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05.03.18

Bristows LLP Already Uses Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat as Its UPC Megaphone, Now IAM as Well

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For the second time in a week, IAM’s editor acts like a ‘tool’ of Bristows LLP, relaying UPC lobbying without any fact-checking

German and English UPC

Summary: IAM Media or IAM Magazine seems so focused on trying to help the UPC that it neglects to do its work, which would be fact-checking (but IAM is just a lobbyist/think tank disguised as an impartial media organisation)

THE management of the EPO loves IAM and it’s easy to see why. The management’s PR apparatus, which they had paid over a million euros, passed money to IAM, specifically for UPC lobbying.

Just over a week ago the UK made a bizarre announcement which we have since then written about in the following posts:

“There are to many guesses and uncertainties about the possible post Brexit participation of UK in the UPCA,” said the latest comment on the matter. To quote it as a whole (it was published earlier today):

All the above comments show that there is necessary step which has not been taken: ask the CJEU if the UPCA as it stands is a court common among EU member states like the Benelux court. This was done with EPLA, but not with the UPCA. One simply wonders why? It should certainly have been done after the Brexit vote.

If the answer is negative, that is, the UPCA is an international court, not embedded in the EU legal system, then we will know for sure that the UP and the UPCA is dead.

If the answer is positive, that is the UPCA is a court common among EU member states, then the 29.03.2018 will play an important role.

It will then follow logically that UK cannot any more participate in the UPCA, if the supremacy of Union law and the involvement of the CJEU is denied by the UK. Politically it looks like this is the most probable option.

If the intention of the UK is to stay in the UPCA post-Brexit, is high time to decide on all outstanding questions for instance with respect to enforcement, liability of the court and the member states, etc…

Even the Pascoe report showed the numerous difficulties and hurdles which have to be taken for a post-Brexit participation. Also, staying in the EU customs union is not enough to insure post Brexit participation of the UK.

There are to many guesses and uncertainties about the possible post Brexit participation of UK in the UPCA, that it appears highly probable that all those questions will not be dealt with before 20.03.2019. and even before the 31.12.2020.

How can it be that learned lawyers and legal scholars accept to stay in such an unclear situation? Up to now I have not heard any concrete answer to those many important questions. So even if the UPCA enters into force with the UK, the only reasonable option is to opt-out!

And the “German” problem does not look to be solved in a few weeks. Banking on a quick decision of the GFCC is illusory. There are many other requests to be dealt with before the one on the UPC arrives on top of the pile. Even for a decision on its admissibility. There are also some requests about the EPO and its boards of appeal. Without a reply on those, no reply on the UPC.

The mere ratification of the UPCA, on top of it with a reservation about the legal personality of the UPC, is meaningless and does not solve any problem. On the contrary it makes all the problems more manifest.

The facts aren’t on Team UPC’s side. They can repeat the propaganda all they want (like Alan Johnson did several times in one single day, in different blogs other than Bristows’). But Brexit is still not compatible with the UPC.

IAM, however, for the second time in less than a week, has again become a megaphone for the liars from Bristows. This time too it’s amplifying Alan Johnson. Hours ago it published this “full interview” (heck, why not just like Johnson/Bristows do a guest post without all these softball questions?). So not only does Bristows dominate Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat on UPC matters; now it dominates IAM too. “I suppose Joff Wild would rather believe his wallet than his common sense,” I wrote, “calling it a “racing certainty”…”

Wild’s colleague tried to be clever about it. “You’re approaching half-a-million tweets,” Tim Lince wrote, “do you have a celebration planned for it?”

That was completely off topic. It’s a way of saying “we don’t really like you mentioning us (IAM)…”

From the so-called ‘article’ (Bristows copy-paste):

To get greater clarity on where things go from here, I spoke once again to Bristows partner Alan Johnson, who has followed the long and often tortuous progress towards the creation of a single European patent regime as closely as anyone. And his message was unambiguous: the UPC is coming, it is going to include the UK and it is highly likely that it will be up and running by the end of 2020.

Said a man whose career was made lobbying for the UPC. I guess IAM isn’t too keen on fact-checking when it suits IAM’s budget (they know where the money comes from).

As a side issue, IAM’s network keeps lobbying for software patents in India and earlier today we found this article from last month — one that we had missed/overlooked. For those who missed it, IAM keeps shaming and pushing India into software patenting. Examples from the year 2017 alone were documented here:

  1. China Adopts Software Patents and IAM ‘Magazine’ (Lobbyists) Continues to Shame India Into It
  2. IAM Just Can’t Stop Pushing for Software Patents in India
  3. IAM ‘Magazine’ as Megaphone for Chamber of Corporates (CoC), Which Tries Shaming India Into Software Patenting
  4. IAM Helps Enemies of India’s Interests Lobby for Software Patents in the Country
  5. IAM ‘Magazine’ in a Campaign to Destroy India’s IT Industry and Help Patent Trolls There
  6. IAM is a Think Tank for Patent Trolls, Software Patents, the EPO, Microsoft, and Whoever Else is Willing to Pay
  7. The Patent Microcosm’s Failed Push for Software Patents Resurgence in the US and Similar Attempts in India and China
  8. Software Patents Lobbying at IAM Strives to Reinforce the Positions of Patent Maximalists

Abhishek Pandurangi (Khurana and Khurana Advocates & IP Attorneys) once again touched the subject (mind the IAM logo on the right). Thankfully, he did at least mention the views of the Software Freedom Law Centre (of India), which we quote below:

While the world eagerly watches the development of India’s software industry, the confusion regarding software patents in the global IT hub remains considerable. This is despite – or perhaps because of – the three attempts by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) to establish guidelines on computer-related inventions (CRIs), each of which has provoked questions, criticism and controversy. The IPO released its latest CRI examination guidelines on June 30 2017; this chapter looks into the evolution of the guidelines, from the first set to the third, as well as the effects that they have had.

[...]

As would be expected, the guidelines generated controversy, attracting much feedback and many representations from stakeholders. A joint letter to the prime minister’s office demanding the total recall of the guidelines by the Software Freedom Law Centre, with significant others, made the following counter-argument regarding the legislative intent:

However, the 2015 Guidelines overlook one crucial development viz the unsuccessful attempt made by the Patents (Amendment) Bill, 2005 [drawing from the Patents (Amendment) Ordinance 2004] to amend Section 3(k) and extend patentability to computer programs with ‘technical application to industry’. When laid before the Parliament, the proposed amendment faced objection on the ground that it would result in the creation of monopolies by multi-nationals (as stated in a press release dated 23/3/05), and was subsequently deleted. This demonstrates a clear legislative intent against broadening the patentability of computer programs.

IAM as a whole is a very dangerous network that promotes toxic patent agenda, including the interests of Battistelli — soon to be a keynote speaker at IAM's event (he will promote software patents there).

Links 3/5/2018: Cinnamon 3.8 and GCC 8.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 1:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links xx/5/2018: Links for the day

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • ACM Recognizes Innovators in Open Source Software, Biotechnology, Networks, and Artificial Intelligence

    Today ACM announced the recipients of four prestigious technical awards. These leaders were selected by their peers for making significant contributions that have had far-reaching impact on the ascendance of computing as an integral part of how we live and work today, opening promising new avenues for research exploration and commercial application in the coming years.

  • Open Source: What Is It Good For?

    Open source. It’s a term that gets heads up from screens and bums moving on seats when it’s aired in a telco room with more than one person in it.

    Some see it as the key to an automated, orchestrated future. Others see it as a distraction that has held back communications networking virtualization developments during the past few years.

    But what’s the reality? As ever, somewhere in-between. So where are telcos actually gaining an advantage from open source developments and practices?

  • Motherboard Made a Tool That Archives Websites on Demand

    mass_archive, a basic Python script, will push a webpage or URL to multiple archive services at once, hopefully making online journalism or research a bit more efficient.

    [...]

    If the script isn’t successful at getting an archive up on the Wayback Machine, it’ll just move onto Archive.is, and then Perma.cc, another archiving service. For the last one you’ll need to create a free account, which gives you 10 archives a month. If that sounds like a pain, just take the Perma.cc parts out of the script in a text editor. (The bit that handles requests to Archive.is uses a module from Past Pages, an open-source effort to archive the news; thanks to Past Pages for that).

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Nominating Florian Rivoal for a seat at the W3C Advisory Board

        I pinged Florian Rivoal about all of that. Florian is a extremely talented, multicultural, brilliant french engineer (but he also holds a MBA from INSEAD, often ranked #1 MBA in the whole world) based in Japan. He has been a crucial contributor to the CSS Working Group, the Publishign activity and many other areas of the daily W3C activities as a Avisory Committee representative for his various past employers. I do trust him, I like his vision, I like his diplomatic talent, appreciate that he deeply and truely cares for the future of the World Wide Web and the future of the W3C, and I love his technical expertise.

      • Progressive Web Apps core guides on MDN Web Docs

        Progressive web apps (PWAs) are a new way of building websites, but are they really all that new? The basic principles of PWAs came out of older strategies for app design such as progressive enhancement, responsive design, mobile-first, etc. Progressive web apps bring together proven techniques such as these with a new set of APIs and other features under one umbrella term; 2018 could be the year of PWA.

      • Firefox 60 new contributors

        With the upcoming release of Firefox 60, we are pleased to welcome the 63 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 59 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • May’s Featured Extensions
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • One Of LLVM’s Top Contributors Quits Development Over CoC, Outreach Program

      Rafael Avila de Espindola is the fifth most active contributor to LLVM with more than 4,300 commits since 2006, but now he has decided to part ways with the project.

      Rafael posted a rather lengthy mailing list message to fellow LLVM developers today entitled I am leaving llvm.

      [...]

      Of the 900+ authors to LLVM, Rafael was the fifth most contributor to LLVM by commit count with 4,344 commits (2.65% of all commits0 and in the process added 157,679 lines of code. He had been contributing since 14 May 2006 and was many times the most active LLVM contributor in a given month while working for the likes of Google and Mozilla. In fact, for 2013 through 2015 he was the most active author each year. His contributions will certainly be missed.

    • Happy Birthday, GPS Stash Hunt!

      On an unrelated side note, I’m working on consolidating mirsolutios.de (as my business is long defunct) into www.mirbsd.org (as “The MirOS Project” was folded back into “MirBSD”, i.e. my private /usr/src and /usr/ports, this year). This simplifies some stuff, I’ll need no vhosts, and EU-DSGVO conformity should come with less effort (I’m reducing logging alongside).

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • The best free photo-editing software

      Often heralded as the best free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source application that relies on a community of volunteer developers who maintain and improve the product. Available for Mac and PC, you get a lot of professional-level editing and retouching tools — perfect for designers who can’t or won’t shell out hundreds of dollars to Adobe.

      Once you launch the program, you’ll find a dedicated window that displays the image, and separate windows to organize the toolbox and layers. When using a large display, ortwo displays, you have a nice, big workspace to play with your images. Icons in the toolbox represent actions such as the crop, lasso, paint and brush tools, and you can apply various effects to your photos. It may seemlike Photoshop, but GIMP has its own look and feel.

    • SD Times news digest: Lyft and Udacity self-driving partnership, GCC 8.1, Cisco to acquire Accompany, and Oculus Go

      GCC 8.1 is released

      The latest version of the GNU Compiler Collection has been released. According to the team, this is a major release with substantial new features not available in GCC 7.x or previous releases.

      GCC 8.1 features significant in emitted diagnostics, such as improved locations, location ranges, and fix-it hints. It features improvements to profile driven optimizations as well. In addition, this release provides link time optimizations as a new way to emit the DWARF debug information, making it easier to debug LTO optimized code.

    • GCC 8.1 Released
    • GCC 8.1 Compiler Released As The First Stable GCC8, Brings Many Improvements

      Version 8.1 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) was released today as the major update for the year of this important free software compiler.

      Under their awkward versioning scheme in place since GCC 5, the GCC 8.1 release today is the first stable version of GCC 8 that has been in development the past year. GCC 8.2, 8.3, etc, will arrive over the coming months as bug-fix/point releases while GCC 9.0.0 is now the version currently in-development on Git/SVN and will arrive next year in the form of GCC 9.1 stable.

    • Welcome to LibrePlanet 2018!
    • LibrePlanet 2018 Closing
  • Programming/Development

    • Turing Test 2

      In this modern era, in which the Internet and the World Wide Web play such visible roles, a different problem arises. In this version, which I will call “Turing Test 2,” a computer program undertakes textual interactions with a human and another computer. The task of the computer program is to distinguish between the human and the computer. If the computer program successfully identifies which correspondent is a human and which is a computer, it has successfully passed Turing Test 2. If it cannot, then it fails the test. One particular form of this test is called a CAPTCHAb (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). These tests take many forms, but a popular variation is to display a distorted image of a word or random string of numbers and characters. In theory, a human interacting with the CAPTCHA will successfully respond with the correct alphanumeric string while a computer program, interacting with the same image will not succeed. There are other variations, for example, in which an image of an equation is displayed and the solution to the equation must be entered in response. Assuming the image is just a set of pixels, the challenge for the computer program trying to appear human is to correctly identify the equation and solve it.

    • A Test of Knowledge

      Software development is often described as knowledge work. This label is invariably used as a shorthand for “work that doesn’t involve getting your hands dirty”, “jobs your parents never had and you struggle to explain to them” or, without any apparent irony over the use of fingers on keyboards and screens, “the digital economy”. But step back from these simple substitutions and an obvious yet deeper truth becomes visible: knowledge work is about knowledge. It’s about knowing stuff and, most often, also about how you deal with stuff you don’t know.

    • A personal python milestone

      Today I migrated the script from Python2 and yum to Python3 and dnf. First of all kudos to Seth Vidal, and secondly, kudos to the dnf team for putting together a worthy successor to yum, and more importantly, usable documentation of same.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • GDS makes new push on ODF usage

      Five-step plan focuses on getting more departments publishing on GOV.UK to use the open format

      A fresh push is under way to encourage government bodies to publish documents in open formats.

      The Government Digital Service (GDS) has produced a five-step plan to inject fresh momentum into a drive that began four years ago.

    • Open Source, Operators Key to ONF’s New Optical Disaggregation Plan

      The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has shown yet again that it’s not afraid to use operator clout to sway the direction of vendors, nor that it’s afraid of acronyms. The latest evidence comes from its newly created Optical Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) project.

      The project looks to introduce open source for software control over optical transport networks. It follows similar projects like OpenConfig, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and the AT&T-led OpenROADM MultiSource Agreement (MSA).

    • ONF’s ODTN Project Brings Disaggregation and Open Source to Optical Networking
    • ONF Announces ODTN, Open-Source Optical Project

      Today, the ONF announced a new community effort to bring the benefits of open networking to the optical domain. The ODTN project is an operator-led initiative to build optical transport networks using disaggregated optical equipment, open and common standards, and open source software. Backed by some of the world’s largest network operators, China Unicom, Comcast, NTT Communications, Telefonica and TIM are collaborating to build this first-of-its-kind open source solution to initiate a transformation within optical transport networking.

Leftovers

  • Xiaomi’s IPO filing sheds light on state of patent portfolio and cost of IP acquisitions

    This morning, Xiaomi confirmed that it will seek a public listing on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong later this year, in what could be the largest tech IPO since Alibaba’s 2014 debut in New York. It is a moment for which the company, including the IP function overseen by Senior Vice President of Strategic Cooperation Wang Xiang, has been preparing for a long time. Like many businesses in advance of an IPO, Xiaomi has made major splashes on the secondary market for patents; its largest haul coming nearly two years ago as part of a broad business deal with Microsoft.

  • Science

    • Americans Are A Lonely Lot, And Young People Bear The Heaviest Burden

      Loneliness isn’t just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being.

      Now a nationwide survey by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is widespread in America, with nearly 50 percent of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes.

    • Social Media Use Isn’t Correlated With Loneliness, But Passive Scrolling Is

      Loneliness is a growing problem in the modern world, and it’s easy to blame social media. The truth isn’t that simple.

      Cigna, a health insurance company, recently looked into the problem. Their survey shows that loneliness is a growing problem in the USA, and a problem that’s more common among younger generations.

    • A Nintendo Labo Powered Wheelchair

      This was created by Japanese researcher and inventor Kentaro Yoshifuji. Since Yoshifuji was in high school, he has developed new technology for electric wheelchairs, and this latest work is for a 13-year-old boy who is wheelchair-bound due to a heart condition.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Undermining Innovation Is Not A Victory: Hepatitis C Drug Center Stage in Global Patent Battle

      Thanks to a number of new Hepatitis C drugs (Sofosbuvir Ledipasvir, Ladispavir) the disease is curable for many patients. While this is an undeniable victory for patients and payers, the innovators who made this possible have been villainized and undermined. At a time when the public health community should celebrate the tremendous health benefits these breakthrough drugs have brought to patients around the world, they are instead organizing to ensure the destruction of the incentives that made these drugs a reality. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2% – 3% of the world’s population is living with hepatitis C. The World Health Organization states that globally an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection and approximately 399,000 people die each year from the disease.

    • World Health Assembly 2018 Preview: Guide To Key Issues

      The World Health Organization celebrated its 70th anniversary last month. Since the inception of the organisation, the world has changed, and so have its challenges. The global rise of non-communicable diseases is one example of those challenges, as well as the escalating prices of new medicines and chronic access issues in many countries. The annual World Health Assembly will open on 21 May with an ambitious new General Programme of Work for 2019-2023, which promises 1 billion more people under universal health coverage.

  • Security

    • Finding Spectre vulnerabilities with smatch

      The furor over the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities has calmed a bit — for now, at least — but that does not mean that developers have stopped worrying about them. Spectre variant 1 (the bounds-check bypass vulnerability) has been of particular concern because, while the kernel is thought to contain numerous vulnerable spots, nobody really knows how to find them all. As a result, the defenses that have been developed for variant 1 have only been deployed in a few places. Recently, though, Dan Carpenter has enhanced the smatch tool to enable it to find possibly vulnerable code in the kernel.

    • DisplayLink DRM Driver Had A Local Privilege Escalation Vulnerability

      CVE-2018-8781 was made public today as a new local privilege escalation vulnerability in the mainline Linux kernel that has been present since the Linux 3.4 kernel release six years ago.

      The DisplayLink DRM driver’s udl_fb_mmap function is prone to an integer overflow vulnerability that could allow local users on systems using the udldrmfb driver to obtain full read/write permissions on kernel physical pages, thereby allowing code execution in kernel space.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • CVE-2018-8781: 8-Year-Old Linux Kernel Bug Discovered
    • Bitwarden: The Secure, Open Source Password Manager You’re Looking For

      I was recently looking to migrate my passwords to an open source, cross platform password manager that sync passwords but also allows accessing passwords offline, and I discovered Bitwarden, which is advertised as an “open source password management solution for individuals, teams, and business organizations”.

      After using it for about a week, I can tell you that Bitwarden is probably the best open source alternative to LastPass. It comes with browser support, cloud password (as well as notes and credit card information) synchronization, 2FA, can be self hosted, it’s cross-platform, and easy to use.

    • A critical security flaw in popular industrial software put power plants at risk

      A severe vulnerability in a widely used industrial control software could have been used to disrupt and shut down power plants and other critical infrastructure.

      Researchers at security firm Tenable found the flaw in the popular Schneider Electric software, used across the manufacturing and power industries, which if exploited could have allowed a skilled attacker to attack systems on the network.

      It’s the latest vulnerability that risks an attack to the core of any major plant’s operations at a time when these systems have become a greater target in recent years. The report follows a recent warning, issued by the FBI and Homeland Security, from Russian hackers.

      [...]

      He explained that the stack-based buffer overflow attack can be leveraged in several malicious ways. First, an attacker can use the vulnerability to trigger a denial-of-service event by crashing the software, locking out remote administrators from their central operations. The bug can also be used to gain a foothold further into the network — as well as other industrial devices — or even send instructions to some physical control systems in the plant or unit.

    • Schneider patches critical flaw in industrial software [Ed: Better yet, release the source code so that we can see all the holes you have been covering up until Tenable and others force you to actually fix]
    • Car hackers find remotely exploitable vulnerabilities in Volkswagen and Audi vehicles

      After testing on an Audi A3 Sportback e-tron and the Volkswagen Golf GTE, Daan Keuper and Thijs Alkemade, security researchers from the Dutch firm Computest, found that the flaws in the IVI system, referred to as the modular infotainment platform (MIB), could be remotely exploited via the [I]nternet.

    • Top 5 New Open Source Vulnerabilities in April 2018

      It seems like only yesterday that Drupal admins waited for security updates to fix April’s notorious Drupalgeddon, and — it’s back. As hackers have already started exploiting that nasty security issue, we’re here to tell you about how the hard working folk at Drupal’s security team have issued yet another security announcement after discovering another vulnerability.

    • A brief history of bad passwords
    • Windows security: Microsoft issues fix for critical Docker tool flaw, so patch now

      Microsoft has released a patch for a critical remote code execution flaw affecting a Windows service used for importing Docker container images.

      The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-201808115, is due to the Windows Host Compute Service Shim (hcsshim) library not properly validating input from container images while importing them.

      A remote attacker could execute malware on a Windows host using a malicious Docker container image if they managed to trick an authenticated administrator to import it in Docker for Windows, which uses the hcsshim library.

    • Making art with SSH key randomart
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Tragedy of Benjamin Netanyahu

      There is something tragic about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The harder he tries, the more he fails. That has been the case with many of his attempts to sabotage diplomacy with Iran and push the US to take military action against the country. And that was certainly the case with his underwhelming powerpoint presentation Monday. What was supposed to be a smoking gun to once and for all nix the Iran nuclear deal, inadvertently made a powerful case as to why the the deal must remain in place.

      The Israeli government had promised “significant new revelations” about the nuclear program. Yet Netanyahu offered nothing new. The bulk of his presentation focused on what the world already knew: That between 1999 and 2003, Iran had engaged in activities with possible military dimensions.

      As I describe in Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, these past Iranian activities constituted a tricky dilemma during the nuclear talks. If it was revealed that the Iranians had indeed engaged in illegal military research, that could jeopardize the entire agreement, as voices would be raised to have it punished for its past violations. Completely disregarding it without allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to complete its investigation—which the Iranians had not been cooperating with—was also not an option. What it came down to was a choice between punishment for Iran’s past violations and guarantees that those violations would never be repeated in the future.

    • Beware of Bolton Undermining Korean Peace

      The still-unscheduled Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit offers the opportunity for a denuclearization deal that would avoid a possible nuclear war, but that potential deal remains vulnerable to a hostile corporate media sector and political elites in the United States. At the center of this hostility is national security adviser John Bolton, who’s not just uninterested in selling a denuclearization deal to the public. He’s working actively to undermine it.

      Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that he leaked intelligence to a Washington think tank sympathetic to his views in order to generate media questioning about the president’s announced plan to reach an agreement with North Korea’s leader.

      Bolton made no secret of his visceral opposition to such a deal before Trump announced that Bolton would become national security adviser, arguing that Kim Jong Un would never let go of his nuclear weapons, especially since he is so close to having a real nuclear deterrent capability vis-a-vis the United States.

      Even after meeting Trump on March 6 to discuss joining the administration,

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘We Are Talking Billions of People Displaced by Sea Level Rise’

      Antarctic glaciers are melting at dramatic rates, scientists are finding. Antarctica is of course a continent of ice, roughly twice the size of Australia. The retreat of its oceanfront glaciers raises serious concerns about the resulting rise in sea levels. The most severe projections of potential impact are almost impossible to grasp: billions of people displaced? coastal cities disappeared?

      Yet the Washington Post was virtually alone among major outlets in reporting the latest findings. Corporate media have, in the main, stopped entertaining denial of human-driven climate disruption, but that’s a long, long way from the serious and sustained attention that would be appropriate to the myriad phenomena involved, and it’s categorically different than actually picking a side in the question of priority our guest’s work invokes: planet or profit?

      Dahr Jamail is staff reporter at Truthout. He’s author of, most recently, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. His new book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, is forthcoming from New Press, and he is just lately recipient of the 2018 Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, named for passionate, critical journalist I.F. Stone. He joins us now by phone from Port Townsend, Washington state. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Dahr Jamail.

    • Climate Change and Vulnerable Communities — Let’s Talk About This Hot Mess.

      Climate change will impact us all, no matter who we are or where we live. But that doesn’t mean it will hit us equally.

      Climate change may not discriminate, but people do.

      As a reporter at ProPublica, my focus is on environmental justice, how low-income, underserved and disenfranchised people have been forced to bear an unequal burden of pollution. That’s the same focus I’m bringing as one of the hosts of “Hot Mess” — a PBS Digital Studios YouTube series about the complexities of climate change.

      People are the most complex variables in the climate change equation. And my first episode, out today, focuses on the nexus of climate change and environmental justice — and how we need to do a better job connecting the two.

  • Finance

    • Spotify stock plunges after reporting earnings for the first time

      Spotify gave guidance for the current quarter that was slightly lighter than estimates. Investors in young tech companies like Spotify tend to have an appetite for growth, and Spotify’s could slow next quarter. That’s especially important since the company is still losing money, as it invests in research and development staffers, which made up almost half of new hires during the quarter.

    • Brighton and Hove council turns down Uber licence renewal

      A licensing panel announced on Monday that Uber was not a fit and proper company to continue operating in Brighton. Uber will appeal against the ruling.

    • The age of Amazon: a closeup examination of Bezos’s behemoth

      The company’s Prime service has 100 million paying members. Half of US households are subscribers. More than half of all online shopping searches in the US start on Amazon – not Google – up from 18% less than a decade ago. The company scoops up almost $1 of every $2 US shoppers spend online.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • MPs to issue summons for Mark Zuckerberg if he does not appear for questioning in London by May 24
    • UK gov threatens Zuck with formal summons to appear before parliament

      DCMS chief has penned a letter to Facebook once again requesting that Zuck appears before parliament to give evidence as part of the committee’s inquiry into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, noting that the Facebook boss is rumoured to be coming to Europe at the end of May.

    • 10 of the Most Sociopathic Washington Post Columns

      For casually threatening economic ruin, inciting violence against entire populations, pushing for bombing faceless Muslims, or downplaying racism and child rape, there’s no better outlet than long-time echo chamber of power-serving conventional wisdom, the Washington Post. In the pages of the Post opinion section, you can say the most sociopathic things and get away with it, because you are, by definition, Serious People offering Serious Solutions in a Serious Paper.

      The human cost of these extreme, reactionary opinions is of little matter; what matters is packaging calls for violence, sexism and racism in a nice, official-sounding tone.

    • The Existential Question of Whom to Trust

      With the fallout from the White House Correspondent’s dinner still swirling, and as we continue to celebrate Bob Parry’s life, we republish an extraordinary piece he wrote about last year’s dinner and the careerism undermining American professional life.

    • Trump’s ex-doctor says Trump associates ‘raided’ his office

      President Trump’s longtime personal doctor in New York says a trio of Trump associates showed up at his office without notice in early 2017 and seized the president’s medical records.

    • ‘Russian Talking Points’ Look An Awful Lot Like Well-Documented Facts

      Things aren’t looking great for the Democratic establishment, which recently admitted that it stacks its primaries against progressive candidates and is currently engaged in a desperate, Hail Mary lawsuit against WikiLeaks for its factual publications about the party. So of course you know what that means.

      That’s right! It’s time for Democratic pundits to begin down-punching Jill Stein.

      “Jill Stein is on @NewDay right now repeating Russian talking points on its interference in the 2016 election and on US foreign policy,” tweeted CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto today, without shame or self-reflection.

      Sciutto was referring to comments Stein made on a CNN interview Tuesday about America’s undeniable, entirely factual and well-documented history of meddling in other countries’ elections, including a citation of an ex-CIA director’s recent admission that the US has interfered in foreign electoral processes and continues to do so to this day.

      That’s what constitutes a “Russian talking point” these days: raw, easily verifiable facts.

    • Trump doctor Harold Bornstein says bodyguard, lawyer ‘raided’ his office, took medical files
    • One thing was missing from Mark Zuckerberg’s big speech — and it signals a major shift for Facebook

      But there was one key Facebook product that was almost entirely absent from the speeches and announcements by Zuckerberg and other executives: The News Feed.

      News Feed sits at the core of the traditional Facebook experience. It’s what you see when you open the app, a literal feed of news from all your friends. But it’s also a double-edged sword. Though wildly successful, it has created huge issues for the company — including the spread of fake news and the spread of Russian disinformation in the wake of the 2016 US election.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The internet made sex work safer. Now Congress has forced it back into the shadows

      Although FOSTA, or the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, was just signed on April 11th, the impact of the law has been immediate — and dangerous.

    • Blockchain and The Censorship System

      The world today experiences censorship in some form or the other. Information is suppressed, repressed and even twisted to fit a certain narrative, both by governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations.

      Truth is buried and disinformation is released over the masses, which affect the very foundation of critical thinking and free speech. The modern internet, although christened to be free, has become a playground for censorship and propaganda, with information being twisted and turned with every tick of the clock.

      To counter censorship and to allow for free flow of information, the blockchain, which is a decentralized web of computers and servers storing their own data and information and which cannot be controlled by any single entity or organization.

    • On Philly Public Transportation, the Censor Rides Along With You

      The state-run transportation authority blocks whatever speech it deems too controversial for public spaces.

      The Center for Investigative Reporting recently conducted an investigation into the disproportionate rate at which African-Americans and Latinos are denied conventional home mortgages compared to their white counterparts. The year-long investigation found that modern-day redlining — the discriminatory practice of denying a service to residents of certain areas based on racial or ethnic characteristics — has persisted in 61 areas across the country, even when controlling for applicants’ income, loan amount, and neighborhood.

      CIR hoped to advertise its findings in Philadelphia bus shelters, newsstands, and other spaces where audiences potentially affected by the investigation could explore CIR’s work. Yet when CIR submitted its advertisement to the state-run local transportation authority — Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA — the group received a puzzling response: The advertisement was “political” and expressed “an opinion, position or viewpoint on matters of public debate.” It would therefore be rejected, CIR was told. “Disparate lending is a matter of public debate and litigation,” SEPTA explained, citing the American Banking Association’s criticism of CIR’s report and methodology.

      Today, CIR — represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller — sued SEPTA over its policy, which violates the First Amendment. The policy discriminates against speech that SEPTA deems offensive or controversial, and it gives sparse guidance on how to determine whether an advertisement might be rejected for being “political” or for touching on a “matter of public debate.”

    • Japanese Lawyer Sues NTT For Voluntarily Blocking ‘Pirate Sites’

      Well, that didn’t take long. Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing yet another attempt to introduce a censorious site-blocking program to combat copyright infringement, this time in Japan. While site-blocking is unfortunately now popular in several countries, Japan’s attempt at it is interesting in that the Japanese constitution specifically forbids censorship of this kind save for the need to combat very serious, typically deadly instances. What’s not arguable is that Japan’s constitution intended to allow for a sweeping site-blocking program to combat general copyright infringement. Despite this, and despite the fact that the Japanese government hasn’t bothered to actually put any law in place that would institute site-blocking, at least one ISP decided to get a head start and began blocking access to several websites it determined to be “pirate sites.” The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., or NTT, did this while saying the government should still get on crafting an actual law for its actions, despite the obvious unconstitutional nature of the whole enterprise.

      Because of its actions, it will be NTT that will face the first legal challenge to site-blocking rather than the government, with a private citizen, who happens to be a lawyer, suing the ISP for invading his privacy in order to censor his access to the internet.

    • Under a Dark Cloud: Censorship in Burma

      Writers and publishers in Burma remain targets of one of the world’s most draconian censorship systems. Early one morning in December 1994, a group of Military Intelligence Services (MIS) officers and police surrounded a house in the northern quarter of Mandalay, Burma’s second city.

      The house was a bookshop called Ottaya Lwinpyin (“Northern Plain”), which belonged to Than Htay. Though they had no search warrant, they broke down the door and searched the whole bookshop. After a comprehensive search, they found a lot of pages that had been torn from books, magazines and periodicals. All the pages contained the slogan of the military regime and an official denunciation of the democratic forces, which must be printed on the first page of all materials published in Burma by order of the military.

      After the search of his bookshop, Than Htay was arrested and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by a summary court. Now Ko Than Htay is in Mandalay Prison, where he suffers torture and mistreatment like all other political prisoners.

    • Chinese feminists push #MeToo movement amid censorship

      Chinese feminists are trying to stay one step ahead of censors as they push the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement.

      The #MeTooInChina hashtag got nearly 4.5 million clicks in two weeks on Weibo, the country’s popular Twitter-like platform.

      But like anyone who engages in public dissent in China, feminist activists are closely monitored by the government. Posts including the hashtag were swiftly removed by the country’s censors and the term was blocked.

    • Nicaragua Government Responds to Protests with Force, Media Censorship

      On April 21, Nicaraguan journalist Angel Gahona stood among protesters in the coastal town of Bluefields to report for a Facebook Live broadcast. He approached the town’s city hall, describing a cash machine that had been damaged during the demonstrations.

      Seconds later, a gunshot sounded and Gahona fell to the curb. Protesters nearby screamed and attempted to stop the bleeding but Gahona had already passed.

    • Journals censorship is not bowdlerisation

      The statement on censorship recently published by the Association of University Presses deserves wide support. It affirms opposition to “all restrictions imposed on the dissemination of [scholarly] work” and raises important questions about censorship in China and the changing nature of researching and publishing. But we must get our facts straight on both of those.

      When, last August, Cambridge University Press was asked to remove several hundred articles from back issues of The China Quarterly, most media coverage presented it as a case of “state censorship”. However, it was actually a blunt attempt by the Chinese company that imports the journal to seek the removal of content that it felt might get it into trouble. The material had been identified entirely on the basis of keyword searches for certain “sensitive” terms, but other equally “sensitive” content had been left untouched. The attempt was even more misguided because the articles they were trying to hide were easily accessible through the much more popular JSTOR service, to which many Chinese libraries already subscribe.

    • China’s long game in techno-nationalism

      The passage of China’s national cybersecurity law in June 2017 has been interpreted as an unprecedented impediment to the operation of foreign firms in the country, with its new requirements for data localization, network operators’ cooperation with law enforcement officials, and online content restrictions, among others. Although the law’s scope is indeed broader than that of any previous regulation, the process through which it was drafted and eventually approved bears similarities to three previous cases from the past two decades of Chinese information technology policy-making. In comparing these four cases, we argue that economic concerns have consistently overshadowed claims of national security considerations throughout laws directed at foreign enterprises.

    • Imprisoned Turkish Cumhuriyet cartoonist wins prestigious prize

      Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart, who was convicted of helping “terrorist” organisations and sentenced to almost four years in prison, was awarded a top prize on Thursday by the organisation Cartooning for Peace.

      The Swiss group hands out the honour, known as its International Editorial Cartoons Prize, every two years.

      “The jury has chosen Musa Kart, iconic cartoonist of the Istanbul newspaper Cumhuriyet, for his talent and courage in the defence of freedom of expression,” a statement from the group said.

      Cumhuriyet – which means simply “Republic” – was set up in 1924 after the Turkish republic was founded in 1923.

      It has been fiercely critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has run front-page stories that have angered the Turkish head of state.

    • The Uncensored Playlist: how​ ​news​ ​is being turned into​ ​pop to bypass repressive regimes

      Journalist Chang Ping remembers his first brush with Chinese press censorship. “In early 1998, I sent a reporter in Beijing to interview rock singer Cui Jian, to talk about the difficulty of revolt. The propaganda department was very unhappy about it and chided me harshly; I was criticised for ‘promoting a capitalist view of the press’.”

      This was the first of many run-ins the writer and editor had with the authorities while working for the Chengdu Commercial Daily. Eventually, he was sacked and forced into exile, first in Hong Kong, and then, after refusing to bow to intimidation from both governments, Germany, where he continues to write critically about the Communist party’s policies and human rights abuses.

      All of which made Chang a natural choice for the Uncensored Playlist, an ingenious joint initiative by Reporters Without Borders Germany (RSF Germany), an NGO dedicated to defending the freedom of the press, and DDB Berlin, its long-time PR agency. While mentoring some university students and brainstorming ways to negate censorship, Patrik Lenhart and Marco Lemcke, creatives at DDB, discovered an interesting loophole. Despite many repressive regimes’ bans on social media sites and search engines, music streaming services – particularly Apple Music, Deezer and Spotify – continued to be freely available.

    • Amazon Joins Google In Making Censorship Easy, Threatens Signal For Circumventing Censorship Regimes

      A couple weeks ago we wrote about the unfortunate decision by Google to stop enabling domain fronting on its AppEngine. As we explained at the time, this was an (accidental) way of hiding certain traffic by using the way certain large companies had set up their online services, such that censors in, say, Iran or China, couldn’t distinguish which traffic was for an anti-censorship app, and which was for others. The two largest services that enabled this were Google and Amazon, and a variety of different anti-censorship tools made use of the ability to effectively “hide” within those sites such that an authoritarian government couldn’t block their apps without blocking all of Google or Amazon or whatever. Some CDNs have admitted that they don’t allow it out of a fear for how it could impact other users on the system, but on the whole it appeared to be a useful, if unintended, way for Google and Amazon to do good in the world.

    • Amazon warns messaging app Signal of AWS suspension over anti-censorship tool

      Cloud-based instant messaging service Telegram has been in the news recently following large-scale censorship of the service by Russia and Iran. The two nations have moved to ban the encrypted messaging service on an unprecedented scale, making headlines around the world. However, few people have paid attention to the struggles of similar messaging service Signal. Signal, run by Open Whisper Systems (OWS), is a highly popular encrypted messenger that has also found itself struggling against censorship – not by governments, but by the tech giants of the world.

    • Amazon orders Signal to stop using AWS to defeat censorship
    • Facebook caves to debunked claims of right-wing censorship [Ed: Hillary Clinton's propaganda rags (Brock) are so out of touch that they continue to perpetuate the lie that Facebook does not censors the right (it does).]
    • Conservative Leaders: ‘Social Media Censorship’ Has ‘Reached a Crisis Level’ [Ed: I am no "Conservative", but I believe that suppression if not bans/censorship of these views just helps them frame themselves as victims.]
    • Russian Censors Struggling to Block Telegram App
    • Today the internet, tomorrow your life

      The first of May, established in 1886 as International Workers’ Day, is one of the many public holidays Russia has inherited from the Soviet Union. Due to strict limitations on who can assemble in public spaces, where they can gather, and what ideas they can publicly express, it’s also the one afternoon a year when Russian activists are allowed to take placards onto the main streets. The march, an annual event in all major Russian cities, brings together an odd amalgam of protesters: environmentalists and animal rights supporters find themselves wedged between senior citizens toting Stalin nostalgia or ethnic nationalists raging against “parasites in the Kremlin.”

    • Facebook Just Totally Caved to Debunked Right-Wing Claims of Censorship
    • Conservative leaders issue statement to combat bias by tech giants, including Facebook
    • Exclusive: Facebook commits to civil rights audit, political bias review
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge keeps lawsuit alive claiming the NSA spied on everyone in SLC during the 2002 Olympics

      A federal judge has kept alive a lawsuit alleging the National Security Agency spied on everyone in the Salt Lake City area during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

      In an order handed down on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby formally denied a series of motions by both plaintiffs and the NSA until after evidence in the case had been exchanged. He then said motions to either dismiss the case or rule in the plaintiffs favor could then be reconsidered.

      Utah Democratic Party activist Josie Valdez, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, former Salt Lake City Councilwoman Deeda Seed and others (represented by former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson) have sued the NSA and former President George W. Bush, accusing them of carrying out mass surveillance on everyone in the Salt Lake City area during the Olympics, collecting text messages, emails and phone calls. The plaintiffs allege it is a violation of their constitutional rights.

    • The spring of digital discontent

      From Amber Rudd’s resignation and the Windrush scandal to GDPR and Cambridge Analytica, today’s headlines relate to digital rights more than ever. We’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to all our supporters who’ve contributed to the growing wave of engagement and action this year.

    • While Facebook Gets All The Hate, Verizon Continues To Show It’s No Better, And Potentially Much Worse For Privacy

      Facebook certainly deserves ample criticism for its lax privacy standards and its decision to threaten news outlets that exposed them. That said, we’ve noted a few times now that the uneven press fixation on Facebook obscures the fact that numerous industries routinely engage in much worse behavior. That’s particularly true of broadband providers (and especially wireless carriers), who routinely treat consumer privacy as a distant afterthought, with only a fraction of the total volume of media hyperventilation we saw during the Facebook kerfuffle.

      Facebook’s casual treatment of your data isn’t some errant tech industry exception, it’s the norm, making #quitFacebook an arguably pointless gesture if you still own a stock mobile phone. In the telecom industry, a disdain for consumer privacy is a cornerstone of their entire business model(s). Companies like AT&T and Verizon aren’t just bone grafted to our government’s domestic surveillance apparatus, they collect and sell everything from browsing to location data to absolutely anyone and everyone–with little to no real oversight, and opt out tools that may or may not actually work.

    • There is No Middle Ground on Encryption

      Encryption is back in the headlines again, with government officials insisting that they still need to compromise our security via a backdoor for law enforcement. Opponents of encryption imagine that there is a “middle ground” approach that allows for strong encryption but with “exceptional access” for law enforcement. Government officials claim that technology companies are creating a world where people can commit crimes without fear of detection.

      Despite this renewed rhetoric, most experts continue to agree that exceptional access, no matter how you implement it, weakens security. The terminology might have changed, but the essential question has not: should technology companies be forced to develop a system that inherently harms their users? The answer hasn’t changed either: no.

      Let us count the reasons why. First, if mandated by the government, exceptional access would violate the First Amendment under the compelled speech doctrine, which prevents the government from forcing an individual, company, or organization to make a statement, publish certain information, or even salute the flag.

      Second, mandating that tech companies weaken their security puts users at risk. In the 1990s, the White House introduced the Clipper Chip, a plan for building backdoors into communications technologies. A security researcher found enormous security flaws in the system, showing that a brute-force attack could likely compromise the technology.

      Third, exceptional access would harm U.S. businesses and chill innovation. The United States government can’t stop development on encryption technologies; it can merely push it overseas.

    • Facebook Ranking News Sources By Trust Is A Bad Idea… But No One At Facebook Will Read Our Untrustworthy Analysis
    • Ex-NSA chief’s startup raises $78 million, helps defend U.S. power grid

      IronNet Cybersecurity Inc, a startup led by former U.S. National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, has raised $78 million in additional funding, the company told Reuters on Wednesday, a day ahead of a planned announcement.

    • Former NSA chief raises $78 million for critical infrastructure cyber security start-up
    • Tech giants hit by NSA spying slam encryption backdoors

      The group, which focuses on efforts to reform government surveillance, said in a statement that it continues to advocate for strong encryption, and decried attempts to undermine the technology.

      “Recent reports have described new proposals to engineer vulnerabilities into devices and services — but they appear to suffer from the same technical and design concerns that security researchers have identified for years,” the statement read.

    • Man who crashed into NSA gate in 2015 sentenced to 27 years in prison

      A federal judge this week sentenced a man to 27 years in prison for a carjacking that led to a high-speed chase in Anne Arundel County and ended with a crash at a security gate at the National Security Agency, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

      U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Dontae Small, 44, in a downtown courtroom Tuesday, 2½ years after the chase that briefly closed the NSA to non-essential personnel and resulted in overnight search of the agency’s grounds. Small gave himself up to authorities the next morning.

    • Man sentenced to 27 years for crashing into NSA gate

      A Baltimore man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for a carjacking and high-speed chase that ended with him plowing into a security gate at Fort Meade in 2015.

      [...]

      Authorities said that after crashing into a gate at the NSA at Fort Meade, he hid overnight in a storm drain before being found and arrested.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Says It Will Take 3 Years to Fix Facebook
    • Mark Zuckerberg: It Will Take 3 Years To Fix Facebook [Ed: No, Facebook cannot be 'fixed' because its very purpose is malicious. It turns people into informants and manipulates everyone. It profits from interference.]

      Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about his new year resolution. He said that we focus on fixing Facebook’s biggest problems this year. Maybe it was a hint of the fire that was about to spark in the coming months–soon to be followed by apology tours, congressional testimony, and finally big changes to win back people’s trust.

    • Cambridge Analytica Closing Operations Following Facebook Data Controversy

      Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, is shutting down following allegations about its misuse of Facebook data and the campaign tactics it pitched to clients.

    • Cambridge Analytica closes doors after Facebook data scandal

      Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that was recently embroiled in a scandal over obtaining data from Facebook, has shut down its operations.

      The decision was taken because the company was losing clients and looking at growing legal costs, The Wall Street Journal said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

    • Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down After Facebook Data Leak; It’s Reborn Already

      In a press release published on Wednesday, the company said it is “no longer viable to continue operating the business” as “unfairly negative media coverage” has driven away “virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers”.

    • Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata

      The company formerly known as Cambridge Analytica shocked the media today when it announced an immediate shutdown and liquidation of its business.

      That “shutdown,” however, may be short-lived as official documents indicate those behind the controversial analytics company will be launching as a new firm with a less-toxic brand.

      The surprise announcement came on Wednesday evening, when the UK-based Cambridge Anal., and its parent organization SCL Elections, stated it would enter insolvency proceedings and disband immediately.

    • Cambridge Analytica Is Shutting Down [Updated]

      Update 2:10pm: Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, SCL Group founder Nigel Oakes confirmed that both Cambridge Analytica and the SCL Group are shutting down.

      Update 3:10pm: In a press release, Cambridge Analytica announced that it, SCL Elections, and other affiliate companies have filed for insolvency in the UK, with bankruptcy proceedings in the US to follow.

      “Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully, which view is now fully supported by [a third-party audit], the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” states the release. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the Company into administration.”

      Update 4:56pm: Asked for clarification, The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Oakes said the entire SCL Group—not just subsidiary SCL Elections—was shutting down. We have updated our story to reflect this information

    • Love it or not, Facebook launches dating service

      Facebook doesn’t think hookups are meaningful and doesn’t want you to date your friends — but it’s known for a long time that its vast map of human connections could help people find long-term partners. At least that’s the takeaway from a new dating feature the social networking giant is launching because, well, why not?

    • Facebook is taking on Tinder with new dating features

      Facebook is adding a dating layer to its main mobile app, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today during the company’s F8 developers conference keynote in San Jose, California. The features are a long time coming for the 14-year-old social network, which has allowed users to broadcast whether they’re single or in a relationship since it first went live in February 2004.

    • Website privacy policies don’t say much about how they share your data

      If you want to know how a website shares your personal data, you might be tempted to slog through its online privacy policy. Be prepared for disappointment. Website privacy policies explicitly disclose only a fraction of sites’ data-sharing practices, according to new research that casts doubt on whether users can make informed decisions about their online activity.

    • Amazon’s Big Brother Technologies: Tracking Life Milestones and Predicting a User’s Future Location

      Seattle, WA-based e-commerce firm Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is a giant in the world of American retail. A little more than one year ago it was reported that, in 2016, Amazon’s e-commerce platform accounted for 43 percent of all online retail sales for that year. In 2017, Amazon led e-commerce retailers in America with $178 billion in net sales according to the online statistics portal Statista. In mid-April, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced in an annual shareholder letter that the company had surpassed 100 million global subscribers to its Amazon Prime membership service; Amazon also shipped more than five billion items to Prime subscribers in 2017.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Brain-scanning in Chinese factories probably doesn’t work — if it’s happening at all

      This week, the South China Morning Post reported that Chinese companies are “mining data directly from workers’ brains” using wireless sensors in hats. The article is full of exciting quotes about employers using technology to monitor their workers’ emotions, but the reality is that these hats probably don’t work very well.

    • Trump Has an Abstinence-Only Vision for Federally Funded Family Planning Programs

      ACLU files suit save the Title X family planning program, which provides affordable birth control to 4 million people.

      For nearly 50 years, the nation’s family planning program has provided high-quality contraceptive care to millions of women and men. The program, known as Title X, is the only federal program in the United States dedicated solely to affordable family planning and sexual care. Its core premise for existing — making birth control accessible to all who want it — has been heralded as among the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.

      Since its inception in 1970, Title X providers have led the effort to carry out Congress’ vision for a national program created to address President Nixon’s assertion that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” As a result, millions of poor, low-income, uninsured, or vulnerable individuals across the country have access to high-quality, affordable family planning and sexual health care, including modern methods of birth control.

      Unfortunately, the Trump administration is intent on putting ideology before public health — attempting to undercut the family planning program that provides vital services, like breast and cervical cancer detection, sexually transmitted disease services, and HIV testing. Instead, the administration is favoring participation in Title X by entities that would emphasize its ideologically driven priorities, including promoting abstaining from sex before marriage for all people, regardless of age or the needs and desires of the patient.

    • Baltimore to Pay Largest Settlement in City History — $9 Million — to Man Wrongfully Convicted of Murder

      Baltimore officials today approved a $9 million settlement — the largest in city history — to James “J.J.” Owens, who spent two decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

      Owens’ case, and that of another man prosecuted for the same crime, was the subject of an investigation by ProPublica and The Atlantic last September that examined how defendants are pressured into controversial plea deals despite proof of their innocence.

      Owens’ payout adds to Baltimore’s growing tab for decades of misconduct by its police force. In November, a jury awarded another wrongfully convicted Baltimore man, Sabein Burgess, $15 million. Like Owens, Burgess had sued, alleging civil rights violations by detectives.

    • How Irish anti-abortion activists are drawing on Brexit and Trump campaigns to influence referendum

      In 2012, billboards appeared around the Republic of Ireland depicting the image of a despairing woman, or a ruptured foetus, and the tagline: “Abortion tears her life apart.” Organisers from Dublin-based groups Youth Defence and the Life Institute claimed that the billboards were seen by more than 2.1 million people – almost half of Ireland’s population.

      The Chicago-based director of the Pro-Life Action League stoked speculation as to who paid for the adverts when he told an Irish newspaper that US donors had given “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to Irish anti-abortion groups, including Youth Defence. “They need the money for publicity,” he said. “Abortion is about conversion.”

      On May 25, Ireland will hold an historic referendum on abortion. The country’s laws are currently among the world’s most restrictive, denying women and girls access to terminations even in cases of rape or incest. The upcoming vote is attracting worldwide attention.

    • Appeals Court Finally Shuts Down Bogus Lawsuit Targeting A School Official For Words A Journalist Wrote

      At long last, one of the stupider defamation lawsuits in recent history is finally over. Last year, the ousted director of a Tennessee culinary school (Tom Loftis) sued over an article appearing in a local paper. The article, written by journalist Jim Myers, insinuated the departure of Loftis signaled a return to quality for the culinary program. It also spoke highly of his replacement, Randy Rayburn.

      The article featured few direct quotes from Rayburn. The bulk of it consisted of Myers’ take on the program’s declining quality while Loftis was at the helm. So, naturally, Tom Loftis decided to sue his replacement, Randy Rayburn, who was responsible for none of the supposedly defamatory content contained in the article.

      Loftis argued this was “defamation by innuendo,” all the while refusing to target the journalist and paper responsible for the alleged innuendo. He not only lost his lawsuit, but now owes legal fees for that attempt. Rather than accept this loss and cut a check, Loftis appealed. This recent state appeals court decision [PDF], via Randy Rayburn’s legal representative, Daniel Horwitz, has nothing positive to say about Loftis’ bogus lawsuit.

    • Ranks of Notorious Hate Group Include Active-Duty Military

      A Marine took part in the violent assaults in Charlottesville last summer and later bragged about it online with other members of Atomwaffen, an extremist group preparing for a race war. The involvement of current or former service members — often with sophisticated weapons training — in white supremacist groups has long been a concern.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Some Comcast Customers Won’t Get The Latest Broadband Upgrades Without Buying Cable TV

      As we’ve often noted, Comcast has been shielded from the cord cutting trend somewhat thanks to its growing monopoly over broadband. As users on slow DSL lines flee telcos that are unwilling to upgrade their damn networks, they’re increasingly flocking to cable operators for faster speeds. When they get there, they often bundle TV services; not necessarily because they want it, but because it’s intentionally cheaper than buying broadband standalone.

      And while Comcast’s broadband monopoly has protected it from TV cord cutting somewhat, the rise in streaming competition has slowly eroded that advantage, and Comcast is expected to see see double its usual rate of cord cutting this year according to Wall Street analysts.

      Comcast being Comcast, the company has a semi-nefarious plan B. Part of that plan is to abuse its monopoly over broadband to deploy arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees. These restrictions are glorified rate hikes applied to non competitive markets, with the added advantage of making streaming video more expensive. It’s a punishment for choosing to leave Comcast’s walled garden.

    • California net neutrality bill that AT&T hates is coming to New York, too

      In California, the bill was approved last month by two Senate committees despite protest from AT&T and cable lobbyists, and it needs to go through one more committee before getting a vote of the full state Senate. Today, a lawmaker in New York said he has teamed up with the California bill’s author to introduce an equivalent bill in the New York legislature.

    • After harsh criticism, Facebook quietly pulls services from developing countries

      Myanmar is not the only place where Free Basics has quietly ended. The program has been abruptly called off in more than half a dozen nations and territories in the recent months, according to an analysis by The Outline. People in Bolivia and Latin American markets, as well as Papua New Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Congo, Anguilla, El Salvador, and Saint Lucia have also lost access to Facebook’s free internet program. Additionally, Facebook was testing Free Basics service in Zimbabwe in mid-2016 in partnership with local telecom operator Telecel. The test program has yet to materialize into a wider roll out.

      [...]

      “Effectively, Facebook’s Free Basics is shaping the internet experience of users — i.e., the services they can access, the services they cannot access,” Pahwa told The Outline, adding that this creates a filter bubble for users that influences their worldview. “You can see problems crop up in nations where Free Basics is operational and Facebook is dominant.”

    • Facebook’s Free Basics quietly pulled from Myanmar, other markets

      Myanmar’s government and the state-owned telecom (Myanma Posts and Telecommunications) that Facebook teamed up with to provide free access to the social network apparently worked together to cut off access to all free services.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate IPTV Blocking Case is No Slam Dunk Says Federal Court Judge

        A Federal Court judge in Australia isn’t making life easy for lawyers representing Hong Kong broadcasting giant Television Broadcasts Limited. The company wants pirate IPTV services blocked Down Under but complexities surrounding eligibility for protection under Australian law and blocking injunction specifics means that Justice Nicholas won’t be rushed into a decision.

      • Cloudflare and RIAA Agree on Tailored Site Blocking Process

        Cloudflare and the RIAA have agreed to a tailored process through which the music labels can expand their blocking efforts against the piracy site MP3Skull, if needed. The deal is part of a lengthy legal battle during which both sides dug in their heels, to secure their bottom lines.

      • Danish Traffic to Pirate Sites Increases 67% in Just a Year

        According to a new study by Rights Alliance, an anti-piracy group representing local and international rightsholders, Danish traffic to pirate sites increased 67% between 2016 and 2017. Movie and TV show consumption accounts for most of the hits but newer trends such as IPTV services and stream-ripping are growing rapidly.

      • The European Commission’s “Upload Censorship for Copyright” is already obsolete

        Julia Reda has reported time and again on the copyright industry’s persistent efforts to get the concept of notice-and-takedown replaced by notice-and-staydown in law: in other words, if you run a platform that accepts any kind of user contributions, you would be required to screen every submission against a list of notices for “staydown” that you’ve received.

      • Thousands Of Academics Pledge To Boycott Springer’s New Machine Learning Title In Support Of Long-Established Open Access Journal

        Among Techdirt’s many stories chronicling the (slow) rise of open access publishing, a number have been about dramatic action taken by researchers to protest against traditional publishers and their exploitative business model. For example, in 2012, a boycott of the leading publisher Elsevier was organized to protest against its high journal prices and its support for the now long-forgotten Research Works Act. In 2015, the editors and editorial board of the Elsevier title Lingua resigned in order to start up their own open access journal. Now we have another boycott, this time as a reaction against the launch of the for-profit Nature Machine Intelligence, from the German publishing giant Springer.

      • Monkeys Lack Standing To Sue For Copyright Infringement

        Well, it’s official: Naruto, the crested macaque monkey who took photographs of himself while on a reserve on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2011, lacks statutory standing under the US Copyright Act to sue for copyright infringement.

        As we had previously reported to you in earlier blogs, a controversy erupted several years ago over who, if anyone, owns the copyright in “selfie” photographs that were taken by a monkey on an unattended camera. It was determined that David Slater, the photographer who left his camera unattended in the Indonesian reserve, did not own the copyright since he did not take the photographs.

Marks & Clerk is Still Pushing Patent Maximalism Agenda in Europe and Britain, Including UPC/UPCA/Unitary Patent (UP)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Selling lawyers’ time at hundreds of pounds per hour

Half past three

Summary: Lies about patents, about the EPO, about Britain and about the UPC are still being disseminated by British firms and publishers that stand to gain from an epidemic of patent lawsuits (because they profit from the very problem they help create and exacerbate)

Marks & Clerk is one of the largest firms in the domain of patents. They profit from patents. The greater the number of patents (and patent lawsuits), the more money they will make (at the expense of actual companies that actually make something). A couple of years ago Marks & Clerk said that the EPO nowadays makes it easier to get abstract patents on mathematics than the USPTO. They must be very pleased. They also push adverts (in the form of ‘articles’) for the UPC, e.g. this one. Marks & Clerk is basically a very big contributor to the problem.

“Marks & Clerk is basically a very big contributor to the problem.”Sure, there are other contributors to the problem, notably Bristows and paid advocates of the UPC (disguised as ‘media’). They are lobbyists of patent trolls and software patents agenda. Managing IP sets up UPC lobbying events and so did IAM, which had received funding for that from the EPO’s PR firm (i.e. the EPO indirectly). They carry on pushing rather toxic (to patent law) agenda. Earlier this week both of them wrote about RPX being scooped up by HGGC. “RPX accepts $555 million private equity offer,” IAM wrote. “The sale of RPX to HGGC at $10.50 per share follows a review of strategic alternatives by the board,” Managing IP wrote on Tuesday. That odd figure, 555, is not a coincidence. They’re not serious. It’s not actual cash but some “pen and paper” stuff, shares, etc. They’re talking about stocks. It’s a nice way to spin the likely death of RPX. We don’t expect it to operate much longer; maybe it will be sold in pieces.

“In fact, EPO recruitment of Brits had gone down by 80%].”Yesterday, Joff Wild (IAM’s chief) advertised another upcoming propaganda of IAM. “IAM’s Auto events in the US and Europe this month are motoring towards sell-out,” said the headline. How many seats are there? It didn’s say. They just use classic marketing tactics. Typical IAM. On the very same day (hours apart) Ed Round who is a European Patent Attorney at Marks & Clerk published some auto-themed propaganda at “The Engineer”, which is a British news site. Marks & Clerk does not seem to understand that many British people now know that the EPO is defunct and not worth pursuing due to Battistelli’s sabotage. In fact, EPO recruitment of Brits had gone down by 80%. That was even before the referendum on exiting the EU (so-called ‘Brexit’).

This article is so misguided for a lot of reasons, yet patent maximalists who profit from patent maximalism at the EPO (like Marks & Clerk does) market themselves by bashing the British into pursuing bad EPs, assuming only patents indicate progress. To quote some portions:

Transport has traditionally been one of the UK’s leading sectors for filing patent applications, according to the European Patent Office’s (EPO) rolling log of patents filed and granted. The latest statistical release from the EPO however, looking at patent filing data from 2017, reveals that transport is no longer the UK’s top filing sector, with more patents applications from the UK filed in the medtech category in 2017.

[...]

There are several other issues which might be impacting the number of filings coming out of the transport sector. As the race to deliver viable driverless cars continues, and with technology making vehicles – as with everything else – ever smarter, increasing volumes of the patentable technology going into next generation transport projects might not fall under traditional ‘transport’ filing categories. Sophisticated on-board technology, sensors for safer driving and the complex algorithms that underpin self-driving vehicles, will all be filed under categories more related to software and computing than engines and drivetrains. Machine learning too is a technology with increasingly broad applications in everything from traffic coordination to rail and air traffic control and again is something that won’t be captured in the ‘transport’ category at the EPO.

[...]

While the dip in transport patent applications is far from indicative of a sector that isn’t investing in the future, there are things to consider, especially with regard to applications from the UK. While the trend in the UK roughly follows that of the EPO as a whole, if we look at numbers of patent applications filed in any given year, the UK lags far behind some of our closest competition, such as France and Germany. For the UK’s 322 patent applications in the transport category in 2017, France applied for a total of 1044 while Germany applied for 1877, nearly six times more than the UK!

So the bottom line or underlying message from Marks & Clerk is: contact Marks & Clerk for ‘consultation’ and patenting (or lawsuits) in Europe. It’s pure marketing disguised as information — typically a specialty of Battistelli, who literally bribes the media for such pieces (we have covered many examples over the years).

“Resistance to that sabotage of the European patent system (basically flooding it with low-quality and bogus patents) is ever more crucial.”UPC/UPCA/Unitary Patent (UP) agenda is also circulating this week.

One person who writes for lawyers’ sites said: “My own thoughts (for what it’s worth) is that the benefits that the #UPC gives IP owners outweigh the (not insignificant but also not heinous) EU link. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the issue bubble up as a “betrayal of democracy” before long.”

“If by “IP owners” you mean large pharmaceutical giants,” I told him, “subsidised by taxpayers for R&D, and not even based in Europe (just trying to embargo rivals, generics).”

He liked my remark, so I’m assuming he agrees with it. The UPC isn’t really of much use to the vast majority of European businesses; worse — it’s actually detrimental to the vast majority of European businesses. People who comment in IP Kat pointed it out earlier this week and this latest comment in the thread speaks of Brexit as the reason UPC ‘ratification’ in the UK is rather meaningless:

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the UPCA can come into force in its current form (ie with the UK’s participation and including a court in London).

In this scenario, Brexit gives rise to a conundrum for the courts: what to do when, for a non-unitary EP validated in the UK, a question arises regarding the interpretation of EU law?

Presumably, the UPC would (at least try to) refer questions to the CJEU. However, if Brexit goes according to the government’s current plans, then the UK courts would be unable to make such references.

So does this mean that, for post-Brexit litigation concerning (only) the UK, a patentee’s ability to secure preliminary references to the CJEU will depend upon factors such as: whether unitary effect has been requested; the opt-out status of the patent if no unitary effect has been requested; and the forum (eg the national court) in which the patent is litigated?

If so, then this seems to add yet another level of absurdity (and uncertainty) to the practical effects of bringing the current UPCA into force.

For example, consider what might happen if the UK Supreme Court decides to take its own path with regard to the interpretation of “inherited” EU legislation (such as the Biotech Directive or the SPC Regulations). This could mean that the outcome of litigation in respect of the UK will be subject to both forum-shopping and post-grant choices by the patentee (re: unitary effect and/or opt-out status).

Whatever happened to the concept of legal certainty for third parties?

There’s an information war waged by the EPO and Team UPC; IAM, Managing IP, and firms like Marks & Clerk embedding themselves in news sites and blogs are trying to sell us a ruinous agenda while repeating lies like “IP for SMEs” (that’s even a hashtag the EPO repeats all the time). Resistance to that sabotage of the European patent system (basically flooding it with low-quality and bogus patents) is ever more crucial.

The European Patent Office Has Become a Kakistocracy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team Battistelli fits the definition almost perfectly

Kakistocracy

Summary: Nowadays, under Benoît Battistelli, the worth of human life and human rights may seem far too low at the EPO; for a change, however, citing the European Patent Convention (EPC), EPO staff rejects a key patent, so there’s still a power struggle between competent people and people who misuse/sabotage the Office for personal gain

THE European Patent Office (EPO) keeps wrestling with patent quality, which management is trying to squash, whereas examiners try to insist on (at risk of being laid off for such insistence if not resistance).

High patent quality is the enemy of patent maximalists, such as patent law firms. They profit from a large pool of patents and lawsuits, including frivolous ones. They could not care less if money is drained out of the economy because that money typically lands in their pockets. This is why they are pushing so hard for the UPC — a subject we shall revisit in our next post.

“High patent quality is the enemy of patent maximalists, such as patent law firms.”We recently wrote about Finnegan (together with IAM) promoting patents on life/nature. Finnegan is one of the largest patent law firms out there (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP). Yesterday it wrote about Amgen [1, 2, 3] — an envelope which no doubt it’s willing to push for its large clients, such as pharmaceutical giants. Sanya Sukduang and Thomas J. Sullivan did this so-called ‘podcast’, which they preceded with the following text (a case we covered here several times before): “In June 2017, the Supreme Court announced its decisions in Sandoz v. Amgen and Amgen v. Sandoz – cases that examined how makers of biosimilars and branded biologic drugs bring products to market. At issue was the so-called “patent dance,” a complex series of disclosures between biosimilar makers and the manufacturers of branded versions. In its decision, the Court left it up to states to decide whether to enforce the patent dance and how.”

This case concerns the US patent system, but there’s an analogous dispute in Europe over biosimilars. What’s at stake is the worth of human life, e.g. access to medicine. Given that the EPO already grants abstract patents on mathematics, why not patents on life/nature as well?

According to an article we saw yesterday, “EpiPen patent [got] revoked in Europe”. Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review wrote:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a patent covering Mylan’s EpiPen (epinephrine) injector after finding that patent amendments contravened the European Patent Convention (EPC).

ALK-Abello, a Denmark-based pharmaceutical company that makes the Jext injector, and Merck had opposed European patent number EP1,786,491 in November 2016.

The patent is owned by Meridian Medical Technologies, a subsidiary of Pfizer and the manufacturer of EpiPens for Mylan.

LSIPR previously reported on the battleground for the patent opposition.

Might the USPTO follow suit? Maybe PTAB will be petitioned some day? The behaviour of the maker of EpiPen still makes headlines in the US (quite a few even yesterday). EpiPen losing its ‘teeth’ at the EPO is a good sign. It shows that at least some parts of the Office (e.g. Oppositions, which recently shot down a CRISPR patent) still manage to function. But for how much longer? And to what extent? As we said yesterday, only about 4% of granted patents are opposed (not because the remaining 96% are OK). And as we have seen before, those who stand in the way of patent maximalists like Battistelli tend to be punished somehow. It’s not like there are legal safeguards against such retribution tactics.

As Märpel noted yesterday, there are “No human rights.” To quote a portion of this latest post:

This message from the President of the European Court of Human Rights himself is of the utmost importance to the staff of the EPO as the European Court of Human Rights was perceived of the only way to reform a dysfunctional justice system: member states should not be able to create an organisation where basic human rights are not respected and access to a functional justice system is a basic human right. Märpel understands that there are pending cases involving the EPO at the European Court of Human Rights.

What Guido Raimondi basically said is that all these cases shall be lost. Human rights at the EPO are good enough or, more precisely, the need of international organizations for immunity and an independent justice system is more important than the breeches suffered by their staff.

SUEPO notes that Between May 2003 and May 2010, Guido Raimondi worked at the International Labour Office (ILO) as a Deputy Legal Adviser and Legal Adviser of the Organization. Doesn’t this cast doubts on his independence and fairness? The article of Guido Raimondi on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on international Civil Service law is below. English translation from SUEPO.

As we said yesterday, one legitimate concern is that EPO examiners no longer have the courage to oppose bad patents, except anonymously (i.e. not in their professional capacity). A terrorising administration made it this way. This would not only cost Europe a lot of money (several times the aggregate revenue of the EPO) but it would also cost lives. The former Chief Economist of the EPO publicly warned about this. Battistelli replaced him with some Frenchman who keeps talking a lot of nonsense in the latest Gazette (I was personally astounded by how shallow and boorish his articles/puff pieces were). The EPO has truly become a kakistocracy.

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