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04.11.18

Links 11/4/2018: Linux 3.18.104, ReactOS 0.4.8 Release

Posted in News Roundup at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Why is Linux Trending?

    There have been a number of highly visible, fast-moving trends in industrial automation technology over the past few years. The most notable of these has been the Internet of Things and its related mobile and remote applications. Other high-profile trends include the rise of augmented and virtual reality and the proliferation of industrial cybersecurity companies.

    Somewhat under radar, another trend has been developing. That trend is the increasing use of Linux as a leading operating system (OS) for automation controllers.

  • Desktop

    • OpenSnitch Is a Host-Based Firewall for Linux Desktops

      Simone Margaritelli, the VP of Research at Zimperium, has created a Linux port of Little Snitch, a wildly popular macOS firewall application.

      Named OpenSnitch, the Linux port works on the same principles of the macOS version, being a host-based firewall that notifies users when local apps are attempting to initiate new outgoing network connections.

      Similar to Little Snitch’s normal modus operandi, when this happens, OpenSnitch will display a popup, asking the user for instructions on how to deal with this new process.

      All user decisions are saved as rules in local JSON files. Users can edit these rules later to fine-tune the firewall or import/export rules from/to other systems.

    • You Can Now Run Progressive Web Apps as Native Chrome OS Apps on Your Chromebook

      Google’s François Beaufort recently informed the Chrome OS community about the fact that it’s now possible to run progressive Web Apps like native apps in Chrome OS on their Chromebooks.

      Live in the Chrome Canary experimental channel for Chrome OS, the new feature promises to let you run progressive Web Apps just like you would run native Chrome OS apps on your Chromebook. The apps will work offline in their own custom window.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.18.104

      I’m announcing the release of the 3.18.104 kernel.

      Only users who had build errors in 3.18.103 need to upgrade, this is a
      single-bugfix-only release.

      The updated 3.18.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-3.18.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Laptop Support Improvements Head Into Linux 4.17

      Andy Shevchenko has submitted the platform-drivers-x86 updates for the Linux 4.17 kernel merge window that largely benefit modern x86 laptops running Linux.

    • Linux 4.17 To Support Microsemi Ocelot MIPS SoCs

      There are old CPU architectures being dropped from the Linux 4.17 kernel while also some new CPU support added. The latest work added with the busy Linux 4.17 development cycle is support for the MIPS-based Microsemi Ocelot SoCs.

      The Ocelot SoCs are manufactured by Microsemi and used to power a range of Ethernet switches and other devices from security cameras to industrial controls. Ocelot has been around since 2016. The onboard MIPS processor appears to run around 500MHz.

    • ZEDEDA Hires Open-Source Pioneer Donald Becker

      Prior to joining ZEDEDA, Becker was an early primary contributor to the Linux kernel, focusing on high-performance networking and distributed computing. He founded and led the Beowulf Project at NASA, which directly led to Linux becoming the OS of choice for high performance distributed computing. Along with researchers at other centers, he received the Gordon Bell Prize in 1997 for his work using Beowulf clustering software on PCs to solve math problems previously run on purpose-built supercomputers.

    • Linux Foundation

      • NETSCOUT Joins Linux Foundation Networking

        LFN was formed on January 1, 2018 as a new entity within The Linux Foundation that increases collaboration and operational excellence across its networking projects. LFN integrates the governance of participating projects to improve operational excellence and simplify member engagement.

      • Automotive Grade Linux Continues Growth with Five New Members

        Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative cross-industry effort developing an open platform for the connected car, is announcing that five new members have joined the project including ARKAMYS, IVIS, Paragon Software, SiFive, and Trillium Software. The steady growth of AGL demonstrates continued momentum and community support for the project, which now has more than 120 members.

      • Open Container Initiative Announces Distribution Specification Project

        The Open Container Initiative (OCI), an open source community for creating open standards around containers, today announced the launch of the Distribution Specification project to standardize container image distribution based on the specification for the Docker Registry v2 protocol, which supports the pushing and pulling of container images.

      • ​Open Container Initiative nails down container image distribution standard

        The Open Container Initiative (OCI), the open-source community in charge of creating container standards, has announced the launch of the Distribution Specification project to standardize container image distribution. This new standard is based on the Docker Registry v2 protocol. It standardizes container image distribution, which supports the pushing and pulling of container images.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Finally A Discussion Is Back Concerning FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / VRR DRM Support

        While AMD has plumbed in FreeSync variable-rate refresh support with their AMDGPU DC display code stack, it’s not yet all happy on the open-source mainline kernel as the missing piece has been over having a unified API for the Direct Rendering Manager drivers that can be used for supporting Free-Sync or the VESA-approved AdaptiveSync or HDMI VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). The discussion over having this common API for DRM drivers is back to being discussed.

      • NVIDIA 396.18 Linux Driver Reaches Beta With New Vulkan SPIR-V Compiler

        NVIDIA has rolled out an exciting beta Linux driver today, the first in their upcoming 396 driver series.

        The NVIDIA 396.18 Linux beta driver is now available and it’s quite exciting. Exciting me the most with the NVIDIA 396 driver series is the introduction of a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler. The goal of this new compiler is to reduce shader compilation time and shader system memory consumption. This new SPIR-V compiler is enabled by default but for now the old compiler is still around and can be toggled with the __GL_NextGenCompiler= environment variable.

      • NVIDIA 396.18 beta driver is out with a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler to reduce shader compilation time

        The new NVIDIA 396.18 beta is officially out and it’s one of the more interesting driver releases from NVIDIA.

        The biggest thing included in the driver, is the brand new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler. NVIDIA say this will help to reduce shader compilation time and shader system memory consumption. Their older compiler will be removed in a future driver version, but if you have issues with the new one which is on by default, you can use the “__GL_NextGenCompiler=” (0 or 1) environment variable to disable it.

      • Igalia Preps 16-bit Integer Support For Intel’s Vulkan Driver

        Igalia developers have been working on shaderInt16 support Intel’s open-source “ANV” Vulkan driver to provide 16-bit integer support.

        The consulting firm Igalia has been tasked with getting the 16-bit integer support in Vulkan shaders ready for the Intel Vulkan Linux driver. This 16-bit int support is available for “Gen8″ Broadwell graphics hardware and newer.

      • [ANNOUNCE] xorg-server 1.19.99.904
      • X.Org Server 1.20 RC4 Released, EGLStreams For XWayland Might Still Land

        On Tuesday a new X.Org Server 1.20 release candidate was issued by Red Hat’s Adam Jackson for this prolonged development cycle now stretching well more than one and a half years.

        This latest X.Org Server 1.20 release candidate has around three dozen fixes, mostly involving Direct Rendering Infrastructure 3 (DRI3) and GLAMOR 2D acceleration.

      • AMD Posts KFD Support For GFX9/Vega

        With the in-development Linux 4.17 kernel there is the long-awaited discrete GPU support in good shape at least for hardware like Polaris and Fiji. While the latest and greatest AMD GPUs are the Vega family, more work has been needed for AMDKFD support. Unfortunately those Vega changes didn’t make it in for Linux 4.17, but those patches are now available.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • More GNOME Performance Improvements Are On The Way

        While it unfortunately didn’t happen in time for last month’s GNOME 3.28 release, there are more performance improvements en route.

        Several performance fixes are inbound on top of an important performance fix covered at the end of March where Clutter’s text rendering code was causing frequent spikes in GNOME Shell’s frame-time.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • A Look at Solus 3 Budgie, GNU/Linux Distribution

        The last time I tried Solus, it was still in its infancy stages, and it wasn’t to my tastes really. I had been thinking of which Linux distro to take a look at next, and I wanted to pick something that wasn’t based off Debian / Ubuntu / Arch / Gentoo / OpenSUSE or any of the majors, so I decided to give Solus 3 a try, being a completely independent distro – And it wasn’t bad.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Confirms RHEL 8 Will Drop Python 2

        While it could have been pretty much assumed up until now that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 would ship without Python 2 considering that next enterprise Linux OS release isn’t even out yet, its long-term maintenance support, and Python 2 reaching EOL at the start of 2020, but now it’s been made official.

        As part of today’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 release, Red Hat issued their latest deprecation notices. Most notable this time around with RHEL 7.5 as a new deprecation notice is that of Python 2.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Officially Released, Enhances Hybrid Cloud Security

        Red Hat announced today the general availability of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 operating system with new features and security enhancements needed for hybrid cloud environments and the enterprise world.

        The fifth maintenance update of Red Hat’s enterprise-ready Linux-based operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 is here to add yet another layer of performance and security enhancements to existing installations, as well as a plethora of new features with new deployments, which would mostly benefit enterprise customers on the desktop, server, and cloud infrastructures.

      • RHEL 7.5, ​the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, arrives

        Red Hat has come a long way in 25 years. Now, the Linux company is continuing to drive forward both in the Linux server business and in the cloud with its latest distribution release: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.5.

        The Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat emphasized in this release not the newest RHEL’s Linux improvements, but rather, how RHEL can be used “as a consistent foundation for hybrid cloud environments … [and] further integration with Microsoft Windows infrastructure both on-premise and in Microsoft Azure.”

      • Red Hat boss urges automation for disruption

        Automating “as much as possible” can help telecoms operators and other enterprises move at a pace akin to the world’s technology giants, according to Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of open source solutions provider Red Hat (pictured).

        Whitehurst told Mobile World Live one of the biggest issues facing the telecoms industry and other enterprises was an inability to make their operations move faster, and implementing automation processes was essential to achieving business transformation.

        “It’s about creating a layered architecture, it’s thinking about business process systems and the culture around how to make sure people are doing things that people need to do and you can automate everything else around and make it as simple as possible,” he said.

      • Plymouth Adds Device Rotation Support

        Commits these days to Plymouth are fairly rare with this Red Hat developed project seeing its first commits of 2018 yesterday.

        Plymouth doesn’t seem commits too often since this Linux graphical boot system is largely in great shape, relies upon the stable DRM/KMS kennel APIs, and has largely hit feature completion for a simple graphical boot screen that is far better than the days of RHGB or alternatives. But a fair amount of new code did land yesterday in Plymouth for now supporting device rotation.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • DevConf’18 and CommOps FAD

          DevConf.cz 2018 is the 10th annual, free, Red Hat sponsored community conference for developers, admins, DevOps engineers, testers, documentation writers and other contributors to open source technologies such as Linux, Middleware, Virtualization, Storage, Cloud and mobile where FLOSS communities sync, share, and hack on upstream projects together in the beautiful city of Brno, Czech Republic.

        • Fedora Infrastructure Hackathon (day 0)
    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • OSI’s Simon Phipps on Open Source’s Past and Future

    It would be difficult for anyone who follows Linux and open source to have missed the 20th birthday of open source in early February. This was a dual celebration, actually, noting the passing of 20 years since the term “open source” was first coined and since the formation of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the organization that decides whether software licenses qualify to wear that label.

    The party came six months or so after Facebook was successfully convinced by the likes of the Apache Foundation; WordPress’s developer, Automatic; the Free Software Foundation (FSF); and OSI to change the licensing of its popular React project away from the BSD + Patents license, a license that had flown under the radar for a while.

  • Make your first contribution to an open source project

    It’s a common misconception that contributing to open source is difficult. You might think, “Sometimes I can’t even understand my own code; how am I supposed to understand someone else’s?”

    Relax. Until last year, I thought the same thing. Reading and understanding someone else’s code and writing your own on top of that can be a daunting task, but with the right resources, it isn’t as hard as you might think.

  • ReactOS 0.4.8 Released With Fix For 17 Year Old Bug, Various Driver/Kernel Improvements

    ReactOS 0.4.8 is now available as the project’s first update of 2018 that continues working on becoming an “open-source Windows” with binary drop-in compatibility support.

    First off, ReactOS 0.4.8 has fixed a seventeen year old bug pertaining to its Common Cache implementation. With this bug fix there should be less file corruption on different supported file-systems. There is also a bug fix pertaining to file writing too.

  • Google and Netflix team up on Kayenta, an open-source project for automated deployment monitoring
  • Google and Netflix introduce open-source automated canary analysis service
  • Netflix and Google launch Kayenta open source canary tool
  • ​Perfecting DevOps’ Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery with Kayenta

    One of DevOps’s greatest promises is speeding up software delivery with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). There’s just one little problem: To do it efficiently, you need to test the latest patches in production with canary testing. Everyone says they do this, but they mostly do a poor job of it. Now, Google and Netflix have partnered together to release Kayenta, which automates efficient canary testing.

    Andrew Phillips, a Google cloud product manager, explained in an interview that canary testing, like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, presents a small group of users with new code to see if something goes wrong in production. Typically, this has been done by hand. Developers then watch their dashboards to see if the canary dies (aka the code fails). This method, while popular, makes it far too easy to miss problems.

  • How Netflix Deploys Open Source AI to Reveal Your Favorites

    Netflix’s very own content delivery network (CDN) is powered by open source. They initially outsourced their streaming services to Akamai, Level3 and Limelight. But eventually, they had a change in plans.

  • Google and Netflix open-source Kayenta, a software release management tool

    These days companies often issue new releases and updates of their software several times a day to millions of users in the cloud, and no matter how much they try to make sure it will run flawlessly, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee it.

  • Luxoft releases PELUX 1.0 automotive software starter-kit on Open Source

    The automotive division of Luxoft has launched PELUX 1.0, a base development platform designed to provide the building blocks for automotive software development projects, which is now available on Open Source.

    PELUX 1.0 was developed from Luxoft’s PELUX software suite which, for over four years, has helped carmakers and tier one suppliers to develop converged automotive systems for infotainment, autonomous driving, body control and communication.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Introducing the Accessibility Inspector in the Firefox Developer Tools

        The built-in Firefox Developer Tools just received a new family member. The Accessibility Inspector allows you to inspect your website’s exposure to assistive technologies.

      • This Week in Rust 229

        Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn’t know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

      • Rust all-hands (dev-tools stuff)

        Last week (sigh, the week before last now) we held an ‘all-hands’ event in Berlin. It was a great event – fantastic to meet so many Rust people in real life and really energising to see how much is being planned and implemented. There is a blog post describing the whole event on the Rust blog.

        In this post I want to summarise some of the important dev-tools stuff that happened. Our planning and notes from some meetings is in the dev-tools team repo.

      • Notes v4 with multi-note support

        Multi-note support is now available in the new Test Pilot Notes v4 update. This was the most requested feature after going through all of the user research and feedback. You may also notice more UX changes to make Notes feel more like the rest of Firefox by following the Photon design system guidelines.

      • Mark Surman: A scandal, a napkinand the health of the internet

        Today marks the launch of Mozilla’s first full edition of the Internet Health Report, an open source effort to explore the state of human life on the internet.

        As we put our final touches on the report, the United States scrambled to prepare for testimony by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, following revelations about user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica. The conversation: what should the Senate and Congress ask him?

        The list of questions is long.What do we do about the data of up to 87 million people floating around, unrecoverable? Can artificial intelligence help address suspicious behaviour around elections? What are Facebook’s responsibilities to users and the public? Unsurprisingly, it was also quite scattered. We do not yet have a collective mental map of how issues like these connect.

      • The Internet has serious health problems, Mozilla Foundation report finds

        Of particular concern were three issues:

        • Consolidation of power over the Internet, particularly by Facebook, Google, Tencent, and Amazon.
        • The spread of “fake news,” which the report attributes in part to the “broken online advertising economy” that provides financial incentive for fraud, misinformation, and abuse.
        • The threat to privacy posed by the poor security of the Internet of Things.
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFly BSD 5.2 Released with Meltdown & Spectre Mitigations, Better Graphics

      The DragonFly BSD developers announced today the release and immediate availability for download of version 5.2 of their FreeBSD-based open source Unix-like operating system.

      Packed with mitigations for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities unearthed earlier this year and discovered to put billions of devices at risk of attacks, DragonFly BSD 5.2 is here to make sure you’re running a secure and safe Unix-like operating system on your personal computer or server.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GRUB Boot-Loader Picks Up Support For F2FS File-System

      The GRUB2 boot-loader now has support for the Flash-Friendly File-System so it can boot to systems formatted with F2FS as the root file-system.

      F2FS lead developer Jaegeuk Kim authored this file-system support addition for GRUB. Previously the work was carried by OpenMandriva among other distributions while now is upstream in GRUB Git for allowing /boot to be on a F2FS-formatted partition.

    • GIMP Punts Painting Off To Separate Thread

      As a long overdue move, the GIMP image manipulation program now has support for moving the painting process off to a separate CPU thread.

      The actual painting is now performed in a separate thread so that painting isn’t stalled when the display updates. With the painting otherwise being in the same thread as the UI, when updates occur there can be measurable synchronization overhead.

    • Blockchain in Space

      Blockstream is providing the blockchain data for free, but plans to charge for future add-ons. Connections require a small Ku-band satellite dish – size will depend on location – an LNB receiver, a USB software-defined radio interface, and free GNU Radio software for the receiver, with an estimated $100 or so for equipment. Free documentation is available at Github.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Exclusive Interview: UnionTech Discusses New 3D Printers, Open Source Philosophy

        UnionTech is a long-established company, having been founded in China in 2000 and then expanding to the United States in 2016. The company is a leader in stereolithography (SLA/SL) 3D printing, and part of what sets it apart from other SLA providers is its firm belief in open source technology. UnionTech is proof that patents aren’t necessary for a company to remain competitive, and that open source can, in fact, be an advantage for both the company and the overall market. UnionTech has been busy introducing new 3D printers lately, including the large-format RSPro 1400 and the PILOT Commercial series.

        We recently spoke with General Manager Jim Reitz about the new machines, the company’s open source philosophy, and the overall 3D printing industry, as well as UnionTech’s place in it.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Taking the World to the Brink

      Western neoconservatives and hawks are driving the international situation to increasing tension and danger. Not content with the destruction of Iraq and Libya based on false claims, they are now pressing for a direct US attack on Syria.

      As a dangerous prelude, Israeli jets flying over Lebanese airspace fired missiles against the T4/Tiyas Airbase west of Palmyra following reports on Sunday of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, a suburb of Damascus under rebel contorl.

      As reported at Tass, the Chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, predicted the alleged use of chemicals almost a month ago. The report from March 13 says, “Russia has hard facts about preparations for staging the use of chemical weapons against civilians by the government forces. After the provocation, the US plans to accuse Syria’s government forces of using chemical weapons … furnish the so-called ‘evidence’ … and Washington plans to deliver a missile and bomb strike against Damascus’ government districts.”

      Gerasimov noted that Russian military advisors are staying in the Syrian Defense Ministry’s facilities in Damascus and “in the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”

    • Doomsday Machines

      At the conclusion of his 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick introduced the concept of a “Doomsday Machine”—designed by the Soviet Union to deter nuclear attack against the country by automating the destruction of all human life as a response to such an attack. The movie’s Russian leader had installed the system before revealing it to the world, however, and it was now being triggered by a single nuclear explosion from an American B-52 sent off by a rogue commander without presidential authorization.

      Kubrick had borrowed the name and the concept of the Doomsday machine from my former colleague Herman Kahn, a Rand physicist with whom he had discussed it. In his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War, Kahn wrote that he would be able to design such a device. It could be produced within ten years and would be relatively cheap—since it could be placed in one’s own country or in the ocean. It would not depend on sending warheads halfway around the world.

      But, he said, the machine was obviously undesirable. It would be too difficult to control— too inflexible and automatic—and its failure “kills too many people”—everyone, in fact, an outcome that the philosopher John Somerville later termed “omnicide.” Kahn was sure in 1961 that no such system had been built, nor would it be, by either the United States or the Soviet Union.

      The physicist Edward Teller, known as the “father of the H-bomb,” likewise denied that omnicide—a concept he derided—was remotely feasible.

      [...]

      The hidden reality I aim to expose is that for more than fifty years, all-out thermonuclear war—an irreversible, unprecedented, and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth—has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, and Fukushima Daiichi, and a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these. And that is still true today.

      Here is what we now know: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine. It is not the same system that Herman Kahn envisioned (or Stanley Kubrick portrayed), with warheads buried deep and programmed to explode in their own territories, producing deadly global fallout. But a counterpart nevertheless exists for both countries: a system of men, machines, electronics, communications, institutions, plans, training, discipline, practices, and doctrine—which, under conditions of electronic warning, external conflict, or expectations of attack, would with unknowable but possibly high probability bring about the global destruction of civilization. These two systems still risk doomsday: both are on hair-trigger alert that makes their joint existence unstable. This is true even though the Cold War that rationalized their existence ended thirty years ago.

    • ‘Horrifying’ Video Shows Israeli Soldiers Shouting With Joy After Sniping Unarmed Palestinian in Gaza

      Just days after a journalist and at least eight other Palestinians were gunned down by Israeli forces during anti-occupation demonstrations in Gaza, a recent video of an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed Palestinian man emerged for the first time on social media Monday, providing further evidence that the deliberate killing of civilians “is routine for Israel.”

      “This video may be from months ago, Israel is claiming, which does not in any way make it less horrifying,” Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electric Intifada, wrote on Twitter Monday.

      Apparently filmed by an Israeli soldier, the undated video shows what appears to be an unarmed man standing near the fence that separates Israel and Gaza.

    • The Four Horsemen Gallop By

      The media onslaught has moved past the attack in Salisbury by a “weapon of mass destruction” (quoting Theresa May) which could only be Russian, except that was untrue, and was extremely deadly, except that was untrue too. It now focuses on an attack by chemical weapons in Douma which “could only be” by the Russian-backed Assad regime, except there is no evidence of that either, and indeed neutral verified evidence from Douma is non-existent. The combination of the two events is supposed to have the British population revved up by jingoism, and indeed does have Tony Blair and assorted Tories revved up, to attack Syria and potentially to enter conflict with Russia in Syria.

      The “Russian” attack in Salisbury is supposed to negate the “not our war” argument, particularly as a British policeman was unwell for a while. Precisely what is meant to negate the “why on earth are we entering armed confrontation with a nuclear power” argument, I do not know.

      Saudi Arabia has naturally offered facilities to support the UK, US and France in their attempt to turn the military tide in Syria in favour of the Saudi sponsored jihadists whom Assad had come close to defeating. That the Skripal and Douma incidents were preceded by extremely intense diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Washington, Paris and London this year, with multiple top level visits between capitals, is presumably supposed to be coincidence.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘No WikiLeaks’: ABC defends cabinet leak

      The ABC has defended its reporting and actions around the leak of top-secret cabinet documents, saying it chose not to do a “WikiLeaks”.

      The public broadcaster broke a series of stories from documents found in a cabinet file at second-hand shop before it returned the files to the government earlier this year.

      ASIO took possession of the thousands of sensitive government files in February after the ABC and the department agreed on their return.

      “We knew the government would not surprisingly come calling for their documents once they were aware that we had them,” the ABC’s head of editorial policy Alan Sunderland told a Senate committee in Canberra on Wednesday.

    • Two weeks since WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange silenced by Ecuador

      Two weeks have passed since the Ecuadorian government cut off WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange from any communication with the outside world, placing a block on his access to the Internet, phone communications and visitors.

      Assange has been confined to Ecuador’s embassy in London for the last six years, where he had been granted political asylum as he has fought to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning on trumped-up sexual assault allegations. The United States has long sought to detain and prosecute Assange for publishing emails and diplomatic logs exposing American war crimes in the Middle East and the corruption of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

      Any accusations against Assange have long been dropped by Sweden, and the UN has declared his confinement to the embassy to be illegal. However, the British government continues to insist that they will arrest him if he leaves the building for any reason, including health problems, and presumably deliver him immediately into the clutches of the American government.

  • Finance

    • PayPal is dipping its toe in the water of becoming a ‘real bank’
    • UK’s Open University to be decimated, as more jobs are eliminated

      University workers will see no struggle waged by the University and College Union (UCU) or any of the education unions against any of the cuts and job losses being proposed. The union has not lifted a finger against the drive to privatize education in HE and FE over the last decade, and is currently attempting to sell out the struggle of its university members who are opposing huge attacks on the Universities Superannuation Scheme pension scheme.

    • Senators Question HUD’s “Rash” Decision to Close Two Housing Complexes in Southern Illinois

      U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are questioning whether the Department of Housing and Urban Development followed federal law in deciding to shutter two public housing complexes in the tiny village of Thebes in southern Illinois, forcing 85 residents to leave.

      In a letter sent last week to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, the Democratic senators called the forthcoming closure “an ill-advised and heedless decision” and requested copies of various documents, public notices and a written relocation plan for Thebes’ public housing residents. Durbin and Duckworth say these documents are required by law when housing authorities attempt to sell or demolish public housing complexes.

    • Trump’s Company Is Suing Towns Across the Country to Get Breaks on Taxes — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Yet quietly in another setting, the Trump Organization says the president’s holdings are worth far less than he has proclaimed. Across the country, the Trump Organization is suing local governments, claiming its owes much less in property taxes than government assessors say because its properties are worth much less than they’ve been valued at. In just one example, the company has asserted that its gleaming waterfront skyscraper in Chicago is worth less than than its assessed value, in part because its retail space is failing and worth less than nothing.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • During Facebook’s Senate Hearing, Reddit Reveals It Banned Almost 1,000 Russian Trolls [sic]
    • Who Will Take on the 21st Century Tech and Media Monopolies?

      After decades of regulatory neglect, Big Tech is finally coming under the microscope.

      Facebook is under fire for (among other things) its involvement with Cambridge Analytica, a British data analytics firm funded by hedge fund billionaire and major Republican party donor Robert Mercer and formerly led by President Trump’s ex–campaign manager and strategist Steve Bannon. Cambridge Analytica harvested data from over 87 million Facebook profiles (up from Facebook’s original count of 50 million) without the users’ consent, according to a report by the London Observer (3/17/18) sourced to a whistleblower who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014.

      The users’ personal data was gathered through a survey app created by a Cambridge Analytica–associated academic named Aleksandr Kogan, who used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk micro-work platform and Qualtrics survey platform to gather and pay over 240,000 survey-takers. The data collected was then used by Cambridge Analytica to comb through the political preferences of the survey takers and their Facebook friends, without their knowledge, to create individual “psychographic models” that would then allow for entities (like the Trump presidential campaign) to target them with personalized political advertisements and news.

      [...]

      Still, Facebook failed to report the breach to their users, and then threatened to sue the Guardian (owners of the Observer) upon publication of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower’s testimony.

    • The Crime-Fraud Exception in the Michael Cohen Case

      No one — not even the president — can be allowed to exploit the privilege to engage in crime.

      On Tuesday morning, President Trump reacted to the news that the FBI searched the office of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, by tweeting “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” On Monday night, he called the search “an attack on our country.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While all the facts are not yet known publicly, all indications thus far are that the search was conducted pursuant to the rule of law, and with sign-offs from Trump appointees.

      We don’t say this lightly. The ACLU is the nation’s premier defender of privacy, and we’ve long maintained that the right of every American to speak freely to his or her attorney is essential to the legal system. These rights are protected by the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, and we are second to none in defending them — often for people with whom we fundamentally disagree.

      But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no one – not even the president, let alone his lawyer – is above the law. And no one, not even the president, can exploit the attorney-client privilege to engage in crime or fraud.

      The attorney-client privilege has always included a “crime-fraud exception,” which provides that if you are using the attorney-client relationship to perpetrate a crime, there is no privilege. You have a right to talk in confidence with your attorney about criminal activity, but you can’t use your attorney to accomplish a crime. A mobster suspected of engaging in bribery can consult his attorney about the facts of his alleged bribery without fear that the attorney will disclose those communications. But he has no right to have the lawyer deliver the bribe for him.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • [Older] Safe spaces used to inhibit free speech on campuses, inquiry finds

      It said many of the incidents in which free speech was restricted revolved around discussion of a small number of key divisive issues, including abortion, transgender issues, Islamophobia and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    • FBI seized Backpage.com – and the new website is WEIRD
    • Federal Backpage Indictment Shows SESTA Unnecessary, Contains Zero Sex Trafficking Charges
    • London Book Fair 2018: IPA Puts Censorship in the Spotlight

      Mark Stephens, a well-known human rights lawyer, said that when it comes to censorship around the world, publishers and freedom of speech advocates “have a nest of trip wires we have to navigate.” He offered an overview of several trouble spots around the world, noting that that the big question is whether to “engage in dialog with a country that engages in censorship or to leave it alone.” This question is particularly relevant to the IPA, which is still criticized by many in publishing for elevating China, in particular, to full membership.

      Several seminar sessions referenced Turkey, where press freedom has been in significant decline since the political crackdown following the attempted coup in 2016.

      Maureen Freely, president of English PEN and translator of Orhan Pamuk, noted that a crackdown on intellectuals and the media has put a significant amount of people out of work. “The people who have been dismissed from their jobs had their passports confiscated and can no longer find work, include 116,250 people dismissed from public service; another 5,822 from 118 public universities; 2,500 media workers have been sacked; 140 media organizations have been shut down, as have 30 publishers and 18 magazines; there are 80 writers in prison, but only 3 are in prison for their books, while the others are there for alleged membership in terrorist organization,” Freely said.

    • The 19th-century censor who pushed Americans too far

      Few people are so influential that their last name inspires a word. But Anthony Comstock, a postal inspector who becomes America’s first professional censor, eagerly set himself apart.

      In the Victorian era, he pushed to ban any material that threatened to inflame passion, from photographs and books to birth control guides and classic works of art. But he went too far.

    • University Press Group Decries Censorship

      The Association of University Presses has issued a statement urging scholarly publishers to refuse requests from foreign governments to restrict digital access to content.

      The statement follows several high-profile cases in which scholarly publishers restricted access to certain content in China. Cambridge University Press briefly blocked access in China to more than 300 articles in the journal The China Quarterly before reversing course and restoring access to the articles, most of which were on subjects like the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet.

    • The argument for Canada’s controversial website-blocking proposal

      A coalition of Canadian companies has proposed a regime to block egregious copyright infringing websites. McCarthy Tétrault’s Barry Sookman voiced a wry defence of the proposal at the Fordham IP Conference while pointing to the recent experience in the UK and elsewhere

    • Legislators Call for Investigation Into Reported NPS Science Censorship

      A new report demonstrating censorship of climate change science follows U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s claim that “there was no incident—no incident, at all, that I know of, that we ever changed a comma on a document itself.”

      Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and four of her colleagues called on U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall to conduct an investigation into potential alterations to a scientific report titled “Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Projections for the National Park Service” by Department of the Interior employees that removed references to human-caused climate change.

    • Again, Algorithms Suck At Determining ‘Bad’ Content, Often To Hilarious Degrees

      A few weeks back, Mike wrote a post detailing how absolutely shitty algorithms can be at determining what is “bad” or “offensive” or otherwise “undesirable” content. While his post detailed failings in algorithms judging such weighty content as war-crime investigations versus terrorist propaganda, and Nazi hate-speech versus legitimate news reporting, the central thesis in all of this is that relying on platforms to host our speech and content when those platforms employ very, very imperfect algorithms as gatekeepers is a terrible idea. And it leads to undesirable outcomes at levels far below those of Nazis and terrorism.

      Take Supper Mario Broth, for instance. SMB is a site dedicated to fun and interesting information about Nintendo and its history. It’s a place that fans go to learn more weird and wonderful information about the gaming company they love. The site also has a Twitter account, which was recently flagged for posting the following tweet.

    • Court Shuts Down Yet Another Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies Over Terrorist Attacks

      Another Excolo Law/1-800-LAW-FIRM lawsuit against social media companies alleging terrorism support has been shown the door by a federal judge. The survivors of Pulse Nightclub shooting sued Twitter, Google, and Facebook for supposedly being at least somewhat responsible for the horrible act carried out by the shooter. The law firms attempted to dodge dismissal under Section 230 by fashioning this as a material support for terrorism complaint. Unsurprisingly, the judge — without ever having to address the dodged Section 230 issue — didn’t find any of the plaintiffs’ arguments persuasive.

    • Exile media fight for freedom of expression – Index on Censorship

      Eurasia has witnessed an unprecedented decline in freedom of expression since 2011, according to Denmark-based NGO International Media Support, a non-profit organisation that works to support local media in countries affected by armed conflict, authoritarian rule and political transition.

      Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s oldest and leading newspapers, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt outside a courtroom in May 2016 where he faced a possible five-year sentence on charges of leaking state secrets.

    • Ted Cruz Gets Section 230 All Wrong, While Zuck Claims He’s Not Familiar With It

      There’s plenty to say about Mark Zuckerberg’s first congressional hearing this week (like Senator Thune’s thinly-veiled threat of more SESTA-like laws, or Senator Cantwell’s strange, unfocused tangent about Palantir and WhatsApp) but one exchange stands out as so utterly ridiculous that it bears special note.

      Senator Cruz used his time in an attempt to shift the focus onto Republican fears that Facebook is a liberal propaganda machine, and specifically tried to box Zuckerberg into declaring whether Facebook was “a first amendment speaker expressing your views”, or a “neutral public forum” — and then explicitly claimed that being the latter is a prerequisite of CDA Section 230 protections.

    • Ted Cruz Presses Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Alleged Political Censorship
    • Cruz Grills Zuckerberg on Censorship, Conservative Viewpoints

      U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, peppered Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about the social network’s approach to political speech on its platform, asking specifically about concerns that pages associated with conservative viewpoints had been shut down.

    • Cruz presses Zuckerberg on alleged censorship of conservative speech

      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday over what the Republican senator described as broad concerns that the company has censored conservative accounts and content.

      Zuckerberg defended Facebook as a “platform for all ideas.” At the same time, he acknowledged that Facebook’s presence in liberal Silicon Valley could cause such concerns to arise.

    • Ted Cruz Grills Zuckerberg Over FB’s Censorship Of Conservatives
    • Zuckerberg sees more censorship in Facebook’s future
    • Diamond and Silk accuse Facebook of discrimination, censorship over ‘unsafe’ label
    • Woman With Her Own TV Show Rails Against Censorship
    • Conservative censorship is getting worse

      In recent months, Google/YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have been caught demoting, shadow banning, demonetizing and even terminating center-right users and creator profiles.

    • Crypto YouTubers Turn to Blockchain-Based Platforms As Censorship Rises
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • A New Welcome to Privacy Badger and How We Got Here

      The latest update to Privacy Badger brings a new onboarding process and other improvements. The new onboarding process will make Privacy Badger easier to use and understand. These latest changes are just some of the many improvements EFF has made to the project, with more to come!

    • Too Big to Let Others Fail Us: How Mark Zuckerberg Blamed Facebook’s Problems On Openness

      Facebook’s first reactions to the Cambridge Analytical headlines looked very different from the now contrite promises Mark Zuckerberg made to the U.S. Congress this week. Look closer, though, and you’ll see a theme running through it all. The message coming from Facebook’s leadership is not about how it has failed its users. Instead it’s about how users —and especially developers —have failed Facebook, and how Facebook needs to step in to take exclusive control over your data.

      You may remember Facebook’s initial response, which was to say that whatever Cambridge Analytica had gotten away with, the problem was already solved. As Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, wrote in that first statement, “In the past five years, we have made significant improvements in our ability to detect and prevent violations by app developers” Most significantly, he added, in 2014 Facebook “made an update to ensure that each person decides what information they want to share about themselves, including their friend list. This is just one of the many ways we give people the tools to control their experience. ”

      By the time Zuckerberg had reached Washington, D.C., however, the emphasis was less about users controlling their experience, and more about Facebook’s responsibility to make sure those outside Facebook—namely developers and users—were doing the right thing.

    • The U.S. CLOUD Act and the EU: A Privacy Protection Race to the Bottom

      U.S. President Donald Trump’s $1.3 trillion government spending bill, signed March 23rd, offered 2,323 pages of budgeting on issues ranging from domestic drug policy to defense. The last-minute rush to fund the U.S. government through this all-or-nothing “omnibus” presented legislators with a golden opportunity to insert policies that would escape deep public scrutiny. Case in point: the Clarifying Lawful Use of Overseas Data (CLOUD) Act, whose broad ramifications for undermining global privacy should not be underestimated, was snuck into the final pages of the bill before the vote.

      Between the U.S. CLOUD Act and new European Union (EU) efforts to dismantle international rules for cross-border law enforcement investigations, the United States and EU are racing against one another towards an unfortunate finish-line: weaker privacy protections around the globe.

      The U.S. CLOUD Act allows the U.S. President to enter into “executive agreements” with qualifying foreign governments in order to directly access data held by U.S. technology companies at a lower standard than required by the Constitution of the United States. To qualify, foreign governments would need to be certified by the U.S. Attorney General, and meet certain human rights standards set in the act. Those qualifying governments will have the ability to bypass the legal safeguards of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) regime.

    • New Attack on the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act

      A new Illinois bill would strip residents of critical protection of their biometric privacy, including their right to decide whether or not a business may harvest and monetize data about their faces and fingerprints. Given the growing public outrage over how Facebook and Cambridge Analytica handled sensitive user data, this is the wrong time to reduce privacy protections.

      Today, EFF sent Illinois legislators a letter opposing this bill. In February, EFF sent a letter opposing an earlier version of the bill.

    • Zuckerberg to Testify on Capitol Hill over Cambridge Analytica Scandal

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify today on Capitol Hill amid the burgeoning scandal about how the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, without their permission, in efforts to sway voters to support President Donald Trump. On Monday, Zuckerberg met with leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee to express his regrets about Facebook’s mishandling of user data. The company has also unveiled new privacy tools ahead of Zuckerberg’s testimony today. We’ll have more on Facebook later in the broadcast.

    • [Older] Palantir’s Connection With Cambridge Analytica

      The recent NYT report also said that Chmieliauskas, who has been working on business development for Palantir for the past five years, was the one to give Cambridge Analytica the idea that the company could harvest people’s friends data from Facebook through an app, such as the quiz app that Cambridge Analytica later ended up building.

    • [Older] Spy Contractor’s Idea Helped Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data

      The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook.

    • Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Faces Tough Questions From Senators During Congressional Testimony

      He quickly answered an initial round of questions but he seemed to slow, choosing his words more carefully, when Sen. Maria Cantrell (D-Wash.) asked about recent reports about Palantir and their links to Cambridge Analytica. “I’m not that familiar with what Palantir does,” he said.

      Zuckerberg was also asked by Senator Feinstein why Facebook didn’t ban Cambridge Analytica in 2015. His initial response suggested that the company wasn’t an advertiser at the time, but he later corrected himself to say that the company apparently did run ads on Facebook at the time, and that Facebook failed to stop that.

    • Zuckerberg claims no knowledge of Palantir’s involvement with the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica scandal

      It seems that Zuck should be made aware if a company founded by his board member was involved in the scandal that brought him to face the music in the Senate, and may lead to regulation of Facebook and the [I]nternet industry. But, for now, he says he isn’t.

    • As it happened: Zuckerberg takes blame

      Zuckerberg, 33, is worth about $64bn, and is one of the world’s youngest billionaires

    • 14 years of Mark Zuckerberg saying sorry, not sorry

      From the moment the Facebook founder entered the public eye in 2003 for creating a Harvard student hot-or-not rating site, he’s been apologizing. So we collected this abbreviated history of his public mea culpas.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Apology Tour

      Since its inception, Facebook has delivered two contradictory sales pitches. To the public, it insisted that it is not an editor or a gatekeeper but merely an open platform, neutrally reflecting the world. But no platform is neutral; its algorithms must, by definition, prioritize some things over others. Facebook was designed to maximize attention, so its algorithms prioritize the posts that spur the most comments, clicks, and controversy, creating a feedback loop in which buzzy topics generate yet more buzz. (A Time headline from June, 2015: “Donald Trump’s Presidential Announcement Sparks Huge Facebook Reaction.”) Meanwhile, Facebook’s pitch to advertisers sounded not unlike Cambridge Analytica’s: With our sophisticated tools, any advertiser can deliver any message to any microsegment of the market. Now that the market in question is the democratic marketplace of ideas, Facebook is again professing neutrality. But this time the public doesn’t seem to be buying it.

    • Facebook quietly admits they let Cambridge Analytica read your private messages

      Buried in Facebook’s latest message to 87,000,000 users who had their data stolen by Cambridge Analytica is this eye-popping nugget: “A small number of people who logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life’ also shared their own News Feed, timeline, posts and messages which may have included posts and messages from you.”

    • Cambridge Analytica Could Also Access Private Facebook Messages

      A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the app, which was designed by Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan to collect data on Americans on behalf of Cambridge Analytica’s British counterpart SCL, requested access to user inboxes through the read_mailbox permission. Unlike the collection of specific user friend information, which Facebook says it phased out in April 2015 unless both people had downloaded the same app, the read_mailbox permission didn’t fully deprecate until that October.

    • If Congress Doesn’t Understand Facebook, What Hope Do Its Users Have?

      With that, Blumenthal made it clear that lawmakers didn’t want to hear Zuckerberg apologize. They just wanted to understand how this whole thing works—something Facebook’s users deserve to know as well.

    • The 5 biggest takeaways from Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Senate

      Senators don’t understand how Facebook works. [...] At the same time, they frittered away hours of testimony by asking the CEO questions that can be answered by Googling. And they mostly failed to answer deeper questions about how Facebook uses the data it collects

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Day after new NSA boss takes over, homeland security aide is out

      President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser is resigning in the latest White House departure.

      White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday that Thomas Bossert would be leaving his post. She said Trump was “grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country.”

      Bossert was a point person in the White House on protecting the nation from terror and cyber threats. He also helped spearhead the administration’s response to last year’s hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    • Former CIA, NSA, FBI Chiefs Endorse Haspel as Agency Director

      The nominee to be the new head of the CIA, Gina Haspel, has received support from senior intel officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Her nomination is shrouded in controversy over her role in human rights abuses during the CIA’s torture program, and there are doubts whether the Senate will confirm the appointment.

    • More Drug Lab Misconduct Results In Massachusetts Court Tossing Nearly 12,000 Convictions

      If everything keeps falling apart in Massachusetts, there won’t be a drug conviction left in the state. The eventual fallout from the 2012 conviction of drug lab technician Annie Dookhan was the reversal of nearly 21,000 drug convictions. Dookhan was an efficient drug lab worker — so efficient she often never performed the tests she was required to. The state moved much slower, dragging its feet notifying those possibly affected by Dookhan’s lab misconduct until a judge told it to stop screwing around. There still could be more reversed convictions on the way as the state continues to make its way through a 40,000-case backlog.

      Those numbers alone are breathtaking. But there are even more conviction dismissals on the way. Another drug lab technician convicted for stealing samples to feed her own drug habit has tainted thousands of additional drug prosecutions. A judicial order related to her questionable drug tests is erasing a whole bunch of prosecutorial wins.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Press Hit: Should all internet data be treated the same?

      Is the internet about to change forever? Could removing net neutrality rules turn it into a place of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, where rich firms pay for their content to join fast lanes while the rest get left behind? Or will the consumer get more choice on a faster internet?

      Donald Trump and his team have recently overturned Obama-era rules on net neutrality, and that means internet providers can offer fast lanes where richer companies pay for the best connections to their consumers.The question is – does that mean rich firms have an advantage over new companies who can’t afford to overtake?

      At the Roundtable was Emily Taylor, Editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy; Mark Chapman, from the UK Pirate Party; Sam Dumitriu, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute; and Ian Walden, Head of the Institute of Computer and Communications Law at Queen Mary, University of London.

    • The Competition-Killing Sprint, T-Mobile Merger Nobody Asked For Is Back On The Menu

      T-Mobile and its more consumer friendly brand identity have widely been seen as a good thing for the industry (even though T-Mobile’s brand schtick doesn’t extend to things like net neutrality). The company’s “innovative” focus on actually listening to consumers once in a while has resulted in a lot of notable improvements in the industry as other carriers play copycat, including more reasonable roaming costs, the elimination of long-term contracts, and a modest reduction in the tendency to nickel and dime consumers to death with obnoxious hidden fees.

      Sprint, meanwhile, has languished in a sort of brand identity hell, with most of its efforts to counter T-Mobile and resonate with consumers going nowhere. While improving slowly, Sprint pretty consistently rates last in terms of overall network quality and performance among the big four carriers, and it seems like the company has been stuck for years promising the network everybody actually wants is just around the next corner. Meanwhile despite a wealthy sugar daddy in Softbank, Sprint’s debt load continues to hamstring the company’s efforts at improvement.

      The argument has long been that combining the two companies will create a more effective competitor for AT&T and Verizon. But that’s generally not how competition, or the telecom sector, works. Reducing the total number of competitors almost always results in less incentive to compete. Even with T-Mobile’s disruptive habits, the wireless sector already doesn’t really try too hard to seriously compete on price. And part of the reason Sprint and T-Mobile have struggled is AT&T and Verizon’s monopoly dominance of fiber-based cellular backhaul, something that won’t change just because of M&A mania.

    • European Commission raids Murdoch’s Fox offices in London over sports rights ‘cartel’
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Salute the achievements of the world’s great female inventors and ensure there are more of them in future

      World IP Day is a couple of weeks away. The theme this year is “Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity”. In celebration of this theme, this month’s guest blog from Clarivate Analytics – which has been put together by the firm’s Director of External Communications, Laura Wheeler – takes a look at the contribution of female inventors to innovation and creativity by reviewing some notable inventions from the past. In addition, it examines the proportion of female inventors, how this has changed over time and gives some possible reasons for the story behind the figures.

    • Statute v. Constitution as IP Limiting Doctrine

      In his forthcoming article, “Paths or Fences: Patents, Copyrights, and the Constitution,” Derek Bambauer (Arizona), notices (and provides some data to support) a discrepancy in how boundary and limiting issues are handled in patent and copyright. He notes that, for reasons he theorizes, big copyright issues are often “fenced in” by the Constitution – that is the constitution limits what can be protected. But patent issues are often resolved by statute, because the Constitution creates a “path” which Congress may follow. Thus, he notes, we have two types of IP emanating from the same source, but treated differently for unjustifiable reasons.

    • Taiwan IP Office Moves Beyond Politics To Forge Links With Other IP Offices, Enforce IP Rights

      The building is impressive. Taiwan’s intellectual property office, located in the Dan-an district of Taipei, deals with patents, trademarks, designs, and utility models. Not being a recognised member of the United Nations, Taiwan cannot access the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, in particular the Patent Cooperation Treaty. However, Taiwan is dedicated to enforcing IP rights, and entertains agreements with several IP offices in the world, including China, which is Taiwan’s major trading partner.

    • Copyrights

      • Latest EU Copyright Plan Would Ban Copyright Holders From Using Creative Commons

        We recently noted that the latest version of the EU’s copyright directive, being pushed by MEP Axel Voss (though the metadata showed that it actually came from the EU Commission), would bring back horrible censorial ideas like mandatory filtering. As we noted, such a plan would likely kill important sites like Github, which would have trouble functioning as a repository for sharing code if it had to block… sharing of code. But the plan keeps getting worse. As MEP Julia Reda recently explained, with each new version that Voss puts out, the end results are more and more ridiculous.

        [...]

        Once again this appears to be copyright policy driven solely by the interests of a single party: big publishers who are annoyed at Google for aggregating news and are demanding payment. It doesn’t take into account (1) whether or not this is necessary (2) whether or not this makes sense (3) what will be the impact on other aggregators (4) what will be the impact on tons of other publications and (5) what will be in the best interest of the public.

      • European Copyright Law Isn’t Great. It Could Soon Get a Lot Worse.

        EFF has been writing about the upcoming European Digital Single Market directive on copyright for a long time now. But it’s time to put away the keyboard, and pick up the phone, because the proposal just got worse—and it’s headed for a crucial vote on June 20-21.

        For those who need no further introduction to the directive, which would impose an upload filtering mandate on Internet platforms (Article 13) and a link tax in favor of news publishers (Article 11), you can skip to the bottom of this post, where we link to an action that European readers can take to make their voice heard. But if you’re new to this, here’s a short version of how we got here and why we’re worried.

      • Vimeo Copyright Infringement Case Still Going Nearly A Decade Later, With Another Partial Win For Vimeo

        I’ll admit that I’d forgotten this case was still going on, but after nearly a decade, there it is. The case involves record labels suing web hosting site Vimeo for copyright infringement. The case, which was first filed in 2009, initially focused on Vimeo’s promotion of so-called “lipdubs.” Vimeo is a much smaller competitor to YouTube for hosting videos, but in the 2007 to 2009 timeframe, got some attention for hosting these “lipdubs” of people singing along to famous songs. Perhaps the most famous was one done by the staff of Vimeo itself. The case has taken many, many, many twists and turns.

        Back in 2013, the record labels got a big win on two points. First, the court said that Vimeo may be liable for so-called “red flag” infringement (i.e., knowing that something was absolutely infringing and doing nothing about it) but also saying that the DMCA safe harbors did not apply to songs recorded prior to February 15th, 1972. If you don’t recall, pre-1972 sound recordings did not get copyright protection (their compositions did, but not their recordings). So that got appealed and in 2016, the 2nd Circuit said of course those works are covered by the DMCA’s safe harbors. The Supreme Court was petitioned, but declined to hear the case.

      • MPA Reveals Scale of Worldwide Pirate Site Blocking

        Motion Picture Association Canada has revealed the scale of pirate site-blocking around the world. In a submission to the CRTC, the Hollywood group states that at least 42 countries are now obligated to block infringing sites. In Europe alone, 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

      • Publisher Gets Carte Blanche to Seize New Sci-Hub Domains [iophk: “low-ball estimate of fans”

        While Sci-Hub is loved by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe if off the web.

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    Links for the day



  17. Constitutionality and CJEU as Barriers, the UPC Agreement (UPCA) is Already Moot in the United Kingdom

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) isn't going anywhere and the UK merely "explores" what to do about it; for Team UPC, however, this means that the UK "confirms intention to remain in Unitary Patent system after Brexit" (clearly a case of deliberate misinformation)



  18. It's Not About EPO 'Backlog' But About Faking 'Production' by Lowering Standards

    Remarks on the EPO dropping all pretenses of genuine care for patent quality; it's all about speed now, never mind if wrongly-granted patents can cause billions in damages across Europe (a lot of that money flows towards patent law firms)



  19. Links 12/7/2018: GTK+ 4.0 Plans, OpenBSD Gains Wi-Fi “Auto-Join”

    Links for the day



  20. The Anti-35 U.S.C. § 101 Lobby Pushes Old News Into the Headlines in an Effort to Resurrect/Protect Software Patents

    The software patenting proponents (law firms for the most part) are still doing anything they can -- stretching even months into the past -- in an effort to modify the law in defiance of Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings



  21. Thomas Massie and Marcy Kaptur Are Promoting the Interests of Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers While Calling That “Innovation”

    Remarks on the ongoing effort to promote patent trolls’ interests under the guise of “helping small businesses” — a very misleading propaganda pattern that we have been finding in Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying at the EPO



  22. Links 12/7/2018: Mesa 18.1.4 RC, Curl 7.61.0

    Links for the day



  23. Texas: When Trade Secret 'Damages' Are Almost 1,000 Times Higher Than Patent 'Damages'

    It's possible to deal with conflicts and disputes using means other than patents; a new trade secret misappropriation case and a new study from Ofer Eldar (Duke Law) and Neel Sukhatme (Georgetown Law) bring examples from Texas



  24. Cellspin Soft Will Likely Need to Pay the Accused Party's Lawyers Too After Frivolous Litigation With Patents Eliminated Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

    Pursuing bogus (questionable) patents and going even further by asserting them in court can be worse than a waste of time and money; it can actually cause the target of assertion to be compensated (legal fees) at the plaintiff’s expense — a critical fact largely ignored by the patent ‘industry’



  25. The Lack of Genuine, Honest Discussion About Patent Quality Means That Under António Campinos Software Patents Will Continue to be Granted, Campinos Strives to Make Them 'Unitary'

    The agenda of the litigation 'industry' is still being served by the existing EPO administration; this is a problem because not only do they grant patents on just about anything but they also attempt to broaden litigation jurisdiction



  26. Links 11/7/2018: Xen 4.11, Ubuntu Infographics, Lockbox and Notes

    Links for the day



  27. Links 10/7/2018: Wine 3.12, FreeNAS 11.2 Beta, GNU Helps Journalism

    Links for the day



  28. Patent Trolls Rally/Advertise Thomas Massie's Bill to Abolish PTAB and Promote Software Patents in the US

    Vocal patent maximalists (or think tanks of the litigation 'industry') want us to think that the US is too restrictive when it comes to patents (the opposite is true) and tries to change the law so as to plague/saturate the system with patent lawsuits they stand to gain from at the expense of practicing companies



  29. The Demise of East Texan Courts and the Ascent of PTAB, Alice and a SCOTUS-Compliant CAFC May Mean That US Software Patents Are Officially 'Dead'

    Companies come to grips with the need to divest and distance themselves from abstract patents; such patents are simply not tolerated by courts anymore (even if patent offices continue granting many such patents for the sake of profit)



  30. Signs of Upcoming Changes at EPO: Raimund Lutz, Željko Topić and Other 'Team Battistelli' Folks Are Being Replaced

    Vice-Presidents of DG1, DG4 and DG5 are being replaced just over a week after the Campinos tenure began (decisions actually made last week); Might this suggest the imminent implosion of so-called 'Team Battistelli'?


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