, that Sunni Muslims, by virtue of their religion, should be subject to heightened surveillance. That’s the empirical equivalent of a dog chasing its own tail.

    • John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018

      With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF’s founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF.

      It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.

    • John Perry Barlow, Grateful Dead Lyricist and Internet Pioneer, Dead at 70

      John Perry Barlow, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and cofounder of Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom of the Press Foundation, has died. He was 70.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • QUIC as a solution to protocol ossification

      The TCP protocol has become so ubiquitous that, to many people, the terms “TCP/IP” and “networking” are nearly synonymous. The fact that introducing new protocols (or even modifying existing protocols) has become nearly impossible tends to reinforce that situation. That is not stopping people from trying, though. At linux.conf.au 2018, Jana Iyengar, a developer at Google, discussed the current state of the QUIC protocol which, he said, is now used for about 7% of the traffic on the Internet as a whole.

      QUIC (“quick UDP Internet connection”) is, for now, intended for situations where the HTTP transport protocol is used over TCP. It has been under development for several years (LWN first looked at it in 2013), and was first deployed at Google in 2014. The main use for QUIC now is to move data between Google services and either the Chrome browser or various mobile apps. Using QUIC causes a 15-18% drop in rebuffering in YouTube and a 3.6-8% drop in Google search latency, Iyengar said. Getting that kind of improvement out of applications that have already been aggressively optimized is “somewhat absurd”.

      Use of QUIC increased slowly during 2015 before suddenly dropping to zero in December. It seems that somebody found a bug that could result in some requests being transmitted unencrypted, so QUIC was shut down until the issue could be fixed. In August 2016, usage abruptly doubled when QUIC was enabled in the YouTube app on phones. If anybody ever doubted that mobile is the future of computing, he said, this should convince them otherwise. Summed up, 35% of Google’s outbound traffic is carried over QUIC now.

  • DRM

    • Best Buy To Pull CDs From Its Stores, According To Report [Ed: Planned digital obsolescence. Why we must never tolerate DRM and keep format-shifting, copying a lot.]

      Best Buy has told music suppliers that it will pull all CDs from its stores this summer, according to a report from Billboard. This move should come as no big surprise: Between unlimited streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, and the ongoing vinyl revival, CDs just don’t have the sway that they used to.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Edible Arrangements Hits Google With $209M TM Suit

        Google Inc. confuses its users by conflating Edible Arrangements with its competitors in search results, the fruit basket company said in a lawsuit seeking $209 million in damages filed Monday in Connecticut federal court against the search engine giant.

      • BrewDog Beats Back Trademark Action From The Elvis Presley Estate

        In the middle of summer last year, we discussed a somewhat strange trademark fight between BrewDog, a Scottish Brewery that has been featured in our pages for less than stellar reasons, and the Elvis Presley Estate. At issue was BrewDog’s attempt to trademark the name of one of its beers, a grapefruit IPA called “Elvis Juice.” With no other explanation beyond essentially claiming that any use of Elvis everywhere will only be associated in the public’s mind as being affiliated by the 1950s rock legend, the Estate opposed the trademark application. Initially, the UK Intellectual Property Office sided with the Estate, despite the owners of BrewDog both pointing out that they were simply using a common first name and that they were actually taking the legal course of changing their first names to Elvis to prove their point. Not to mention that the trade dress for the beer has absolutely nothing to do with Elvis Presley. We wondered, and hoped, at the time if BrewDog would appeal the decision.

      • Advocate general stamps on Louboutin’s red-sole trade mark hopes

        Advocate General Szpunar in a second Louboutin v Van Haren opinion at the CJEU states he is “even less inclined to classify the mark at issue as one consisting of a colour per se”

        Advocate General Szpunar has delivered a second opinion in the famous Louboutin v Van Haren case relating to women’s red-soled shoes.

    • Copyrights

      • A Brief Sketch Of Privilegio In The Venetian Renaissance

        The very first recorded privilegio or privilege (early form of copyright) was given in Venice to Marc’Antonio Sabellico’s Rerum Venetarum, published in 1487, a book on the history of Venice. The mise-en-abyme quality deepens … Not only did the Venetian Senate grant privilege for this book about the murky origins of Venice, plus its history up to the moment of its publication in 1487, but they granted it to the author, not to a publisher. Sabellico subsequently chose the printer, Andrea de’ Torresani of Asola, to produce the work. This Early Modern concession to the rights of the author followed upon a continuous tradition from classical times forward that a text belonged to whomever owned its printed form. This breach between physical and intellectual property, operative since the beginning of the production of codices and manuscripts, momentarily closed before it opened once more with the triumph of the printed book trade as an industry.

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