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03.15.18

Links 15/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.6 RC, Microsoft Openwashing

Posted in News Roundup at 4:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Development Versions of Oracle Linux UEK now available on GitHub

      The source for UEK has always been available at oss.oracle.com, as a git repository with full git history. Starting now, we’ll also be posting the UEK source on github.com/oracle/linux-uek. By doing so, we intend to increase the visibility for our work and to make it even easier for people to access the source for UEK. We will also use this repository for working with developers at partner companies and in the Linux community. The repository contains the source for the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel including a small number of Oracle additions which have not yet been accepted into the mainline Linux kernel source tree.

      The Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) is a Linux kernel built by Oracle and supported via Oracle Linux support. Its focus is performance, stability, and minimal backports by tracking the mainline source code as closely as is practical. UEK is well-tested and used to run Oracle’s Engineered Systems, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and large enterprise deployments for Oracle customers.

    • Defining the Spectrum of Cloud Deployment Technologies

      “Cloud computing” has been a catch-all phrase over the past decade to describe anything that’s a shift away from hardware servers. However, the term has become nebulous in recent times with the growing diversity in how many different ways you can leverage the cloud.

      We’ve come far from a simplistic separation between on-premises and cloud. Today, it’s about on-premises versus a range of different cloud options. Indeed, the cloud can be a confusing place for newcomers and veterans alike, with new options cropping up every few months, and the landscape always shifting towards the newer and better.

      But how do you choose between good, better and best? Let’s compare the various cloud deployment technologies available today and find the common ground and what separates them from each other.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • LinuxBoot: Linux as firmware

      Both the free-software and security communities have recently been focusing on the elements of our computers that run below the operating system. These proprietary firmware components are usually difficult or impossible to extend and it has long been suspected (and proven in several cases) that there are significant security concerns with them. The LinuxBoot Project is working to replace this complex, proprietary, and largely unknown firmware with a Linux kernel. That has the added benefit of replacing the existing drivers in the firmware with well-tested drivers from Linux.

      To understand LinuxBoot and the problem it’s working to solve, we first have to discuss how computers actually boot. We usually think of a running system as including the hardware, operating system (OS), and applications. However, for a number of reasons, there are several layers that run between the hardware and the OS. Most users are aware of UEFI (which replaced the older BIOS); for many systems, it prepares the system to run and loads the bootloader. These necessary functions are just the tip of the iceberg, though. Even after the computer finishes loading the OS, there are multiple embedded systems also running on the system entirely separate from the OS. Most notably, the Intel Management Engine (ME) runs a complete Minix operating system, while System Management Mode (SMM) is used to run code for certain events (e.g. laptop lid gets closed) in a way that is completely invisible to the running OS.

    • Shrinking the kernel with a hammer

      This is the fourth article of a series discussing various methods of reducing the size of the Linux kernel to make it suitable for small environments. Reducing the kernel binary has its limits and we have pushed them as far as possible at this point. Still, our goal, which is to be able to run Linux entirely from the on-chip resources of a microcontroller, has not been reached yet. This article will conclude this series by looking at the problem from the perspective of making the kernel and user space fit into a resource-limited system.

      A microcontroller is a self-contained system with peripherals, memory, and a CPU. It is typically small, inexpensive, and has low power-consumption characteristics. Microcontrollers are designed to accomplish one task and run one specific program. Therefore, the dynamic memory content of a microcontroller is usually much smaller than its static content. This is why it is common to find microcontrollers equipped with many times more ROM than RAM.

      For example, the ATmega328 (a popular Arduino target) comes with 32KB of flash memory and only 2KB of static memory (SRAM). Now for something that can boot Linux, the STM32F767BI comes with 2MB of flash and 512KB of SRAM. So we’ll aim for that resource profile and figure out how to move as much content as possible from RAM to ROM.

    • Preventing kernel-stack leaks

      The kernel stack is a small, frequently reused region of memory in each thread’s address space. That reuse allows for efficient memory use and good performance as a result of cache locality, but it also presents a problem: data left on the stack can also end up being reused in ways that were not intended. The PaX patch set contains a mechanism designed to clear that data from the stack and prevent leaks, but an attempt to merge that code into the kernel has run into a snag.

      By design, the C language does not define the contents of automatic variables — those that are created on the stack when the function defining them is called. If the programmer does not initialize automatic variables, they will thus contain garbage values; in particular, they will contain whatever happened to be left on the stack in the location where the variables are allocated. Failure to initialize these variables can, as a result, lead to a number of undesirable behaviors. Writing an uninitialized variable to user space will leak the data on the stack, which may be sensitive in one way or another. If the uninitialized value is used within the function, surprising results may ensue; if an attacker can find a way to control what will be left on the stack, they may be able to exploit this behavior to compromise the kernel. Both types of vulnerability have arisen in the kernel in the past and will certainly continue to pop up in the future.

    • Linux 4.15.10
    • Linux 4.14.27
    • Stable kernels 4.15.10 and 4.14.27
    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Graphics Driver Developers Begin Eyeing The Linux 4.18 Kernel

        The Linux 4.16 kernel is at least two or three weeks out from being released, but Intel has already submitted their i915 DRM driver feature changes for Linux 4.17 and are now beginning to think about their feature changes for Linux 4.18.

        Intel’s feature changes for Linux 4.17 are now staged in DRM-Next with hitting that soft cutoff deadline ahead of the next kernel cycle. Intel Direct Rendering Manager updates for Linux 4.17 include Cannonlake “Gen 10″ graphics now being considered stable, the very early bits of Icelake “Gen 11″ support, and a lot of low-level code improvements. To little surprise, Linux 4.17 is looking like another exciting cycle on the feature/improvement front.

      • Intel BayTrail Gets Minor Graphics Improvement On Coreboot, Now Supports OpRegion

        While there doesn’t appear to be too many Intel BayTrail users out there running systems with Coreboot, this generation of hardware that’s been a bit notorious with Linux users due to varying issues can now find at least a bit better graphics support with the latest Coreboot code.

      • Mesa 18.0 Is Now Primed For Releasing Soon

        Mesa 18.0′s delay of more than one month and without any new release candidate came while the open-source Intel developers were hunkered down to clear the remaining blocker bugs.

        Fortunately, it appears the remaining Mesa 18.0 blocker bugs are now resolved, meaning the official release could come in a matter of days depending if they decide to first do a Mesa 18.0-rc5 release for last minute testing.

      • Mir Devs Are Still Working On An Example Mir Desktop Session For Ubuntu 18.04

        While Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” is just one month away from release, the developers working on the Mir display server code are still working to get an example desktop session into this release.

        Details remain light but in writing yesterday about changes the UBports’ team needs to make for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS support, longtime Mir developer Alan Griffiths commented, “The Mir team is aiming to have the necessary tweaks in place for the 18.04 release along with an example “Mir” desktop session.” The tweaks needed for Mir in Ubuntu 18.04 are not using Mir-on-Mir and client applications using libmirclient cannot be using EGL otherwise only software-based rendering will work.

      • Mesa 18.0 Has Been Off The Tracks For More Than One Month

        Mesa 18.0 had been due for release around mid-February, but that didn’t happen and there hasn’t even been a release candidate in more than one month.

        Mesa 18.0-RC4 was released back on 9 February and since then there hasn’t been an RC5 or a new release.

      • Uniform Packing For RadeonSI NIR, Helps Reduce CPU Overhead

        Timothy Arceri of Valve’s open-source Linux GPU driver team is out with his latest set of patches to further enhance the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver.

        Timothy’s latest objective remains with improving the RadeonSI NIR back-end for using this modern intermediate representation alternative to Gallium3D TGSI. NIR is important for getting the OpenGL 4.6 bits in place with SPIR-V ingestion / better interoperability with the RADV Vulkan driver and the already-written code paths using NIR.

      • Supporting virtual reality displays in Linux

        At linux.conf.au (LCA) 2017 in Hobart, Tasmania, Keith Packard talked with kernel graphics maintainer Dave Airlie about how virtual reality devices should be hooked up to Linux. They both thought it would be pretty straightforward to do, so it would “only take a few weeks”, but Packard knew “in reality it would take a lot longer”. In a talk at LCA 2018 in Sydney, Packard reported back on the progress he has made; most of it is now in the upstream kernel.

        Packard has been consulting for Valve, which is a game technology company, to add support for head-mounted displays to Linux. Those displays have an inertial measurement unit (IMU) for position and orientation tracking and a display with some optics. The display is about 2Kx1K pixels in the hardware he is working with; that is split in half for each eye. The displays also have a “bunch of lenses”, which makes them “more complicated than you would hope”.

        The display is meant to block out the real world and to make users believe they inhabit the virtual reality. “It’s great if you want to stumble into walls, chairs, and tables.” Nearly all of the audience indicated they had used a virtual reality headset, leading Packard to hyperbolically proclaim that he is the last person in the universe to obtain one.

    • Benchmarks

      • Some Windows Server 2016 vs. Linux Network Benchmarks

        Prior to the larger and more formal network performance comparison to come for Windows/BSD/Linux, while doing the benchmarks this week for the 7-way Linux distribution comparison on AMD EPYC 7551, I also ran some network tests, including with Windows Server 2016 riding on all available stable release updates on each OS.

      • Ubuntu 18.04 Versus Six Other Linux Distributions On AMD EPYC

        With Ubuntu 18.04 LTS set to be released next month and its final package configuration quickly falling into place, we have begun firing up some benchmarks for seeing how this Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” release is comparing to various other Linux distributions. Up first as part of this series of benchmarks is using an AMD EPYC workstation/server for seeing how the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS performance compares to six other Linux distributions.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Samsung/Enlightenment Developers Are Busy At Work On EFL 2.0

      Cedric Bail of Samsung’s Open-Source Group presented today at the Embedded Linux Conference on EFL 2.0 as part of the Enlightenment project’s long-standing goal to provide a new and unified API.

      While the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries 1.x (EFL1) continues to be maintained, the developers at Samsung OSG that are part of the Enlightenment team have been busy construction EFL 2.0 and hope to show off the first of their new wares in 2018.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Creator 4.6 RC released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.6 RC!

        Since the beta release we have been busy with bug fixing. Please refer to the beta blog post and our change log for an overview of what is new in Qt Creator 4.6. As always this is a final call for feedback from you before we release 4.6.0, so we would be happy to hear from you on our bug tracker, the mailing list, or on IRC.

      • Present your images from the couch with Gwenview, MPRIS & KDE Connect

        KDE Applications 18.04 Feature Freeze is setting in. Or: reminder to do finally that feature you always wanted to implement.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Reflections on the GNOME 3.28 Release Video

        I just flipped the switch for the 3.28 Release Video. I’m really excited for all the new awesome features the community has landed, but I am a bit sad that I don’t have time to put more effort into the video this time around. A busy time schedule collided with technical difficulties in recording some of the apps. When I was staring at my weekly schedule Monday there didn’t seem much chance for a release video to be published at all..

  • Distributions

    • Slackware Family

      • What all happened in March so far

        I realize I have been a wee bit silent on the blog (not counting my replies in the comments section). This was due to private issues that drained the desire for social interactions. Nevertheless there was quite a bit of activity on the Slackware packaging front.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Benchmarks Of Russia’s “Baikal” MIPS-Based Processors, Running Debian Linux

        A few years back was the news of Russia wanting to get into the CPU business and at the time were aiming for ARM-based processors but ended up settling for MIPS. It turns out those “Baikal” processors are still around and being worked on as indicated by some fresh benchmarks this week.

        Back in 2015 is when Baikal Electronics/T-Platforms announced their Baikal-T1 28nm SoC with DDR3 support, clock speeds up to 1.2GHz, SATA connectivity, USB 2.0, and Gigabit Ethernet. The Baikal-T1 was initially advertised as for use in networking appliances and industrial platforms but has also wound up in some Russian desktop PCs.

      • Derivatives

        • Raspbian Remix Lets You Create Your Own Spin That You Can Install on PC or Mac

          Raspbian PIXEL for PC and Mac is a Debian-based operating system created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation for those who want to run the de facto standard Raspberry Pi OS on their personal computers too. Arne Exton did a remix of Raspbian PIXEL a few years ago to include the Refracta tools.

          With the Refracta tools installed by default, users were able to easily install the operating system on their PCs or Macs, as well as to make their own remix of Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Raspbian PIXEL OS. Today’s update brings the latest software versions and rebases the OS on the latest Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” series.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Chromium and Firefox Web Browsers Are Now Installable as Snaps on Ubuntu Linux

            Canonical’s Snappy technologies are becoming more and more popular these days as the company behind the widely used Ubuntu plans to enable them by default and even make them a first-class citizen in future releases of its Linux-based operating system.

            The great thing about Snap apps is that they are secure by design, utilizing a container-style approach mechanism for deploying software on various GNU/Linux distributions that support Canonical’s Snappy universal binary format.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Faster app-launching in Cinnamon

              The development team took some time earlier this year to investigate Cinnamon’s performance when it comes to launching applications.

              It’s really hard to measure the actual time between the moment the mouse button is clicked and the moment the new application is rendered on the screen, with its window properly mapped, and the mapping window animation completely finished. It’s not something that can be timed accurately, yet we all agreed within the development team to say that it either “was”, or “felt” snappier in MATE and Xfce.

              At the time, we didn’t know if it was just down to perception (animations, composition), or a feature (registering new apps with the session for instance), or a performance issue.

              We developed a little script and a method to measure how long it took to flood the desktop environment with the creation of 200 windows. We could then measure the time reported by the script to build these 200 windows, and the time it actually took the desktop environment to recover from it and have these windows placed/mapped correctly and ready to be interacted with.

            • Linux Mint Devs to Enable Faster Launching of Apps on Cinnamon for Linux Mint 19

              As you probably know already, Cinnamon is the default desktop environment of the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint operating system. It uses parts of the GNOME Stack at its core, which means that it’s not so lightweight as its MATE or Xfce counterparts, so launching apps isn’t as fast as you’d like it to be lately.

              That’s why the Linux Mint development team spent some time earlier this year to investigate and debug any performance hogs in Cinnamon, especially when launching the pre-installed applications. They compared Cinnamon with the Metacity window manager and found out that the former was six times slower.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Warning for RSS fans — Digg Reader is closing in under two weeks

    For some people RSS is already a dead technology, and over the last few years numerous RSS readers — including Google Reader — shut up shop. But for others, accessing newsfeeds is an essential way to keep up to date with what’s going on.

    Following the closure of Google Reader, RSS fans flocked to the likes of Feedly, The Old Reader, Digg Reader and Inoreader. Now Digg Reader has announced that it is to close, and users are being advised to export their feeds so they can be imported into an alternative service.

  • 6 Real-Life Stories Way Crazier Than Any Movie (Part 2 of 2)

    While most CEOs carefully backpedal when confronted with their shady business practices, the Notorious PBL dove headfirst into supervilliany. When questioned on the practices of his company, Brabeck-Letmathe stated that access to water isn’t a right. Not “caught on a hot mic” said it — he proudly spouted that nonsense, then went home to do shots of crude oil or something.

  • [Older] Be Wary of Silicon Valley’s Guilty Conscience: on The Center for Humane Technology

    Well-meaning though it may be, the Center for Humane Technology ultimately functions not as a solution to our technologically exacerbated problems, but simply as a way of making those problems slightly more palatable. It sees the cultural space that is opening up for criticism of technology and rushes in to ensure that this space is occupied by those who maintain close ties to the tech world – and thus it sets itself up as the arbiter of what passes for acceptable criticism. At a moment when there is growing concern that the high-tech dream is turning into a waking nightmare, the Center for Humane Technology swoops in to offer lifestyle tweaks (many of which are themselves technological) instead of systemic critiques. And by putting forth a slate of “former tech insiders and CEOs” the Center for Humane Technology polices the boundaries of who gets to participate in these discussions, making sure that it remains a conversation between former Google employees and current Google employees.

  • Hardware

    • Intel Icelake Server Chips To Support WBNOINVD & PCONFIG

      The GCC and LLVM/Clang compilers have been working on Icelake CPU support for a while now as just the “icelake” target but now it’s being separated into “icelake-client” and “icelake-server” as the CPU feature differences between the desktop-class processors and Xeon server chips become more clear for this succeeding generation to Cannonlake.

      We’ve already reported on AVX-512 coming to all of the Icelake processors with no longer being reserved just for the high-end Intel CPUs. Besides AVX-512 additions, all of the Icelake CPUs will have some new additions like GFNI (Galois Field NI) and UMIP (User-Mode Instruction Prevention) and VAES.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • MPs warn of ‘poisonous air’ emergency costing £20bn a year

      MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s “poisonous air” in an unprecedented report from four Commons committees.

      The Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit committees want a new Clean Air Act, and a clean air fund financed by the motor industry.

      They are also demanding a faster phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – currently set for 2040.

      The government said air pollution had improved significantly since 2010 but there was “more to do”.

  • Security

    • ​Linus Torvalds slams CTS Labs over AMD vulnerability report

      CTS Labs, a heretofore unknown Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup, has claimed it’s found over a dozen security problems with AMD Ryzen and EPYC processors. Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator, doesnt buy it.

    • Linus Torvalds Roasts CTS Labs After They Exposed AMD Chip Vulnerabilities

      Just a couple of days back, CTS researchers exposed more than a dozen ‘critical’ vulnerabilities in AMD chips marketed under the brand names Ryzen and Epyc. The company also claimed that a backdoor exists in AMD processors. Their revelation came with a well-decorated website, a whitepaper, and a video.

    • Torvalds wades into CTS Labs’ AMD chip security report
    • Linux Torvalds casts shade on CTS Labs’ AMD CPU flaw security report
    • Intel Rolls Out Updated, Post-Spectre CPU Microcode (20180312)

      Intel has published the Intel Processor Microcode Package for Linux 20180312 release with the latest improvements around the microcode-based approach for Spectre CPU vulnerability mitigation, succeeding their microcode updates from earlier in the year.

    • Judge Says Yahoo Still On The Hook For Multiple Claims Related To Three Billion Compromised Email Accounts

      A federal judge is going to let a bunch of people keep suing Yahoo over its three-year run of continual compromise. Yahoo had hoped to get the class action suit tossed, stating that it had engaged in “unending” efforts to thwart attacks, but apparently it just wasn’t good enough to prevent every single one of its three billion email accounts from falling into the hands of hackers.

    • 3 best practices for securing Kubernetes environments

      The Kubernetes orchestration platform is such a gigantic open source project that its evolution is inherently rapid. The pace of change significantly increases the importance of adhering to security best practices when using the ever-changing Kubernetes platform to automate deployment, scaling, and management of containerized cloud-native applications.

      Ultimately, effective security also supports the entire Kubernetes project, since the technology’s overall adoption depends on the confidence and trust that Kubernetes earns and establishes. That said, standard security procedures and practices that work well in traditional environments are often inadequate for securing Kubernetes environments, where traffic is vastly more dynamic, and where there must be security in place around the pods, containers, nodes, and images.

    • HIPAA guidelines should evolve with wearable technology

      However, due to health data security concerns, patient data that is collected by wearables and shared with physicians will create an additional burden on health-care organizations. It will be the job of health information management (HIM) personnel to make sure the databases storing wearable data are HIPAA compliant.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Let’s Encrypt Starts Offering Free Wildcard SSL Certificates that Work with Multiple Sub-domains

      Let’s Encrypt started issuing free Wildcard SSL certificate from yesterday through their updated version of ACME protocol Automated Certificate Management Environment ACMEv2.

      Wildcard SSL certificates are more expensive ones than the regular single domain SSL certificates, a wildcard certificate for the domain name *.gbhackers.com could cover gbhackers.com, www.gbhackers.com, test.gbhackers.com.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Following Trump’s Meeting on Violent Video Games, Experts Explain What the Research Really Shows

      Teen Vogue spoke to three experts with extensive experience studying video game violence. They shared what they thought was missing at the White House meeting and what their research has shown about the effects of violent video games. Here are some key takeaways.

    • The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam

      As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown.

    • Trump Promotes Longtime Russia Hawk Just as Russiagate Loses Momentum

      Rex Tillerson, whose hotly scrutinized ties to Russia have been a centerpiece of Rachel Maddow’s conspiratorial ravings for many months, has been fired. Replacing him as Secretary of State will be Mike Pompeo, who has been a consistent and longstanding Russia hawk for years, going so far as accusing President Obama of endangering America by simply agreeing to meet with Vladimir Putin in 2015.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Finance

    • Debt is creeping back up in sub-Saharan Africa

      Today,however, the median debt-to-GDP ratio in the region is back over 50%. Although that figure may seem low by international standards, African countries collect relatively little tax and tend to pay high interest rates. As a result, they cannot afford to borrow nearly as much as their counterparts elsewhere do. The main cause is the long decline in commodity prices that has unfolded since the global financial crisis of 2008. As the proceeds from their chief exports have dwindled and economic growth has slowed, African governments have had to borrow more to fill the void in their budgets. The IMF reckons that five sub-Saharan African countries are already in “debt distress”, with nine more at high risk of joining them.

    • Google will purge cryptocurrency ads come June

      Following in the footsteps of Facebook, the search giant will clamp down on any ads promoting cryptocurrencies, their exchanges and wallets, along with companies that look to offer advice about digital money investments.

    • Wipro selling data centre business for US$405m to Ensono

      Giant Indian IT services company Wipro has signed a definitive agreement to sell its hosted data centre services business to US-based hybrid IT services provider Ensono.

    • How Amazon Became Corporate America’s Nightmare

      A year later, however, Amazon had leapfrogged to No. 6 on the list of most valuable companies. Since the end of 2014, its market value has quintupled. This was a case of preparation meeting opportunity. As the company started to clear key thresholds in several of its important businesses, it also revealed that it was sitting on a gold mine made of clouds.

    • ‘Fight fire with fire’: IMF’s Lagarde calls for bitcoin crackdown

      The head of the International Monetary Fund said authorities around the world could harness the potential of cryptocurrencies to help bring them under control, warning that failure to do so would allow the unfettered development of a “potentially major new vehicle for money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.

    • WaPo Fails to Disclose Ownership in Puff Piece for Bezos

      The Washington Post, like a lot of corporate media (CounterSpin, 10/20/17), has spent a great deal of time hyping the bidding process for Amazon HQ2, Amazon’s planned second headquarters that hundreds of localities are allegedly competing for. The thing that distinguishes the Post’s coverage is that it and Amazon share an owner—world’s richest billionaire Jeff Bezos. So it’s notable—and uniquely sketchy—when the paper not only uses prime media real estate to uncritically hype Amazon’s primary corporate sales pitch, but does so while failing to disclose that Amazon’s CEO is the paper’s boss.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Today’s Debate Over Online Porn Started Decades Ago
    • Sex Workers And Survivors Raising The Alarm About SESTA: It Will Literally Put Their Lives In Danger

      Last week I asked for anyone to explain how SESTA would (in any way) reduce sex trafficking? Not a single person even tried to answer. Because there is no answer. Sex trafficking is already illegal, and yet people do it. Nothing in SESTA makes sex trafficking more illegal. Nothing in SESTA makes it easier for law enforcement to find or crack down on sex trafficking or to help the victims of sex trafficking. Indeed, as we’ve detailed, it does the exact opposite. It puts criminal liability on internet sites that are somehow used in conjunction with prostitution (going beyond just trafficking, thanks to the FOSTA addition to SESTA), and uses a vague, poorly drafted, unclear “knowledge” standard that none of SESTA’s supporters can adequately explain or define. As we noted, from our experience in covering what happens when you pin liability on a platform instead of its users — especially using vague and unclear standards — bad things usually result.

    • YouTube Shows Dennis Prager’s Claim Of Discrimination Against Conservatives Is Laughable

      You will recall that Dennis Prager, the conservative commentator who also runs a YouTube channel to inform his viewers of his perspective on a variety of topics, recently sued YouTube. The meat of Prager’s claims is that YouTube is censoring some of his videos purely because he is a conservative — with the clear implication being that YouTube is a liberal bastion of conservative-hating video hosting. Just to be clear, there is no real evidence for that. What there is evidence for is that YouTube is trying very hard to sort through its hilariously enormous trove of video content for objectionable material, and that it often does this quite badly. None of that amounts to, as Prager claims, a liberal conspiracy against some conservative guy.

      While Prager is seeking a preliminary injunction against YouTube to keep it from administering its own site as it sees fit, YouTube is asking for the case to be dismissed outright. There are two claims at issue: first, that YouTube classifying some of his videos in its “restricted mode” amounts to YouTube censoring him and, second, that YouTube is doing this “censoring” for purely partisan political reasons. If you find yourself sympathetic to those claims, perhaps it’s because you have heard them repeated often elsewhere, over and over again (or because you’ve seen Prager sending out fundraising notices making exactly these claims), then you really should read the declaration from Alice Wu, part of the Trust and Safety management team at YouTube, filed in the case last week. Wu directly takes on both of Prager’s claims and dismantles them completely to the point that it’s almost embarrassing for Prager.

    • Just As Everyone’s Starting To Worry About ‘Deepfake’ Porn Videos, SESTA Will Make The Problem Worse

      Over the last few months, if you haven’t been hiding under a tech news rock, you’ve probably heard at least something about growing concerns about so-called “Deepfakes” which are digitally altered videos, usually of famous people edited into porn videos. Last month, Reddit officially had to ban its deepfakes subreddit. And, you can’t throw a stone without finding some mainstream media freaking out about the threat of deepfakes. And, yes, politicians are getting into the game, warning that this is going to be used to create fake scandals or influence elections.

    • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship Release a FREE Comic Book to Help Protect Student Rights!

      As millions of American students assert their First Amendment rights in protests across the country, advocacy groups Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship released a new comic book to help protect students’ rights.

    • European Parliament ambushed by doctored version of pending internet censorship rules that sneaks filtering into all online services

      For months, the European Parliament has been negotiating over a new copyright rule, with rightsholder organizations demanding that some online services implement censoring filters that prevent anyone from uploading text, sounds or images if they have been claimed by a copyright holder.

      These filters — branded #censorshipmachines by activists — were hugely controversial: even when used as intended, they make no allowances for fair dealing and other limitations to copyright. Beyond that, they are ripe for abuse, incentivizing trolls and censors to register materials as a means of keeping them off the internet, regardless of whether they hold any relevant copyrights.

      Thankfully, the filters had been largely erased from the negotiating drafts, thanks to vigorous debate and activism. But last week, German MEP Axel Voss, rapporteur for the Copyright Directive, introduced a new draft that brought the filters back, and imposed them on virtually every kind of online platform, vastly expanding their scope beyond the worst drafts of the earlier proposals.

    • COLUMN: Censorship coddles our young people

      I contend even a spicier title – “Hickeys of the Field” perhaps – might have captured me right off. The plot is fine, but had our players succumbed to a forbidden affair, with a few words thrown in like “heaving breasts” and “heavy petting,” my hormonal focus may have grasped and retained the deeper moral objective.

      I mean, this was about the time I first began hoping Louise Alwine would be wearing certain skirts to class, and Hee Haw’s Sunshine Cornsilk left an indelible impression rivaled only by Ginger from the island.

    • Chinese reporter’s spectacular eye-roll sparks viral memes, censorship

      It was the eye-roll that launched a thousand gifs.

      China’s censors are scrambling to put a lid on a social media frenzy unleashed by a journalist’s reaction to a softball question during the mostly scripted annual parliament session.

      Impeccably coiffed and sporting a bright blue suit jacket, Yicai financial news service reporter Liang Xiangyi sighed and raised a sceptical eyebrow at another journalist’s query to a delegate at a National People’s Congress press event Tuesday.

    • In China, a reporter’s dramatic eye-roll went viral. Then searches of it were censored.

      The reporter’s question was a softball, the sort of long-winded but unchallenging interrogation that we’ve come to expect at the endless news conferences during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress.

    • Editorial: Government censorship increasing

      A newly released Associated Press analysis shows the federal government censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade. The Freedom of Information Act figures cover the actions of 116 departments and agencies during fiscal 2017, which ended Sept. 30.

      The troublesome calculations cover eight months under President Donald Trump, offering the first hints of how his administration complies with the Freedom of Information Act.

      [...]

      The AP analysis found that government officials turned over everything requested in roughly one of every five FOIA requests, just 20 percent of the cases tracked.

    • Censorship is never the answer, Sadiq

      The crucial question here is: who decides what is and isn’t hate speech? A new law in Germany is forcing online platforms to remove ‘obviously illegal’ hate speech or face a €50million fine. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t just handfuls of extreme Nazi-supporting posts that are being removed — so are tweets from the populist right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland. Sweeping restrictions on hate speech are often used to curtail legitimate (if controversial) speech.

    • EU wants to require platforms to filter uploaded content (including code)

      The EU is considering a copyright proposal that would require code-sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for potential copyright infringement (see the EU Commission’s proposed Article 13 of the Copyright Directive). The proposal is aimed at music and videos on streaming platforms, based on a theory of a “value gap” between the profits those platforms make from uploaded works and what copyright holders of some uploaded works receive. However, the way it’s written captures many other types of content, including code.

      We’d like to make sure developers in the EU who understand that automated filtering of code would make software less reliable and more expensive—and can explain this to EU policymakers—participate in the conversation.

    • Unease Over Proposed ‘Censorship’ of Historical YouTube Videos in Sweden

      A campaign against Google and YouTube by major Swedish newspapers, calling for a purge of “hate-promoting” material, including historical Nazi German propaganda films, has been met with criticism and triggered censorship concern.

      A major opinion piece penned by David Baas of Expressen, one of Sweden’s most popular newspapers, and published on Wednesday, regretted that YouTube “contributed to the spread of Holocaust-denying materials and anti-Semitic film material,” urging the media giant to remove some of its content.

    • Soft power — not government censorship — is the key to fighting disinformation and “fake news”

      In many countries over the past few years, the political process — and social cohesion — have been threatened by various forms of disinformation, sometimes misleadingly and inadequately called “fake news.” Politically-motivated and for-profit disinformation is blamed, among other things, for the U.K.’s decision to vote to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

      Disinformation takes many forms and is driven by many factors. Foreign states sometimes try to subvert other countries’ political processes. People publish false and fabricated information masquerading as news for profit. Domestic politicians lie to their own people — and sometimes these lies are amplified by news media, by hyper-partisan activists, or spread far and wide via social media and other platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Prepare to be Creeped Out

      Mozilla Fellow Hang Do Thi Duc joins us to share her Data Selfie art project. It collects the same basic info you provide to Facebook. Sharing this kind of data about yourself isn’t something we’d normally recommend. But, if you want to know what’s happening behind the scenes when you scroll through your Facebook feed, installing Data Selfie is worth considering. Use at your own risk. If you do, you might be surprised by what you see.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (19/21): Telescreens in our Living Rooms

      In the analog world of our parents, it was taken for completely granted that the government would not be watching us in our own homes. It’s so important an idea, it’s written into the very constitutions of states pretty much all around the world.

      And yet, for our digital children, this rule, this bedrock, this principle is simply… ignored. Just because they their technology is digital, and not the analog technology of our parents.

    • A Smattering of Stars in Argentina’s First “Who Has Your Back?” ISP Report

      It’s Argentina’s turn to take a closer look at the practices of their local Internet Service Providers, and how they treat their customers’ personal data when the government comes knocking.

      Argentina’s ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?) is a project of Asociación por los Derechos Civiles and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is part of a region-wide initiative by leading Iberoamerican digital rights groups to turn a spotlight on how the policies of Internet Service Providers either advance or hinder the privacy rights of users.

      The report is based on EFF’s annual Who Has Your Back? report, but adapted to local laws and realities. Last year Brazil’s Internet Lab, Colombia’s Karisma Foundation, Paraguay’s TEDIC, and Chile’s Derechos Digitales published their own 2017 reports, and ETICAS Foundation released a similar study earlier this year, part of a series across Latin America and Spain.

    • A New Backdoor Around the Fourth Amendment: The CLOUD Act

      There’s a new, proposed backdoor to our data, which would bypass our Fourth Amendment protections to communications privacy. It is built into a dangerous bill called the CLOUD Act, which would allow police at home and abroad to seize cross-border data without following the privacy rules where the data is stored.

      This backdoor is an insidious method for accessing our emails, our chat logs, our online videos and photos, and our private moments shared online between one another. This backdoor would deny us meaningful judicial review and the privacy protections embedded in our Constitution.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ACLU is Suing the Government for Info About TSA Device Searches

      The TSA won’t release information about its warrantless searches of electronic devices carried by US citizens on domestic flights.

    • TSA accused of searching domestic travelers’ devices with no warrant

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has sued the Transportation Security Administration, alleging that the agency has improperly withheld documents and other materials that would shed light on warrantless searches of digital devices at airports prior to purely domestic flights.

    • What the Senate Needs to Know About Gina Haspel

      Haspel is perhaps best known for running a “black site” prison in Thailand, where she oversaw state-sponsored torture at the start of a program designed at the behest of the CIA and approved at the highest levels of the George W. Bush administration. It was at this facility that the agency’s brutal tactics were first tested. One inmate, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times — with cruel methods continuing even after his abusers concluded that he did not have the threat information they sought.

      In addition to waterboarding, for 19 days Zubaydah was repeatedly slammed into walls, kept for hours at a time in painful stress positions, denied sleep, beaten, starved, and locked for hours in coffin-like confinement boxes. These torture methods became a “template” for a program designed to psychologically break other detainees held in a network of secret CIA prisons.

    • The Trump Administration Is Using the Parkland Massacre as an Excuse to Roll Back Civil Rights

      On Monday, the White House announced the creation of a Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to recommend proposals for school violence prevention. Included in the mandate of DeVos’ commission is a starkly worded objective: “Repeal of the Obama Administration’s ‘Rethink School Discipline’ policies.”

      It’s fair to wonder what this plan is doing on a list of items supposedly responding to school shootings. Prior school discipline history does not indicate that a youth will commit a school shooting. In Parkland, discipline policies did not thwart the district from taking action, and the attacker had been expelled from school. In fact, while most perpetrators of school shootings are white, children of color and students with disabilities are the ones disproportionately subject to school discipline.

    • Torture-Tainted Nominations Recall Failure to Prosecute Bush-Era Abuses

      Haspel, a CIA operative who oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects at a secret prison in Thailand and then helped destroy tapes of the interrogations, and Pompeo, who has made statements in support of torture and mass surveillance, are both expected to be confirmed by the Senate with little fanfare.

      After all, when Pompeo was nominated for his current post of CIA Director his confirmation sailed through the Senate on a vote of 66-32. This, despite what Human Rights Watch’s Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno called “dangerously ambiguous” responses to questions about torture and mass surveillance.

      “Pompeo’s failure to unequivocally disavow torture and mass surveillance, coupled with his record of advocacy for surveillance of Americans and past endorsement of the shuttered CIA torture program, make clear that he should not be running the CIA,” Sanchez Moreno said in January 2017.

      Shortly following Pompeo’s confirmation, his deputy director at the CIA was named as Gina Haspel, who “played a direct role in the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition program,’ under which captured militants were handed to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were tortured by agency personnel,” the New York Times reported last year.

    • Police Department With Eight Full-Time Officers Acquired 31 Military Vehicles Thru DoD’s Surplus Program

      The Defense Department’s 1033 program has allowed law enforcement to muddy the water on the distinction between police force and military force. Given the right reasoning (most commonly cited: Wars on Terror/Drugs), police departments are allowed to pick up surplus military gear, often for free (utilizing DHS grants) and start pretending they’re an occupying force, rather than public servants.

      This came to a head following protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where viewers around the world were treated to the sight of local law enforcement rolling up on residents in mine-resistant vehicles while clad in gear that made officers look far more like soldiers than cops. This prompted a rollback of the 1033 program by Obama, limiting the sort of gear police departments could obtain to more innocuous surplus, like computers and furniture.

    • What Happened at the Thailand ‘Black Site’ Run By Trump’s CIA Pick

      As soon as Gina Haspel got the nomination to become CIA director, America’s debate over the use of torture came roaring back. The country has intermittently reckoned with the legacy of the Bush-era programs that sanctioned the disappearance and torture of terrorism suspects—recently, for instance, when then-candidate Trump declared in 2016 that “torture works” and that he wanted to bring back outlawed techniques like waterboarding and “much worse.” And though the CIA stopped using what it called “enhanced interrogation” methods about a decade ago, Haspel was among those who oversaw their use after 9/11.

    • ‘The time for reconciliation is over’: South Africa votes to confiscate white-owned land without compensation

      Mr Malema has been leading calls for land confiscation, forcing the ANC to follow suit out of fear of losing the support of poorer black voters. In 2016, he told supporters he was “not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now”.

      Civil rights groups have accused the EFF and ANC of inciting an ongoing spate of attacks on white farmers characterised by extreme brutality, rape and torture — last year, more than 70 people were killed in more than 340 such attacks.

      Ernst Roets, deputy chief executive of civil rights group Afriforum, said the parliamentary motion was a violation of the 1994 agreement in which the ANC promised minority interests would be protected post-apartheid.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks

      Several years back Verizon paused all serious residential fiber deployment to shift its focus to slinging video ads at Millennials, an effort that isn’t going all that well. While Verizon was busy attempting to pivot from stodgy protectionist telecom monopoly to sexy new media brand, one of its core legacy businesses (fixed line broadband) was simply allowed to wither and die on the vine. As such, the company has spent the last few years bombarded with complaints up and down the east coast about how it neglected repairs and upgrades across a massive swath of its telecom empire.

      One one hand, Verizon’s disinterest in residential broadband has resulted in a growing cable broadband monopoly as frustrated users flee to their only option for current-generation speeds. That in turn results in less competitive pressure than ever, resulting in higher prices, worse service, and the slow but steady deployment of arbitrary and punitive usage caps across the board. Meanwhile, customers on aging DSL lines who stick with Verizon face repair delays and higher prices as Verizon literally tries to drive away customers it simply no longer has a genuine interest in serving.

    • Ombudsman greenlights ACMA proposed rules for telecoms consumer protection

      Ahead of the imposition of new telecommunications consumer protection rules for NBN migration, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has revealed that residential consumers and small businesses made 27,195 complaints about telecoms services over the 12 months of the last financial year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Spanish Supreme Court puts an end to a “sui generis” case concerning database “sui generis” right

      In 2010, Infonis (a Spanish company) sued IMS Health claiming that the latter had infringed its database rights. Basically, Infonis claimed that ZBSales, its pharmaceutical marketing database, had been copied by IMS Health and resulted in the creation of a competing and suspiciously similar database (Sanibricks),

    • Trademarks

      • SIPO to take over trademark duties in major consolidation of IP authority in China – agency will also cover antitrust

        China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) will be combined with the country’s trademark office as part of a massive bureaucratic overhaul across the whole of Chinese government. The re-organised IP office will be part of a new agency which will consolidate IP, antitrust and various other regulatory powers. The broad strokes of the changes are laid out in a top national reform plan that was announced at the fourth plenary session of the first session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress yesterday.

      • Ravinia Festival Blocks Brewpub From Opening Over Trademark Claim

        A demand for royalties from the Ravinia Festival halted preparations to open a brewpub in Highland Park’s Ravinia district in the coming months. The outdoor music festival sent a letter to the Ravinia Brewing Company two weeks ago demanding licensing payments and royalties for the brewery’s use of the neighborhood’s name, according to the Ravinia Neighbors Association, a local community organization.

        Ravinia has been the name of the area since 1873. It was annexed into Highland Park in 1899. The Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in North America, was founded in 1904.

      • Ravinia Festival Bullies Startup Brewery, Leading The Brewery To Shut Down Plans For Opening

        I’ve had the opportunity to write about many trademark disputes in these pages, but it’s been rare for any of them to hit very close to home. That changed this week when we learned that Ravinia Festival in the northern Chicago suburbs, at which I have seen many a concert, has decided to bully a startup brewery over its use of the word “Ravinia” in its name.

      • Brands are bulls**t

        Nobody cares.

        Harsh, but true. None of your users care about your brand. They care about what your product or service lets them do.

    • Copyrights

      • Cloudflare’s Cache Can ‘Substantially Assist’ Copyright Infringers, Court Rules

        Cloudflare has suffered a setback in the piracy liability case filed against it by adult publisher ALS Scan. A federal court in California ruled that the CDN provider can substantially assist copyright infringements by hosting cached copies of files. Whether Cloudflare did this and if it’s indeed liable, is now a matter for a jury to decide.

      • Dolby Labs Sues Adobe For Copyright Infringement

        For 15 years, Dolby supplied encoding and decoding technologies for use in Adobe products including Audition, After Effects, Lightroom and Premiere Pro. The licensing agreement between the companies allowed Adobe to self-report usage, on the condition that Dolby could carry out an audit. However, after the software company failed to comply in recent years, Dolby has rolled out the lawyers.

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