EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.23.18

EPO Validation in Former French Colonies That Have Zero European Patents

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 11:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

All about Benoît, not the Office

Benoît selfies
Like much of the EPO’s Web site, annual results too are being personified

Summary: The strategy of the EPO seems to be centered around the interests of Benoît Battistelli and his political career rather than that of the EPO; validation deals and dubious 'Inventor Awards' seem to be part of this pattern

Corruption at the EPO has become almost banal; and yes, at this stage we can loosely throw around the “c” word (corruption) if not worse words. The President misuses the EPO’s budget, he gets together with former French colonies that have zero European Patents (EPs), and awards are being granted to literal frauds. We have never ever seen anything remotely like this at the USPTO. Or any other patent office for that matter…

“We have never ever seen anything remotely like this at the USPTO.”Yesterday there was this article from southeast Asian media about Battistelli’s agreement with “Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, and Cambodia” (almost all are former French colonies). It said this:

In January 2017, the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the European Patent Organization (EPO) entered into an agreement on validation of European patents. The agreement came into effect on March 1, this year and makes Cambodia the first Asian country to grant validation to European patents. Similar agreements have come into force between the EPO and Morocco, between the EPO and Moldova, and between the EPO and Tunisia in the last three years.

[...]

For European patent applicants, one of the key advantages that the validation offers is that it will now be possible for them to cover up to 44 countries – European states as well as Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, and Cambodia – with a single European patent application. For Cambodia, it is an opportunity as the validation of EU patents offers incentives for its owners to consider investing in Cambodia. The validation agreement could significantly improve Cambodia’s competitiveness and attract more European investors.

It’s hard to see what value the EPO derives from this, especially given the fact that Cambodia has no EPs; the other nations too barely have any EPs. These deals are generally viewed (e.g. by EPO insiders) as purely political stunts, set up by Battistelli to benefit Battistelli and his political associates.

“These deals are generally viewed (e.g. by EPO insiders) as purely political stunts, set up by Battistelli to benefit Battistelli and his political associates.”Speaking of southeast Asia, yesterday there was this promotional ‘article’ (more like a press release) about a company from Thailand (for perspective, the number of granted Thai EPs was 61 last year and 60 the prior year):

Pipper Standard, Thailand’s leading brand of natural household cleaning products, has been granted multiple patents by the European Patent Office for its proprietary fermented fruit technology.

“We are thrilled that our innovative technology has been awarded three patents by the European Patent Office,” said Peter Wainman, Chairman and CEO of Equator Pure Nature Co., Ltd. (EPN), manufacturer of Pipper Standard products. “This further underscores our role as a leader in the global movement away from chemical cleaners towards safe, natural, non-toxic products. To our knowledge, we are the only natural cleaning brand in the world with patented technology.”

If only they knew that patent quality at the EPO has sunk and many EPs are thus unproven and are of questionable use (e.g. in courts).

Saint-Germain’s Poisonous Legacy of “Toxic Loans”: The Cautionary Tale of SIDRU and Its “Toxic Loans”

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 10:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The town where the EPO‘s President (Battistelli) is a deputy mayor has a track record of financial hardship and alleged financial misconduct, attributed to the same financial practices Battistelli has just implemented at the EPO

The cautionary tale which follows concerns the Syndicat Intercommunal de Destruction des Résidus Urbains (SIDRU), a communal waste disposal service which is a joint enterprise of fifteen municipalities in the Greater Paris region, including the township of St. Germain-en-Laye.

An official report into the affairs of the SIDRU was issued in 2012 by the competent local public audit body (Chambre Régionale des Comptes d’Île de France). PDF document can be found here [PDF] (local copy [PDF]).

“Between 2003 and 2007, that is to say under Lamy’s chairmanship, SIDRU concluded a number of loan contracts with various banks.”This report confirms that from 1999 onwards the chairman of the SIDRU was none other than the late Emmanuel Lamy, the longtime Mayor of St. Germain-en-Laye from 1999 until 2017.

Between 2003 and 2007, that is to say under Lamy’s chairmanship, SIDRU concluded a number of loan contracts with various banks.

The loans were related to the financing of a new intercommunal waste processing and incinerator facility Azalys located in Carrières-sous-Poissy.

Azalys and Lamy

The Azalys incinerator had initially been financed with a conventional loan totalling around € 49 million at a fixed interest rate of about 5%.

After some time the SIDRU management came to the conclusion that the interest rate was too high. During the period 2003 to 2007 it was decided to “swap” the original fixed interest loan for a number of more sophisticated “structured debt products”. These “structured debt products” took the form of adjustable-rate loans whose interest rates were indexed to the movements of foreign exchange rates between the Euro and other currencies.

Back in 2003, or even in 2007 before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, such “structured debt products” may have seemed like a good idea.

“DEPFA has since been “wound down”. It achieved notoriety in 2008 after it ran into liquidity problems as a result of the economic and financial turmoil in the United States which in turn unleashed shock-waves in the German financial sector and ultimately necessitated a multi-billion bailout of its parent company Hypo Real Estate.”Or at least it was comparatively easier for the snake-oil salesmen pushing them to dazzle prospective customers by exaggerating the claimed advantages while downplaying the risks.

However as chaos and instability engulfed the financial markets in 2008, the unfortunate customers all too often woke up to find that what had been sold to them as sophisticated “structured debt products” had suddenly metamorphosed into “toxic loans” saddling them with dire financial consequences which in many cases still remain to be resolved.

One of the SIDRU loans negotiated by Lamy in 2007 was with the DEPFA Bank, the Dublin-based public-sector financing subsidiary of the German Hypo Real Estate (HRE).

DEPFA BANK

DEPFA has since been “wound down”. It achieved notoriety in 2008 after it ran into liquidity problems as a result of the economic and financial turmoil in the United States which in turn unleashed shock-waves in the German financial sector and ultimately necessitated a multi-billion bailout of its parent company Hypo Real Estate.

“The interest rate of the DEPFA loan rose dramatically in 2011, jumping from 13.35% to 25% in March, then reaching 34% in April and eventually hitting a peak value of 55% in August 2011!”The loan which Lamy concluded with DEPFA for a tranche of SIDRU’s debt was scheduled to run for a ten year period.

For the first year from 15 December 2008 to 15 December 2009 a fixed rate of interest of 3.68% was to be charged.

For the remaining 9 years the interest rate on the loan depended on the difference between the exchange rate of the Euro in US Dollars and the exchange rate of the Euro in Swiss francs and it was to be calculated based on the following formula:

4.68 + 1.7 x max (0; EURUSD – EURCHF)

The arrangement turned out to be catastrophic when instability in the global financial markets unexpectedly led to both a strong rise in the Euro against the Dollar and a strong rise in the Swiss Franc against the Euro.

The interest rate of the DEPFA loan rose dramatically in 2011, jumping from 13.35% to 25% in March, then reaching 34% in April and eventually hitting a peak value of 55% in August 2011!

DEPFA loan interest rates

The fluctuation of the interest rates on the DEPFA loan between December 2009 and December 2014 can be seen in a graphic posted on the website of the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement.

In July 2011 SIDRU decided to suspend its payments on the DEPFA loan.

“In July 2011 SIDRU decided to suspend its payments on the DEPFA loan.”The controversy surrounding the DEPFA loan and other “toxic loans” dragged on [PDF].

After the local elections in 2014 Lamy was replaced as Chairman of SIDRU by Jean-Frédéric Berçot, the Deputy Mayor of the neighbouring municipality of Poissy.

Following SIDRU’s suspension of payments in July 2011 the matter of the DEPFA loan eventually ended up in court.

“On 4 November 2016 the Court of Appeal of Paris issued a final judgment against SIDRU and ordered it to pay DEPFA all outstanding debts plus other charges which in total amounted to just over € 20 million!”On 4 November 2016 the Court of Appeal of Paris issued a final judgment against SIDRU and ordered it to pay DEPFA all outstanding debts plus other charges which in total amounted to just over € 20 million!

A PDF file of the judgment can be found here [PDF] (local copy [PDF]).

The judgment underlined the personal responsibility of Emmanuel Lamy in the affair.

“The SIDRU is an informed party to the contract, whose director, Emmanuel Lamy, Mayor of the commune of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, ENArque, head of mission for general economic and financial control for the Ministry of Finance, had all the skills required to understand and analyse the possible consequences of both a strong rise in the Euro against the Dollar and a strong rise in the Swiss Franc against the Euro even if such a scenario had been presented as unlikely”.

In a statement published in the “Free Opinion” column of issue no. 697 [PDF] of the Journal de Saint-Germain the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement spoke in terms of a “damning judgment” against Lamy: “SIDRU: le jugement accable E. Lamy”.

Journal de Saint-Germain Journal 18 Nov 2016

Links 23/5/2018: DragonFlyBSD 5.2.1 and Kata Containers 1.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How open-source computing is making AI affordable

    computing and the cloud have brought many previously unaffordable IT options to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The same is becoming true of artificial intelligence (AI), although it brings new challenges to all sizes of company.

    Even though many of the commercial, high-profile products are aimed at Global 2000 companies, and others marketed at SMEs are perhaps heavier on hype than intelligence, the smarter smaller organisations can learn, build on and use AI techniques right now, with those same open-source and
    .

  • Free Ebook Offers Insight on 16 Open Source AI Projects

    Open source AI is flourishing, with companies developing and open sourcing new AI and machine learning tools at a rapid pace. To help you keep up with the changes and stay informed about the latest projects, The Linux Foundation has published a free ebook by Ibrahim Haddad examining popular open source AI projects, including Acumos AI, Apache Spark, Caffe, TensorFlow, and others.

    “It is increasingly common to see AI as open source projects,” Haddad said. And, “as with any technology where talent premiums are high, the network effects of open source are very strong.”

  • Open source image recognition with Luminoth

    Computer vision is a way to use artificial intelligence to automate image recognition—that is, to use computers to identify what’s in a photograph, video, or another image type. The latest version of Luminoth (v. 0.1), an open source computer vision toolkit built in Python and using Tensorflow and Sonnet, offers several improvements over its predecessor.

  • Finally: Historic Eudora email code goes open source

    The source code to the Eudora email client is being released by the Computer History Museum, after five years of discussion with the IP owner, Qualcomm.

    The Mac software was well loved by early internet adopters and power users, with versions appearing for Palm, Newton and Windows. At one time, the brand was so synonymous with email that Lycos used Eudora to brand its own webmail service. As the Mountain View, California museum has noted, “It’s hard to overstate Eudora’s popularity in the mid-1990s.”

  • The Computer History Museum Just Made Eudora Open Source
  • Openlab: what it is and why it matters

    Six months on from its announcement at Openstack Summit Sydney in late 2017, community testing project OpenLab is in full swing.

    OpenLab was initially formed by Intel, Huawei and the OpenStack foundation as a community-led project for improving SDK support and also introducing other platforms like Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry to the Openstack environment. Ultimately the idea is to improve usability in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

    Melvin Hillsman sits on the governance board along with Dr Yih Leong Sun of Intel and Chris Hoge from the Foundation. Hillsman moved from Rackspace to Huawei to work specifically on the project.

    “The reason we think Openlab is important is, basically, Openstack for some time has been very specific about testing and integration for Openstack services, focusing only on the projects started at Openstack,” Hillsman tellsComputerworld UK at the Openstack Vancouver Summit. “It’s been working very well, it’s a robust system. But for me as a person in the user community – my getting involved in Openstack was more on the operator-user side.

  • Open source innovation tips for the customer-driven economy

    New technologies, ranging from big data and blockchain to 3D printing, are giving rise to new opportunities and challenges for companies today. To stay competitive, organizations need to become more intelligent, customer-centric, and increasingly agile to cope with changing business demands.

    The worry for many companies which are trying to innovate is that while the speed and scope of applications are expanding rapidly, the variety and complexity of technology is increasing simultaneously, putting pressure on their IT infrastructure.

    Speaking at the SUSE Expert Days 2018 held in Singapore recently, Dr Gerald Pfeifer, VP of Products and Technology Program, SUSE, told attendees that these prevailing trends have come together to make Open Source the primary engine for business innovation.

  • Qualcomm is able to release the Snapdragon 845 source code in 6 weeks

    Qualcomm‘s latest high-end system-on-chip, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, was announced at the Snapdragon Tech Summit back in December. The chipset offers 4 Kryo 385 (A75 “performance”) and 4 Kryo 385 (A55 “efficiency”) CPU cores, the latest Adreno 630 GPU, the Spectra 280 ISP, the Hexagon 685 DSP, the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, and a new Secure Processing Unit (SPU). The Snapdragon 845 SoC is a powerhouse in benchmarks and it is already available in devices like the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, and the OnePlus 6. Developers on our forums have been itching to get their hands on a device with Qualcomm’s latest and greatest, but there’s just one thing that has made some developers worry about the future of development on the platform: The lack of publicly available source code for the kernel, HALs, framework branches, and more on the CodeAurora Forums.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Kata Containers 1.0

      The 1.0 release of Kata Containers is here! Thank you to the more than 40 individuals who have contributed to the first release of Kata Containers and to developing the Kata community.

    • VM-container chimera Kata Containers emerges from lab

      The open source Kata Containers project, an effort to combine the security advantages of virtual machines with the deployment and management advantages of software-based containers, hit its 1.0 milestone on Tuesday.

      Forged from a merger of Intel’s Clear Containers and Hyper’s runV announced last December, Kata Containers delivers an Open Container Initiative (OCI)-compatible runtime that addresses the downside of traditional container architecture, a shared kernel.

    • Kata Containers Project Releases 1.0 to Build Secure Container Infrastructure
    • Kata Containers 1.0
    • OpenStack Makes its Open Source CI/CD Platform Available to the Wider World

      The OpenStack Foundation made Zuul, an open source continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) platform, into an independent project. Zuul also released version 3 of its software.

      Zuul was originally developed for OpenStack CI testing and has since attracted contributors and users across many different organizations, including BMW, GoDaddy, OpenLab, and Wikimedia. It’s the third project to be managed by the OpenStack Foundation, joining OpenStack and Kata Containers.

    • Kata Containers 1.0 Released, Formerly Intel Clear Containers

      Back in December was the announcement of Intel’s Clear Containers being spun into a new project called Kata Containers in collaboration with other organizations. Kata Containers has now reached their version 1.0 milestone.

      Kata Containers 1.0 is now available for this container technology designed for offering a secure and scalable container experience built atop Intel VT technology.

    • What’s new in OpenStack?

      As OpenStack Foundation Chief Operating Officer Mark Collier referenced in his opening keynote, the uses which OpenStack is seeing today expand far beyond what most who were involved in the early days of the project could have ever imagined. While OpenStack started out primarily in the traditional data center and found many large-scale users, particularly in the telecommunications industry, who were using it to manage huge installations of traditional x86 server hardware, the flexibility of OpenStack has today allowed it to thrive in many other environments and use cases.

      Today, we see OpenStack powering everything from academic and research projects to media and gaming services, from online retail and e-commerce to manufacturing and industrial applications, and from finance to healthcare. OpenStack is found in all of these different places not just because it is cheaper than using the public cloud, not just because it makes compliance with various regulations easier, but because its open source code makes it flexible to all sort of different situations.

  • Databases

    • Should Red Hat Buy or Build a Database?

      For a decade, at least, observers of the company have speculated about whether Red Hat would or should enter the database market. The primary argument, one made in this space eight years ago, has historically been that Red Hat is de facto leaving potential dollars on the table by limiting itself to operating platform and immediately adjacent markets. In a more recent piece, analyst Krishnan Subramanian adds that Red Hat is at risk because databases represent a control point, one that the company is effectively ceding to competitors such as AWS or Microsoft.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Beta Arrives Next Week for Second Bug Hunting Session on May 28

      Now that the first bug hunting session, which took place last month on April 27 for the alpha milestone, was a success leading to 91 bugs (8 of them marked as critical and 4 already fixed) being reported by those who attended the event, it’s time for a second bug hunting session at the end of May to discover and squash more of those pesky bugs and issues that may block the release of LibreOffice 6.1.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Tidelift Raises $15M Series A From General Catalyst, Foundry, & Others

      This morning Tidelift, a startup focused on helping developers work with open source technology, announced that it has closed a $15 million Series A round of funding co-led by General Catalyst, Foundry, and Matthew Szulik, the former CEO of Red Hat, a public open source-centered technology company.

      The subscription-powered startup has an interesting business model which we’ll dive into shortly, but it’s worth noting that the open source space as a whole is quite active. It’s something that Crunchbase News covered last year, describing how startups working with open source software have enjoyed a dramatic rise in investor interest.

      That puts Tidelift in the midst of a trend.

    • Tidelift lands $15M to deliver professional open-source support

      Tidelift Inc. is raising $15 million as it looks to boost its unique open-source software model that sees companies pay for professional support of their favorite projects, allowing those that maintain them to get compensated too.

      The Series A round was led by the investment firms General Catalyst and Foundry Group, as well as former Red Hat Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Matthew Szulik. The company was able to attract the investment after coming up with a novel idea for maintaining the most popular open-source software projects in a way that benefits both the users and those who help to create them.

      It works like this: Companies pay a subscription fee that entitles them to professional-grade support, similar to the kind of commercial subscriptions offered by firms such as Red Hat, Cloudera Inc. and Docker Inc. A part of these fees are then used to pay the developers who maintain the software. The net result, at least in theory, is that everyone is happy, as companies enjoy the benefits of professional support at lower rates than they might expect from an established firm, and the developers of the software are finally rewarded for their efforts.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.2.1 Released

      While DragonFlyBSD 5.3/5.4 is exciting on the performance front for those making use of the stable DragonFly operating system releases, DragonFlyBSD 5.2.1 is available this week.

      This is the first and perhaps only point release over DragonFly 5.2.0 that premiered back in April. DragonFlyBSD 5.2 brought stabilization work for HAMMER2 to make it ready for more users, Spectre and Meltdown kernel work, and months worth of other important updates.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Do European Governments Publish Open Source Software?

      From time to time I come across news articles about Governmental bodies in Europe adopting the use of Open Source Software. This seems to be a slowly increasing trend. But if European Governments make software for themselves, or are having it made for them, do they publish that software as Open Source?

      This was a question that came up in a meeting at one of my clients. To find an answer, I asked my friends at the FSFE NL-team and did a Quick Scan. Here are the results.

      The short answer: Yes, they do!

      The longer answer: read on.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Bill Gates Tries and Fails To Install Windows Movie Maker In Epic 2003 Email Rant
  • Science

    • Tempow raises $4 million to improve Bluetooth

      French startup Tempow has raised a $4 million funding round. Balderton Capital led the round, with C4 Ventures also participating. The company has been working on improving the Bluetooth protocol to make it more versatile.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Africa Takes Steps For Access To Medicines: Conference To Fight Fakes, Develop Local Production

      A week after African ministers of health adopted a treaty for the establishment of an African Medicines Agency, an international conference held on the side of the World Health Assembly denounced the rampant and increasing issue of fake medicines in Africa, and the lack of adequate action and political will. The Benin president said Benin’s efforts to fight traffickers is so far unsupported, and called developed countries to commit to the fight. Other speakers insisted on the importance of local production of medicines, and the need for biting legislation to defeat fake medicines.

      [...]

      The AMA was praised at the OIF conference, which was meant to bring to the international attention the issue of falsified and sub-standard medicines, everywhere in the world, but in particular in francophone Africa, and what is needed to curb the rampant criminal trade.

      Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, opening the conference, said Africa is bearing 25 percent of the global weight of disease, but only produces about 3 percent of the medicines it needs. He called for a criminalisation of fake medicines manufacturers and distributors.

    • 50 Years Of Global Health Progress – Interview With IFPMA Head Thomas Cueni

      Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in his inaugural speech at the World Health Assembly this week, explained that partnerships are a key strategy for the WHO to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. He added that the WHO is engaging with the private sector as a crucial partner in achieving health for all. Thomas Cueni, IFPMA’s Director General, in an interview with Health Policy Watch on the occasion of the IFPMA’s 50-year anniversary, explains how the research-based biopharmaceutical industry together with IFPMA have contributed to the huge strides in health progress over 50 years. He explains the major leaps forward, setbacks and mistakes, as well as how industry is part of the solution, as “do-ers” and partners in global health progress. Cueni also talks about pricing and cost of R&D.

  • Security

    • efail: Outdated Crypto Standards are to blame

      I have a lot of thoughts about the recently published efail vulnerability, so I thought I’d start to writeup some of them. I’d like to skip all the public outrage about the disclosure process for now, as I mainly wanted to get into the technical issues, explain what I think went wrong and how things can become more secure in the future. I read lots of wrong statements that “it’s only the mail clients” and the underlying crypto standards are fine, so I’ll start by explaining why I believe the OpenPGP and S/MIME standards are broken and why we still see these kinds of bugs in 2018. I plan to do a second writeup that will be titled “efail: HTML mails are to blame”.

      I assume most will have heard of efail by now, but the quick version is this: By combining a weakness in cryptographic modes along with HTML emails a team of researchers was able to figure out a variety of ways in which mail clients can be tricked into exfiltrating the content of encrypted e-mails. Not all of the attack scenarios involve crypto, but those that do exploit a property of encryption modes that is called malleability. It means that under certain circumstances you can do controlled changes of the content of an encrypted message.

      [...]

      Properly using authenticated encryption modes can prevent a lot of problems. It’s been a known issue in OpenPGP, but until know it wasn’t pressing enough to fix it. The good news is that with minor modifications OpenPGP can still be used safely. And having a future OpenPGP standard with proper authenticated encryption is definitely possible. For S/MIME the situation is much more dire and it’s probably best to just give up on it. It was never a good idea in the first place to have competing standards for e-mail encryption.

      For other crypto protocols there’s a lesson to be learned as well: Stop using unauthenticated encryption modes. If anything efail should make that abundantly clear.

    • Comcast Leaked Customer Wi-Fi Logins in Plaintext, Change Your Passcode Now

      A Comcast Xfinity website was leaking Wi-Fi names and passwords, meaning now is a good time to change your Wi-Fi passcode.

      The site, intended to help new customers set up new routers, could easily be fooled into revealing the location of and password for any customer’s Wi-Fi network. A customer ID and a house or apartment number was all would-be attackers needed to get full access to your network, along with your full address.

    • Update Fedora Linux using terminal for latest software patches
    • Patch for New Spectre-Like CPU Bug Could Affect Your Performance
    • container_t versus svirt_lxc_net_t
    • Linux Redis Automated Mining For Worm Analysis and Safety Advice [Ed: Rather old an issue]

      Since Redis has not authorized the disclosure of the attack method of root authority of Linux system, because of its ease-of-use, the hacking behaviors of mining and scanning of Linux services by using this issue have been endless. Among the many cases that handle this problem to invade the server for black production, there is a class of mining that USES this problem and can automatically scan the infected machine with pnscan. The attack has always been there, but it has shown a recent trend of increasing numbers, which has been captured many times, and we’ve been able to do a specific analysis of it.

    • Turla cyberespionage group switched to open-source malware [Ed: Crackers share code, so let's badmouth FOSS?]

      The Turla cyberespionage group has implemented some new tactics over the last few months incorporating some open-source exploitation tools instead of relying solely on their own creations to run campaigns.

      ESET researchers found that starting in March the Turla has been leveraging the open-source framework Metasploit to drop the group’s proprietary Mosquito backdoor. The group has periodically used open-source hacking tools for other tasks, but ESET believes the group has never before used Metasploit as a first stage backdoor.

    • A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Not Getting Hacked

      Crackers are so to speak the evil hackers. Although these very often also do not offer the possibilities in order to do justice to the descriptions of the media. Then there are the would-be hackers, also called ScriptKiddies who use themTrojan2 and pre-programmed programs to get into computers and do damage.

      The “Kiddie” leads is a departure from the English “kid” (child), since young people are often behind such attacks. Due to their young age and lack of experience, ScriptKiddies often do not even know what they are doing. Let me give you an example. I have seen ScriptKiddies that use methods to intrude into Windows NT Calculator tried to break into a Linux machine. ScriptKiddies are often bored teenagers who try to have fun with the first tool. These tools are usually so simply knitted that actually, each normal, somewhat educated user can serve them.

      [...]

      According to Blendrit, co-founder at Tactica “One thing is clear: this language culture is constantly evolving, and many words find their way into the media, where they have a completely different meaning. Just as our most famous word, “hacker”, has fared.”

    • More Meltdown/Spectre Variants
    • Spectre V2 & Meltdown Linux Fixes Might Get Disabled For Atom N270 & Other In-Order CPUs

      There’s a suggestion/proposal to disable the Spectre Variant Two and Meltdown mitigation by default with the Linux kernel for in-order CPUs.

      If you have an old netbook still in use or the other once popular devices powered by the Intel Atom N270 or other in-order processors, there may be some reprieve when upgrading kernels in the future to get the Spectre/Meltdown mitigation disabled by default since these CPUs aren’t vulnerable to attack but having the mitigation in place can be costly performance-wise.

    • Linux 4.17 Lands Initial Spectre V4 “Speculative Store Bypass” For POWER CPUs

      Following yesterday’s public disclosure of Spectre Variant Four, a.k.a. Speculative Store Bypass, the Intel/AMD mitigation work immediately landed while overnight the POWER CPU patch landed.

    • New Variant Of Spectre And Meltdown CPU Flaw Found; Fix Affects Performance
    • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Gets First Kernel Update with Patch for Spectre Variant 4 Flaw

      Canonical released the first kernel security update for its Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system to fix a security issue that affects this release of Ubuntu and its derivatives.

      As you can imagine, the kernel security update patches the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system against the recently disclosed Speculative Store Buffer Bypass (SSBB) side-channel vulnerability, also known as Spectre Variant 4 or CVE-2018-3639, which could let a local attacker expose sensitive information in vulnerable systems.

    • RHEL and CentOS Linux 7 Receive Mitigations for Spectre Variant 4 Vulnerability

      As promised earlier this week, Red Hat released software mitigations for all of its affected products against the recently disclosed Spectre Variant 4 security vulnerability that also affects its derivatives, including CentOS Linux.

      On May 21, 2018, security researchers from Google Project Zero and Microsoft Security Response Center have publicly disclosed two new variants of the industry-wide issue known as Spectre, variants 3a and 4. The latter, Spectre Variant 4, is identified as CVE-2018-3639 and appears to have an important security impact on any Linux-based operating system, including all of its Red Hat’s products and its derivatives, such as CentOS Linux.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A New Flotilla Steams Towards Gaza

      Elizabeth Murray is aboard a new flotilla to highlight the illegality of the 12-year old blockade that is choking the people of Gaza.

      [...]

      Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

    • An Alarming Tip About a Neo-Nazi Marine, Then An Uncertain Response

      It was Oct. 29, 2017, when Ed Beck decided he had to contact the military police.

      For weeks, Beck had been tracking the online life of a 21-year-old lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. He said he had concluded the young man, a North Carolina native named Vasillios Pistolis, was deeply involved in neo-Nazi and white supremacist activities.

      Beck said he had compiled an exhaustive dossier on the young Marine, tracing the evolution of Pistolis’ racist worldview over recent years and linking him to violent altercations at the bloody white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August. The most recent piece of evidence, Beck said, was a fresh video that appeared to show Pistolis standing alongside a leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, a fascist group, during a confrontation with an interracial couple at a restaurant in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.

      Beck was well positioned both to be offended by Pistolis’ alleged conduct and to report it: Beck had served in the Marines from 2002 through 2006, including a tour in Iraq. In fact, he’d been assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Unit, the same unit in which Pistolis was serving.

      Beck said he contacted the authorities at the unit’s headquarters, Camp Lejeune, a large Marine Installation on the North Carolina coast, and spoke briefly with an investigator for the post’s military police.

    • Drones Don’t Wear Uniforms. They Should.

      The video from Gaza starts with a just-visible multirotor drone juxtaposed against a remarkably blue sky. A group of TV journalists in blue helmets stand at the bottom of the frame, looking up at it. It hangs there for a second, and then tear gas canisters fall from it, issuing waving tails of white smoke. The canisters come to earth immediately in front of the cameras, and the reporters begin to run in all directions, coughing. The camera looks to the blue sky again, and the little black dot recedes, mysteriously, into the distance.

      Welcome to the next stage of the drone revolution.

      Israel may have become the first-ever nation observed using armed consumer drones in a real-world setting on March 12, when a Lebanese news network ran footage (probably dating from March 9) of one dropping tear gas on Gazan protesters. The deployment of drones against crowds of protesters — even armed ones — raises new and worrying questions about legality, identification, and purpose. Such usage may be unavoidable, but the international community at the very least needs to establish — and enforce — legal and ethical standards as soon as possible.

    • Real-Life CIA Card Game Makes Toppling Governments Fun!

      Maybe it’s because I’m a games journalist, but I really do believe that everything is a game. It’s just that some games have vastly higher stakes than others. There’s a big difference between The Game of Life the board game and The Game of the Life the experience of existing in this world.

      And you know who’s even better at turning incredibly serious real-world events into the most dangerous games? The Central Intelligence Agency. That’s why we were saddened but not at all surprised to learn there’s a card game being made based on real-life CIA tactics.

    • Forced to Choose Between a Job — and a Community

      After high school, Arnett joined the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1999. His unit, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines — the storied Suicide Charley — took him to the other side of the world: South Korea, Japan, Thailand. In the spring of 2003 he was an infantryman in the invasion of Iraq, spending five months in country — Baghdad, Tikrit, Najaf.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks suspect Joshua Schulte accused of leaking to reporters from behind bars: Reports

      A former CIA employee suspected of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks was accused Monday of sharing secrets with reporters involving the government’s case against him.

      Joshua Schulte, 29, violated a September 2017 protective order barring him from discussing elements of his case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Laroche argued in Manhattan federal court Monday, local media reported.

      “It is clear the defendant is discussing the search warrants,” Mr. Laroche said, according to New York Daily News.

      Mr. Schulte was arrested last year on federal child porn charges, though it only emerged last week that prosecutors also suspect he leaked top-secret CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks in 2017 under the label “Vault 7.”

    • GOP lawmaker: Julian Assange is a ‘very honorable man’

      Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) praised WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an interview published on Wednesday, calling him honorable.

      “He’s a very honorable man,” Rohrabacher told CNN.

      The California congressman visited Assange last August at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to discuss the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which Assange has said he believes was an “inside job” and not perpetrated by the Russian government.

      After his meeting with Assange, Rohrabacher said there was no evidence to suggest the hacking of the DNC was spearheaded by the Kremlin.

    • A GOP congressman’s lonely quest defending Julian Assange

      President Trump’s secretary of state has dubbed Julian Assange’s group WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service.” Trump’s national security adviser once called on the US to use WikiLeaks for “target practice.” And his attorney general asserted that the arrest of Assange remains a “priority” for the United States.
      But Rep. Dana Rohrabacher sees Assange differently.
      “He’s a very honorable man,” Rohrabacher told CNN.

      Rohrabacher, a California Republican facing a potentially difficult re-election this fall, occupies an unusual space in politics. He’s an unapologetic defender of someone viewed as a villain in Washington and a sharp skeptic of the widely held view in Congress and from US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the US elections.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • We Examined 885 European Cities’ Plans To Tackle Climate Change — Here’s What We Found

      Around the world, cities endeavor to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while adapting to the threats – and opportunities – presented by climate change. It’s no easy task, but the first step is to make a plan outlining how to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, and help limit the world’s mean temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

      About 74% of Europe’s population lives in cities, and urban settlements account for 60-80% of carbon emissions – so it makes sense to plan at an urban level. Working to meet carbon reduction targets can also reduce local pollution and increase energy efficiency – which benefits both businesses and residents.

      But it’s just as important for cities to adapt to climate change – even if the human race were to cut emissions entirely, we would still be facing the extreme effects of climate change for decades to come, because of the increased carbon input that has already taken place since the industrial revolution.

    • The Netherlands Announces Ban On Coal, Plans Close Of 2 Power Plants By 2024

      The Netherlands has announced that it will ban the use of coal for electricity generation from 2030 onwards, and that the two oldest plants must close by the end of 2024, in a move that Germany utility company RWE has deemed “ill judged.”

    • City Trees Are Disappearing

      Forests are essential to combating climate change. They drink up huge amounts of planet-heating carbon from the atmosphere and provide shelter for species struggling to adapt to global warming. For that reason, experts have called for measures to protect forests. But what about trees in cites? We hear much less about them. Yet the trees that line streets and backyards are just as important as those in the forest — actually, maybe even more so. And we are losing them, too.

      New research suggests that American cities and their surrounding areas have been losing as many as 36 million trees a year. That might not sound like a lot when you think about the number of trees in our nation’s forests, but those trees have a powerful impact on health and well-being — and on climate change.

  • Finance

    • Amid Affordable Housing Dispute, Conservatives Seek a Home in Chicago

      When news broke last week that a proposed affordable housing development on Chicago’s Northwest Side had likely been put on hold, Ammie Kessem, a Republican candidate for state representative, vowed on Facebook that it wasn’t the end of the story. Democrats, Kessem wrote, would pay for pushing the plan — including 45th Ward Ald. John Arena, its chief sponsor, and Kessem’s opponent, state Rep. Robert Martwick.

      Martwick, she wrote, “cannot continue to hide on this subject. … The people are going to hold you accountable for it come November.”

      Kessem’s opposition to building the affordable housing complex in her neighborhood has been a central part of her campaign for the Illinois House. And she’s had help.

    • A Guide for Digging Through Trump’s Financial Disclosures

      When President Donald Trump’s latest financial disclosure form was released last week, we dropped what we were doing and started digging.

      We found a few things, including some newly registered companies and a jump in revenue for Trump Productions, which helped produce shows like “The Apprentice” and the lesser-known dating show, “Donald J. Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger.”

      We’ve decided to show how we did it so you can help us go deeper. Below are tips and tricks for finding noteworthy items buried in the 92-page disclosure.

      First, some background. Trump’s financial disclosure form, which he files each year with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, provides the most detailed account available of the president’s finances, from his sprawling business empire to individual payments made to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The forms are the best window we have into his financial holdings. (His tax returns would also be helpful, but he hasn’t released those.)

      To see newly created companies, we put Trump’s new disclosure form next to last year’s form. That’s how we found T Retail LLC, an “online retail business; startup” that’s listed in the 2018 disclosure, but not in the 2017 one.

    • The ‘Black Hole’ That Sucks Up Silicon Valley’s Money

      The San Francisco Bay Area has rapidly become the richest region in the country—the Census Bureau said last year that median household income was $96,777. It’s a place where $100,000 Teslas are commonplace, “raw water” goes for $37 a jug, and injecting clients with the plasma of youth —a gag on the television show Silicon Valley—is being tried by real companies for just $8,000 a pop.

      Yet Sacred Heart Community Service, a San Jose nonprofit that helps low-income families with food, clothing, heating bills, and other services, actually received less in individual donations from the community in 2017 than it did the previous year. “We’re still not sure what it could be attributed to,” Jill Mitsch, the funds development manager at Sacred Heart, told me. It’s not the only nonprofit trying to keep donations up—the United Way of Silicon Valley folded in 2016 amidst stagnant contributions.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Tired Trope of Blaming Trump on ‘Liberal Smugness’

      In an attempt to understand the coalition that gave Trump his narrow victory, for the past year and a half the press has spun a whole new subgenre of stilted, tautological feature reporting on how Trump supporters support Trump (FAIR.org, 2/15/17).

      And in their opinion sections, corporate media have fared no better. They have routinely given platforms to those who claim, with little to no firm evidence, that Trump’s election and his steady (though historically low) popularity (as well as his predicted eventual reelection) are all partly if not wholly the fault of liberal smugness and left-wing political correctness run amok.

    • Giuliani’s New Stance On Russian Collusion: So What? It’s Not Illegal.

      His client insists there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia to win the presidency, but Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has a new theory of the case: What’s the big deal if he did?

      In a recent interview with HuffPost, Giuliani initially disputed the notion that Trump’s daily citing, in the final month of his campaign, of Russian-aligned WikiLeaks and its release of Russian-stolen emails constituted “colluding” with Russia.

      “It is not,” Giuliani said.

      Then he switched tacks.

    • ‘Collusion’ and the insane media divide
    • Yes, a Reasonable Prosecutor Would Have Ordered an Investigation of the Trump Campaign

      We’re rapidly reaching a point in the Russia investigation where partisan opinion revolves almost entirely around unproven assertions. On the anti-Trump left (and parts of the Never Trump right) there exists a burning conviction that Robert Mueller “has the goods” — that there is strong evidence of criminal collusion by Trump and/or his campaign, and critics of the investigation intend to either block Mueller before he can deliver his final report or discredit his conclusions to save the Trump presidency.

      Conversely, among the president’s supporters, there is now a presumption that the entire Russia investigation was and is a bad-faith effort by the “deep state” to create an “insurance policy” against a Trump victory — that there was never reason to investigate Trump, and each new revelation about a different investigatory technique (national-security letters, informants, FISA applications, etc.) is proof of additional wrongdoing.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Tor Hidden Services

      When people write privacy guides, for the most part they are written from the perspective of the client. Whether you are using HTTPS, blocking tracking cookies or going so far as to browse the internet over Tor, those privacy guides focus on helping end users protect themselves from the potentially malicious and spying web. Since many people who read Linux Journal sit on the other side of that equation—they run the servers that host those privacy-defeating services—system administrators also should step up and do their part to help user privacy. Although part of that just means making sure your services support TLS, in this article, I describe how to go one step further and make it possible for your users to use your services completely anonymously via Tor hidden services.

    • Google sued for ‘clandestine tracking’ of 4.4m UK iPhone users’ browsing data

      Google is being sued in the high court for as much as £3.2bn for the alleged “clandestine tracking and collation” of personal information from 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK.

      The collective action is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd over claims Google bypassed the privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser on iPhones between August 2011 and February 2012 in order to divide people into categories for advertisers.

    • Google Sued For Secretly Collecting Data Of 4.4 Million iPhone Users

      Google has been accused of “clandestine tracking” of 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK and is facing a lawsuit in the high court for as much as £3.2 billion.

    • FBI repeatedly overstated encryption threat figures to Congress, public

      The FBI has repeatedly provided grossly inflated statistics to Congress and the public about the extent of problems posed by encrypted cellphones, claiming investigators were locked out of nearly 7,800 devices connected to crimes last year when the correct number was much smaller, probably between 1,000 and 2,000, The Washington Post has learned.

    • FBI Admits It’s Been Using A Highly-Inflated Number Of Locked Devices To Push Its ‘Going Dark’ Narrative

      Call it a lie. Call it a misrepresentation. Call it a convenient error. Call it what you want. Just don’t call it a fact. Devlin Barrett at the Washington Post delivers a bombshell: the thousands of phones the FBI supposedly just can’t crack despite a wealth of tech solutions at its disposal? It’s nowhere near as many as consecutive FBI directors have claimed.

      [...]

      The FBI’s count was inflated by bad software and sloppy recordkeeping. But it had no incentive to fix it. Even if the error was never detected by the methodology test, someone should have asked how the FBI’s stash of locked phones suddenly exploded from less than 900 to nearly 8,000 in 18 months. But, given the IG’s findings about its slow-walked search for outside tech solutions in the Apple court battle, any red flags were probably ignored in favor of pushing the most dramatic “going dark” narrative possible. Why ask why? Just go with the more jaw-dropping number, even if there’s no physical evidence to back the claim.

    • Ministry of Defence calls for registry of AI experts

      THE UK’S MINISTRY OF DEFENCE has suggested that the government should build a registry of security-cleared artificial intelligence and robotics experts, who can be called-up should Queen and country ever require their services.

      That’s according to a new Ministry of Defence Joint Concept Note entitled Human and Machine Teaming. It also laments the UK’s technical skills shortages and calls for ‘a register of security-cleared UK nationals’ with AI and robotics expertise.

      The document sets out the Ministry’s vision of the future in a world where artificial intelligence is critical to national defence.

      With development of both AI and robotics shifting from the public sector to the private sector, ‘civil commercial investment in AI and robotic technologies, and the recruitment of subject matter experts’, is vastly outstripping the resources available to nation states.

    • President Trump Thinks Basic Phone Security Is Simply Too Inconvenient

      For the past year much has been made of the President’s unwillingness to adhere to anything close to reasonable security when using his mobile phones. Whereas the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the National Security Agency usually work in concert providing state leaders with “hardened” devices that are heavily encrypted, routinely updated, and frequently swapped out, Trump has refused to use these more secure DMCC-S devices (effectively a Samsung Galaxy S4 device utilizing Samsung’s Knox security architecture) because they apparently infringe on his ability to Tweet.

    • Folks are shocked – shocked – that CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops

      The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday expressed dismay that Amazon Web Services has been urging US government agencies to use its Rekognition API for state-sponsored facial recognition.

      The advocacy organization published emails obtained over a six-month investigation documenting marketing efforts by Amazon employees to convince officials in Orlando, Florida, and Washington County, Oregon, to deploy its cloud-based image analysis tech.

    • Amazon Teams Up With Law Enforcement to Deploy Dangerous New Facial Recognition Technology

      Amazon, which got its start selling books and still bills itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” has officially entered the surveillance business.

      The company has developed a powerful and dangerous new facial recognition system and is actively helping governments deploy it. Amazon calls the service “Rekognition.”

      Marketing materials and documents obtained by ACLU affiliates in three states reveal a product that can be readily used to violate civil liberties and civil rights. Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces, according to Amazon.

    • ACLU Obtains Documents Showing Amazon Is Handing Out Cheap Facial Recognition Tech To Law Enforcement

      It’s already been deployed to several areas around the country, with Amazon acting as the government’s best friend a la AT&T historic proactive cooperation with NSA surveillance efforts. The documents [PDF] obtained by the ACLU show Amazon has been congratulated by local law enforcement officials for a “first-of-its-kind public-private partnership,” thanks to its deployment efforts. On top of providing deployment assistance, Amazon also offers troubleshooting and “best practices” for officers using the tech. It has even offered free consulting to agencies expressing an interest in Rekognition.

      These efforts aren’t surprising in and of themselves, although Amazon’s complicity in erecting a law enforcement surveillance structure certainly is. Amazon is looking to capture an underserved market, and the more proactive it is, the more market it will secure before competitors arrive. To further cement its position in the marketplace, Amazon is limiting what law enforcement agencies can say about these public-private partnerships.

    • FBI Admits It Inflated Number of Supposedly Unhackable Devices

      We’ve learned that the FBI has been misinforming Congress and the public as part of its call for backdoor access to encrypted devices. For months, the Bureau has claimed that encryption prevented it from legally searching the contents of nearly 7,800 devices in 2017, but today the Washington Post reports that the actual number is far lower due to “programming errors” by the FBI.

      Frankly, we’re not surprised. FBI Director Christopher Wray and others argue that law enforcement needs some sort of backdoor “exceptional access” in order to deal with the increased adoption of encryption, particularly on mobile devices. And the 7,775 supposedly unhackable phones encountered by the FBI in 2017 have been central to Wray’s claim that their investigations are “Going Dark.” But the scope of this problem is called into doubt by services offered by third-party vendors like Cellebrite and Grayshift, which can reportedly bypass encryption on even the newest phones. The Bureau’s credibility on this issue was also undercut by a recent DOJ Office of the Inspector General report, which found that internal failures of communication caused the government to make false statements about its need for Apple to assist in unlocking a seized iPhone as part of the San Bernardino case.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Should AI Always Identify Itself? It’s more complicated than you might think.

      The Google Duplex demos released two weeks ago—audio recordings of the company’s new AI system scheduling a hair appointment and the other of the system calling a restaurant—are at once unsettling and astounding. The system is designed to enable the Google personal assistant to make telephone calls and conduct natural conversations, and it works; it’s hard to tell who is the robot and who is the human. The demos have drawn both awe and criticism, including calls that the company is “ethically lost” for failing to disclose that the caller was actually a bot and for adding human filler sounds, like “um” and “ah,” that some see as deceptive.

      In response to this criticism, Google issued a statement noting that these recordings were only demos, that it is designing the Duplex feature “with disclosure built-in,” and that it is going “make sure the system is appropriately identified.” We’re glad that Google plans to be build transparency into this technology. There are many cases, and this may be one of them, where it makes sense for AIs or bots to be labeled as such, so that people can appropriately calibrate their responses. But across-the-board legally mandated AI- or bot-labeling proposals, such as a bill currently under consideration in California, raise significant free speech concerns.

      The California bill, B.O.T. Act of 2018 (S.B. 1001), would make it unlawful for any person to use a social bot to communicate or interact with natural persons online without disclosing that the bot is not a natural person. The bill—which EFF opposes due to its over-breadth—is influenced by the Russian bots that plagued social media prior to the 2016 election and spambots used for fraud or commercial gain. But there are many other types of social bots, and this bill targets all of them. By targeting all bots instead of the specific type of bots driving the legislation, this bill would restrict and chill the use of bots for protected speech activities. EFF has urged the bill’s sponsor to withdraw the proposal until this fundamental constitutional deficiency is addressed.

    • Jeff Sessions Wants Police to Use Stop and Frisk Without Reasonable Suspicion

      The attorney general’s recent comments reaffirm his support for unconstitutional policing.

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions has claimed that the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Illinois against the Chicago Police Department resulted in approximately 236 additional victims killed and over 1,100 additional shootings in 2016 alone. This represents a new low for Sessions. He is wrong on the facts — there was no ACLU lawsuit — and wrong on what is required by the Constitution.

      This is not the first time Sessions has been wrong on the facts and argued for bias-filled unconstitutional policies that have been abject failures. He said nothing when the president expressly encouraged police officers not to worry about injuring suspects during arrests. In one of his first actions, he sought to back out of a consent decree imposed on the Baltimore Police Department, but the judge in the case refused his request. He has opened no investigations of systemic policing abuse since taking office, even refusing to act on a scathing report issued by the Justice Department on the Chicago police.

      The ACLU of Illinois did not sue the Chicago Police Department. A lawsuit was not necessary. It wrote a report, backed up by the department’s own data, demonstrating that its stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional and ineffective. The policy was characterized by random stops conducted under circumstances where there was no reasonable suspicion that any criminal activity was occurring or had occurred with respect to the person or people being stopped.

    • The Supreme Court Favors Forced Arbitration at the Expense of Workers’ Rights

      The #MeToo movement has offered an important lesson on the collective power of voices joining together to take on individual experiences of injustice. On Monday, the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to precisely this kind of collective power, ruling against the ability of workers to join together to take on employment discrimination and abuse.

      The court ruled that employers are free to force workers who have been victims of unfair labor practices into private arbitration to address their claims — even in cases where workers sought to bring a collective legal action. The decision came in a case about failure to pay overtime, but its implications are far broader and extend to many of the claims of harassment and discrimination that have surfaced thanks to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

      Arbitration contracts are agreements to bring any future legal dispute through a private system rather than through the public courts. Employees are often required to sign such agreements along with a raft of paperwork on their first day on the job, and many have no memory of signing them.

      The Supreme Court has long held that employers are free to enforce arbitration agreements for individual lawsuits. Monday’s decision extended that principle to cases brought on behalf of a “class” of individuals who claim they were harmed in the same way by discriminatory or unfair policies and seek to bring a single legal action on behalf of the group.

      [...]

      The court’s decision — which Justice Ginsburg, in dissent, called “egregiously wrong” — tips the scales even further in favor of employers and large corporations, at the expense of workers.

    • Chicago Wins ‘Most Corrupt City’ Award Due In No Small Part To Its Awful Redlight Camera System

      We’ve talked a great deal about my home city of Chicago, largely for the myriad of awful, corrupt practices it has put in place around topics that we cover here. For instance, we have an alderman trying to shore up the city budget by taxing the shit out of Uber and Lyft, our Mayor thought it was a great idea to have his own private email accounts to conduct business, and a red light camera system so hilariously geared towards bilking money from citizens that the courts have tossed out huge swaths of the tickets it generated, which led the city to decide to make it barely less corrupt by a measure of tenths-of-seconds worth of leeway for drivers crossing the intersection.

      Now, you might be thinking that all of this effort to be corrupt and insidious seems like a waste. Wouldn’t it be far easier, you might be thinking, to simply run the city in a sensible way? Wouldn’t that actually require less effort and be better for the people of Chicago? Perhaps, but then Chicago wouldn’t have received the prestigious award of “most corrupt city”, as it did this past week.

    • As new CIA chief takes helm, torture questions in Thailand remain

      With her formal swearing-in on Monday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, as President Donald Trump looked on, Gina Haspel has made history as the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for now has outrun a controversy over torture in Thailand — a country outside her seven career postings at points officially undisclosed in Africa, Europe and beyond.

      In addition to English, Haspel speaks Russian and Turkish. Like a character in a spy novel, she has left no digital fingerprints from a 33-year clandestine career. She recently recounted to the U.S. Senate intelligence committee some “real life” adventures. “I excelled in finding and acquiring secret information that I obtained in brush passes, dead drops or in meetings in dusty alleys of Third World capitals,” she said.

    • The Belhaj case shows British intelligence agencies are out of control

      For years, Britain’s three security and intelligence agencies – the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6; the domestic Security Service, MI5; and GCHQ, the worldwide communications eavesdropping agency – have insisted they are accountable to ministers, that they are responsible to democratically-elected politicians. And for years, ministers have insisted that the agencies are properly accountable to them.

      We all now know what some of us have been saying for a very long time: such assertions are myths. The Prime Minister herself has admitted it.

      On 13 December 2005, Jack Straw, then foreign secretary responsible for MI6, told the Commons Foreign Affairs committee: “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States …There is simply no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we never have been”. Straw added that the British government was not compliant in rendition, nor did it turn a blind eye to it.

    • Canadians Subject to CIA Brainwash Experiments Seek Damages

      The Survivors Allied Against Government Abuse (SAAGA) group met in Montreal, Canada, on May 20. “The government should offer an apology and there should be recognition of the injustice that was done,” said Gina Blasbalg, a patient at the institute in 1960.

      Dr. Ewen Cameron, who co-founded the World Psychiatric Association, served as director of the Allan Memorial Institute psychiatric hospital between 1943 and 1964.

      Cameron oversaw ‘depatterning’ and ‘psychic driving’ experiments which attempted to erase a patient’s memories and reprogram them with new thoughts, according to CBC News.

      Cameron tested experimental drugs such as LSD and PCP, medically induced sleep for extended periods, and also oversaw extreme forms of electroshock therapy and sensory deprivation. Many of his patient suffered brain damage as a result.

    • When the CIA Infiltrated a Presidential Campaign

      President Donald Trump seems to believe that FBI agents infiltrated his presidential campaign for political purposes, and has tweeted that the bureau’s actions could amount to a scandal “bigger than Watergate.”

      Trump hasn’t provided evidence to support these allegations, but regardless of their veracity, there is precedent for an American intelligence agency spying on a presidential campaign. It happened in the summer of 1964; the target was Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and the perpetrator was the CIA, not the FBI.

    • Blood Will Tell

      Most mornings, the sky was still black when Mickey Bryan made the short drive from her house on Avenue O, through the small central Texas town of Clifton, to the elementary school. Sometimes her car was the only one on the road. The low-slung, red-brick school building sat just south of the junction of State Highway 6 and Farm to Market Road 219 — a crossroads that, until recent years, featured the town’s sole traffic light. Mickey was always the first teacher to arrive, usually settling in at her desk by 7 a.m. A slight, soft-spoken woman with short auburn hair and a pale complexion, she prized the solitude of those early mornings, before her fellow teachers appeared and the faraway sound of children’s voices signaled, suddenly and all at once, that the day had begun.

      [...]

      Joe was sent back to the same prison where he was previously held: Texas’ oldest penitentiary, known as the Walls Unit in Huntsville, where the state’s execution chamber is housed. In letters back home to his mother, his older brother and the few friends who remained in touch with him, Joe was circumspect, revealing little about his existence behind bars or the emotional toll of incarceration. By then, he no longer heard from many people he loved — including Jerry, his twin brother, who distanced himself after Joe’s first trial. Even his last remaining Clifton friends gradually faded away. Linda Liardon wrote to Joe every now and then, but eventually she let the correspondence languish. “I was busy raising my boys, and life moved on,” she said. “I’m ashamed to admit that. But after a while, I struggled with what to say.”

      Still, she was left with an uneasy feeling. After Joe’s first conviction, she told me, people had stopped talking about Judy Whitley’s death. “One rumor went around that maybe Joe killed her too,” she said. “I think wrapping all this violence up in one neat little package was comforting to people. Everyone could put this behind them and not have to think that maybe someone was out there who had gotten away with murder.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Senators Ask FCC Why It Did Nothing To Stop Their Names From Being Fraudulently Used During Net Neutrality Repeal

      Last year you’ll recall that somebody abused the nonexistent privacy protections at the FCC website to flood the net neutrality repeal proceeding with millions of fake comments. While the vast majority of real people oppose the repeal, a bad actor was able to either fraudulently use the identities of real people (like myself), or hijack the identities of dead people to spam the proceeding with bogus support. The goal: undermine public trust in the public comment period in order to downplay the massive opposition to the FCC’s handout to AT&T and Comcast.

      Up to this point, the FCC has done less than nothing to investigate the fraud or prevent it from happening again, largely because it aided the FCC’s agenda. In fact, the FCC went so far as to block a law enforcement investigation into who was behind the fraud.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Oncology drives major pharma deals while immuno-oncology patent activity soars

      Cancer immunotherapy is an exciting, relatively new therapy that treats cancer by unleashing the power of the immune system. It has been hailed as one of the most promising advances in the treatment of cancer in recent times.

      Immuno-oncology research is growing at a rapid pace and for the last three years this has begun to translate into a patenting frenzy as players seek to stake their claim in this wide commercial landscape. In this month’s piece from Clarivate Analytics, Bob Stembridge – the company’s marketing communications manager – looks at what the data is telling us.

    • Trademarks

      • Tam’s unanswered questions of dilution and Section 7

        Scandalous, immoral and disparaging marks are all now fair game, but the question of dilution is less clear. A speaker at the INTA Annual Meeting also questioned why the government didn’t use Section 7 of the Lanham Act to bolster its argument in Tam

    • Copyrights

      • German Court: TV show may not use ‘bloopers’ from other network without permission

        In a judgment dated 20.04.2018 (case No. 6 U 116/17), the Higher Regional Court of Cologne found that short video clips taken from other networks’ TV shows for entertainment purposes are not permissible as a parody or a quotation and thus need to be licensed.

        NDR, a German public broadcaster, had created a series of TV shows titled “Top Flops”. The show featured “funny” sequences (‘bloopers’) taken from various other programs, including shows belonging to RTL’s commercial television network.

      • Copyright Being Used To Prevent Actress From Showing Her Own Demo Reel

        Lawyer Stephen Doniger seems to be going out of his way to file lawsuits that involve creative interpretations of copyright (and by “creative” I mean “wrong.”) You may recall that Doniger was the lawyer behind Playboy suing Boing Boing for copyright infringement for linking to an Imgur collection of Playboy centerfolds. That case went so poorly that the judge tossed it out in just two months. Before that, Doniger made a name for himself (I kid you not) being a fabric copyright troll, filing loads of lawsuits against companies offering similar designs on fabric. He’s also jumped in on the whole situation created by the “Blurred Lines” mess by filing a bunch of “sounds alike” copyright cases.

        It’s almost as if he’s filing all sorts of nutty copyright cases just to demonstrate for us just how ridiculous modern copyright law has become, and how far from its purpose it has strayed. Indeed, that’s about the only explanation I can find for a new filing by Doniger, as noted by the Hollywood Reporter, in which Doniger, representing director Robin Bain is suing actress Jessica Haid for using a clip of the film, Nowhereland in her own demo reel.

        In short, Bain claims that Haid asked for permission to use clips in her demo reel and Bain refused (nice of him). She then got a copy of the film and gave it to another company to include it in her demo reel. Bain is now suing, claiming it’s an “unauthorized derivative work.” Indeed, the lawsuit claims that the clips in the demo reel “included a significant amount of unreleased footage from The Film, which taken together, encompassed the heart of The Film, as well as revealed the ending to The Film.”

      • EFF Presents Mur Lafferty’s Science Fiction Story About Our Fair Use Petition to the Copyright Office

        the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA 1201) makes it illegal to get around any sort of lock that controls access to copyrighted material. Getting exemptions to that prohibitions is a long, complicated process that often results in long, complicated exemptions that are difficult to use. As part of our ongoing to effort to fight this law, we’re presenting a series of science fiction stories to illustrate the bad effects DMCA 1201 could have.

        It’s been 20 years since Congress adopted Section 1201 of the DMCA, one of the ugliest mistakes in the crowded field of bad ideas about computer regulation. Thanks to Section 1201 if a computer has a lock to control access to a copyrighted work, then getting around that lock, for any reason is illegal. In practice, this has meant that a manufacturer can make the legitimate, customary things you do with your own property, in your own home or workplace, illegal just by designing the products to include those digital locks.

        A small bit of good news: Congress designed a largely ornamental escape valve into this system: every three years, the Librarian of Congress can grant exemptions to the law for certain activities. These exemptions make those uses temporarily legal, but (here’s the hilarious part), it’s still not legal to make a tool to enable that use. It’s as though Congress expected you to gnaw open your devices and manually change the software with the sensitive tips of your nimble fingers or something. That said, in many cases it’s easy to download the tools you need anyway. We’re suing the U.S. government to invalidate DMCA 1201, which would eliminate the whole farce. It’s 2018, and that means it’s exemptions time again! EFF and many of our allies have filed for a raft of exemptions to DMCA 1201 this year, and in this series, we’re teaming up with some amazing science fiction writers to explain what’s at stake in these requests.

Masking Abstract Patents in the Age of Alice/§ 101 in the United States

Posted in Law, Patents at 12:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Line of masks

Summary: There are new examples and ample evidence of § 101-dodging strategies; the highest US court, however, wishes to limit patent scope and revert back to an era of patent sanity (as opposed to patent maximalism)

AS noted in our previous post, software patents aren’t doing well in the US. The USPTO has become tougher on them, with or without the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the courts weighing in.

“Recent patents in New Hampshire,” published earlier this week in local media, reveal a little bit of information in the form of summaries. Some of these newly-granted (by USPTO) patents definitely sound like software patents. Having reviewed the media so far this week, we see other examples of it, including one from Accenture. “The newly issued patent,” it says regarding U.S. Patent No. 9,818,067, “is the latest in the worldwide intellectual property (IP) portfolio for Accenture, which includes more than 6,000 granted patents and pending patent applications.”

Many of these are just dubious software patents. How about this new example from Monday, which name-drops both “Blockchain” and “IoT” in the headline? It says:

HK-based AnApp’s founders are well-versed in computer hardware and software, holding more than 20 patents in semiconductor and electronics designs, and believe that the integration of IoT and blockchain will benefit our industries and daily lives.

Well, blockchains are software, but media hype about blockchains has been out of control lately, so the applicants hope it will make them sound innovative. The patent trolls’ lobby/Richard Lloyd has in fact just name-dropped all the misleading buzzwords which are often misused to patent software even in an age when software patents are not ponent (at least in courts). “AI, blockchain and IoT patents all on the shopping list for latest IP3 buying programme” is the headline and the summary adds more buzzwords, such as “virtual reality” and “automotive”. To quote:

Details of the latest iteration of IP3, the patent buying programme hosted by AST designed to give IP owners a quick and efficient way of selling their assets, were announced this morning with this year’s version open to non-AST members and focused on some of the hottest tech areas. On the shopping list for this year’s programme are patents in eight different categories including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, automotive, blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT).

They are simply trying to put new ‘clothing’ on abstract patents. Or ascribe algorithms to some device or vehicle they’re installed on…

How about this one as a new example? Or this new press release about “Two New Design Patents” (design patents are somewhat of a farce; applicants would be wise to rely on trademarks and copyrights instead).

Yesterday, in Above the Law, Gaston Kroub said that “[t]here is a vulnerable population hungry for IP advice,” but who are these vulnerable people? Victims of patent trolls or the ones patent law firms urge to sue just about everyone? The following loaded question is revealing:

3) There has been a lot of expressed concern about the declining value of U.S. patents, and the possible repercussions to the innovation economy. How do you think the clinic’s participants have adjusted or responded to the alleged malaise in the patent system?

There’s no such “malaise”; the quality of patents is being elevated and there’s nothing wrong with that. But they speak on behalf of the patent microcosm, not scientists.

Charlotte Tillett and Camille Arnold (Stevens & Bolton LLP, i.e. another law firm) has just published this new article alluding to the Supreme Court in relation to the pharmaceutical industry. To quote:

February saw the long-awaited Supreme Court hearing of Warner-Lambert v Generics t/a Mylan relating to the second medical use patent of pregabalin (Lyrica) for the treatment of pain. The judgement has huge importance to the pharmaceutical industry, clarifying the test for plausibility in patent applications, and determining the approach to take when applying for, or enforcing, second medical use patents.

[...]

The decision should come in the next few weeks, but what should companies do in the interim to protect their positions? Patent applications filed now run the risk of being found invalid for lack of plausibility later, should the Supreme Court enforce a higher threshold test. However, waiting to obtain further support for the patent application may be unwise, if there is a risk that another party may submit an application in the meantime.

Ultimately the decision will be a commercial one – if funding is required to progress research into the drug and cannot be acquired without a patent, then it will not be possible to wait to obtain clinical trials. However, if the Supreme Court does set a high bar for plausibility, funders may well be less inclined to accept patents that risk invalidity in the future.

Judging by many recent decisions from the Supreme Court (regarding patents), it’s not hard to guess the outcome; either way, the law firm above perpetuates the “research” (or R&D) myth. It’s common knowledge that much of the research money actually comes from government, e.g. university grants. In reality, for practical reasons, access to medicine is a lot more important than patents. We shall soon know if the Supreme Court maintains the consistency of its rulings.

PTAB’s Latest Applications of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Obviousness Tests to Void U.S. Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 12:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The black swan

Summary: Validity checks at PTAB continue to strike out patents, much to the fear of people who have made a living from patenting and lawsuits alone

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) now enjoys the scrutiny of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, PTAB. It helps eliminate patents which were granted in error. Suffice to say, the patent microcosm is not happy about it. It keeps moaning about PTAB and about its application of US law, notably 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Yesterday, for example, this post about Praxair Distribution, Inc. v Mallinckrodt Hospital Products IP Ltd. was published by Kevin Noonan to say that a patent had been voided:

Last week, the Federal Circuit found all patent claims invalid for obviousness in an inter partes review, in Praxair Distribution, Inc. v. Mallinckrodt Hospital Products IP Ltd. But the Court did not render its decision without engendering a judicial disagreement between the majority and Judge Newman on the proper role of the printed matter doctrine in obviousness determinations.

Mallinckrodt’s patent-in-IPR, U.S. Patent 8,846,112, was directed to methods for providing nitric oxide gas as a treatment for dilating pulmonary blood vessels in neonates. However, the art recognized a side effect, pulmonary edema, for which infants with pre-existing left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) were at particular risk. A diagnostic assay (pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, or “PCWP”) having greater than a specific value was taught in Mallinckrodt’s patent to exclude infants at risk for this side effect. Claim 1 is representative of the claims invalidated by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board…

Noonan, noting Section 101 “fatigue”(whatever he intended by that), then resorted to propping up the habitual dissent from Newman:

As is frequently the case, Judge Newman makes the better argument. Perhaps due to Section 101 fatigue or because the Supreme Court’s penchant for ignoring the statutory silos of eligibility, anticipation, and obviousness is contagious, the majority’s decision imports the incoherence of eligibility law into the obviousness context (doing little to clarify the standards in either). And by extending the application of the printed matter doctrine to claims that don’t recite printed matter, this precedential decision has the capacity to make mischief (having the Court’s imprimatur) until such time that another panel can creatively avoid its application or in the unlikely event that the Federal Circuit considers the question en banc (an eventuality that seems likely only if the Court becomes enamored with this approach to invalidating claims on eligibility grounds under the auspices of an obviousness determination). Neither possibility can be particularly comforting to the patent community.

When he says “patent community” he means patent microcosm. They’re not happy.

Yesterday, once again at midday, Watchtroll covered the patent scam of Allergan and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Some patent lawyers seem rather eager to make themselves look like crooks rather than law professionals. The whole post was about this amicus brief:

Askeladden again submitted an amicus brief to the Federal Circuit on May 17, 2018 supporting the PTAB’s decision below. A copy of that amicus brief is available here.

Why should a massive corporation disguise itself as a tribe and find itself exempted from the law? PTAB, as the highest US court recently found, is perfectly within its right to revoke patents which should not have been granted. Even IAM, a patent maximalists’ site, isn’t denying it (Watchtroll has always been a lot more radical in its views). IAM has just advertised some upcoming ‘event’ about “The impact of Oil States and SAS Institute on your PTAB strategy” as if it’s a question of “strategy” rather than legality (they seek new strategies for working around the law).

“Why should a massive corporation disguise itself as a tribe and find itself exempted from the law?”At the start of this week a post by Michael Borella was also published regarding SAP America, Inc. v InvestPic, LLC — the latest reminder of many that software patents are worthless to PTAB in light of 35 U.S.C. § 101. To quote some relevant bits:

SAP America, Inc. (SAP) filed a declaratory judgment action in the Northern District of Texas, alleging that U.S. Patent No. 6,349,291 of InvestPic, LLC (InvestPic) was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The District Court invalidated the ’291 patent during the pleadings stage. InvestPic appealed the ruling to the Federal Circuit.

[...]

The Supreme Court’s Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l case set forth a test to determine whether claims are directed to patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. One must first decide whether the claim at hand is directed to a judicially-excluded law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or an abstract idea. If so, then one must further decide whether any element or combination of elements in the claim is sufficient to ensure that the claim amounts to “significantly more” than the judicial exclusion. But generic computer implementation of an otherwise abstract process does not qualify as significantly more. On the other hand, a claimed improvement to a computer or technological process is typically patent-eligible.

[...]

Declaring the claims abstract, the Court moved on the second step of Alice. Here, InvestPic fared no better, as the Court stated “[w]e readily conclude that there is nothing in the claims sufficient to remove them from the class of subject matter ineligible for patenting and transform them into an eligible application,” and (subtlety invoking Berkheimer v. HP Inc.) “there are no factual allegations from which one could plausibly infer that they are inventive.” Particularly, all additional elements were either abstract themselves or (as recited in other claims) conventional computer components.

[...]

Even under a generous reading of Alice and its progeny, these claims might be found lacking. But the difficulty with cases like this one is how they are applied. We have seen how the Electric Power Group case has been broadly viewed by the courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to contend that virtually any invention involving collection, processing, and output of information is ineligible. Clearly, this is improper, it can be rebutted in many situations, but the process for doing so requires time and money — something that small companies might not have.

As we shall show in our next post, companies continue to seek new ‘clothing’ for abstract patents, basically making these appear more concrete than they really are.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts