04.21.18

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 21/4/2018: Linux 4.9.95, FFmpeg 4.0, OpenBSD Foundation 2018 Fundraising Campaign

Posted in News Roundup at 11:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Best open source help desk software

    The help desk market is crowded and dominated by player like Zendesk, Salesforce and Spiceworks, but there are some solid open source alternatives for smaller businesses with the time and patience.

    A good piece of help desk software should allow any business to log, track and respond to customer support queries across a range of platforms.

    Open source solutions may not be as feature rich or fully formed out of the box, and they won’t look as good as Zendesk or Salesforce, but they give great customisation options and are much more cost effective than closed source solutions.

  • After the First US Transaction, Propy Announces an Open Source Developer Program

    California-based blockchain startup Propy, is bringing the commercial use of blockchain technology to the US. After facilitating the first US Blockchain-based real estate deed in Vermont, Propy announced a new open source Developer Program.

    The idea behind Propy: it allows anyone to buy or sell real estate, anywhere, online. Propy provides an efficient crypto and fiat payment and an immutable record on the blockchain, ensuring that title deeds and property rights will be there forever.

  • Titus, the Netflix container management platform, is now open source

    Titus powers critical aspects of the Netflix business, from video streaming, recommendations and machine learning, big data, content encoding, studio technology, internal engineering tools, and other Netflix workloads. Titus offers a convenient model for managing compute resources, allows developers to maintain just their application artifacts, and provides a consistent developer experience from a developer’s laptop to production by leveraging Netflix container-focused engineering tools.

  • Netflix’s Container Management System Is Now Open Source

    On Thursday Netflix announced it’s made its home grown container management system, Titus, open source.

  • Lumina Networks on delivering open source SDN

    What kinds of companies should consider open source SDN, and what are the associated challenges in using such open source deployments? Lumina Networks has unrivalled expertise in working with customers and partners to deliver implementations, and explains its processes and outlines the benefits of using open source SDN.

  • Cars

    • Open source: sharing patents to speed up innovation

      Adjusting to climate change will require a lot of good ideas. The need to develop more sustainable forms of industry in the decades ahead demands vision and ingenuity. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, believes he has found a way for companies to share their breakthroughs and speed up innovation.

      Fond of a bold gesture, the carmaker and space privateer announced back in 2014 that Tesla would make its patents on electric vehicle technology freely available, dropping the threat of lawsuits over its intellectual property (IP). Mr Musk argued the removal of pesky legal barriers would help “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport”.
      The stunning move has already had an impact. Toyota has followed Tesla by sharing more than 5,600 patents related to hydrogen fuel cell cars, making them available royalty free. Ford has also decided to allow competitors to use its own electric vehicle-related patents, provided they are willing to pay for licences.

      Could Telsa’s audacious strategy signal a more open approach to patents among leading innovators? And if more major companies should decide to adopt a carefree attitude to IP, what are the risks involved?

    • Autonomous car platform Apollo doesn’t want you to reinvent the wheel

      Open source technologies are solving many of our most pressing problems, in part because the open source model of cooperation, collaboration, and almost endless iteration creates an environment where problems are more readily solved. As the adage goes, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

      However, self-driving vehicle technology is one rapidly growing area that hasn’t been greatly influenced by open source. Most of today’s autonomous vehicles, including those from Volkswagen, BMW, Volvo, Uber, and Google, ride on proprietary technology, as companies seek to be the first to deliver a successful solution. That changed recently with the launch of Baidu’s Apollo.

    • Luxoft launches PELUX 1.0 open source platform for automotive

      Luxoft’s automotive division has launched PELUX 1.0, an open source platform available to developers. This has been developed from its PELUX software suite as used by carmakers and tier 1 suppliers to build converged infotainment, autonomous driving, communication, HMI and car body control systems.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s large repository of voice data will shape the future of machine learning

        Mozilla’s open source project, Common Voice, is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest repository of human voice data to be used for machine learning. Common Voice recently made its way into Black Duck’s annual Open Source Rookies of the Year list.

        What’s special about Common Voice is in the details. Every language is spoken differently—with a wide variation of speech patterns, accents, and intonations—throughout the world. A smart speech recognition engine—that has applications over many Internet of Things (IoT) devices and digital accessibility—can recognize speech samples from a diverse group of people only when it learns from a large number of samples. A speech database of recorded speech from people across geographies helps make this ambitious machine learning possible.

      • Building Bold New Worlds With Virtual Reality

        From rich text to video to podcasts, the Internet era offers an array of new ways for creators to build worlds. Here at Mozilla, we are particularly excited about virtual reality. Imagine moving beyond watching or listening to a story; imagine also feeling that story. Imagine being inside it with your entire mind and body. Now imagine sharing and entering that experience with something as simple as a web URL. That’s the potential before us.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 3

        This week we’re heads down focusing on adding features in the three broad areas of Browsers, Social and the Content Ecosystem.

      • New to me: the Taskcluster team

        At this time last year, I had just moved on from Release Engineering to start managing the Sheriffs and the Developer Workflow teams. Shortly after the release of Firefox Quantum, I also inherited the Taskcluster team. The next few months were *ridiculously* busy as I tried to juggle the management responsibilities of three largely disparate groups.

      • Taskcluster migration update: we’re finished!

        Over the past few weeks we’ve hit a few major milestones in our project to migrate all of Firefox’s CI and release automation to taskcluster.

        Firefox 60 and higher are now 100% on taskcluster!

  • Databases

    • How open source databases are sucking revenue out of legacy vendors’ pockets

      In other words, the value of the open source database market to customers/users is measured in the tens of billions, or even hundreds of billions, of dollars. One other way of thinking about this? That’s tens or hundreds of billions of dollars that proprietary vendors will never capture.

    • Has the time finally come for PostgreSQL?

      For nearly 30 years, PostgreSQL (a.k.a., Postgres) has arguably been the most common SQL open source database that you have never heard of. Call it the Zelig of databases, its technology either sat behind or acted as the starting point behind an array of nearly a dozen commercial database offerings from EnterpriseDB to Redshift, Greenplum, Netezza, CockroachDB and a host of others. And PostgreSQL has distinguished lineage as one of the brainchilds of Turing Award winner and database legend Dr. Michael Stonebraker, who started the PostgreSQL project based on the lessons learned from his previous database venture, Ingres.

    • Dev Preview: MongoDB Enterprise Running on OpenShift

      In order to compete and get products to market rapidly, enterprises today leverage cloud-ready and cloud-enabled technologies. Platforms as a Service (or PaaS) provide out-of-the-box capabilities which enable application developers to focus on their business logic and users instead of infrastructure and interoperability. This key ability separates successful projects from those which drown themselves in tangential work which never stops.

      In this blog post, we’ll cover MongoDB’s general PaaS and cloud enablement strategy as well as touch upon some new features of Red Hat’s OpenShift which enable you to run production-ready MongoDB clusters. We’re also excited to announce the developer preview of MongoDB Enterprise Server running on OpenShift. This preview allows you to test out how your applications will interact with MongoDB running on OpenShift.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Lands Mid August 2018, First Bug Hunting Session Starts April 27

      Work on the next big release of the widely-used open-source and cross-platform office suite for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems, LibreOffice 6.1, has already begun this week with a focus on revamping the online experience and improving the Writer and Calc components.

      A first bug hunting session was scheduled for the end of next week, on April 27, 2018, when developers will hack on the first alpha milestone of LibreOffice 6.1, which should be available to download for all supported platforms a few days before the event. During the bug hunting session, devs will try to fix as many bugs as possible.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • IRS Website Crash Reminder of HealthCare.gov Debacle as OMB Pushes Open Source

      OMB is increasingly pushing agencies to adopt open source solutions, and in 2016 launched a pilot project requiring at least 20 percent of custom developed code to be released as open source – partly to strengthen and help maintain it by tapping a community of developers. OMB memo M-16-21 further asks agencies to make any code they develop available throughout the federal government in order to encourage its reuse.

      “Open source solutions give agencies access to a broad community of developers and the latest advancements in technology, which can help alleviate the issues of stagnated or out-dated systems while increasing flexibility as agency missions evolve over time,” says Henry Sowell, chief information security officer at Hortonworks Federal. “Enterprise open source also allows government agencies to reduce the risk of vendor lock-in and the vulnerabilities of un-supported software,” he adds.

  • Programming/Development

    • Writing Chuck – Joke As A Service

      Recently I really got interested to learn Go, and to be honest I found it to be a beautiful language. I personally feel that it has that performance boost factor from a static language background and easy prototype and get things done philosophy from dynamic language background.

      The real inspiration to learn Go was these amazing number of tools written and the ease with which these tools perform although they seem to be quite heavy. One of the good examples is Docker. So I thought I would write some utility for fun, I have been using fortune, this is a Linux utility which gives random quotes from a database. I thought let me write something similar but let me do something with jokes, keeping this mind I was actually searching for what can I do and I landed up on jokes about Chuck Norris or as we say it facts about him. I landed up on chucknorris.io they have an API which can return different jokes about Chuck, and there it was my opportunity to put something up and I chose Go for it.

    • Migrations: the sole scalable fix to tech debt.

      Migrations are both essential and frustratingly frequent as your codebase ages and your business grows: most tools and processes only support about one order of magnitude of growth before becoming ineffective, so rapid growth makes them a way of life. This isn’t because they’re bad processes or poor tools, quite the opposite: the fact that something stops working at significantly increased scale is a sign that it was designed appropriately to the previous constraints rather than being over designed.

    • Gui development is broken

      Why is this so hard? I just want low-level access to write a simple graphical interface in a somewhat obscure language.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why prosecuting Indian pharma patents could be even more difficult than it appears [Ed: Today IAM is once again complaining about India's patent policy because it's too rational, not good enough for the patent 'industry']

      A study released this month sheds new light on the Indian Patent Office’s (IPO’s) application of Section 3(d) of the country’s Patents Act – a controversial section intended to circumscribe the issue of ‘secondary’ rights for pharmaceuticals products. It finds not only that Section 3(d) objections by the patent office have increased markedly over time, but that the provision has been widely invoked against ‘primary’ patent applications to protect new drugs.

    • ‘People Have to Strengthen the Laws Protecting the Water’

      It is impossible, really, not to connect two recent pieces of news: Residents of Flint, Michigan, have been told that the state that poisoned their drinking water will no longer provide them free bottled water. They’ll be going back to paying some of the highest prices in the country, some $200 a month, for water that may still be making them sick. The Washington Post reports at least 12,000 homes in Flint still waiting for replacement of lead pipes.

      At the same time, Michigan approved a permit letting the Nestlé Corporation pump more fresh water out of a well in the Great Lakes Basin to bottle and sell at a profit, more than half a million gallons a day, the right to which will cost Nestlé…wait for it…around $200 a year. And that won’t increase, although the amount of water they are taking will—by 60 percent.

      This is, in fact, how water rights work in this country, but if it feels wrong to you, you are far from alone. What can be and what is being done? Joining us now to discuss this critical story is Peggy Case. She’s president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. She joins us now by phone from near Traverse City. Welcome to CounterSpin, Peggy Case.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • IBM Security launches open-source AI

      IBM Security unveiled an open-source toolkit at RSA 2018 that will allow the cyber community to test their AI-based security defenses against a strong and complex opponent in order to help build resilience and dependability into their systems.

    • Elytron: A New Security Framework in WildFly/JBoss EAP

      Elytron is a new security framework that ships with WildFly version 10 and Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 7.1. This project is a complete replacement of PicketBox and JAAS. Elytron is a single security framework that will be usable for securing management access to the server and for securing applications deployed in WildFly. You can still use the legacy security framework, which is PicketBox, but it is a deprecated module; hence, there is no guarantee that PicketBox will be included in future releases of WildFly. In this article, we will explore the components of Elytron and how to configure them in Wildfly.

    • PodCTL #32 – Container Vulnerability Scanning
    • Twitter banned Kaspersky Lab from advertising in Jan

      Twitter has banned advertising from Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab since January, the head of the firm, Eugene Kaspersky, has disclosed.

    • When you go to a security conference, and its mobile app leaks your data

      A mobile application built by a third party for the RSA security conference in San Francisco this week was found to have a few security issues of its own—including hard-coded security keys and passwords that allowed a researcher to extract the conference’s attendee list. The conference organizers acknowledged the vulnerability on Twitter, but they say that only the first and last names of 114 attendees were exposed.

    • The Security Risks of Logging in With Facebook

      In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study published on Freedom To Tinker, a site hosted by Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, three researchers document how third-party tracking scripts have the capability to scoop up information from Facebook’s login API without users knowing. The tracking scripts documented by Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan represent a small slice of the invisible tracking ecosystem that follows users around the web largely without their knowledge.

    • Facebook Login data hijacked by hidden JavaScript trackers

      If you login to websites through Facebook, we’ve got some bad news: hidden trackers can suck up more of your data than you’d intended to give away, potentially opening it up to abuse.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Two years’ detention for UK teenager who ‘cyberterrorised’ US officials [iophk: so in other words the kid was not at fault but is punished anyway"]

      He impersonated his victims and tricked call centres at communications firms Comcast and Verizon into divulging confidential information.

    • Two years for teen ‘cyber terrorist’ who targeted US officials
    • Teen Who Hacked Ex-CIA Director John Brennan Gets Sentenced to 2 Years of Prison

      A teenage hacker who rose to fame for hacking into the online accounts of former CIA director John Brennan, former director of intelligence James Clapper, and other high-profile US government employees, got sentenced to two years of prison on Friday.

      For a few months in late 2015 and early 2016, Kane Gamble, who went by the alias Cracka at the time, was the alleged 15-year-old leader of a hacking group calling themselves Crackas With Attitude or CWA. The group targeted and broke into Brennan’s AOL email account, Clapper’s internet provider account, and others, including a White House official.

    • Spy kids: Schoolboy gathered intel pretending to be head of CIA

      An 18-year-old Briton has pleaded guilty at his trial to ten offences under the computer misuse act. As reported by Telegraph, the then 15-year-old Kane #Gamble received access to secret information about US reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan and Iran while to trying to hack computers of former #CIA head John Brennan and several other high-ranking US officials. The computer-savvy teen, who founded in 2015 his own online hacking team, Crackas With Attitude (CWA), is currently on conditional bail and will be sentenced by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave at the Old Bailey. Pretending at one point to be no less than the acting head on CIA, Gamble is accused of gaining unauthorised access to details of intelligence operations planned in Afghanistan and Iran.

    • ‘Worthy’ and ‘Unworthy’ Victims

      In their book Manufacturing Consent Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky distinguished between two kinds of victims: the worthy victims and the unworthy victims. The “worthy victims” are the victims (real and alleged) of leaders on the U.S. enemies list, such as Bashar al-Assad. The “unworthy victims” are those of the U.S. and its client states, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    • Greg Shupak on Syrian Airstrikes

      The United States military is, at any given moment, visiting lethal violence on human beings—with families, and hopes and dreams—in a range of countries around the world.

    • Media Support US Violence Against Syria, but Long for More

      In The Atlantic (4/14/18), Thanassis Cambanis described the war crime as “undoubtedly a good thing,” and called for “sustained attention and investment, of diplomatic, economic and military resources”—though the latter rubbed up against his assessment in the same paragraph that “a major regional war will only make things worse.” Moreover, he described “the most realistic possibility” for the US and its partners in Syria as “an incomplete and possibly destabilizing policy of confrontation [and] containment. But a reckoning can’t be deferred forever.”

      This “reckoning” was his somewhat oblique way of referring to a war pitting the US and its allies against the Syrian government and its allies, the very “wider regional war” he just warned against. In Cambanis’ view, “confrontations” between nuclear-armed America and nuclear-armed Russia are “inevitable,” which implies that there is no sense in trying to avoid such potentially apocalyptic scenarios.

      A Washington Post editorial (4/14/18) said that “Mr. Trump was right to order the strikes.” The paper was glad that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Donald Trump “properly left open the possibility of further action.” The Post’s rationale for continuing to attack Syria was that “the challenge to vital US interests in Syria is far from over,” and that Trump was therefore wrong “to call Friday’s operation a ‘Mission Accomplished.’” These “interests” include ensuring that Iran does not “obtain the land corridor it seeks across Syria.” (Cambanis, similarly, described as “justified” US efforts to “contain Syria and its allies.”)

    • Trump Admin Aims to Expand Sale of Armed Drones Globally

      The Trump administration also announced Thursday a new policy aimed at expanding the sale of armed drones, particularly the large armed drones such as the Predator and the Reaper. Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro said the policy change will allow U.S. weapons companies to increase their direct sales of armed drones to so-called authorized allies and partners. This comes as a new report from the Security Assistance Monitor revealed that Trump approved an unprecedented $82 billion in arms sales during his first year in office.

    • Trump Administration Seeks to Expand Sales of Armed Drones
    • The Secret Daniel Ellsberg Really Worries About

      The author and former military analyst tells The Nation that it’s still US policy to launch a first-strike nuclear attack.

    • Hard as well as soft power: the case for modern defence

      In practice this will mean taking our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the next level, hoovering up information from beneath the waves, from space, from across the increasingly important electro-magnetic spectrum finding out what our enemies are doing in high-definition and providing artificial intelligence – enabling analysis that can stay ahead in a fast-moving world

      It will mean accelerating the development of our innovative 77 Brigade – those reservists and regulars who give us the ability to win the information war – so we create and counter the narratives so central to modern conflict

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Jennifer Robinson: the free-speech champion who stuck by Julian Assange

      When the lawyer Jennifer Robinson first met Julian Assange, the most famous prisoner in the world not actually to be in prison, he was, she says, just “a guy with a backpack”. By that summer of 2010, the WikiLeaks founder had tossed some grenades into the public domain – a leaked report on toxic-waste dumping; Guantanamo Bay torture manuals – but Cablegate, the explosive release of 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables, still lay a little ahead. Nevertheless, the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson smelt trouble, and called Robinson, with whom he’d worked in her capacity as a lawyer at a central London practice, and asked her to be prepared. The three of them, Assange, Robinson and he, were, after all, Australians.

    • WikiLeaks Shop Reports Suspension Of Coinbase Account Due To Terms Of Service Violation

      WikiLeaks Shop, the merchandise arm of international anonymous publishing non profit WikiLeaks, reported on Twitter Friday, April 20, that their account with crypto wallet and exchange Coinbase has been blocked.

    • WikiLeaks calls for Coinbase boycott after ban from cryptocurrency exchange

      WikiLeaks is calling for a global blockade of one of the world’s largest exchanges for crypto-trading, Coinbase, after the company banned the WikiLeaks Shop from its platform “without explanation.”

      The whistleblowing organization claims the cryptocurrency payments processor is responding to a “concealed influence,” and is urging members of the digital currency community to boycott it.

    • How Shoddy Reporting and Anti-Russian Propaganda Coerced Ecuador to Silence Julian Assange

      JULIAN ASSANGE HAS BEEN barred from communicating with the outside world for more than three weeks. On March 27, the Government of Ecuador blocked Assange’s internet access and barred him from receiving visitors other than his lawyers. Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, when Ecuador granted him asylum due to fears that his extradition to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation would result in his being sent to the U.S. for prosecution for his work with WikiLeaks. In January of this year, Assange formally became a citizen of Ecuador.

      As a result of Ecuador’s recent actions, Assange – long a prolific commentator on political debates around the world – has been silenced for more than three weeks, by a country which originally granted him political asylum and of which he is now a citizen. While Ecuador was willing to defy western dictates to hand over Assange under the presidency of Rafael Correa – who was fiercely protective of Ecuadorian sovereignty even if it meant disobeying western powers – his successor, Lenín Moreno, has proven himself far more subservient, and that mentality – along with Moreno’s increasingly bitter feud with Correa – are major factors in the Ecuadorian government’s newly hostile treatment of Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Canary in the Coal Pond

      New reports provide an unprecedented look at contaminants leaking from coal ash ponds and landfills. But the chasm between information and environmental protection may deepen thanks to a proposed Trump administration rollback.

  • Finance

    • Qualcomm to Cut 1,500 Jobs in California, State Filings Show

      Qualcomm Inc. will cut 1,500 jobs in California, the majority at the chipmaker’s San Diego headquarters, according to documents filed with the state.

      Some 1,231 positions will be eliminated in San Diego with terminations starting about June 19, the company said in a WARN, or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, notice. Companies are required to make such a state filing when they reduce their workforce by 50 or more employees within a 30-day period. At the same time, about 269 workers will lose their jobs at the company’s Santa Clara and San Jose locations.

    • Qualcomm May Be Collateral Damage in a U.S.-China Trade War

      A looming trade war between the United States and China has put Qualcomm, one of America’s largest technology companies, squarely in the middle of the battlefield.

      A major supplier in both China and the United States, the San Diego-based chip maker has long managed to play the trading relationship between the world’s two largest economies to its advantage. But an escalating trade battle over which country will dominate the technologies of the future is now threatening Qualcomm’s business and its growth.

    • Video: How IBM Is Quietly Pushing Out Aging Workers

      Last month, we reported that over the past five years, IBM has targeted its older U.S. employees for layoffs. The numbers are staggering: Since 2013, we estimated IBM eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over. We’ve collected the stories of over 1,400 former IBM employees and learned about their experiences during these job cuts. So exactly how does one of the country’s largest tech giants quietly push out this many older workers? Don’t we have laws to protect people at the end of their careers?

      Watch the video above to find out about how IBM — a longtime leader in employment practices — went from dream employer in the 1980s to what it has become in recent years.

    • Wells Fargo to Be Hit with $1 Billion Fine over Financial Crimes

      Wall Street giant Wells Fargo is expected to be hit with a $1 billion fine imposed by federal regulators accusing the bank of forcing people to buy auto insurance policies they didn’t need, for improperly charging mortgage holders and for other financial crimes. Despite being hit by a series of high-profile scandals and fines in recent years, Wells Fargo continues to reap billions of dollars a year in profits—reporting $5.9 billion in earnings in the first three months of this year alone.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How Facebook is set to overhaul a flawed structure in India

      It is partnering with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, for the project. Like India, similar initiatives in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US are underway.

    • Journalists sign petition against curbs on media

      More than 50 journalists, including editors and columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives in Pakistan and abroad have signed a petition against curbs on media in the country in recent days.

    • Bad Decisions: Google Screws Over Tools Evading Internet Censorship Regimes

      Just as places like Russia are getting more aggressive with companies like Google and Amazon in seeking to stop online communications they can’t monitor, Google made a move that really fucked over a ton of people who rely on anti-censorship tools. For years, various anti-censorship tools from Tor to GreatFire to Signal have made use of “domain fronting.” That’s a process by which services could get around censorship by effectively appearing to send traffic via large companies’ sites, such as Google’s.

    • Texas Revenge Porn Laws Loses Battle With First Amendment

      Texas attorney Mark Bennett — instrumental in getting an unconstitutional “peeping tom” law tossed in 2014 — has scored another win for the First Amendment by getting an unconstitutional revenge porn law tossed. It’s not that anyone (except revenge porn purveyors) wants to see revenge porn go unchecked. It’s that there’s plenty of laws on the books already to address the problem and those written to target revenge porn tend to do collateral damage to the Constitution.

    • Google App Engine update makes evading state censorship tougher

      For the past number of years, Google’s App Engine has inadvertently permitted developers to evade internet censors. The loophole came in the form of a practice known as ‘domain fronting’, which let services use the Google network to escape state-level online obstacles.

    • Google removes feature that helps avoid Net censorship

      Google has thrown a spanner into the works of developers who have been using domain-fronting in the Google App Engine to avoid Internet censorship by using Google’s network.

    • Google disallows domain fronting, evading censorship becomes difficult
    • Google Stops Helping Services Avoid Censorship Via Domain Fronting
    • Google updates App Engine but kills anti-censorship feature

      The update in Google’s network architecture was first spotted by developers of privacy-minded web browser Tor. It removes an approach that services like encrypted messaging platform Signal, anti-Chinese censorship tool GreatFire.org, and VPN services offered by Psiphon depended upon.

    • How Twitter Suspended The Account Of One Of Our Commenters… For Offending Himself?

      If you spend any time at all in Techdirt’s comments, you should be familiar with That Anonymous Coward. He’s a prolific and regular commenter (with strong opinions). He also spends a lot of time on Twitter. Well, at least until a week or so ago when Twitter suspended his account. It’s no secret that Twitter has been getting a lot of pressure from people to be more proactive in shutting down and cutting off certain accounts. There are even a bunch of people who claim that Twitter should suspend the President’s account — though we think that would be a really bad idea.

      As we’ve pointed out in the past, people who demand that sites shut down and suspend accounts often don’t realize how difficult it is to do this at scale and not fuck up over and over again. Indeed, we have plenty of stories about sites having trouble figuring out what content is really problematic. Indeed, frequently these stories show that the targets of trolls and abusers are the ones who end up suspended.

      You can read TAC’s open letter to Jack Dorsey, which also includes an account of what happened. In short, over a year ago, TAC responded to something Ken “Popehat” White had tweeted, and referred to himself — a gay man — as “a faggot.” Obviously, many people consider this word offensive. But it’s quite obvious from how it was used here that this was a situation of someone using the word to refer to himself and to reclaim the slur.

    • Sex Workers Set Up Their Own Social Network In Response To FOSTA/SESTA; And Now It’s Been Shut Down Due To FOSTA/SESTA

      Just a few weeks ago we wrote about how a group of sex workers, in response to the passing of FOSTA/SESTA, had set up their own social network, called Switter, which was a Mastodon instance. As we noted in our post, doing so was unlikely to solve any of the problems of FOSTA/SESTA, because it’s perhaps even more likely that Switter itself would become a target of FOSTA/SESTA (remember, with FOSTA, the targeting goes beyond “sex trafficking” to all prostitution).

      And, indeed, it appears I was not the only one to think so. The organization that created Switter, Assembly Four, put up a note saying that Cloudflare had shut down Switter claiming the site was in violation of its terms of service.

    • Cloudflare and FOSTA/SESTA

      Switter went offline at around 5 AM, April 18 UTC+10 due to Cloudflare removing and blocking the switter.at zone. We received an email from their Legal Department that reads:

    • Cloudflare Kicks Out Torrent Site For Abuse Reporting Interference

      Cloudflare has terminated its services to the anime torrent site NYAA.si. According to Cloudflare, the pirate site tried to interfere with and thwart the operation of the company’s abuse reporting systems. The site’s operator, however, says he’s not aware of any wrongdoing.

    • Networking site for sex workers goes dark amid fears of internet censorship

      A social networking website for sex workers has been temporarily shut down in response to a new United States law meant to combat online sex trafficking, reigniting concerns raised by the tech sector that the legislation will stifle speech on the internet.

      Switter, pitched as “a Twitter-like platform for Sex Workers,” was founded in late March by a group of sex workers in Australia, where prostitution is legal countrywide and even regulated in some states.

      In its single month of operation, Switter amassed nearly 48,000 users across the world. “It’s notable, because it’s created by sex workers, for sex workers, and the people who created it work out of countries where sex work is not criminalized,” Liara Roux, an adult film producer and activist who used the site, tells ConsumerAffairs in a prepared statement.

    • Michael Cohen Drops Ridiculous Lawsuit Against Buzzfeed After Buzzfeed Sought Stormy Daniels’ Details

      Donald Trump’s long time lawyer, Michael Cohen has been in a bit of hot water of late. As you no doubt heard, the FBI raided Cohen’s office and home seeking a bunch of information, some of which related to the $130,000 he paid to adult performer Stormy Daniels. Already there have been a few court appearances in which Cohen (and Donald Trump) have sought to suppress some of what’s been seized, but that doesn’t seem to be going too well. At the same time, Cohen is still fighting Daniels in court, which also doesn’t seem to be going too well.

      Given all of that, it’s not too surprising that Cohen has decided to dismiss his ridiculous lawsuit against Buzzfeed for publishing the Christopher Steele dossier. As we pointed out, that lawsuit was going nowhere, because it sought to hold Buzzfeed liable for content created by someone else (oh, and that leaves out that much of what Cohen claimed was defamatory may actually have been true.

    • Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS

      Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

      Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.

    • FOSTA/SESTA Passed Thanks To Facebook’s Vocal Support; New Article Suggests Facebook Is Violating FOSTA/SESTA

      One of the main reasons FOSTA/SESTA is now law is because of Facebook’s vocal support for the bill. Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly spoke out in favor of the bill, misrepresenting what the bill actually did. In our own post-mortem on what happened with FOSTA/SESTA we noted that a big part of the problem was that many people inside Facebook (incredibly) did not appear to understand how CDA 230 works, and thus misunderstood how FOSTA/SESTA would create all sorts of problems. Last month, we noted that there was some evidence to suggest that Facebook itself was violating the law it supported.

      However, a new article from Buzzfeed presents even more evidence of just how much liability Facebook may have put on itself in supporting the law. The article is fairly incredible, talking about how Facebook has allowed a group on its site that helps landlords seek out gay sex in exchange for housing — and the report is chilling in how far it goes. In some cases, it certainly appears to reach the level of sex trafficking, where those desperate for housing basically become sex slaves to their landlords.

    • Nicaragua: Government Repression and Censorship in Response to Protests

      The government of Commander Daniel Ortega responded to the protests over reforms to the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS) with repression and aggressions against university students and journalists from national and international media.

      The government also ordered the censorship of independent television channels on the cable television signal.

      The motive of the protests is the decree to increase contributions of employees and employers to Social Security, impose a 5% tax on those already retired and lower future pensions, among other measures.

    • What’s the ‘dirty secret’ of Western academics who self-censor work on China?

      Australian academic James Leibold was looking forward to having his work published in a special edition of The China Quarterly. His study of the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on ethnic minorities in China had taken him two long years, but he was confident his paper – which argued state surveillance in Xinjiang was at odds with the aims of Beijing’s trade initiative – was finally ready for public consumption.

      But then Leibold found two fellow academics from European universities had suddenly had second thoughts about publishing their work alongside his. A discussion ensued and collectively they decided about a month ago not to submit any of their papers. Leibold’s piece would have to wait. “We had a long conversation. They were concerned they wouldn’t be granted visas to China. It was self-censorship,” said Leibold of La Trobe University. “It’s regrettable this happened.”

      [...]

      For instance, no one from the Chinese government had warned Leibold or his colleagues against publishing their papers. But a combination of factors, including knowledge of other scholars who had been denied Chinese visas and a previous order from Beijing that the Quarterly block articles on sensitive subjects such as the Tiananmen crackdown, helped to convince Leibold’s colleagues it was better to keep their heads down.

      And their experience is far from unique. Leibold said some researchers in Chinese universities had withdrawn from joint projects with foreign institutions after being warned by authorities that their projects were being monitored. He said some Western academics had become “spooked” during trips to the country when they were stopped by Chinese security agents and asked about their studies. In one case, he said, an academic was told to give the agents a copy of his doctoral dissertation.

    • #IamGay backlash a rare win for China’s LGBT community, but challenges remain
    • Baranyai: Chinese censors lose battle to scrub away gay
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • We’re in the Uncanny Valley of Targeted Advertising

      Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, thinks people want targeted advertising. The “overwhelming feedback,” he said multiple times during his congressional testimony, was that people want to see “good and relevant” ads. Why then are so many Facebook users, including leaders of state in the U.S. Senate and House, so fed up and creeped out by the uncannily on-the-nose ads? Targeted advertising on Facebook has gotten to the point that it’s so “good,” it’s bad—for users, who feel surveilled by the platform, and for Facebook, who is rapidly losing its users’ trust. But there’s a solution, which Facebook must prioritize: stop collecting data from users without their knowledge or explicit, affirmative consent.

      It should never be the user’s responsibility to have to guess what’s happening behind the curtain.

      Right now, most users don’t have a clear understanding of all the types of data that Facebook collects or how it’s analyzed and used for targeting (or for anything else). While the company has heaps of information about its users to comb through, if you as a user want to know why you’re being targeted for an ad, for example, you’re mostly out of luck. Sure, there’s a “why was I shown this” option on an individual ad”, but each generally reveals only bland categories like “Over 18 and living in California”—and to get an even semi-accurate picture of all the ways you can be targeted, you’d have to click through various sections, one at a time, on your “Ad Preferences” page.

    • Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling Will Help Shed Light on Police Use of Biometric Technology

      A decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday will help the public learn more about how law enforcement use of privacy invasive biometric technology.

      The decision in Webster v. Hennepin County is mostly good news for the requester in the case, who sought the public records as part of a 2015 EFF and MuckRock campaign to track mobile biometric technology use by law enforcement across the country. EFF filed a brief in support of Tony Webster, arguing that the public needed to know more about how officials use these technologies.

      Across the country, law enforcement agencies have been adopting technologies that allow cops to identify subjects by matching their distinguishing physical characteristics to giant repositories of biometric data. This could include images of faces, fingerprints, irises, or even tattoos. In many cases, police use mobile devices in the field to scan and identify people during stops. However, police may also use this technology when a subject isn’t present, such as grabbing images from social media, CCTV, or even lifting biological traces from seats or drinking glasses.

      Webster’s request to Hennepin County officials sought a variety of records, and included a request for the agencies to search officials’ email messages for keywords related to biometric technology, such as “face recognition” and “iris scan.”

    • How an Irish Court Ruling Could Affect U.S. Spying

      The decision sets the stage for a showdown between tech firms and the government on NSA surveillance.

      Amidst all of the coverage of Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony last week, you may have missed another consequential headline for Facebook — and for everyone who uses the internet.

      An Irish court ruled that U.S. surveillance programs result in the “mass indiscriminate” processing of Europeans’ private data, and it expressed serious concerns about the lack of legal remedies for this surveillance. If the European Union’s highest court agrees, it may limit the ability of companies to easily move data from the EU into the U.S. In other words, NSA spying could have a major impact on the profits of Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants.

      One of the central issues in the case, known as the Schrems litigation, is whether the breathtaking scope of NSA surveillance violates users’ rights. That’s because under European law, companies face restrictions on transferring data to countries with weaker privacy rules. To address those restrictions, in the 1990s, the EU and the United States negotiated an agreement known as “Safe Harbor,” which allowed companies doing business in the EU to transfer data to the U.S. based on the principle that the U.S. ensures an “adequate” level of protection for that information.

      [...]

      However, as I explained in expert testimony for Schrems, those claims are completely divorced from reality.

      When people’s data is transferred from Europe, it is vulnerable to warrantless mass surveillance by the NSA and other agencies under two broad spying authorities: Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12,333. The U.S. can target law-abiding Europeans under programs such as PRISM, which pulls information from American tech firms, and Upstream, which grabs communications directly from the internet’s physical infrastructure as they’re in transit. And in practice there are few, if any, effective remedies because the U.S. government almost never officially notifies the millions of people it subjects to this spying. Without notice, it is extremely difficult to challenge this surveillance in court.

      In light of these facts, the Irish court rejected several of Facebook’s arguments. It ruled that the U.S. government engages in mass surveillance and found that people subject to U.S. surveillance do not receive notice. In addition, it concluded that concerns about the lack of remedies are “well-founded.”

    • Ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica Refuses to Testify in U.K.
    • Cambridge Analytica ex-CEO refuses to testify in UK

      Alexander Nix has refused to testify before the U.K. Parliament’s media committee, even though the committee’s chairman has said there was no legal reason for Nix to not appear before it.

    • Facebook Privacy Fiasco Sees Congress Urged on Anti-Piracy Action

      Coalitions representing more than 670 companies and 240,000 members from the entertainment sector has written to Congress urging a strong response to the Facebook privacy fiasco. The groups, which include all the major Hollywood studios and key players from the music industry, are calling for Silicon Valley as a whole to be held accountable for whatever appears on their platforms.

    • Woman rumbled for fraud using her own VPN logs

      “There is no such thing as VPN that doesn’t keep logs. If they can limit your connections or track bandwidth usage, they keep logs.”

    • Facebook’s 2017 Privacy Audit Didn’t Catch Cambridge Analytica
    • Facebook will afford EU privacy cover only to 30% of users

      Facebook does not appear to have changed its attitude to user privacy in any way despite all its recent troubles, with the company having decided to avoid providing the protections afforded by the EU General Data Protection Regulation to nearly 70% of its registered users worldwide.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chicago’s Gang Database Isn’t Just About Gangs

      That’s one of many questions raised by the huge amounts of data collected and maintained by the Chicago Police Department.

      As I wrote in a column this week, nearly 129,000 people are identified as gang members in what’s commonly known as the department’s “gang database.” The gang data is marred by inconsistencies and mistakes — 13 people in it are listed as 118 years old, for instance, and two others are supposedly 132. The errors can lead to lives being upended by incarceration and deportation.

      “It’s really affecting people in a lot of different ways, and in ways we don’t even know because we don’t know how this information is shared,” said Vanessa del Valle, a clinical assistant law professor at Northwestern University law school’s MacArthur Justice Center.

    • Jacksonville Sheriff Uses Misleading Data to Defend Pedestrian Ticketing

      Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams in recent months has repeatedly defended his department’s enforcement of pedestrian violations. Claims of a racial disparity have been overstated, he has argued. There is no policy targeting people of color, he has insisted. He’s made his case before the City Council. Most recently, Williams had a report supporting his claims hand-delivered to a local NAACP official.

      When making his case, Williams has relied on what he has said is a true accounting of pedestrian ticket data for recent years. That data, he claims, shows that 45 percent of tickets went to blacks. That figure, while greater than the city’s black population, is substantially less than the number reported by the Times-Union and ProPublica in a series of articles late last year. The Times-Union and ProPublica reported that 55 percent of the tickets over the prior five years had been issued to blacks.

    • Natalie Portman Refuses to Go to Israel to Accept Award over “Recent Events”

      In Israel, the organizers for the Genesis Prize, known as Israel’s Nobel Prize, have been forced to cancel the upcoming award ceremony, after the winner of this year’s prize, American-Israeli actress Natalie Portman, said she is refusing to travel to Israel to participate because of her distress over recent events. Portman has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and has starred in the new “Star Wars” trilogy, as well as the movies “Black Swan,” “Closer” and “V for Vendetta.” The Genesis Prize comes with a $2 million award. Portman’s decision not to participate in the ceremony comes as the Israeli military is in the midst of a brutal and deadly crackdown against Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Israeli snipers have killed dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters so far.

    • Natalie Portman Backs Out of Israeli Award Ceremony
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ISPs should charge for fast lanes—just like TSA Precheck, GOP lawmaker says

      Dividing up online services into those that have paid for TSA Precheck-like priority access and those that haven’t wouldn’t necessarily be appealing to consumers. While TSA Precheck lets travelers zoom through security, everyone else is stuck in a long, slow-moving line and met with frequent obstacles. Comparing paid prioritization to TSA Precheck lends credence to the pro-net neutrality argument that allowing paid fast lanes would necessarily push all other online services into “slow lanes.”

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Female inventors and gender imbalance in patent applications

      Where are the female inventors? Despite the recent fashion for children’s books designed to redress the representation of historical female inventors, according to the Intellectual Property Office, women make up just 7 per cent of UK patent holders.

      Though registrable intellectual property (IP) rights are typically held in the name of a company rather than an individual, explains Tania Clark, partner and trademark attorney at IP firm Withers & Rogers, “inventors are required to be named when filing a patent application and, in these instances, the majority are men”.

    • Chinese companies expanding overseas face plenty of IP risk, but it need not overwhelm them

      For many relatively young firms here in the greater Shenzhen area – China’s Silicon Valley – the IP department is at a relatively embryonic stage. As they invest more resources in intellectual property, they face important questions about how to build up an in-house function. Shirley Chen, the director of intellectual property for Lenovo, advised companies in this situation that there are not necessarily wrong answers when it comes to organisation: “I consider myself quite lucky to have experienced working in an IP team that’s within legal as well as one that’s an R&D unit”.

    • AI will challenge assumptions of patent ownership

      Artificial intelligence (AI) will challenge assumptions of patent ownership and bring about a unique set of issues, according to Mike Schuster, assistant professor at the Oklahoma State University.
      In a recent interview, Schuster said that these issues must be addressed by the US Government soon so that when the time comes, sufficient information and research will be available to make an informed decision.

      AI is already here, and Schuster explained that it has already independently invented jet engines, parts of bullet trains, communication systems and new pharmaceuticals.

      An upcoming paper from Schuster specifically discusses this problem and the variety of types of AI capable of invention.

    • Interview With Dominik Thor, Founder Of IPCHAIN Database

      Distributed ledger technology, commonly called a Blockchain, has recently become a highly popular term in many different industries for its cost-saving and operational risk reducing potential. In this interview with Intellectual Property Watch, Dominik Thor, the founder of IPCHAIN Database, a startup that focuses on IP protection through the use of Blockchain, explains about the ways this new technology can revolutionise the IP sector.

    • Trademarks

      • Advocate general won’t give Kit Kat a break

        Advocate general advises CJEU that Nestlé did not produce sufficient evidence to show that Kit Kat’s three-dimensional shape had acquired distinctive character, in an opinion observers say makes tough task of attaining shape marks even harder

    • Copyrights

      • Glass-Tongued Copyright Troll Thinks Google, Popehat, and Boing Boing Are Engaged In ‘Black Hat Seo’

        After taking a hiatus from issuing bogus DMCA takedowns against this site, self-proclaimed poet “Shaun Shane” is back at it. The harassment of anyone who dares to publish a certain poem of Shane’s — the one about tongues made of glass — is a (possibly) Texas-based cottage industry. The harassment continues to this day, but not much of it is directed at Google. Most of Shane’s “work” is done over at Twitter, where tweets are greeted with takedown requests.

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DecorWhat Else is New


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  3. Linux Foundation 2021 Annual Report Made on an Apple Mac Using Proprietary Software

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  13. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 05, 2021

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  14. Gemini Space/Protocol: Taking IRC Logs to the Next Level

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  19. The EPO's Web Site is a Parade of Endless Lies and Celebration of Gross Violations of the Law

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  20. The Letter EPO Management Does Not Want Applicants to See (or Respond to)

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  22. EPO-Bribed IAM 'Media' Has Praised Quality, Which Even EPO Staff (Examiners) Does Not Praise

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