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06.10.18

Instead of Smearing the Judges of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Check Why Abstract Patents Are Being Granted in the First Place

Posted in America, Patents at 11:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hours ago: Do Know Evil? Then Stop Patenting Software, Google

Judges as moral reasoners - Oxford Journals - Oxford University Press
Full paper: Judges as moral reasoners – Oxford Journals – Oxford University Press [PDF]

Summary: PTAB is taking a lot of heat (albeit always from patent maximalists) for simply applying the law, which ought to have been applied by the Office at the time of examination; confidence in US patents depends on the Office’s ability to discern/distinguish patentable subject matter from clearly unpatentable subject matter

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has made a few headlines this past week. Michael Loney, who is based in New York, took note of some precedential decisions:

The PTAB has de-designated Idle Free and Master Image in response to Aqua Products. Fiscal year 2018′s first half set a motion to amend record for two consecutive quarters

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has de-designated as precedential MasterImage 3D v RealD, Case IPR2015-00040 (PTAB July 15, 2015) (Paper 42) and has de-designated as informative Idle Free Sys v Bergstrom, Case IPR2012-00027 (June 11, 2013) (Paper 26).

Much of the coverage about PTAB, however, has been hostile. As expected, it came from longtime PTAB bashers and anti-PTAB sites. Those sites have a proven disdain for patent quality. Rather than ignore those sites we’d like to quickly respond to these.

Referring to a case from the first of June, Watchtroll now cherry-picks one of those rare cases where the Federal Circuit either overrules or vacates/remands after PTAB declares some patent/s to be invalid. Deception by omission in the patent trolls’ lobby? Well, this was done again yesterday. Watchtroll himself (Quinn) said: “The Office taking a proactive approach to reviewing cases on appeal to the Federal Circuit is good news for applicants facing Alice based 101 rejections. Obviously, now is not the time to allow those cases to go abandoned if they remain commercially relevant.”

“Watchtroll’s goal has always been to ‘scandalise’ the PTAB, trying to make it seems like it is making errors (in judgment) all the time when in fact it is getting things right — as measured by affirmations higher up — almost all the time.”Writing about patents in an entirely different domain, Watchtroll found an example of a patent’s validity being upheld, but readers must bear in mind that all the above are the exceptions rather than the norm. Watchtroll’s goal has always been to ‘scandalise’ the PTAB, trying to make it seems like it is making errors (in judgment) all the time when in fact it is getting things right — as measured by affirmations higher up — almost all the time. It’s not just Watchtroll by the way but also sites that have sunk to similarly low levels (a climate of jurist bashing and vicious personal attacks), even Patently-O. Some hours ago Watchtroll celebrated the lobbyist in chief, Makan Delrahim.

Writing about Andrew Hirshfeld, who nearly became a Director of the USPTO (based on rumours at one time), Stephen C. Glazier (Partner at Akerman LLP) relayed this “webinar” nonsense, organised by patent maximalists to better suit their agenda. Glazier uses Patently-O as his platform and speaks of “Increasing Certainty in US Patent Law,” which should not be a problem at all. If one cares about certainty, then one should instruct examiners to stop granting abstract patents altogether. Here’s what Hirshfeld is said to have said:

On April 26, 2018 the U.S. Patent Commissioner, Andrew Hirshfeld, spoke at our webinar regarding current developments at the U.S. Patent Office. [Link Below]

A major theme of Commissioner Hirshfeld’s remarks was the PTO’s revived focus on increasing reliability, certainty, and enforceability of issued patents and the application process. The underlying goal here is to further increase the value of patents and their beneficial impact on innovative products and businesses.

The Commissioner stated that a first step toward this policy goal will be pursued by new PTO guidance to Examiners and the applicants regarding the application of the Alice-Mayo test for patent subject matter eligibility under Section 101. Other possible PTO guidance is also being considered on various current issues.

Anticipat, which is trying to make money out of PTAB bashing, has stepped in to also mention “predictability”. “The recent memos offer some hope that USPTO will continue to improve the predictability of applying Section 101 rejections,” it said. How about just actually applying Section 101 consistently at examination time?

“…to improve the certainty/confidence (or “predictability”) of patents simply stop granting patents in defiance of Alice/Section 101.”The reason PTAB so often invalidates patents is simple; examiners grant patents that they should not be granting. It’s easier for these people to simply attack PTAB itself, not examiners who grant in a rush. Watchtroll himself (Quinn) is back to PTAB bashing (“Structural Bias at the PTAB: No Dissent Desired”). Been a while since the last time? These patent extremists have been reduced to tribunal bashing, judge bashing, and conspiracy theories (especially about Google).

The anti-PTAB (i.e. anti-patent quality) site Anticipat continues to stalk individual USPTO examiners, pretty much with the intention of maligning good ones (strict, thorough examination). To quote:

The USPTO has a vested interest in knowing how well its patent examiners examine applications. It tracks production, efficiency and quality. Even though quality examination has always been tricky to measure, one metric comes pretty close: an examiner’s appeal track record. And while tech center directors have had access to this data, until recently this has been difficult to access. Here we explore the known gaps of how this metric is being used at the USPTO.

According to sources at the USPTO, directors–who oversee each technology center–have access to their Examiners’ appeal track records. The more an Examiner gets affirmed by the PTAB on appeal, the more reasonable the Examiner’s rejections, the theory goes. This means that directors can evaluate examiners based on how often an examiner gets affirmed.

Let’s just say it again: to improve the certainty/confidence (or “predictability”) of patents simply stop granting patents in defiance of Alice/Section 101. That oughtn’t be so hard, right?

The International Trade Commission (ITC/USITC) Will Possibly Get Abolished Unless It Can Reform Itself

Posted in America, Patents at 10:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Example from last month, impacting a Japanese firm

Nintendo faces Switch patent infringement investigation in the US

Summary: The ‘International’ Trade Commission (actually US, it’s not an international agency) continues to overzealously guard US interests, even if that means blocking the competition from abroad, based on some sketchy patents with burden of proof on the accused

The ITC is the US ‘embargo’ (e.g. imports ban) agency, at least for patent complaints; it often seems like it’s just serving exceptionally large US corporations that can afford access to it; it’s rare to see small companies or foreign companies utilising ITC. Microsoft used ITC for one of the earlier instances of patent aggression (against rival computer mice) and in recent years we’ve been covering several instances of ITC misuse of laws or failing to respect tribunals such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), even if the Federal Circuit later affirmed its decisions. Something is clearly not working right at the ITC (law not being applied correctly, or sanctions applied prematurely without proper due process) and it could use a reboot if not just “the boot”. According to this short report (behind a paywall), ITC changes its rules. To quote Managing IP:

The International Trade Commission (ITC) has implemented 11 rule changes in an attempt to modernise and clarify the existing system. Coming into effect today, some changes simply formalise existing practices; others may cause complainants to rethink their approach.

If ITC fails to reform itself, which has thus far been the case, then it might simply perish. Agencies like ITC stigmatise themselves as uncaring for justice/legal process.

Do Know Evil? Then Stop Patenting Software, Google

Posted in Deception, Google at 9:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google is patenting algorithms (sometimes not even its own)

Google patent

Summary: Complaints that Google is claiming credit for other people’s work and then patenting that, in effect ‘pulling an Edison’ to stockpile questionable patents while occasionally resorting to patent aggression

LAST year someone told us the story of how Google had used Alex Converse to patent someone else's work. This was particularly disturbing not just because of prior art but also because of patent scope.

“It would be bad if Google ever got granted any patent on anything related to asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) because it’s an algorithm.”Well, the originator of the method speaks out again. Jarek Duda was making some headlines last year and now he’s back. Rather than walk away and apologise Google seems to be doubling down on its bad practice, which involves patenting software:

When Jarek Duda invented an important new compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) a few years ago, he wanted to make sure it would be available for anyone to use. So instead of seeking patents on the technique, he dedicated it to the public domain. Since 2014, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all created software based on Duda’s breakthrough.

But now Google is seeking a patent that would give it broad rights over the use of ANS for video compression. And Duda, a computer scientist at Jagiellonian University in Poland, isn’t happy about it.

Google denies that it’s trying to patent Duda’s work. A Google spokesperson told Ars that Duda came up with a theoretical concept that isn’t directly patentable, while Google’s lawyers are seeking to patent a specific application of that theory that reflects additional work by Google’s engineers.

How is that even patentable? The Google-hostile Mr. Gross said a few days ago, “guess which big co had NO trouble getting clearly Alice-ineligible applications rubberstamped at PTO while Director Lee was in charge? GOOGLE of course! this filing on 2 “modes” of AV operation would have been sh*tcanned by anyone else under 101 as “abstract idea”…” (image copied at the top)

“Generally speaking, especially in light of Alice, there’s no room for patents on algorithms in the patents repository.”Maintaining that conspiracy theory that Google is behind everything, these people would have us believe that Google enjoys special treatment. It would be bad if Google ever got granted any patent on anything related to asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) because it’s an algorithm. Generally speaking, especially in light of Alice, there’s no room for patents on algorithms in the patents repository. Do Know Evil, Google?

Links 10/6/2018: Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 and Tails 3.7.1

Posted in News Roundup at 1:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux Apps (Crostini) Headed To A Lot More Chromebooks

      The Chromium developers have been very busy as of late bringing life to the Crostini Project that will give users the ability to run Linux apps “natively” on Chrome OS. While Linux on Chromebooks isn’t a new trick, the Crostini UI presents a clean, hack-free method to launch Linux apps from the terminal app that will eventually live in Chrome OS’s app drawer when enabled.

      Initially birthed in Google’s own Pixelbook, Linux apps on Chrome OS has now spread to ARM in the form of the Samsung Chromebook Plus. Although it’s still in its infancy, it’s becoming clear that developers are pushing to make the Crostini project a stable part of the Chromebook ecosystem.

    • Battery on my new Librem 13

      Being lazy, I wanted a way to automate that when using my new Librem laptop. Again, I could look into a power/charging threshold for the Librem. But for less than $20, I picked up a power strip that had a timer (Century 8 Outlet Surge Protector with Mechanical Timer). Four outlets on the strip are always on, and four are connected to a built-in timer. That allows me to plug in my monitor and LED desk light to an always-on outlet, and my laptop to a timed outlet. I still turn the power strip off when I’m not using the computer, but that’s a habit I’ve had for ages, so that’s not a big deal.

      The power needs for a laptop aren’t that big, so I’m not worried about over-taxing the power strip. This thing is built to run high-load devices like an aquarium water pump and light, or a heat lamp for a terrarium. The Librem runs a pretty light load in comparison: about 60-80W when charging the battery, according to user “Derriell” on the Purism forum.

      I’m still tweaking the duty cycle. My goal is to exercise the battery somewhere between 20% and 80%. The Librem 13 will run on battery for roughly seven to nine hours, and it takes upwards of four hours to fully recharge, so right now I have the power strip timer set at five hours “off” and three hours “on.” So if I only have the power strip turned on when I’m using the computer, the laptop is running from battery for five hours, then it charges for three hours, then it’s back to battery. I have to keep the total (eight hours) evenly divisible by twenty-four hours.

      Maybe I’m overthinking it, but this seems a good solution to me. How do you manage the battery on your laptop? If there’s a more elegant way, let me know in the comments.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 4.17

      Ezequiel Garcia, who recently joined our team, fixed some rockchip ASoC issues. Tomeu Vizoso continued taking care and sending patches of any bug or improvement he founds, that includes a fix for the virtio driver and another for the USB DWC2 controller.

      Gustavo Padovan sent a patch to fix a link for the media documentation. And finally, Sebastian upstreamed a patch to enable secure register access for Bx50v3 devices that Peter Senna did whilst employed at Collabora.

    • Interning at an Open Source Consultancy

      A big draw to selecting Collabora as my employer was the opportunity to work on open source software. I had previously spent the summer of 2017 working on my first contributions to open source projects such as Rust and Firefox. Initially, it was an excuse for me to write and learn more Rust, but with time I grew to really enjoy the process. I certainly do have to commend Mozilla for their exceptional work in introducing newcomers to their projects. As someone who did not have prior professional working experience, getting to work, contribute, and follow real-world software development processes thrilled me.

    • Coming Soon: Wacom Firmware Updates on Linux

      Red Hat’s Richard Hughes shares word on work he’s done with Wacom engineers to support Wacom’s custom update protocol on Linux.

      At present, Wacom advise their customers to upgrade firmware on their graphics tablets using a dedicated desktop app which is only available for Windows and macOS.

      But no longer will open source creatives need to keep a dual-boot handy for this purpose.

    • A Look At The Features Merged So Far For The Linux 4.18 Kernel

      We are about half-way through the Linux 4.18 kernel merge window, so here is a look at the most interesting work that’s been merged so far for this next kernel release that should debut as stable around mid-August.

      In the first week of the Linux 4.18 merge window, highlights include:

      - The big platter of DRM graphics driver updates always has us most excited and it’s no different with Linux 4.18 from AMDGPU improvements to Intel Icelake work to NVIDIA Volta open-source enablement.

    • Linux 4.18 Drops The Lustre File-System

      There are a lot of staging changes for the busy Linux 4.18 kernel merge window.

      The staging area of the kernel where premature/incomplete kernel code goes has seen over one thousand patches this cycle that amount to 168 thousand lines of new code and 227 thousand lines of code removed. In part for the staging area coming in lighter is the Lustre file-system has been removed.

    • Linux 4.18 Gets AMD Patches For Speculative Store Bypass / Spectre V4

      Linux 4.17 landed the initial Spectre V4 mitigation as “Speculative Store Bypass Disable” (SSBD) while primarily focused on Intel CPUs and for Linux 4.18 the SSBD code has been updated for AMD processors.

      The in-development Linux 4.18 kernel will receive the patches for making use of the SPEC_CTRL / VIRT_SPEC MSRs to be provided by future AMD CPUs / firmware updates. The AMD SSBD work done by Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk of Oracle was previously covered here. The AMD SSBD whitepaper can be read here.

    • Linux 4.18 Landing Restartable Sequences System Call, Yields Performance Benefits

      Adding to the list of new features for Linux 4.18 is the long-in-development work on the restartable sequences system call.

      The new RSEQ system call allows for faster user-space operations on per-CPU data by providing a shared data structure ABI between each user-space thread and the kernel. This allows update operations on per-CPU data without needing expensive atomic operations. The restartable sequences ABI can make faster querying the current CPU number, incrementing per-CPU counters, modifying data protected by per-CPU spinlocks, writing/reading per-CPU ring buffers, and more.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • A Revived Linux Driver To Be Attempted For The ATI RAGE 128

        The ATI Rage 128 series was introduced in 1998 while now twenty years later a renewed DDX driver and potentially DRM/KMS kernel driver is going to be attempted for these AGP/PCI graphics cards from the days of OpenGL 1.2.

        The ATI RAGE 128 family was great back in 1998 when it was going up against the Voodoo 3 and RIVA TNT while now for those Linux users who are fans of vintage hardware, there’s going to be a renewed driver push. That’s hardware back from the days when GPUs could have less than 10 million transistors, were manufactured on a 250nm process, and just over 100MHz clock speeds with SDR memory.

      • NVIDIA 340.107 Legacy Linux Driver Brings X.Org Server 1.20 Support

        NVIDIA has rounded out their supported Linux drivers with X.Org Server 1.20 support.

        NVIDIA’s latest 396 driver series has supported the X.Org Server 1.20 ABI since before xorg-server 1.20.0 was released and since then has been brought to the 390 long-term driver series earlier this week and now the NVIDIA 340 legacy driver series. The 340 driver series is what’s providing the maintenance-only support for the GeForce 8 and GeForce 9 series.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Should Now Work Much Better With DXVK For Direct3D 11 Wine Gaming

        For those relying upon DXVK for running Direct3D 11 games over Vulkan with Wine, the RADV Vulkan driver from Mesa Git should now be working out much better for this fast-developing graphics translation layer.

        DXVK continues making great strides for delivering a performant D3D11-over-Vulkan implementation for Wine games/applications. For those using the open-source Radeon Vulkan “RADV” driver in Mesa 17.2-dev, the experience should be much more pleasant.

      • X.Org To Proceed Migrating Their Code & Bugs To GitLab

        Red Hat’s Adam Jackson has announced the X.Org plans for the GitLab migration. X.Org will make use of GitLab for the Git repositories and bug tracking, as a replacement to Cgit and Bugzilla.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Ships Latest Fixes, Optimizations

        The AMD Radeon driver developers maintaining the open-source AMDVLK Vulkan Linux driver have pushed out their latest week’s worth of changes.

        On Friday was their usual push of the latest LLVM/XGL/PAL code-bases making up this Radeon Vulkan open-source driver that is an alternative to the Mesa-based RADV driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • 28-Way Linux CPU/System Comparison From Old To New

        This week have been various unique and extra articles and benchmarks for commemorating the Phoronix 14th birthday. The latest of these fun articles is taking a look back at how various CPUs over the years compare to today’s Intel Core and AMD Ryzen offerings.

  • Applications

    • Markdown – style text on the web

      Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber in 2004. It’s designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write.

      Readability is at the very heart of Markdown. It offers the advantages of plain text, provides a convenient format for writing for the web, but it’s not intended to be a replacement for HTML. Markdown is a writing format, not a publishing format. You control the display of the document; formatting words as bold or italic, adding images, and creating lists are just a few of the things we can do with Markdown. Mostly, Markdown is just regular text with a few non-alphabetic characters included, such as # or *.

    • The best Linux VPN 2018

      For obvious reasons, Linux tends to attract users who are more tech savvy and privacy aware than most Windows or macOS users, which makes a VPN a pretty natural fit for the operating system.

      Unfortunately, only a few VPN providers actually offer dedicated software clients for Linux, and if you don’t opt for one of them you’ll be stuck fiddling around in the system console (not that that’s anything new to Linux users, of course…). With that in mind we’ve rounded up the best VPNs for Linux with a dedicated app, along with a few that don’t.

    • Formiko, a reStructuredText Editor for Python Documentation

      Today, we are going to take a quick look at little editor built with Python that I recently became aware of.

    • zstd – A Fast Data Compression Algorithm Used By Facebook

      When required, it can trade compression speed for stronger compression ratios (compression speed vs compression ratio trade-off can be configured by small increments), vice versa. It has a special mode for small data compression, known as dictionary compression, and can build dictionaries from any sample set provided. It comes with a command line utility for creating and decoding .zst, .gz, .xz and .lz4 files.

      [...]

      Importantly, Zstandard has a rich collection of APIs, supports almost all popular programming languages including Python, Java, JavaScript, Nodejs, Perl, Ruby, C#, Go, Rust, PHP, Switft, and lots more.

    • Proprietary

      • FOSS Project Spotlight: the Codelobster IDE–a Free PHP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript Editor [Ed: Sad to see Linux Journal back to pushing proprietary software which mostly targets Windows]

        The Codelobster free web language editor has been available for quite some time and has attracted many fans. It allows you to edit PHP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript files, and it highlights the syntax and provides hints for tags, functions and their parameters. This editor deals with files that contain mixed content easily as well.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • 25-Way NVIDIA/AMD Linux Graphics Comparison For Vulkan-Powered Thrones Of Britannia

        This week Mac/Linux game porting company released the Linux port of A Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA, just two months after this game was released for Windows. With the Linux port of this strategy game the Vulkan API is being used for graphics rendering, which makes it interesting for benchmarking. Here is our extensive look at the performance of this major Linux game port when testing twenty-five different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards to see how this game is performing on Ubuntu Linux.

      • Chroma Blast is a rather nice & free twin-stick shooter that’s now on Linux

        It’s completely free as well, no micro-transactions or any of that rubbish. They said they couldn’t test the Linux version themselves, but in my testing it seemed to work great! If you use a Steam Controller, you will need to set the right pad into Joystick Camera to allow for constant shooting (how it’s supposed to be).

      • FPS ‘Membrane’ follows a protagonist who has been surgically attached to an alien organism

        That’s quite a title for an article isn’t it! Membrane, currently crowdfunding on IndieGoGo is a GZDoom-powered 90′s inspired FPS that will support Linux.

        The developers have already worked on it for years, but they’re now wanting to have a bigger push and work on it full time. They’re seeking $4K from their crowdfunding campaign, although it’s using a flexible goal so they will receive any funds pledged even if they do not hit their goal.

      • Play It Now – MidBoss

        Welcome to the second review in the PIN (Play It NOW) series. We’re going to be looking at quite a recent title called MidBoss by the awesome Kitsune Games and ported by the excellent Ethan Lee. A game full of superlatives then, and now here’s my PIN, urging you to take a look.

      • Turn-based RPG dungeon crawler ‘Robothorium’ is now in Early Access with Linux support

        Out now in Early Access with Linux support, Robothorium sees you lead your very own robot uprising. Developed by Goblinz Studio, the same team behind Dungeon Rushers.

      • Stoneshard: Prologue, the alpha demo of the RPG Stoneshard is now on Linux

        With Stoneshard currently going through crowdfunding, the developers have finally released the Stoneshard: Prologue alpha demo on Linux.

        The Kickstarter is currently doing very well, with only 6 days to go they’ve managed to reach well over their initial goal. They’ve got around $65K in funding, which means they hit their first stretch goal to include new dungeons and enemies.

      • Indivisible, the new action-RPG from the creator of Skullgirls has a new trailer

        Indivisible [Official Site] looks really quite good, a nice colourful action-RPG from the creator of Skullgirls, due next year with Linux support and it has a new trailer.

      • The Endless Mission is a single-player story game that allows you to modify the world

        The Endless Mission sounds like a confusing mash-up of many genres in a story-based game that allows you to change the rules.

      • A Closer Look At The GeForce GTX 1060 vs. Radeon RX 580 In Thrones of Britannia

        As it stands right now the most competitive graphics card battle on the Linux gaming front is the Radeon RX 580 against the GeForce GTX 1060. NVIDIA continues with their first-rate performant drivers while the Polaris hardware on the open-source RADV/RadeonSI drivers is mature enough now that it’s competing with the GTX 1060 like it should be and in some cases even performing much better than the NVIDIA Pascal part. With this week’s release of Thrones of Britannia and powered by Vulkan, here is an extensive look at the two competing GPUs and their performance.

      • Cities: Skylines – Good Traffic Guide

        This splendid city building simulation is no stranger to Dedoimedo. I’ve talked about the game at length, covering both the original release and the combined After Dark and Snowfall expansions, and recently also covered the relatively new Mass Transit DLC. But that’s not all. We have also talked about traffic management. A lot.

        Like most urban simulators, the game places heavy focus on the road infrastructure – let’s face it, a city cannot function without transportation, and everything else is a derivative of the tarmac grid, even if you do not really use grids in your games, ha ha. I’ve shed some personal advice on how to handle smooth flowing traffic against organic city growth, and the use of underground tunnels to achieve extra throughput and better aesthetics in your cities. Now, with Mass Transit offering a whole new range of additional transport technologies, I wanted to compile a complete guide on making your traffic perfect. Let us.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.47.0

        KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.47.0.

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.47 Released With Various Improvements

        The latest monthly update is now available to the KDE Frameworks that complements the capabilities of the Qt5 tool-kit.

      • GSoC Fwupd Integration in KDE Discover (Phase – I)
      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 22

        This has been another strong week for KDE’s Usability and Productivity initiative!

      • How to recover a completely dead Plasma desktop

        Dead desktops are never a pretty sight. Irrecoverable desktops even more so. I really wonder what can go so horribly wrong that even if you fully reinstall and move away all the desktop-related settings, things are still awfully bad. No matter, in this tutorial, I’ve shown you how you can regain control over your Plasma desktop even if things are seemingly lost.

        True, you can always boot into any which live CD session and copy your data or install a different desktop environment. But what if your home rests on the same partition and you cannot afford formats? Or if you actually want to continue using Plasma? Well, it comes down to managing the login session, and then creating a new user that will take over the fiasco. Technically, we cheated, but then, if you date twins, and you can’t tell them apart, is it your fault for using the wrong name? Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that no matter how seemingly bad things are, it’s never a lost cause. And remember, always have backups. Take care.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • How to Use GNOME Shell’s Secret Screen Recorder

        So you want to record your Ubuntu desktop, but you don’t know which desktop screen recorder to use?

        Well, have you considered not using one at all?

        Don’t look at me strangely: I promise this makes sense.

        You’ve likely seen videos on YouTube where people share a screencast of their Linux desktops. Perhaps you want to join the fun. Well, you can, and you don’t need any special tools or separate screen recorder apps to do it.

      • A new completion engine for Builder

        Since my initial announcement of Builder at GUADEC in 2014, I’ve had a vision in the back of my mind about how I’d like completion to work in Builder. However, there have been more important issues to solve and I’m just one person. So it was largely put on the back burner because after a few upstream patches, the GtkSourceView design was good enough.

        However, as we start to integrate more external tooling into Builder, the demands and design of what those completion layers expect of the application have changed. And some of that is in conflict with the API/ABI we have in the long-term stable versions of GtkSourceView.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GeckoLinux updates all ROLLING and STATIC spins

        The GeckoLinux project is pleased to release updated spins of both ROLLING and STATIC editions. GeckoLinux spins are based on the openSUSE distribution, with a focus on polish and out-of-the-box usability on the desktop. A large variety of customized desktop options are available in STATIC (based on openSUSE Leap) and ROLLING (based on openSUSE Tumbleweed) editions. After installation to the hard disk, a GeckoLinux system will continue to receive updates from the openSUSE and Packman infrastructures. An installed system can even be upgraded smoothly to future openSUSE releases while at the same time retaining its unique GeckoLinux configuration.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Talk about the Debian GNU/Linux riscv64 port at RISC-V workshop

        About a month ago I attended the RISC-V workshop (conference, congress) co-organised by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).

        There I presented a talk with the (unimaginative) name of “Debian GNU/Linux Port for RISC-V 64-bit”, talking about the same topic as many other posts of this blog.

        There are 2-3 such RISC-V Workshop events per year, one somewhere in Silicon Valley (initially at UC Berkeley, its birthplace) and the others spread around the world.

        The demographics of this gathering are quite different to those of planet-debian; the people attending usually know a lot about hardware and often Linux, GNU toolchains and other FOSS, but sometimes very little about the inner workings of FOSS organisations such as Debian. My talk had these demographics as target, so a lot of its content will not teach anything new for most readers of planet-debian.

      • Debian LTS work, May 2018

        I was assigned 15 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and worked all those hours.

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.7.1 is out

          This release fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 stable

          Dear Init Freedom Lovers

          Once again the Veteran Unix Admins salute you!

          We are happy to announce that Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 ASCII Stable is
          finally available.

          Devuan is a GNU+Linux distribution committed to providing a universal,
          stable, dependable, free software operating system that uses and
          promotes alternatives to systemd and its components.

          Devuan 2.0 ASCII runs on several architectures. Installer CD and DVD
          ISOs, as well as desktop-live and minimal-live ISOs, are available for
          i386 and amd64. Ready-to-use images can be downloaded for a number of
          ARM platforms and SOCs, including Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, OrangePi,
          BananaPi, OLinuXino, Cubieboard, Nokia and Motorola mobile phones, and
          several Chromebooks, as well as for Virtualbox/QEMU/Vagrant.

          The Devuan 2.0 ASCII installer ISOs offer a variety of Desktop
          Environments including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQt, with others
          available post-install. The expert install mode now offers a choice of
          either SysVinit or OpenRC as init system. In addition, there are
          options for “Console productivity” with hundreds of CLI and TUI utils,
          as well as a minimal base system ideal for servers. The minimal-live
          image provides a full-featured console-based system with a particular
          focus on accessibility.

        • Debian 9 Without Systemd: Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 Released By “Veteran Unix Admins”

          Back in late 2014, a team of “Veteran Unix Admins” announced their plans to release a systemd-free fork of Debian GNU+Linux; it was named Devuan. In mid-2017, the first Devuan 1.0 release arrived. Following the same, Devuan 2.0 has just been shipped by the developers as a stable release to provide an alternative to systemd and its components.

        • Devuan 2.0 Released For Debian Stretch Without Systemd

          Devuan 2.0 has now been released as stable, the downstream of Debian GNU/Linux that aims for “init freedom” by decoupling the packages from being dependent upon systemd.

        • Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 stable
        • Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 stable release
        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Adoption of Flatpak vs Snap (2018 edition)

            Because Flatpak comes in two types, regular release (0.11.x) and “Stable” (=LTS, 0.10.x), the latest Stable release counts as well. With Flatpak 0.11.8’s hotfix only released 4 hours ago, it could not have passed the QA of any serious distribution, so 0.11.7 counts as latest for now.

            Green means the latest version is in an official repository.
            Yellow means that either the latest version is in an add-on repo or the package is in an official repository but with some problems.
            Red means either not available at all or in some barely maintained (or even abandoned) add-on repository.

          • A Look At Flatpak vs. Snap Adoption In Various 2018 Linux Distributions

            KDE developer Markus Slopianka has looked at the state of Flatpak and Snap application deployment/sandboxing technologies across the state of several Linux distributions.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • You’re Thinking About Autonomous Vehicles Wrong

    George Hotz, the hacker-turned-founder of an open-source self-driving startup, has a different philosophy of autonomy.

  • Events

    • Software events in Málaga

      OpenSouthCode is a general purpose FOSS event, very popular among students and local hackers. Last year I talked about the FOSS automotive platforms developed by AGL and GENIVI. This year I provided an overview of CIP, the work that we are currently doing and near future plans. Check the slides for more information.

      OpenSouthCode in a two days event. The first one, on a Friday, is all about workshops, meetup and training activities while the second one, on a Saturday, is reserved for talks in Spanish.

      If you live in the South of Spain or happen to be around when this event takes place, I totally recommend it.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome 68 Enters Beta with New “Add to Home Screen” Behavior for PWAs

        Google has promoted the upcoming Chrome 68 web browser to the Chrome Beta channel on Thursday for Chrome OS, Linux, Android, Chrome OS, macOS, and Windows platforms.

        Chrome 68 promises to be yet another incremental update that introduces new APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for developers, namely the Payment Handler API and the Page Lifecycle API, as well as an improved “add to home screen” behavior for PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) that allows users to add them to the home screen on their Android devices.

      • The Best Chrome Extensions for Managing Tabs

        Crashing pages, slow performance, or just not being able to find that one tab you need to get back to—you’ve probably felt the effects of tab overload. If you use Chrome, though, there are some great extensions to help you manage all those tabs.

    • Mozilla

      • Browse Websites Side by Side Using Side View Feature on Mozilla Firefox Web Browser | Test Pilot

        Mozilla Firefox Test Pilot program is intended to provide a new experimental features on the latest release of Mozilla Firefox. Here’s a new highly demanded feature many users have been waiting for is now available on Test Pilot program for Mozilla Firefox, It’s Mozilla Firefox Side View which allows you to browse websites side by side.

      • Things Gateway – Nest Thermostat & the Pellet Stove

        Back in January of 2014, I wrote a blog post called Hacking a Pellet Stove to Work with Nest. It was a narrative about trying to use the advanced features of the Nest learning thermostat to control a pellet stove in the volatile temperature environment of a yurt.

        [...]

        Once this software was complete and tested, I installed it on a dedicated Raspberry Pi, set the jumpers for controlling the relay board, wired the 24VAC thermostat relay and then wired the pellet stove components. It started working immediately. It doesn’t need the Things Gateway to run in its basic mode.

        My Things Gateway doesn’t run in the yurt, it lives in my office in the old original farm house. Fortunately, ten years ago, I trenched in gigabit Ethernet between all my buildings. So, while standing in the yurt, I opened the Things Gateway in Firefox running on my Android tablet. I added the Pellet Stove thing, and it all worked correctly.

        There appears to be a minor bug here. Only the “low_linger_minutes” and “medium_linger_minutes” are settable by the user. However, the Things Gateway is allowing all the other fields to be settable, too – even though setting them doesn’t actually do anything. I’ve not yet figured out if this is a bug in my code or in the Things-URL adapter.

      • This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 9

        Next week, the team will be in San Francisco for an all-Mozilla company meeting.

      • Building Firefox for ALSA (non PulseAudio) Sound

        I did the work to built my own Firefox primarily to fix a couple of serious regressions that couldn’t be fixed any other way. I’ll start with the one that’s probably more common (at least, there are many people complaining about it in many different web forums): the fact that Firefox won’t play sound on Linux machines that don’t use PulseAudio.

        There’s a bug with a long discussion of the problem, Bug 1345661 – PulseAudio requirement breaks Firefox on ALSA-only systems; and the discussion in the bug links to another discussion of the Firefox/PulseAudio problem). Some comments in those discussions suggest that some near-future version of Firefox may restore ALSA sound for non-Pulse systems; but most of those comments are six months old, yet it’s still not fixed in the version Mozilla is distributing now.

      • Let’s kill kittens with native messaging (or, introducing OverbiteNX: if WebExtensions can’t do it, we will)

        WebExtensions (there is no XUL) took over with a thud seven months ago, which was felt as a great disturbance in the Force by most of us who wrote Firefox add-ons that, you know, actually did stuff. Many promises were made for APIs to allow us to do the stuff we did before. Some of these promises were kept and these APIs have actually been implemented, and credit where credit is due. But there are many that have not (that metabug is not exhaustive). More to the point, there are many for which people have offered to write code and are motivated to write code, but we have no parameters for what would be acceptable, possibly because any spec would end up stuck in a “boil the ocean” problem, possibly because it’s low priority, or possibly because someone gave other someones the impression such an API would be acceptable and hasn’t actually told them it isn’t. The best way to get contribution is to allow people to scratch their own itches, but the urgency to overcome the (largely unintentional) institutional roadblocks has faded now that there is somewhat less outrage, and we are still left with a disordered collection of APIs that extends Firefox relatively little and a very slow road to do otherwise.

        Or perhaps we don’t have to actually rely on what’s in Firefox to scratch our itch, at least in many cases. In a potentially strategically unwise decision, WebExtensions allows native code execution in the form of “native messaging” — that is, you can write a native component, tell Firefox about it and who can talk to it, and then have that native component do what Firefox don’t. At that point, the problem then becomes more one of packaging. If the functionality you require isn’t primarily limited by the browser UI, then this might be a way around the La Brea triage tarpit.

      • Fixing Content Scripts on GitHub.com

        Content scripts ordinarily reload for each new page visited but, on GitHub, they don’t. This is because links on GitHub mutate the DOM and use the history.pushState API instead of loading pages the standard way, which would create an entirely new DOM per page.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • PDF Importing Improvements Head Into LibreOffice

      It’s too late for the upcoming LibreOffice 6.1, but LibreOffice 6.2 will feature PDF importing improvements.

      Ashod Nakashian of Collabora landed a number of PDF importing improvements this week into the open-source office suite. This includes support for importing PDF images, importing PDF text, and a wide variety of work related to that. Some of that heavy lifting with PDF is being done using PDFium, the library for PDF rendering that Google developed for Chrome, which has been bundled in LibreOffice since last year.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Silent Fanless FreeBSD Desktop/Server

      Today I will write about silent fanless FreeBSD desktop or server computer … or NAS … or you name it, it can have multiple purposes. It also very low power solution, which also means that it will not overheat. Silent means no fans at all, even for the PSU. The format of the system should also be brought to minimum, so Mini-ITX seems best solution here.

    • Your own VPN with OpenIKED & OpenBSD

      This guide will walk through the set up of an IKEv2 VPN using OpenIKED on OpenBSD. It will detail a “road warrior” configuration, and use a PSK (pre-shared-key) for authentication. I’m sure it can be easily adapted to work on any other platforms that OpenIKED is available on, but keep in mind my steps are specifically for OpenBSD.

    • FreeBSD 11.2-RC2 Now Available

      The second RC build of the 11.2-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

    • FreeBSD 11.2-RC2 Ships This Weekend With Various Fixes

      The second release candidate of FreeBSD 11.2 is now available for testing.

      FreeBSD 11.2 has been baking Spectre and Meltdown protection, various kernel improvements, and a wide variety of minor driver updates over 2017′s FreeBSD 11.1 release. The bulk of the development work though has been heading into FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT for release next year or so.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Four New Jersey wineries collaborate on Open Source Chardonnay
    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • A Fully Open Source Raspberry Pi Synthesizer

        Have you ever seen something and instantly knew it was something you wanted, even though you weren’t aware it existed a few seconds ago? That’s how we felt when we received a tip about Zynthian, a fully open source (hardware and software) synthesizer. You can buy the kit online directly from the developers, or build your own from scratch using their documentation and source code. With a multitude of filters, effects, engines, and essentially unlimited upgrade potential, they’re calling it a “Swiss Army Knife of Synthesis”. We’re inclined to agree.

  • Programming/Development

    • GitHub’s New CEO Did a Reddit AMA, This is What he Said

      There is a growing concern that Microsoft may seek to bloat the service with add-ons, feature creep, and integrations with their own services, like Azure and LinkedIn.

      Is that likely?

    • 5 Github Alternatives

      Although GitHub is the most used platform for storing open source projects on the Internet but being acquired by Microsoft, the open source community may like to prefer the alternatives. So we have other very interesting options that we recommend to know in order to decide which one to publish and store your own creations and adaptations in the cloud.

    • Three Takes On Microsoft Acquiring Github

      But, as someone who believes in the value of reinvention and innovation among the tech industry, it’s not necessarily great to see successful mid-tier companies just gobbled up by giants. It happens — and perhaps it clears the field for something fresh and new. Perhaps it even clears the field for that utopic git-driven world that Ford envisions. But, in the present-tense, it’s at least a bit deflating to think that a very different, and very powerful, approach to the way people collaborate and code… ends up in Microsoft’s universe.

      And, as a final note on these three pieces: this is why we should seek out and promote people who actually understand technology and business in understanding what is happening in the technology world. The Guardian piece is laughable, because it appears to be written by someone with such a surface-level understanding of open source of free software that it comes off as utter nonsense. But the pieces by Ford and Thompson actually help add to our understanding of the news, while providing insightful takes on it. The Guardian (and others) should learn from that.

    • Mailing lists vs Github

      The alternative method is the developer mailing list. It arose in the late eighties to early nineties, and predates the popularity of the web browser. But far from being a mere historical curiosity, the discussion list is still the primary method of development in many important open source projects, from databases to operating systems to web browsers.

      In this article I’ll carefully compare the use of mailing lists with code collaboration web sites such as Github. I’ll do my best to present the pros and cons of each, so that projects assessing the two can make an informed decision.

    • Eclipse Che 6.6 Release Notes

      Eclipse Che 6.6 is here!

    • To do a Rust GUI

      Rust Qt Binding Generator (Logo by Alessandro Longo)

      Rust Qt Binding Generator lets you combine Rust code with a Qt1 graphical application. A previous blog shows how to make a simple clock. It’s a good idea to read that post before reading this more advanced post, because in this post we are getting serious.

      This blog post shows how to write a to-do application. The data model is a list of to-do items. The source code for this example is available in the folder examples/todos in the Rust Qt Binding Generator repository.

      Here is a screenshot of the finished application. The to-do application shows the steps to implement the to-do application. This application was the subject of a presentation on Rust Qt Binding Generator.

    • RcppDE 0.1.6

      Another maintenance release, now at version 0.1.6, of our RcppDE package is now on CRAN. It follows the most recent (unblogged, my bad) 0.1.5 release in January 2016 and the 0.1.4 release in September 2015.

      RcppDE is a “port” of DEoptim, a popular package for derivative-free optimisation using differential evolution optimization, to C++. By using RcppArmadillo, the code becomes a lot shorter and more legible. Our other main contribution is to leverage some of the excellence we get for free from using Rcpp, in particular the ability to optimise user-supplied compiled objective functions which can make things a lot faster than repeatedly evaluating interpreted objective functions as DEoptim (and, in fairness, just like most other optimisers) does.

    • RcppClassic 0.9.10

      A maintenance release RcppClassic 0.9.9 is now at CRAN. This package provides a maintained version of the otherwise deprecated first Rcpp API; no new projects should use it.

Leftovers

  • Ken Dreyer: Hope is my strategy

    In 2018 I’ve faced some hard decisions in my personal life, where I have to make choices every week for how I’m going to live and what I’m going to do. These choices affect others around me as well.

    At some point I have to stop gathering data. I don’t have the resources to do the exhaustive research I daydream about for every decision. And even if I did, it’s pure fantasy to think I can avoid pain and suffering in this life.

  • Lessons learned Working From Home

    It’s been close to 2 years now that I’ve been working from home. Home-office is something that’s viewed differently in tech circles. Some people like it, some don’t.

    I for one, absolutely love it. Since starting home office, I’ve felt more productive at work, I’ve started a bunch of open source projects (which never in my entire life I thought I would have the time and energy for), and I’ve saved so much time not commuting, it sometimes feels like cheating. All in all, highly recommended.

    So now that we know that this post is absolutely not biased, here’s my take on home office.

  • Science

    • Training a neural network in phase-change memory beats GPUs

      Phase-change memory is based on materials that can form two different structures, or phases, depending on how quickly they cool from a liquid. As the conductance of these phases differ, it’s possible to use this to store bits. It’s also possible to control the temperature such that the bit enters a state with intermediate conductance. In addition to storing bits, this can be used to perform calculations, as a bunch of sub-threshold phase changes can gradually add up to a bit flip.

  • Hardware

    • Hygon Dhyana: Chinese x86 Server CPUs Based On AMD Zen

      While there are the VIA/Centaur-based Zhaoxin desktop CPUs targeted for the Chinese market, it turns out there is another x86 Chinese CPU effort but this time is a collaboration with AMD.

      Chengdu Haiguang IC Design Co is a new x86 CPU vendor that is a joint venture between AMD and Haiguang Information Technology Co. This joint venture is aiming to make x86 CPUs for the Chinese server market. This deal was announced back in May and paid out $293 million to AMD for using their intellectual property.

      The first Hygon CPU offerings is the “Dhyana” family that is based upon AMD technology and is derived from the AMD Family 17h “Zen” micro-architecture.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Government’s New Contractor to Run Los Alamos Includes the Same Manager It Effectively Fired for Safety Problems

      The Department of Energy said it would seek new leadership for Los Alamos National Laboratory. But the University of California is still there, even after mismanagement caused it to lose its contract to run the lab — twice.

    • Anthony Bourdain: The Last Gasp of CNN’s Original Vision

      CNN began with the slogan, articulated by its founder Ted Turner: “The news is the star.”

      That has long since ceased to be a reflection of what CNN does. Despite promoting itself with its dubious “facts first” slogan, the network endlessly touts its celebrity pundits and anchors: Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, Christiane Amanpour, Fareed Zakaria, et al. The view of the world that they depict is what the viewer needs to understand—not the world itself.

      Anthony Bourdain didn’t join CNN until 2013, didn’t do “news” per se, and his own personality was certainly a major part of his show, Parts Unknown, but the lens was largely on the places Bourdain went, whether Armenia or West Virginia, and the people he met there. This work was more mini-doc than anything else typically found on CNN.

      At his best, to Bourdain, the world was the star. The people, the cultures, the varied beliefs, the booze, the music, the rivers, the cities, the ethnic groups, what they share and their tensions. He’d often at least indicate class distinctions in his shows, at times gender dynamics as well. He spoke up in defense of the many immigrants in the restaurant industry, and was an ally of the #MeToo movement.

      [...]

      Bourdain’s death—and the improbability that CNN will again offer anything like it—should be a wake up call to a range of people, from documentary filmmakers to independent media outfits wanting to use the internet in creative ways: There’s a hunger among regular people in the US for the unvarnished realities of the rest of the world, and major media are serving up precious little to feed it.

  • Security

    • RedEye Ransomware Destroys Your PC Files If Payment Isn’t Made

      Cyptojacking is the latest buzzword in the cybersecurity world. The notorious cybercriminals have taken the advantage of the growing cryptocurrency craze. Prior to that, ransomware like WannaCry didn’t leave any stone unturned in ruining the digital lives of many people.

    • RedEye ransomware: there’s more than meets the eye
    • ARM64 Patches For Linux 4.18 Roll Out With Spectre V4 Mitigation

      The ARM64 (64-bit ARM / AArch64) architecture updates have been submitted today for the Linux 4.18 kernel.

      Arguably the most notable addition for ARM64 in Linux 4.18 is now having Spectre Variant Four mitigation after the ARM patches had been floating around in recent weeks. The ARM64 mitigation follows the x86 approach in Speculative Store Bypass Disable (SSBD) for addressing this recent CPU vulnerability. The ARM64 SSBD support relies upon an SMC firmware call to set a hardware chicken bit.

      The ARM64 pull also includes ACPI Processor Properties Topology Table (PPTT) support, which exposes processor and cache topology as part of the ACPI 6.2 specification. The ACPI PPTT ARM64 patches have been floating around since last year while now are merged.

    • arm64 patches for 4.18

      Please pull the arm64 updates for 4.18 below. Apart from the core arm64 and perf changes, the Spectre v4 mitigation touches the arm KVM code and the ACPI PPTT support touches drivers/ (acpi and cacheinfo). I should have the maintainers’ acks in place.

    • DevSecOps Gains Enterprise Traction
    • Chinese hackers [sic] stole sensitive data from Navy contractor: report
    • John Kelly’s phone was hacked [sic]

      Citing 2 unnamed U.S. officials, Politico says White House officials have narrowed down the time and likely location of the hack [sic]: President Donald Trump’s Washington transition headquarters, in late 2016.

    • Marcus Hutchins, WannaCry-killer, hit with four new charges by the FBI

      “Spend months and $100k+ fighting this case, then they go and reset the clock by adding even more bullshit charges like ‘lying to the FBI,’” Hutchins wrote on his Twitter, calling for donations by adding a quote from Starcraft video game: “We require more minerals.”

    • US Government Probes Airplane Vulnerabilities, Says Airline Hack [sic] Is ‘Only a Matter of Time’

      According to DHS and other US government documents obtained by Motherboard, the DHS is continuing to investigate how insecure commercial aircraft are to cyber attacks, with one research lab saying hacking a plane may lead to a “catastrophic disaster.”

    • Stymied by browsers, attackers embed Flash 0-day inside MS Office document

      On Thursday, Adobe published a patch for the critical vulnerability, indexed as CVE-2018-5002. The stack-based buffer overflow was being triggered in an Office document that embedded a link to a Flash file stored on people.dohabayt.com. Once executed, the malicious file then downloaded a malicious payload from the same domain. That’s according to researchers from security firms Icebrg and Qihoo 360, which independently discovered the attacks and privately reported them to Adobe and wrote about it here and here.

    • In a blow to e-voting critics, Brazil suspends use of all paper ballots

      In an 8-2 majority, justices on Wednesday sided with government arguments that the paper trails posed a risk to ballot secrecy, Brazil’s Folha De S.Paulo newspaper reported on Thursday. In so doing, the justices suspended a requirement that 5 percent of Brazil’s ballot boxes this year use paper. That requirement, by Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court, already represented a major weakening of an election reform bill passed in 2015.

    • Cisco Continues to Advance Snort 3 Network Security Development

      The open-source Snort intrusion detection and prevention system (IPS/IDS) is gearing up for a major update that will influence the future of Cisco’s next generation security appliances.

      In a video interview with eWEEK, Marty Roesch vice-president and Chief Architect of Cisco’s Security Business Group discusses the current state of the Snort 3.0 project. Roesch is the original author of Snort, which became the foundation of his company Sourcefire, that Cisco acquired for $2.7 billion in October 2013. Work on Snort 3 has been ongoing since at least December 2014, and since the effort got underway has been viewed as a re-thinking of how IPS/IDS works. Roesch said that Snort 3 is largely feature complete at this point and is now going though its beta development cycle.

    • Book Review: Mastering Linux Security and Hardening
    • Ex-Talk Talk CEO shares lessons from massive 2015 data breach
    • A former CEO shares lessons from a massive 2015 data breach

      The company later found that the data of over 150,000 customers had been breached, with 15,656 bank account numbers and sort codes stolen.

    • InfoSec 2018. TalkTalk hack – lessons learned – the board perspective
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Can Google keep its promises on building ethical AI?
    • CIA archives offer a B-26-eye’s view of D-Day

      Remarkably, these photos were only declassified in 2013, just a year shy of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. If the CIA had its way, they would have remained buried in a computer kiosk in suburban Maryland.

    • “Shadow wars have been accelerated and put on steroids by the Trump team”

      In October 2017, four American commandos were killed in a ferocious battle in a country with which the US was not at war, thousands of miles away from the Middle East and South Asian bases of the terrorist organisations America had spent the previous 16 years fighting. The Niger incident was a particularly dramatic example of a trend which is starting to cause concern among US policymakers: the military engagements unleashed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks have become ever deeper, more geographically dispersed and murkier.

      The global war on terror has been through different iterations since President George W. Bush ordered the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. As US troops became bogged down in messy insurgencies in those countries, Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, sought to pursue what was presented as a more precise way of targeting enemies, whilst simultaneously seeking to withdraw ground troops. Commandos hunted insurgent leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan, while secret CIA drones unleashed missiles on the latter’s allies across the border in Pakistan. Drone strikes also crept up in Yemen and Somalia and the Bureau produced an award-winning body of work documenting this covert war’s unacknowledged human cost.

    • Does the Government Really Need this Much Power to Deal with an Attack of the Drones?

      Earlier this week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security sweeping new authority to counter malicious drones. Officials from both those agencies as well as the Federal Aviation Administration were present to discuss the government’s current response to drones, and how it would like to be able to respond. Interestingly, both the Senators and the witnesses seem to agree that there are some large, unresolved constitutional questions in this bill. In light of those questions, EFF strongly opposes this bill.

      Among other things, the bill would authorize DOJ and DHS to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. The bill also authorizes the government to “intercept” or acquire communications around the drone for these purposes, which could be read to include capturing video footage sent from the drone. Most concerning, many of the bill’s key terms are undefined, but it is clear that it provides extremely broad authority, exempting officials from following procedures that ordinarily govern electronic surveillance and hacking, such as the Wiretap Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

      Given the breadth of these proposed new powers, you would expect officials to have a strong case for passing the bill. But even after the hearing, it’s not clear why DHS and DOJ need any expanded authority to go after “malicious” drones. For example, the FAA already has the ability to impose public flight restrictions for non-military aircraft, including drones. S. 2836 would expand those restrictions to any “covered facility or asset,” but does not narrowly define what is covered. Instead, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General can make that determination, on their own, without public input and without public notice. While Committeeairman Ron Johnson claimed that the new authority would not give DHS the authority to “knock down drones flying around your backyard,” that’s not exactly true.

    • Google Tries Being Slightly Less Evil

      This week, researchers at the M.I.T. Media Lab, who’ve used artificial intelligence to do things like write horror stories and induce empathy, unveiled a new, skin-crawling exploration into the unsettling possibilities of A.I. Norman, a “psychopath A.I.,” is a “case study on the dangers of artificial intelligence gone wrong when biased data is used in machine-learning algorithms.” The M.I.T. team fed Norman data from a subreddit known for its graphic imagery of death, and then asked him to interpret Rorschach inkblots. The results were alarming: Where a standard A.I. saw a “close-up of a wedding cake on a table,” Norman saw a “man killed by speeding driver.” Where a standard A.I. saw “a group of birds sitting on top of a tree branch,” Norman saw “a man [that] is electrocuted and catches to death.”

    • Google Sets Limits on Its Use of AI but Allows Defense Work

      Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai described artificial intelligence as more profound to humanity than fire. Thursday, after protests from thousands of Google employees over a Pentagon project, Pichai offered guidelines for how Google will—and won’t—use the technology. One thing Pichai says Google won’t do: work on AI for weapons. But the guidelines leave much to the discretion of company executives and allow Google to continue to work for the military.

      The ground rules are a response to more than 4,500 Googlers signing a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon project called Maven that uses machine learning to interpret drone surveillance video.

    • Use of Armed Drones Increasing Under Trump

      America’s use of armed drones is increasing under President Donald Trump, according to a study released Thursday.

      The report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center think tank looks back at Trump’s drone actions during his first year in office, when he moved quickly to loosen some of the constraints put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama, AFP reported.

    • 4 killed, 618 injured in Palestinian clashes with Israeli soldiers in Gaza border

      Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

      Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

      The ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • US activist Kevin Zeese calls for demonstrations against the persecution of Julian Assange

      Julian Assange through his work as editor of WikiLeaks has made major strides toward democratizing the media by creating a vehicle for whistleblowers to share the truth and correct the misinformation of the mass corporate media. Assange and WikiLeaks have given people a precious tool—access to the undeniable truth about what governments and big business are doing. This is a tool we can all use to educate each other about what is really going on around us.

      Assange is being persecuted because a democratized media threatens the monopoly over media control of the elites. A democratized media makes it more difficult for them to misinform, mislead and propagandize.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gets embassy visit from Australian officials
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gets embassy visit from Australian officials
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gets embassy visit from Australian officials

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been visited by officials from the Australian High Commission.

      Two officials went to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Mr Assange has been living for almost six years.

      His internet and phone connections were cut off by the Ecuadorian government six weeks ago and he was denied visitors.

    • Ask Trump to Pardon Assange?

      Pam says it would be “the smartest move” — not sure if she meant her visiting Trump, or Trump pardoning Assange.

    • How did hacker Adrian Lamo die? Medical examiner couldn’t figure it out

      In addition, according to the report, Lamo was found with “multiple drugs” in his system, including “esoteric drugs such as flubromazepam… It should also be noted that the esoteric nature of some of these drugs suggests the possibility that other rare drugs not tested for may have been used/abused.”

    • Opinion: Is The Zeitgeist Finally Shifting In Favor Of Julian Assange?

      Although the phrase Zeitgeist refers to the spirit of an age, it seems appropriate to use it to describe the shift in consciousness that can take place in a moment.

      As the sixth anniversary of Julian Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy approaches, public awareness is rapidly shifting in Assange’s favor. The ongoing isolation of Julian Assange by the Ecuadorian government appears to have bolstered sympathy for the Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief worldwide, instead of relegating him to the detritus of a fast-moving news cycle.

      Disobedient Media recently reported on last week’s Unity4J online vigil, which ran over 24 hours in an effort to raise awareness and to bring an end to Julian Assange’s isolation. As this writer noted during the vigil itself, attending and viewing such events are far from the only way to make a tangible difference in support of Assange.

      Readers and viewers must understand that efforts to help do not end at the period finishing the last sentence of this article, or the last guest at a vigil. Rather, readers and viewers must take up their own actions, because it is truly up to the public to fight for Assange, when a unified but unelected power structure is set on destroying him and the work of the organization he leads.

      As Ciaron O’Reilly puts it: “He is fighting for us in there, so we have to fight for him out here.” And that fight does not necessarily have to take the form of physical or online vigils, writing, or speaking. There are a multitude of equally powerful actions that supporters can take to act for Julian Assange’s very real benefit.

      Despite recent escalations in public demonstrations of support for Julian Assange and the revelation that many of WikiLeaks’ Twitter detractors may largely come from Twitter botnets, the question for some remains: “How can I help Julian Assange and Wikileaks at this critical time?”

    • The Eerie Silence Surrounding the Assange Case

      In a recent communication between Randy Credico, an Assange supporter, comic and radio producer, and Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Assange’s fear of arrest and extradition to the US was confirmed by the leader of the Russia-gate frenzy.

      Credico received the following response from Schiff after meeting the the Congressman’s staff, in which Credico was trying to connect Assange with Schiff: “Our committee would be willing to interview Assange when he is in U.S. Custody and not before.”

      Dennis Bernstein spoke with John Pilger, a close friend and supporter of Assange on May 29. The interview began with the statement Bernstein delivered for Pilger at the Left Forum last weekend in New York on a panel devoted to Assange entitled, “Russia-gate and WikiLeaks”.

    • Ecuador Bows Before US interests, Continues Suppression of Julian Assange’s Internet Rights

      Access to internet, which was his only connection to the outside world amid what is almost solitary confinement, was suspended by the Ecuadorian government on March 28, ostensibly because Assange criticized the arrest of a Catalan separatist politician. This, according to the government, violated the agreement he had with it of not “intervening in internal politics of third-party countries”.

      Contesting the legality of this action, International Human Rights lawyer and a member Assange’s legal team, Renata Avila, told Newsclick, “Assange is now an Ecuadorian citizen. Ecuador has the duty to protect him and to apply the Ecuadorian constitution to him. That is the current status. Only a judicial order from Ecuador could legally limit his speech, not a Presidential order or a Ministerial order.”

    • Free speech is dead: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange deserved Nobel Peace Prize, not the loss of liberty

      Western countries speak of the need for democracy and free speech around the world while restricting citizens’ access to information and silencing the messengers.

      Nowadays the media is a form of education for many, especially when it comes to understanding politics. Therefore, people believe what they see and hear even if it’s only half the truth. I have always stated that the media is the fourth branch of government because it moves public opinion and every day we see more proof of that. US society, as well as British society, has made choices about which kinds of speech to permit and which to forbid in an attempt to silence discussion on specific topics.

      In 2010 Hillary Clinton cited President Obama during her speech stating that “the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become”. She then went on to say that “information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”

    • Julian Assange, WikiLeaks publisher, receives rare embassy visit from Australian officials

      Julian Assange met with diplomats from his native Australia on Thursday as the WikiLeaks publisher approaches his sixth year in self-exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Mr. Assange was visited at the embassy by two officials from Australia’s High Commission, the nation’s diplomatic mission in the U.K., marking what is believed to be the first time Australian officials have met with the WikiLeaks chief since he sought asylum there in June 2012, the U.K.’s Press Association first reported Thursday.

      Jennifer Robinson, a member of Mr. Assange’s legal team, confirmed the meeting to The Washington Times.

      “Julian Assange is in a very serious situation,” Ms. Robinson said in a statement. “He remains in the embassy because of the risk of extradition to the U.S. That risk is undeniable after numerous statements by Trump administration officials including the director of the CIA and the U.S. attorney-general.”

    • Could Julian Assange be coming home? Australian government officials are spotted making a mysterious visit to Wikileaks boss inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the first time in his six-year exile

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been paid a mysterious visit by officials from the Australian government in a sign that the six year stalemate may come to an end.

      Two officials from Australia’s High Commission went to the Ecuadorian embassy where Mr Assange is living.

      It is the first time Australian consular officials have visited Assange at the embassy.

    • KPFA: Julian Assange Case Update
    • Australian officials visit Julian Assange as campaign to free him expands

      On Thursday, two Australian consular officials met with WikiLeaks’ editor and Australian citizen Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought political asylum on June 19, 2012. The officials were accompanied by Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

      The visit is the first made by Australian government representatives to the courageous journalist in the six years since he was effectively imprisoned inside the embassy, faced with the threat of extradition to the United States to face trial on espionage and other charges.

      Assange’s health has seriously deteriorated over the past six years. Throughout this time, he has been living in conditions that a United Nations working group condemned in December 2015 as “arbitrary detention,” a “deprivation of liberty” and a violation of his human rights.

    • Australian “foreign interference” bills seek to protect “US secrets”

      In a radio interview yesterday, Andrew Hastie, who chairs the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, pointed to the real driving forces behind a new bipartisan push for the rapid passage of proposed “foreign interference” laws.

      Hastie, a member of the Liberal-National Coalition government and former SAS officer, said Australia’s role in the US-led Five Eyes intelligence alliance made the country a “soft underbelly” for authoritarian regimes “seeking to get secrets from the United States.”

      The Five Eyes network links Australia’s spy and electronic surveillance agencies to the US National Security Agency and its counterparts in Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

    • WikiLeaks, which published leaked classified information, just called out a reporter at the center of a DOJ investigation into leaks of classified information

      WikiLeaks, an organization that first gained attention for publishing leaked classified information, just sniped at a reporter who is now at the center of a federal investigation into leaks of classified information.

      The New York Times reported late Thursday that prosecutors had obtained years worth of email and phone data belonging to the reporter, Ali Watkins, as part of the Justice Department inquiry. Watkins works for The Times.
      She was also previously in a three-year romantic relationship with James Wolfe, the former security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wolfe, who worked as the panel’s security director for three decades, was arrested Thursday night on charges of lying to the FBI as part of the leak investigation.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • We know you hate the Internet of Things, but it’s saving megafauna from poachers

      For much of this decade, organizations seeking to protect wildlife have attempted to use emerging technology as a conservation tool, allowing small numbers of people to monitor and manage data from animals over a wide area. Nowhere is that effort more focused—and more desperate—than in the regions of Africa where illegal animal trade is threatening to wipe out endangered animals such as rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and lions. Here, several organizations are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to protect animals, providing rangers with data that helps them intercept poachers before they can get to their quarry.

      Many conservation efforts elsewhere use IoT to try to track the location of animals, such as Vodafone’s IoT tagging of Scottish harbor seals and tracking of endangered dugongs in Philippines. But in Africa, the task of protecting rhinos is slightly different—it’s about tracking people, specifically the poachers who hunt down the rhinos for their tusks.

      Rhinos, of course, aren’t unique in needing such intervention. Based on data from the Great Elephant Census (GEC), a continent-wide survey conducted by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., Africa’s savanna elephant population declined by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014 for instance. That’s a loss of 144,000 elephants. Current data shows the rate of decline of the elephant population is now eight percent per year, and ivory poachers are the main reason for that decline.

    • Scientists fight to save Great Barrier Reef

      It’s World Oceans Day, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – one of the world’s seven natural wonders – is dying fast.

      Catastrophic mass bleaching caused by climate change in the past few years has decimated the coral. Now scientists are looking for ways to save what’s left of the reef.

      But after all the damage, can it be saved?

      “This is the beginning of a planetary catastrophe,” said Charlie Veron, a marine biologist.

      Vernon is the world’s leading authority on the Great Barrier Reef, where living coral – some of it centuries old – provides shelter and food for countless species of marine life.

    • EPA Staff Says Trump Administration Changing Agency Mission to Protect Industry

      The Environmental Protection Agency made news recently for excluding reporters from a “summit” meeting on chemical contamination in drinking water. Episodes like this are symptoms of a larger problem: an ongoing, broad-scale takeover of the agency by industries it regulates.

      We are social scientists with interests in environmental health, environmental justice and inequality and democracy. We recently published a study, conducted under the auspices of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative and based on interviews with 45 current and retired EPA employees, which concludes that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration have steered the agency to the verge of what scholars call “regulatory capture.”

      By this we mean that they are aggressively reorganizing the EPA to promote interests of regulated industries, at the expense of its official mission to “protect human health and the environment.”

    • India Increases Its Massive 2022 Renewable Energy Target By 28%

      For the last several years, CleanTechnica has covered renewable energy development in India quite closely. Several years ago, India set what seemed like a lofty target of 175 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by March 2022. Few believed that was a practical target, but then India plowed forward and happily impressed the world. This week that goal was increased to 227 gigawatts!

      Currently, India has added a little more than 70 gigawatts of that goal. Assessing the progress to date on a linear scale, the trend would seem to indicate the country is behind. However, renewable energy growth is not linear.

  • Finance

    • Ant Financial Raises $14 Billion as Funding Round Closes

      The funding makes Ant the world’s largest fintech firm and equips it with enormous resources for expansion. The affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is already China’s biggest online payments service and controls the world’s largest money market fund as it moves deeper into areas from consumer lending to credit scoring. Ant Financial posted a 65 percent jump in pretax profit, rising to 9.18 billion yuan in fiscal 2018 ended in March.

    • Crypto’s 32-Year-Old Billionaire Mining King Considers an IPO

      Both companies design custom chips known as application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs. These are particularly good for the brute-force number crunching required by cryptocurrency miners, who verify virtual currency transactions and earn crypto-denominated rewards by solving complex math problems. ASICs are also useful for the heavy workloads associated with some forms of AI, such as machine learning.

    • White House’s Nafta Approach Frustrates Businesses, Panicked Emails Show

      The email and other documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by American Oversight, a nonprofit set up to investigate the Trump administration. The documents, which include emails to the United States trade representative, cover the period from February 2017, when many of the agency’s top staff members had yet to be appointed, through November, when the United States had shared its primary negotiating goals for Nafta with Canada and Mexico.

    • Bernie Sanders Is to Deliver a Commonsense Plan to Save the Postal Service

      Earlier this year, President Donald Trump seethed on Twitter that the United States Postal Service had become Amazon’s “Delivery Boy.” “P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!” he fumed, vowing that “THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed.”

      After reportedly dwelling on the issue for weeks, Trump ordered the creation of a task force to review the agency’s finances, declaring that “the USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured.” The task force will be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, two of the Trump administration’s biggest proponents of private industry.

    • Prison labor: a boon to greater patenting?

      It is recognized that these data are historical rather than current, for a number of reasons connected with the research requirements of the study. Still, keep in mind that convict labor continues to be a wide-spread phenomenon, with data for 2006 showing that the prisoner labor system in the United States employed nearly 4.4 million convicts, 0.6 million of whom worked in the manufacturing sector, constituting 4.2% of total manufacturing employment in the U.S. Who were the beneficiaries of such employment? Poyker mentions Wal-Mart, AT&T, Victoria’s Secret and Whole Foods Market (now part of Amazon) as companies employing convict labor, paying typically at between $0 to $4.90 per hour to the prisoners in state prisons.

      Given the lower rates of compensation paid to the prisoners, it is readily seen that such prison labor can undercut the labor costs for similarly placed companies not making use of such labor. Accordingly, findings related to the depressive effect that prison labor can have on (especially local) employment patterns is hardly surprising. One can roughly view it as a labor shock, in the same way that the “China price”, i.e., the cost of manufacturing in China, constituted a labor shock for various U.S. industries over the past two decades. But what does this have to do with rates of patenting and an increase in innovation activities?

      Poyker explains as follows. First, a distinction is made between lower-end and higher-end products. The labor shock from prisoner labor was more felt in lower-end, as opposed to higher products, given the nature of the work being performed by the prisoners. Regarding such lower-end industries, while some companies moved to higher-end products, others remained with the lower-end products, but at the same time they sought to invest in machinery that would make them less labor-intensive, thereby enabling them to better complete on the basis of price and perhaps also on quality. As summarized by Poyker, “convict labor boosted technology adoption by forcing firms to invent or adopt new technologies that could make them more competitive”

    • EC to whack Google with ‘significant’ fine for Android dominance abuse

      It’s not yet clear how mega the EC’s fine will be, but the FT notes that the watchdog can impose a penalty of up to $11bn (around £8.2bn), which is 10 per cent of Alphabet’s global turnover.

    • EU may hit Google with Android anti-trust fine in July: report

      The EU has also floated the idea of breaking up Google into a number of smaller units, with the EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager saying the political bloc harbours “grave suspicions” about the firm’s dominance of the search market.

    • Google faces EU antitrust fine over Android case in July: sources

      The EU competition enforcer will also tell Google to stop its anti-competitive practices such as licensing deals which prevent smartphone makers from promoting alternatives to apps such as Google Search and Maps.

    • Legatum breached charity regulations with Brexit work, Charity Commission finds

      Controversial think tank influential amongst pro-Brexit ministers did not provide “balanced, neutral evidence and analysis” and was “not consistent” with the charity’s objectives.

    • How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers
    • Brexit, Corbyn and us: what disappointment can teach us about politics and ourselves

      Brexit is a glorious example of the folly of fantasy. It was entirely conducted along the lines of a fantasy Britain. A fantasy Britain that never existed. I don’t know when this honeymoon period people talk about in Britain that we’re trying to get back to was; there’s certainly a degree of fantasy on the side of the Brexiters. Where disappointment comes in is that if we don’t talk about our fantasies and try to uncover what they are…they’re a cover story for something. Fantasy is a cover story. If we simply try and fulfil our fantasies we will always be disappointed. We simply will.

      It’s not possible to deliver the Brexit dream—because it is a fantasy. It was set up for disappointment as soon as it was articulated. And you know, the conversation that I believe should have happened is: What is this fantasy of a ‘white Britain’ or an ‘everybody-at-work Britain’ telling us about how Britain is constructed today? Do we actually have to have a conversation about immigration? Do we have to realise that there are swathes of people who are living in poverty and don’t have jobs? They are the conversations that drove the fantasy and yet it’s rare you see them being taken out and really articulated in a way that’s meaningful for people.

      The other thing about politics and disappointment is that we’re always going to be perpetually disappointed in politicians as we hold them to a higher standard. I think this is the joy of Donald Trump, who is doing exactly what he said he would do, which most politicians don’t when they get elected. We have this fantasy idea of how politicians should behave, unlike how normal human beings behave. The real work goes on behind the scenes and we don’t see it. If politicians were to be honest about the work, they might not get re-elected. We want the fantasy of the ideal leader, the ideal politician.

    • Brexit, Parliament and the British Constitution: why a People’s Vote is the only legitimate constitutional means of resolving Brexit

      The first clause of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty states:

      “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

      But as has become apparent, in the case of the UK, nobody really knows what those requirements actually are and a significant amount of energy has been consumed over the last two years in disputes over what the respective roles, responsibilities and powers of Parliament and the executive are, what the precise status of the referendum is and who, if anyone, is responsible for interpreting it. The Miller case exposed confusion and uncertainty even over who had the power to begin the process. There is no clear constitutional guidance, either, on how or by whom it should be executed, scrutinised or concluded and, crucially, how and by whom the outcomes should be approved or legitimised.

      This messiness reflects the UK’s famously uncodified constitution, which means its basic rules are not systematically laid out in a single, document which governs the relationships of key elements of the political system. This means that the UK constitution is very flexible which has served it well in some respects, not least in adapting to European Union membership. But it means, above all, that the constitution is political. Above all, sovereignty and power in the British constitution has not been a matter for the courts, as in many codified systems, but has rather been established and maintained by political struggle, which is why the resolution of the question of who should trigger Article 50 by the courts is somewhat problematic in the UK context.

      A key principle of the British constitution is the notion of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ – that Parliament has the sole right to make or unmake law in its territory. For many Eurosceptics, it is this that made the British system incompatible with EU membership, which (as confirmed by the Factortame Case in 1991) instituted a higher body of law over that of statute. But this was merely a qualification of Parliamentary sovereignty, and one which Parliament imposed upon itself and (as Brexit perhaps proves) can also remove.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Activists in Switzerland Explain Why They Protested Betsy DeVos’s Visit

      A group of protesters found out where DeVos would be and waited for her to exit the building. But as time went on, and there was no sign of DeVos, they started heading home. Not long after that, four large black vehicles drove up to the back of the building; Page said it seemed like the cars were trying to get as close to the exit as possible, foiling the proteseors’ attempt to get a clear photo of DeVos with the signs in the shot.

    • Trump’s Saving Grace

      What a nauseating spectacle — the language police at CNN and MSNBC castigating Samantha Bee for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt!”

      Their producers should have told them that if truth isn’t a defense, it ought to be, and that prissiness über alles is for self-righteous prigs.

      She said “feckless,” not, as was sometimes reported, “fucking.” Part of the confusion may be that on those liberal (actually centrist) networks, “the f-word,” like “the c-word,” is routinely spelled out when mentioned at all.

      I wonder whether this is because the network bosses are worried that c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n might be watching.

    • Rotten to the Heart: Authoritarian Chickens Roosting at Home

      Yes, He’s Awful

      Much of what liberals say about Donald Trump and the chilling political moment the Trump presidency represents is true enough.

      Trump really is the arch-authoritarian malignant narcissist that liberals say he is. Trump thinks he deserves to rule the nation like an absolute monarch or some ridiculous Banana Republic dictator. He believes he’s above all the law, consistent with Louis XIV’s dictum L’etat, C’est Moi (“the state is me”). The notion that Trump can pardon himself from any crime really is the height of imperial arrogance.

      Trump really does value nothing but the advancement of his own wealth and image. There is no person, no principle, no higher loyalty he is not willing to sacrifice on the altar of self.

      Trump really is the almost perfect embodiment of venal malevolence that liberals say he is. The idiotic military parade Trump has scheduled for the next Veterans Day is an exercise in proto-fascistic, Mussolini-like imperial-presidential self-adulation.

      This racist and sexist beast befouls the nation and world with his ghastly, eco-cidal presence. The sooner he draws his last undeserved breath, the better for all living things (or maybe not: Mike Pence could be worse).

    • The Three Biggest Threats to the Vote in 2018

      But voters might face several hurdles when they go to register or cast a ballot. The past decade has seen a number of laws that restrict the right to vote.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The moral panic that almost destroyed the comic book business

      In the 1950s, the United States freaked out big time over comics books. There were Senate hearings and comic book burnings. In the end, careers were ruined, companies went out of business, and comics fell under a strict censorship regime for decades.

    • China’s online censorship makes its way to e-commerce as Pinduoduo cleans up

      China isn’t limited to just censoring content-generating platforms within the country. Pinduoduo, the social e-commerce upstart, launched a cleanup campaign to remove all the products that are related to violence or pornography, local media is reporting.

      The purge follows an investigation published by state-backed legal media, which reveals that lots of violent and pornographic products are on sale on the platform, such as lethal knives, pseudo base stations, erotic games, and sex dolls.

    • Russian Govt Approves Fines For Search Engines Linking to Banned VPNs

      Russia’s State Duma has adopted a bill that will see search engines fined for offering links to VPNs and other anonymizers that have been banned in the country. Fines will also be handed out to search engines that fail to connect to a resource offering up-to-date information on what domains should be rendered inaccessible.

    • Why do students want to be treated like children?

      Sadly, it seems many of today’s students no longer consider adulthood and autonomy to be worth striving for, and instead want universities to focus on better caring for them. In 2015, students from Goldsmiths University occupied Deptford Town Hall in south-east London. First on their list of demands was for the university to ‘recruit more counsellors’. They wanted the ‘standard six-session cap’ on counselling sessions to be removed and ‘a permanent additional CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy] therapist’. It is hardly surprising that students make such demands: the perception of 18- to 25-year-olds as vulnerable not-quite-adults, in need of colouring books to cope with exams and discount fares to cope with the cost of commuting, is promoted by schoolteachers, academics and politicians – it has come to be seen as common sense.

    • Viewpoint: Censorship by proxy

      Years ago, in the case of West Virginia v. Barnette, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schoolchildren cannot be legally compelled to salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. As Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”

      Recently, the National Football League instituted a policy requiring players to either stand during the singing of the national anthem or remain in the locker room. The NFL’s authority to create this policy is based largely on the fact that, as a private entity, it is not subject to the Barnette precedent.

    • Jogging through Tiananmen Square: What happens when Facebook meets China’s censorship regime?

      This was remarkable on several levels. Facebook has been almost continuously inaccessible in China since 2009, as some of Zuckerberg’s followers were quick to point out — practically speaking, how did he post that update? Others remarked on the conspicuous cloud of smog hanging in the background.

      But several netizens seized on the particulars of this seemingly harmless act of jogging through Beijing. Tiananmen Square, they noted, is no ordinary public plaza. In the comment field beside the post, an argument broke out between users — much of it written in Chinese — about exactly what happened 29 years ago in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

      One user wrote that on that date, 29 years ago this week, 6,400 peacefully demonstrating students were shot and killed by police. Another retorted that only students who attacked police were shot at. Users offered vastly different estimates of how many students died that day.

    • Why licenses for buskers won’t work in Hong Kong: think ‘censorship’ cries

      Whether or not the Mong Kok pedestrian precinct should be closed has recently provoked heated discussion online, especially after the Yau Tsim Mong district council voted to open Sai Yeung Choi Street South up to traffic again (“Mong Kok street performers get the chop”, May 24).

      Amid the controversy, some believe that the Hong Kong government should regulate street performers by issuing licenses. Similar measures are taken by the Australian government. Local governments in Australia issue licenses to buskers and street performers. The permit of those street performers who receive noise complaints are liable to be revoked.

      In Brisbane, such licenses remain in effect for a period of three months. Auditions are held to ensure the quality of the performances. Hong Kong, however, has yet to decide on an official mechanism to manage street performers.

    • French fake news bill sparks censorship fears

      French MPs debated the government’s plan to fight fake news into the early hours of Friday morning as opposition MPs expressed fears that the measure could lead to online censorship.

      As the European Union works on a code of practice for social media companies, the French government has joined Britain and Italy in trying to limit the spread of fake news.

      France, like the US, has seen accusations of Russian meddling in its presidential election campaign last year.

    • Anti-“fake news” bill gives French state unchecked Internet censorship powers

      On Thursday, the National Assembly began debating French President Emmanuel Macron’s draconian bill empowering the state to censor the Internet during the three months prior to any national election. The bill marks a vast new attack on freedom of speech, amid a wave of threats to Internet freedom worldwide based on the pretext of fighting “fake news.”

      The bill would allow candidates and political parties to take articles and Internet statements to court, where judges could force Internet service providers to censor material by declaring that they believed it to be “fake news.” Due to the French president’s broad powers to name and control the promotion of top magistrates, the French judiciary is widely acknowledged to be dependent on the executive. The bill thus places enormous power over the Internet in the hands of the president.

      The bill defines “fake news” not as information that is false, but as “any allegation or implying of a fact without providing verifiable information that makes it plausible.”

    • French government is accused of trying to legalise censorship and creating a ‘thought police’ during stormy debate over ‘fake news’ bill

      French lawmakers have accused the government of attempting to legalise censorship during a stormy debate over a bill designed to fight so-called fake news during election campaigns.

      President Emmanuel Macron launched a crusade against misinformation after being targeted during his 2017 campaign by online rumours that he was gay and had a secret bank account in the Bahamas.

    • ‘Ridiculous & absurd political censorship’: Opposition critics slam Macron’s anti-fake news law

      Opposition and critics have lambasted President Macron’s anti-fake news draft law for violating free speech and targeting alternative media. France’s lower house of parliament began discussing the controversial legislation.

      The draft was proposed by Emmanuel Macron himself after he claimed he was the victim of a barrage of fake news stories during the 2017 presidential election, including allegations that he had a gay affair. Presented as a law aimed to battle “manipulation of information,” the draft is being debated in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, on June 7-8.

      If passed, the bill would allow French judges to block the publication of any information deemed to be false ahead of elections. The legislation says that it mainly targets “those media controlled by foreign states,” as well as “digital platforms.”

      “This law is intended … to protect fundamental freedoms (freedom of expression, protection of the sources of journalists),” the statement reads. But critics fear it is a possible means to restrict free speech.

    • French MPs criticise ‘hasty and ineffective’ fake news law

      The French government was accused by right and leftwing opponents of trying to create a form of “thought police” and institute censorship, as parliament began debating Emmanuel Macron’s proposed law to ban fake news on the internet during election campaigns.

      The draft law — designed to stop what the government calls “manipulation of information” in the runup to elections — would allow political parties to complain about widely spread assertions deemed to be false or “implausible” and a French judge could immediately move to stop their publication.

      The centrist President Macron, who beat the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, in 2017, has personally backed the reform after he complained his presidential campaign was targeted by online fake news rumours, including that he was gay and that he had a secret bank account in the Bahamas. He has said a law was needed against the spread of fake news “in order to protect democracy”.

    • Australian playwright disappointed censors axed Beijing play

      Renowned Australian playwright David Williamson said Tuesday that he is disappointed Chinese censors have canceled a production of his play “The Removalists” for the official reason that it contains bad language and violence.

      The 76-year-old said some involved in the production suspect the true reason the classic Australian play was banned was its depiction of police abusing their authority — a sensitive issue in China.

      The play was axed during a period of intense diplomatic tensions between China and Australia over Australian policies including a proposed ban on foreign interference in domestic politics.

      Australian beef and wine producers complain that their exports have fallen victim to China’s approach of punishing businesses and individuals to send a message to a country’s government.

    • Russian Supreme Court Forces Reversal over Crypto Website Censorship

      The St. Petersburg City High Court reversed the decision of the district court to block crypto Website Bitcoininfo.ru in what hopes to be the beginning of positive steps towards crypto acceptance and adaptation.

      In the late morning of Monday earlier this week, The Supreme Court of St. Petersburg ordered the district court to reverse its decision to censor bitconinfo.ru 1 of upwards of 100 crypto media sites in Russia that have been censored without appeal since 2016. The reason…the court claimed “that cryptocurrencies do not have certain consumer protections or lend themselves to state control but instead promote the growth of the shadow economy.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court has ordered the lower court to reconsider its position, which is a massive step forward in helping remove the FUD surrounding cryptocurrencies.

    • After black magic, censorship and detention comes new dawn for Malaysian press

      Early one morning in February 2014, Malaysiakini journalists arrived at the Kuala Lumpur headquarters of the independent news site to find walls splashed with red paint and a suspicious box.

      Delivered anonymously in the dead of night, the box contained the photo of an opposition politician recently charged with sedition over a satirical video clip posted online; a bag of rice and needles; plus a live duck in a shocked condition.

    • China Fires, Probes Top Newspaper Chief Who ‘Opposed Censorship’

      The ruling Chinese Communist Party has expelled its party secretary at the Qinghai Daily News newspaper in the northwestern province of Qinghai for “disciplinary violations,” the party’s disciplinary arm announced on Wednesday.

      Zhang Wei, the former party secretary at the newspaper, was found after a recent internal investigation to have “violated political discipline” and lied to the provincial party committee, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement.

      “He opposed censorship and illegally kept secret party work documents in his possession,” the CCDI said. “He also violated discipline in his personal life, carrying on a long-term, inappropriate relationship with another person while he was still married.”

      Zhang’s case has now been transferred to police for criminal investigation, after party investigators found evidence of “large-scale bribe-taking,” the statement said.

    • Woolies accused of censorship over mass nude photo

      A world-renowned photographer has accused Woolworths of censorship after they banned him from staging a mass nude photo shoot at its Prahran car park.

    • Censorship in the Age of Large Cloud Providers

      Internet censors have a new strategy in their bid to block applications and websites: pressuring the large cloud providers that host them. These providers have concerns that are much broader than the targets of censorship efforts, so they have the choice of either standing up to the censors or capitulating in order to maximize their business. Today’s internet largely reflects the dominance of a handful of companies behind the cloud services, search engines and mobile platforms that underpin the technology landscape. This new centralization radically tips the balance between those who want to censor parts of the internet and those trying to evade censorship. When the profitable answer is for a software giant to acquiesce to censors’ demands, how long can internet freedom last?

      The recent battle between the Russian government and the Telegram messaging app illustrates one way this might play out. Russia has been trying to block Telegram since April, when a Moscow court banned it after the company refused to give Russian authorities access to user messages. Telegram, which is widely used in Russia, works on both iPhone and Android, and there are Windows and Mac desktop versions available. The app offers optional end-to-end encryption, meaning that all messages are encrypted on the sender’s phone and decrypted on the receiver’s phone; no part of the network can eavesdrop on the messages.

    • Censorship and Propaganda Rules America

      Censorship by the government with their corporate partners isn’t the only problem the past several years. People don’t trust the media and for a good reason. The trust in media dropped below 20% years ago, and I expect it only to get worse as will our confidence in government – local, state and federal.

      Both our political system and media/entertainment complex are coopted and ran behind the curtains and doors by the American Aristocracy. Call it an oligarchy or plutocracy, but don’t call it a democracy or representative republic because that should insult everyone’s intelligence.

      [...]

      In Bloomberg, you get a chart showing near full employment with title lines reading, “The Economy is Booming.”

      [...]

      The distortion creates the disconnect created by the purveyors of propaganda…they tell us our country is doing fantastic and we’re an economic powerhouse so keep buying, buying, buying. However, the once thriving working-class don’t have those choices to make. It’s more like, “Which utility bill can we skip this month?”

    • Censorship schools awareness drive in Kimbe

      The Censorship office is on a nationwide drive to instill a positive mindset into students on the use of internet and social media.

      A team is now in Kimbe conducting their awareness in primary and secondary schools based on the theme censorship starts at home.

      Acting manager for awareness and publicity and team leader Delly Moropa said the Censorship office is advocating for a positive mindset in how the young people use all medium of communication including the main stream media and internet and the social media.

      Ms Moropa said the internet and social media is here to stay because we are living in a changing society and Censorship is advocating for their positive use.

      She said they are targeting students so as they grow up they train themselves to have a positive mindset.

    • In an Era of Censorship on College Campuses, One State Fights Back

      In a time when free speech advocates are sounding the alarm that a growing movement to silence opinions and speakers on colleges and universities is hindering First Amendment rights, one state recently took action to stop that trend.

      Louisiana lawmakers passed SB364, a bill which protects freedom of speech on public college campuses, and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed it into law earlier this month.

    • Congressman Blackburn visits Natchez Trace Parkway, gives insight on censorship

      Congressman Marsha Blackburn visited the Natchez Trace Parkway on Saturday in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act of 1968, which paved the way for national trails all over the country. Greeting hikers and children at the national park, Blackburn also answered some questions pertaining to the issue of political censorship on social media.

      Representing Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District on the House of Representatives, Blackburn announced her intentions to run for the Senate last year, following Republican Senator Bob Corker’s announcement that he would not seek re-election.

    • Mic drop: Petaluma valedictorian claims censorship after grad speech cut short

      It was the moment Lulabel Seitz spent four years working to achieve. The Petaluma High School senior became the first in her family to graduate Saturday, and as valedictorian she used her commencement speech as a platform to underscore the value of perseverance to fellow seniors — that is, until her mic was disconnected.

      The microphone cut off four minutes into her speech after she deviated from the script she previously submitted.

      Clad in a white graduation gown with a colorful lei draped around her neck, she stepped around the podium to finish her speech as some students cheered and chanted “let her speak.”

    • South Koreans explain how they get around government porn censorship

      When a person in South Korea tries to visit a porn site, they discover the government’s National Police Agency Cyber Bureau has blocked it.

      In this Asian Boss video of street interviews, people explain how they route around this censorship, using P2P networks, social media, and redirecting IP addresses. As one woman says, “according to our male friends, they search for porn using some code. They all have their ways of downloading it.”

    • Censorship And Abductions
    • Military Censorship and Threats to Journalists Rise in Pakistan
    • Pakistani activist abduction sparks fear of crackdown on dissent
    • Journalist Gul Bukhari home after hours-long ‘abduction’ in Lahore
    • Tired of Twitter censorship? Gab claims to offer an alternative
    • China is putting its weight behind North Korea by censoring insults of Kim Jong Un
    • Repressive Singapore is the perfect place for Trump and Kim to compare human rights records
    • Protection or Censorship? Swiss Online Gambling Net Neutrality Referendum to Decide Sunday
    • Swiss to place bets on gambling law in high stakes referendum
    • Money laundering, censorship fears in Swiss gambling vote
    • Money-Laundering, Censorship Fears Fanned in Swiss Gambling Vote
    • YouTube Unexpectedly Shuts Down Sporting Goods Store’s Channel
    • Youtube Censorship Nazi’s Terminate Brownells’ Video Account
    • China is so adamant about crushing dissent and promoting moral values that couches are now banned from videos

      China is clamping down on the portrayal of all kinds of “obscene” behaviors online, according to a report from The Globe and Mail.

      A number of sources told The Globe and Mail that a directive, titled “Management requirements for live service information and content,” is being used to guide censorship decisions at some of China’s most-popular video-streaming sites.

      The behaviors in videos being censored include tattoos, gambling, drinking, smoking, “flirtatious” dancing, being shirtless. Scenes that use “a bed or sofa as a prop or background” are also on the no-no list.

      Despite President Xi Jingping’s renewed focus on the environment, discussing issues caused by smog or soil pollution is banned. So, too, is attacking political leaders and government policies. There’s even an explicit prohibition on using the names or photographs of political leaders.

    • Censorship advocacy group ramps up pressure on Netflix

      The Parents Television Council, a censorship advocacy group that typically puts pressure on broadcasters for showing explicit or violent content that is inappropriate for children, is turning up the heat on Netflix.

      The organization said on Thursday it is launching an online petition to persuade the streaming giant to drop “13 Reasons Why,” the controversial teen drama centered on a girl who takes her own life by slitting her wrists.

      Netflix just renewed the show for a third season.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • What Big Tech Has Acquired From In-Q-Tel, The CIA’s VC Arm

      The government helped shape the Internet, so it should come as no surprise that it is also game to invest in the companies working to bring it to new heights. In-Q-Tel, the venture arm of the CIA, has invested in 172 known startups (more than 20 of which Crunchbase News has reached out to for comment), according to Crunchbase.

      But like with any other VC firm, exits matter. And a handful of In-Q-Tel-backed startups have found themselves in the shopping carts of the most well-known tech companies in the world.

    • I regret nothing, says Edward Snowden, five years after fleeing the US for Russia [Ed: "fleeing the US for Russia" is not true. He fled to HK, then South America, US got him stranded in Russia by revoking passport.]
    • Snowden/NSA – 5 Years Later

      It’s been 5 years since Edward Snowden leaked confidential documents to The Guardian and Washington Post before going on the run and eventually entering Russian territory. Ken Spinner, VP at Varonis commented below.

      [...]

      Organizations have gotten sloppy when it comes to protecting their secrets. All it takes is one motivated individual to take whatever they can get their hands on. In many cases that can mean thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of sensitive documents when files are unprotected and open to every single person in the organization. It’s a smash-and-grab without the smash.

      Another interesting point is that people remember the likes of big names like Snowden, Julian Assange, and others. The problem is bigger than any one insider or leaker. The last five years have resulted in massive numbers of breaches, yet attribution seems to be becoming an afterthought. Anyone know the names Vladimir Drinkman or Dmitriy Smilianets? Both were sentenced to prison for crimes targeting credit card processors, banks, retailers, and other corporate victims.”

    • How the Edward Snowden leaks damaged security services

      Edward Snowden was accused of “very damaging” leaks after handing tens of thousands of top secret documents to journalists in 2013.

      The very first story based on those documents was published five years ago. It revealed a secret court order allowing the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the data of more than 120 million phone calls between ordinary Americans.

      More surveillance revelations based on top secret documents were published in the days and weeks which followed, all sourced through material which Mr Snowden had taken from the NSA while working as a contractor.

    • How the Edward Snowden leaks revealed unlawful spying

      We thought we were living in the free world, until Edward Snowden began to reveal top secret documents about mass surveillance in 2013.

      The first story based on those documents was published five years ago, showing how the US National Security Agency (NSA) amassed the data of 120 million phone calls between ordinary Americans.

      Subsequent reportage, all based on material which Mr Snowden had taken from the NSA while working as a contractor, revealed a sprawling surveillance infrastructure – with the UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, among its foremost players.

    • How the Snowden leaks revealed unlawful spying

      Five years on, Sky News is looking at how significant those documents were in proving that the government was spying on British citizens as well as foreigners.

    • When the NSA Hired Mad Men
    • Check Out These Amazing NSA Posters From The 1950s And 60s
    • Cold War-era office posters from NSA’s archives shows a hundred ways to say “shhh”
    • Five years on, what has changed since the Edward Snowden scandal?

      This month marks five years since the revelation that the NSA and other security agencies were engaging in mass surveillance rocked the world. Currently living in exile in Russia, Edward Snowden is now a household name after igniting the debate on the balance between national security and data privacy. However, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, how much has changed in those five years?

      In 2013, National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified NSA data revealing that the agency, along with others including British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, was conducting numerous global surveillance programmes.

    • Chinese hackers [sic] reportedly stole data related to secret projects from a US Navy contractor

      Hackers [sic] stole 614 gigabytes of data from the contractor, relating to a project called Sea Dragon, a secret project that the Defense Department explained as a new “disruptive offensive capability” being integrated onto “an existing weapons system with an existing Navy platform.” The Post describes the project as a “supersonic anti-ship missile” to be used aboard submarines. The project began in 2012, and was to begin testing in September 2018. The Post notes that in addition to information about Sea Dragon, hackers [sic] stole “signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library.”

    • The 12 best posters from the very odd NSA archive [Ed: Distraction from 5-year anniversary of Snowden leaks]

      Long before it was at the centre of a huge spying scandal, the US National Security Agency had the communist threat to deal with – and wanted to make sure its staff did not spill secrets.

    • Vintage NSA posters remix pop culture as security warnings
    • Turning the NSA’s vintage internal security posters into t-shirts

      Techdirt is in the throes of a two-part revelation: 1. the US government’s works are public domain and can be freely commercialized, and; 2. many of the weird things that spy agencies make can be turned into ironic, cool, and sometimes fun and/or beautiful objects of commerce.

      Since the Snowden revelations, there has been an aggressive campaign to pry loose the cultural artifacts of America’s vast, secretive, paranoid spy agencies (euphemistically called the “intelligence community” by progressives who forgive these COINTELPRO-happy, unaccountable authoritarians so long as they’re wrongfooting Donald Trump). And wherever a wonderful, weird artifact emerges from leaks of Freedom of Information Act requests, Techdirt is there to productize it.

    • Five years on, Snowden inspired tech giants to change, even if governments wouldn’t

      Five years ago this week, Edward Snowden handed over a vast cache of close to ten thousand highly classified documents to reporters, revealing the scope and scale of the US government’s mass surveillance effort — and of its many global intelligence-gathering partners.

      First, the world learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting the daily phone records of millions of Americans. Then, Silicon Valley was accused of willful participation in the PRISM data collection program. And the disclosures kept coming.

    • Facebook let select companies have “special access” to user data, per report

      Facebook maintained secret deals with a handful of companies, allowing them to gain “special access to user records,” long after it cut off most developers’ access to such user data back in 2015, according to a new Friday report by the Wall Street Journal, citing court documents it did not publish and other unnamed sources.

    • Apple patent reveals plans for Bluetooth blood pressure monitor

      The device, described in the patent as “a low-profile blood pressure measurement system”, and its drawings could be Apple’s first proper health product. This – unlike the Apple Watch and its heart rate monitor – would require regulatory approval from the FDA before going on sale.

    • VPNhub Premium review: Pornhub’s new VPN service needs to work out the kinks
    • Lawmakers renew push to preempt state encryption laws

      A bipartisan group of lawmakers is renewing a push for legislation to block states from mandating that technology companies build “backdoors” into devices they produce in order to allow law enforcement access to them.

    • Facebook Granted Some Companies Special Access To Users’ Data, Including Phone Number

      This time the social networking giant has been accused of granting special access to user’s data to some selected companies. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook came into agreement with certain companies including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motors under a group of similar agreements which is known by the name of “Whitelists.” Under whitelists, Facebook shared information including their mobile number and information about their friends.

    • Facebook Gave Some Companies Special Access to Additional Data About Users’ Friends

      Facebook Inc. struck customized data-sharing deals that gave select companies special access to user records well after the point in 2015 that the social network has said it walled off that information, according to court documents, company officials and people familiar with the matter.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Flyers’ rights hit turbulence

      If airlines (along with their allies in Congress and the Transportation Department) get their way, you would no longer see the total cost of your tickets upfront, and bait-and-switch advertising could make a comeback. Your ability to comparison shop at online travel sites might be curtailed. And you would lose some of the meager consumer protections you have, including 24 hours to cancel or change a reservation for free.

      As a massive airline measure moves through Congress, and the Trump administration seeks to repeal regulations across government, airlines have their best chance in years to kill or water down key consumer protections.

    • China’s pervasive “social credit” scheme is still in development, but already profoundly shaping public behavior

      Since its first stirrings in 2015, the Chinese social credit schemes have sprouted a confusing and frightening garden of strange growths, from spraying and shaming jaywalkers to blacklisting millions from flying or using high-speed rail, including journalists and other critics of the Chinese state.

    • The odd reality of life under China’s all-seeing credit score system

      China’s social credit system was launched in 2014 and is supposed to be nationwide by 2020. As well as tracking and rating individuals, it also encompasses businesses and government officials. When it is complete, every Chinese citizen will have a searchable file of amalgamated data from public and private sources tracking their social credit. Currently, the system is still under development and authorities are trying to centralise local databases.

    • From the Ghettoes, Reservations and Backwoods of America

      Standing here at the base of the Grecian columns on the south side of the Lincoln Memorial there will be a very striking view of the funeral procession of Senator Robert Kennedy.

      The first sight of the procession will be through the trees as it turns off Constitution Avenue onto Henry Bacon Drive…a short tree lined street. It will then be in full view as it turns into the circle around the Lincoln Memorial. It will pass directly below me between the monuments honouring two great Americans, Washington and Lincoln.

    • Senators Corker and Kaine Want to Give President Trump the Authority to Wage Worldwide War

      Sens. Corker and Kaine’s new AUMF would cede Congress’ constitutional duty to declare war to the executive branch.

      [...]

      The Corker-Kaine AUMF would authorize force, without operational limitations, against eight groups in six countries. The president could then add to both lists, as long as the president reports the expansion to Congress. To be clear — the president would have unilateral authority to add additional countries — including the United States itself — to the list of countries where Congress is authorizing war. And the president would have unilateral authority to add additional enemies, including groups in the United States itself and even individual Americans, under its new authority for the president to designate “persons” as enemies.

      Their proposal also contains a sleeper provision with the innocuous title, “Sec. 10 Conforming Amendment,” that would create a new legal basis for the military to capture and imprison individuals in indefinite detention without charge or trial. This greatly expands the scope of the infamous indefinite detention provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Like the NDAA, the Corker-Kaine AUMF has no statutory prohibition against locking up American citizens or anyone picked up in the United States itself. While we continue to believe it would still be unlawful for a president to try indefinite detention of an American citizen in the United States (again), there is no reason for Congress to risk it.

    • Once Again, New York State Considers a Terrible Right of Publicity Law

      In what now appears to be an annual ritual, a bad right of publicity law is being rushed through at the end of the legislative session in New York. Assembly Bill 8155-B (and its counterpart Senate Bill 5857-B) would dramatically expand New York’s right of publicity, making it a property right that can be passed on to your heirs – even if you aren’t a New York resident. EFF has sent a memorandum [PDF] to members of the New York State Legislature urging them not to support the bill.

      The right of publicity is an offshoot of state privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness, or identity for commercial purposes. A limited version of this right makes sense—for example, allowing you to stop a company falsely claiming that you endorse its products. But the right of publicity has been expanded in recent years thanks to misguided legislation and court decisions. In some states, the right covers just about any speech that even “evokes” a person’s identity. Celebrities have brought right of publicity cases against movies, rap lyrics, magazine features, and computer games. The right of publicity has even been invoked to silence criticism of celebrities. Since the right of publicity can impact a huge range of speech, any changes to the law should be considered carefully.

    • How the Justice Department’s Seizure of a Reporter’s Email Records Subverts the Free Press

      The DOJ may have violated its own policies in seizing the email and phone records of a New York Times reporter.

      It emerged late Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly seized years of email and phone records of a New York Times reporter in connection with a leak investigation. This marks a clear escalation of the Trump administration’s attempts to intimidate journalists and their sources. In doing so, it seems that the Justice Department may have violated its own policies for obtaining reporters’ communications — strict standards that are in place because of the importance the Constitution places on freedom of the press.

      News of the invasive search came with the indictment of James Wolfe, who recently retired from his long tenure as a nonpartisan employee of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wolfe is accused of lying to federal investigators about his contacts with three reporters. One of them is Ali Watkins, who has worked for The New York Times since December covering national security.

      The First Amendment’s protection of a free press is central to the public’s ability to hold government officials accountable for their actions. The Obama administration didn’t do journalists any favors by pursuing them in leak investigations more than any administration before it. But the Trump administration is accelerating this kind of attack on the public’s right to know, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that he had tripled the Department of Justice’s leak investigations — one of them apparently ensnaring Watkins in the process.

    • Media Treat Trump Administration’s Partisan Fear-Mongering as Objective ‘Government’ Report

      If the lifelines of millions of poor and elderly were going to crumble in less than a generation, this would be major news indeed. But they’re not really. Or, at least, we have no objective reason to believe they will, since the authors of the report was not “the government,” as it’s generally understood—the Congressional Budget Office, or some other ostensibly bipartisan “commission” sanctioned by “both parties”—but the not-so-reliable Trump White House. The same White House that has a long, documented track record of venality, lying and corruption, and leads a Republican Party that has been quite explicit in its desire to “reform” Social Security and Medicare through slashing and privatizing.

      The report was commissioned by the US Social Security Trustees, a benign-sounding but overtly partisan group of people all appointed by Donald J. Trump. Of the seven slots, two are vacant and the other five—Steven T. Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury; R. Alexander Acosta, secretary of Labor; Alex M. Azar II, secretary of Health and Human Services; Nancy A. Berryhill, acting commissioner of Social Security; and Mark J. Warshawsky, deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy—were all put on the commission by the White House.

    • FBI Hoovered Up Two Years Of A Journalists’ Phone And Email Records To Hunt Down A Leaker

      The war on unofficial transparency continues — this time ensnaring a reporter. The indictment [PDF] shows Wolfe was in regular contact with four unnamed reporters and the classified info leaked apparently related to the investigation of Carter Page. (The indictment refers only to MALE-1.).

      Despite all the dots connected by the Justice Dept. after hoovering up email and phone records of four reporters, none of the charges brought against Wolfe involved mishandling classified info. All three charges listed are for lying to the FBI, not exposing secret info. While the info obtained may have been necessary to prove Wolfe lied to investigators, it does seem like a serious breach first amendment boundaries for nothing but vanilla “lied to the feds” charges. Those charges are mostly there for the government to punish people when it thinks it can’t nail down more serious charges.

    • Former spy, turned lawyer, talks the difficulties of suing the CIA
    • She was a CIA spy. Now she’s a lawyer battling her old agency. This is her story.
    • 1 year later: Channel 2 revisits NSA leaker case

      Reality Winner’s home in Augusta is no longer a minimalist yoga haven.

      There’s a TV in the living room, baby pictures framed around an open space and other signs that the house is now home to a family.

      It’s a rental property for a new family friend and a place for the alleged National Security Agency leaker’s mother to stay whenever she makes one of her frequent treks from Texas to Georgia.

      [...]

      “I don’t know why her story is not newsworthy,” said Billie Winner-Davis, Reality’s mother.

    • Counterterrorism Efforts Can Radicalize Homegrown Terrorists, Study Finds

      ounterterrorism policies targeting Muslim communities may actually be contributing to radicalization, according to a study of pro-ISIS and anti-Islamic internet search queries from 2014 to 2016 in more than 3,000 counties in America, the vast majority of the country.

      Researchers Christopher A. Bail, Friedolin Merhout, and Peng Ding examined the search queries to learn about how radicalization happens at the community level.

      Their findings, published in the open-access journal Science Advances, suggest that Muslims living in neighborhoods hostile to their presence are much more vulnerable to extremism than Muslims living in diverse neighborhoods.

    • Experts See Room for Courts in US Drone-Strike Program

      Convinced that a flawed algorithm marked them for death by U.S. killer drones, a pair of journalists have spent the last year fighting in Washington for unprecedented court relief.

    • How the CIA recruited and handled its top KGB mole

      On June 22, 1977, Aleksandr Ogorodnik killed himself with a CIA-supplied suicide pill after the KGB arrested him based on information initially provided by a mole within the Agency. Just over three weeks later, CIA officer Martha (Marti) Peterson — unaware of Aleksandr’s death — was seized in a KGB ambush while servicing a dead drop in Moscow.

      The streets of Moscow were one of the most important, and dangerous, battlefields of the Cold War. American intelligence officers like Marti worked with assets like Aleksandr in the shadows to collect Soviet secrets. The Soviets, in turn, closely watched all foreign nationals and their own citizens for signs of espionage.

    • The Espionage of Former CIA Case Officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee for China

      Was Jerry Chun Shing Lee (aka Zheng Cheng Li) a recruited asset of China’s Ministry for State Security (MSS), or was he a financially strapped former CIA case officer who volunteered his services to commit espionage on behalf of the MSS?

      It’s a bit like the question concerning the chicken and the egg, as Lee has been indicted for one count of conspiracy to gather and deliver defense information to aid a foreign government and two counts of unlawful retention of national defense information. Sticklers for detail will note that Lee was not charged with espionage. That charge may come in a superseding indictment or may never be put into play. From a purely counterintelligence optic, Lee’s engagement with the Chinese MSS has been neutralized and he is no longer able to do their bidding in a clandestine manner. We’ve written in the past about China’s nation state espionage activity and targeting of the United States. The Lee case is a prime example of the MSS successful actions.

    • Ex-CIA Officer’s Case Highlights Fears About Reach of Chinese Spying

      Former U.S. intelligence officer Kevin Mallory was months behind on his mortgage, $30,000 in debt, and getting financial help from his church, when Chinese agents approached him in 2017 to work for them…

    • Ex-CIA Contractor’s Trial Closes With Last-Gasp Effort to Sow Reasonable Doubt

      Had FBI agents overlooked a crumpled ball of tinfoil tossed haphazardly in former CIA contractor Kevin Mallory’s junk drawer during a raid of his home last June, he may never have faced espionage charges in federal court.

      “We overlooked it twice,” FBI agent Melinda Capitano told jurors as Mallory’s week-long trial which concluded Thursday.

    • Revealed: Chinese Front Company Used to Recruit U.S. Double Agents

      A single reference buried deep within hundreds of pages of court filings in the case of convicted CIA turncoat Kevin Mallory reveals the name of a Shanghai-based “executive search firm” that bears the hallmarks of a classic espionage front, former intelligence operatives from the U.S. and Russia tell The Daily Beast.

      The U.S. government’s evidence against Mallory, who was found guilty Friday of espionage-related charges, included a photograph of a business card belonging to alleged Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) agent Richard Yang, who presented himself as a corporate headhunter. Prosecutors said he was one of Mallory’s handlers. According to court documents, the picture was taken at Darren & Associates, a supposed corporate recruiter with no listed phone number or executives and an address that traces back to a rent-by-the-hour space on Shanghai’s Hubin Road.

    • Who Is Kevin Mallory? Former CIA Officer Sold Secrets to China

      ormer CIA officer Kevin Mallory faces a life sentence for selling secrets to Chinese intelligence officers, after a court case that offered a rare glimpse into how espionage assets are recruited ended in conviction.

      Most cases end in plea deals. Governments prefer to compromise rather than risk secrets being be exposed during a trial, and defendants’ are keen to negotiate down potentially brutal sentences.

    • Ex-CIA officer found guilty of espionage

      A former CIA officer was found guilty of espionage, on behalf of China, and lying to the FBI about communication with Chinese officials, the New York Times reports. The officer, Kevin Mallory, faces life in prison following the verdict.

    • Former CIA officer found guilty of spying for China

      A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer faces life in prison after he was convicted of betraying his country to spy on behalf of China.

      Kevin Mallory, 61, of Leesburg, Virginia, was found guilty on Friday of espionage charges and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his contacts with Chinese intelligence.

    • Ex-C.I.A. Officer Is Convicted of Spying for China

      A former C.I.A. case officer faces life in prison after he was convicted on Friday of betraying his country to spy on behalf of China.

      Kevin Mallory, 61, of Leesburg, Va., was found guilty of espionage charges and lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Chinese intelligence.

    • Ex-CIA Officer Is Facing Up to Life in Prison

      A former CIA officer was convicted Friday on charges he spied for China by providing top secret information in exchange for $25,000, the AP reports. Kevin Mallory, 61, of Leesburg, Virginia, faces up to life in prison, although federal sentences are often less than the maximum. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21. Mallory was charged under the Espionage Act last year after he was discovered with more than $16,000 in undeclared cash on a return flight from Shanghai. Prosecutors said he was desperate for cash and transmitted classified information to a Chinese handler. His acts were far from isolated as China actively tries to gather classified US information, federal prosecutors said immediately after his espionage conviction.

    • Jury convicts Leesburg man, CIA agent, of espionage
    • Ex-CIA officer from Leesburg found guilty of espionage
    • Ex-CIA Consultant Convicted On 4 Foreign-Aid Counts
    • Planting spies, paying people to post on social media, and pretending the news doesn’t exist: This is how China tries to distract people from human rights abuses

      The ways that China has been monitoring and ranking its citizens, secretly imprisoning ethnic minorities, and ignoring its LGBT community have been widely documented in the West.

      But citizens in China itself may have no idea that any of these things are going on.

      Beijing has a rich playbook of tactics to keep its 1.4 billion citizens from learning about the country’s repression and abuse of human rights. They include paying people to flood the internet with pro-government social media posts, setting up police surveillance points to watch over ethnic communities, and banning content criticising the Chinese government.

      Here are the four most commonly used tricks in Beijing’s playbook.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • While the Net Neutrality Fight Continues, AT&T and Verizon are Opening a New Attack on ISP Competition

      In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act in order to inject competition into the telephone market and set the stage for a nascent commercial Internet. Last month, US Telecom, the trade association of AT&T and Verizon, filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to repeal one of the central requirements of the ’96 Act that has promoted competition. That requirement being that incumbent telephone companies share their copper line infrastructure at regulated rates with to lower the barrier of entering an incumbent’s market. If granted, incumbent wireline telephone companies will be free to raise prices or simply disconnect competitors’ access to their infrastructure and potentially jeopardize what the small amount of remaining competition that exists in high-speed broadband.

      While copper wire infrastructure may strike people as the infrastructure of yesterday, its existence and the legal rights to access it remain essential for competitive entry into the high-speed broadband market. This is because it is one of the only remaining ways a new company can gain customers to then leverage to finance fiber optic deployment. Should the FCC grant the petition, the growing monopolization of high-speed broadband above 25 Mbps where more than half of Americans have only one choice will likely become worse.

    • Net neutrality will be repealed Monday unless Congress takes action

      In the Senate, the entire Democratic Caucus and three Republicans voted in favor of restoring net neutrality rules. The vote was 52-47. Republicans hold a 235-193 advantage in the House.

      When contacted by Ars, a spokesperson for Speaker Ryan declined to comment. The House’s Republican leadership doesn’t appear likely to seek a vote of the full House.

    • Senate Dems press Ryan to hold net neutrality vote

      All 49 Senate Democrats signed a letter to Ryan sent Thursday asking him to schedule a vote for the bill, which passed the Senate last month.

    • #NetNeutrality: 49 Senators urge Ryan to schedule House vote before protections expire

      In Washington today, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan received a letter signed by 47 Senate Democrats and two independents calling on him to schedule a vote to keep Net Neutrality rules active.

    • Democrats urge U.S. House vote on net neutrality rules as end nears

      But to retain the net neutrality rules, the U.S. House must vote in line with the Senate, and President Donald Trump would also have to sign the measure.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Every entity that owns 1,000 or more active US patents identified in new IAM and ktMINE research

      Close to 50% of all US patents are owned by a group of just 346 entities, research conducted by ktMINE has revealed. Published in issue 90 of IAM, which is now available to subscribers, the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 1000 Club consists of every company, NPE and institution that owns 1,000 or more active US patents.

      Between them the members of the club control 1.6 million assets – of which 928,328 are held by non-US organisations. However, not surprisingly, the US is the country that is most represented in the list, with 168 entities. Asian companies make up 30%, with Japanese businesses dominating within this group. Meanwhile, European entities fill 18% slots, controlling over 214,000 granted patents between them. There are no representatives from Latin America, Oceania or Africa.

      [...]

      Non-traditional patent owners also feature. These include RPX, Rambus and Intellectual Ventures. As larger companies spin off portfolios, license technologies and leverage other mechanisms to monetise their patent portfolios, this group is likely to grow.

    • Pro Se Loses

      At the start of discovery, Huang agreed to a protective order, including a designation for “attorney’s eyes only.” Huawei then used that “attorneys eyes only” designation when it disclosed the technical information for its accused chips. Since he had no attorney, Huang was unable to look at the disclosures. When Huawei later motioned for summary judgment of non-infringement, Huang responded with a number of previously undisclosed reverse-engineering figures and declarations from undisclosed witnesses.

    • US Section 301, China, and technology transfer: Law and its limitations revisited (again)

      Secretary Mnuchin confirmed that the US was suspending its plans to impose substantial tariff increases on Chinese goods intended to pressure China into modifying its practices. The announcement of an apparent agreement in principle did not expressly address major issues identified in the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 findings regarding China’s intellectual property and transfer of technology practices. Given that the next step in resolving the current impasse involves the dispatch of a high-level US delegation to China to work out the details, the contours of the ultimate resolution (if any) of the relevant issues remains uncertain. Nonetheless, at least for the moment, pressures on the multilateral trading system appear to be diminished.

      This “episode” in the long-running drama involving China and the US, with the European Union, Japan, and others in supporting roles, illustrates that political and economic diplomacy outside the strict confines of the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains important. The WTO legal system is not so comprehensive as to encompass the entire field of international trade, and it addresses international investment only in a limited way. Moreover, the current political dynamic in the US is one of immediacy and mutability, neither of which are characteristics of the WTO process. Multilateral solutions are complex, time-consuming, and generally expected to endure. Yet even within the presently chaotic international environment, we should discourage bilateralism from re-emerging as the “new normal,” mainly because experience does not recommend a more fragmented global trading system. Those countries with lesser political and economic bargaining power may be the most vulnerable in a fragmented world trading system.

    • Protecting IP rights in Saudi Arabia

      The creation of the Saudi Intellectual Property Authority is an important move by the Kingdom to recognise the interconnection between these key IP rights and it will allow the registration of these rights to be managed in a more effective and streamlined manner. One of the stated functions of the Authority is “promoting the benefit of intellectual property to build an advanced economy based on knowledge”. This resonates with the very changes that we are seeing in the dynamic economy of Saudi Arabia.

    • Conjectures On JPO’s Easing Of Requirements For Small Businesses To Use The Super Accelerated Examination Program

      Though the conjectures of late May have been unclear, an article back in February from the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun suggested that the loosening of restrictions would be to allow a working invention without a foreign corresponding application. This would not make much difference for foreign venture applicants, so if this is the change the result may be negligible to overseas applicants. Rather, the move by the JPO (if as hinted) may be to give small-sized Japanese companies a competitive edge in getting fast results domestically for new technologies.

    • Japan: Q&A: Deadline And Scope For Filing Voluntary Amendments To Japanese Patent Applications

      It is simplest to file a Voluntary Amendment with or before the Request for Examination of a patent application in Japan. However, you may also file Voluntary Amendments after the Request for Examination is filed, as long as substantive examination by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) has not commenced. Within that time frame, you are free to amend as you wish as long as amendments are grounded on the original claims, specification, or drawings.

      Please be aware that once a JPO examiner has begun the substantive examination process, even if you submit a Voluntary Amendment, it might not be considered. It is possible to have a Japanese patent agent check with the JPO for its estimated (but non-binding) examination commencement period (not precise date) for a particular case. If there is still time before the examination will begin, you might want to file a Voluntary Amendment even after submitting the Request for Examination. Note that any change in subject matter must take place before examination.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Blacklists Millions of Pirate URLs Before They’re Indexed

        Google maintains a rapidly growing list of copyright-infringing URLs which they haven’t indexed yet. This blacklist ensures that these links are never added to the search engine. Thanks to a new update in the transparency report, we now know how many non-indexed links every takedown notice includes, which is surprisingly high in some cases.

      • Chuck Palahniuk Apologizes For Blaming Piracy For His Business Partner Stealing His Money

        Chuck Palahniuk has long been a personal hero of mine. Back when I fancied myself a fiction writer, I gobbled up his books, engrossed in the characters he was able to create. It was only years later, then writing for Techdirt, that a chip in my impression of Palahniuk emerged when he started his habit of blaming his finances on the piracy of his works. Palahniuk claimed that piracy was responsible for his “dwindling income.” This, despite selling a ton of books and movie options, sounded strange — especially given that book piracy is much more limited than things like music, movies or software. Where was he getting it from?

        Well, Palahniuk himself answers that question in a recent blog post on his site. It turns out the idea that piracy was to blame for his money troubles came from the accountant in charge of his royalties at his literary agency. That same accountant, it turns out, has now been charged with defauding the agency out of millions of dollars. Palahniuk now says he knows exactly what dwindled his income and it wasn’t piracy.

      • Anti-piracy group’s study reveals that pirates are mostly people who couldn’t afford, find, or use a commercial version
      • RIAA: ISP’s Interest in Piracy Phishing Scam Is a ‘Fishing Expedition’

        A controversial phishing campaign where scammers used fake piracy settlements to extort cash was brought to the forefront again recently. ISP Grande Communications wants to use it as evidence in their repeat infringer case against the RIAA, but the music group sees this effort as a pointless fishing expedition.

      • YouTube Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos, Court Rules

        In an initial order, a court in Vienna, Austria, has ruled that YouTube can be held directly liable for users’ copyright infringements. The video service is not seen as a neutral intermediary and should do more to prevent infringing uploads. The ruling, which is not yet legally binding, is a win for local television channel Puls 4 but YouTube indicates that, if it stands, the company will likely appeal.

      • Court Orders Finnish ISPs to Block RARBG and YIFY

        A Finnish court has ordered seven Internet providers to block access to the popular torrent sites RARBG and YIFY. According to the court, it is clear that the operators of the sites generate substantial revenue by illegally sharing copyright-infringing content. The ISPs are required to use both DNS and IP-address blocking to make the sites unavailable.

      • EU Advocate General: Right to Private Life Shouldn’t Hinder Copyright Enforcement

        In the EU, everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life. But should that right be used to prevent copyright holders from enforcing their rights when someone from a household shares copyrighted content without permission? A just-published opinion from EU Advocate General Szpunar says it should not.

Deception on § 101/Alice Continues, Courtesy of Firms That Are Making Money From Worthless (Bunk) Software Patents

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just projecting their personal agenda

35 U.S.C. 101 mirror

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 does not seem to matter to people whose living is made from litigation and patent pursuits on (or pertaining to) algorithms; we rebut a few examples from the past week, reminding readers that lawyers aren’t credible advisors on issues they stand to gain from (at clients’ and innocent companies’ expense)

THE collapse of software patents is very much a reality in the US. Don’t ask law firms; they just want to sell more ‘services’ (e.g. lawsuits and patent applications) around that.

The other day in Law.com there was an article with the term “Open Source” in the headline, which got our attention. Don’t be misled though; Law.com is traditionally a Free/Open Source software-hostile site, typically helping lawyers sell services around licence compliance and other things which are marketed by FUD. “Patents and open source are not mutually exclusive,” someone (a self-appointed expert) is quoted as saying in this new piece.

“They’re alluding to the corporate ‘flavour’ of “Open Source”, not Free/Open Source software.”Actually, they are. They’re not compatible. Software patents and Free/Open Source software cannot co-exist. “You can do both and do both correctly,” continues the self-appointed expert, “but it takes education, especially for people who are newer in the industry.”

They’re alluding to the corporate ‘flavour’ of “Open Source”, not Free/Open Source software. “Moore said engineers often join Pure Storage from companies that were not engaged in open source projects,” the author writes, “and expect a similar policy. Others are pro-open source, but may not know the benefits of patents.”

So they’re trying to market software patents to companies which claim to be “Open Source”, such as Red Hat (it’s applying for software patents and really ought to stop doing that). “That’s one reason why Gideon Myles,” continues the author, “lead IP counsel at San Francisco-based Dropbox Inc., said his company educates new employees on both processes.”

“When it comes to patents in general (i.e. not software), patents may make sense, but as far as Free/Open Source software is concerned, there should be no patents in that (their) domain. No good would come out of this.”In other words, they’re wasting employees’ capacity and reducing their productivity because of silly patents.

Are these actually worth pursuing anymore? No.

But that’s not what lawyers (with fanciers job titles like “IP counsel”) want companies to believe, or else they’ll lose their job if not the entire legal department.

When it comes to patents in general (i.e. not software), patents may make sense, but as far as Free/Open Source software is concerned, there should be no patents in that (their) domain. No good would come out of this.

Sadly, as media in this domain remains dominated by law firms (or authors who extensively quote them), one may easily get the impression that software patents are still potent, even in the face of § 101/Alice.

In a new guest post by “Benjamin C. Stasa, Shareholder, Brooks Kushman PC, Southfield, Michigan and David C. Berry, Director, Patent Procurement Clinic, Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan” (i.e. mostly the patent ‘industry’) they suggest workarounds to bypass § 101. They’re also trying to water down § 101 or obliterate it by any means possible/available.

From the outline:

We offer an alternative approach for amending § 101 to allow some range of patentability for inventions directed to judicially-recognized eligibility exceptions. Rather than attempting to redefine the line between eligible and ineligible subject matter (a revision that preserves the current all-or-nothing approach), we propose amending §101 to implement disclosure-based limits on the scope of claims directed to judicially-recognized exceptions (abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena).

It’s the same old tricks; IBM and IPO lobby along those lines, as we shall show later today. They say they want to “amend” § 101, but what they mean to say is “weaken”. § 101 is based on several judgments from the Supreme Court, yet these people think that some blog post of theirs, based on their financial agenda, has relevance to § 101?

“There’s no quantitative/numerical data to support an assertion like “comeback” for software patents.”§ 101 is already very clear, but Iancu (who is acting like a ‘mole’ of the patent microcosm, at least thus far in his term, serving or speaking for the litigation ‘industry’ he came from) does’t like it and wants it thwarted in defiance of the Supreme Court. Here’s a new tweet about it: “#BIO2018 IP track kicked off with opening remarks from Andrei Iancu of the @uspto. Clarifying #section101 and changing the dialogue to focus on brilliance of #inventors high on agenda.”

Well, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is an anti-PTAB lobbying body and for Andrei Iancu to even attend this event says a lot about his interests. Also on the subject of § 101, Mondaq republished a piece from Charlene Lipchen (Field LLP). She is misleading people if she seriously thinks that there’s a software patents rebound in the US (there’s none), calling it a “Glimmer Of Hope” and stating the following upfront: “It remains a general rule, in patent law, that one cannot obtain a patent for an abstract idea. Over the years, patent claims for methods implemented by computers and software have been struck down by the courts, on the basis that merely using a general-purpose computer to implement an abstract idea does not make the abstract idea patentable. More recently, since the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, a software patent case providing a revised test for determining what is patentable subject matter, most patents containing claims to software challenged in US courts have been struck down. The patent claims at issue in Alice were directed to a method for implementing an intermediated settlement between parties.”

“A fortnight ago we began seeing pure spin by patent extremists, claiming that § 101 would see the US Congress/Senate involved, but that was something that people nowadays call “fake news”.”That’s that same optimism we’ve just responded to. There’s no quantitative/numerical data to support an assertion like “comeback” for software patents. And Iancu cannot change that either; he’s not a judge. Law is outside his scope of authority.

A fortnight ago we began seeing pure spin by patent extremists, claiming that § 101 would see the US Congress/Senate involved, but that was something that people nowadays call “fake news”.

A new article by Matthew Bultman (with his usual patent maximalist slant, which we took note of before [1, 2, 3, 4]) speaks of a “High Court” being “begged”, but no such thing happened. A high court wasn’t mentioned at all. This is more of that pure spin, a 180 degrees spin in Law 360. To quote:

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation on Friday seized on a Federal Circuit judge’s recent call for a “higher authority” to clarify what is eligible for a patent, telling the U.S. Supreme Court a current state of confusion begs for intervention.

The clinic, which is fighting a decision that invalidated three patents on cardiovascular disease tests, highlighted comments Circuit Judge Alan Lourie made last week when the appeals court denied separate rehearing requests from HP Inc. and Green Shades Software Inc.

The term “higher authority” does not imply “High Court” like Bultman’s headline insinuates. In fact, there’s no evidence at all that anyone at all is going to revisit these cases. § 101 remains in tact.

As is widely known, § 101/Alice isn’t taken as seriously by the lower courts. Yes, at the lower courts (District Courts) as opposed to the Federal Circuit (CAFC), § 101 is more likely to be swept aside, as was the case in Hybrid Audio, LLC v Visual Land, Inc.

Joseph Herndon, writing about a trial in a California District Court, managed to find one of those 35 U.S.C. § 101 cases in which judges dismissed the defendant’s argument:

In the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Hybrid Audio, LLC sued Visual Land, Inc. for patent infringement with respect to audio signal processing technology used in conjunction with MP3 technologies. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Despite seemingly very broad claims, the Court found that it was clear from the asserted patent that the claims were directed to an improvement in the functioning of a computer, and thus, were patent eligible.

The patent at issue is entitled “Signal Processing Utilizing a Tree-Structured Array,” which originally issued as U.S. Patent No. 6,252,909 on June 26, 2001. After a reissue application was filed for the ’909 Patent, the ’909 Patent reissued with certificate number RE40,281, and subsequently, a request for reexamination of the ’281 Patent was filed, and the PTO issued a reexamination certificate for the ’281 Patent confirming patentability of the reexamined claims.

[...]

Thus, despite broad claims that recite only functional aspects, and no physical components or elements that perform the functions, the claims were found to be patent eligible because the patent disclosure clearly set forth how the claimed processes improved computer functionality as compared to prior art. This enable the plaintiff to show that the claims were necessarily rooted in computer technology, solved a technical problem with a technical solution, and improved upon prior computer technology—all factors weighing in favor of patent eligibility.

If this gets appealed (to CAFC), this patent will likely be invalidated as per/in lieu with § 101 (as usual).

Have we come to the point where it’s so hard for patent lawyers to find CAFC rulings in favour of software patents? Are they now looking for supportive cases at lower courts?

Still ‘Pulling a Berkheimer’ Almost 4 Months Down the Line

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 4:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

R.I.P.

Summary: Refusing to let go or leave behind an opportunity to bash patent invalidations, the patent microcosm just keeps bringing up Berkheimer v HP ad infinitum

When the Federal Circuit delivered a judgment on Berkheimer the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) did not seem to mind as much as the patent extremists minded; Berkheimer just wasn’t a very major case, so Iancu's comments revealed whose side he was on. Watchtroll says that the “USPTO asks Federal Circuit to Vacate, Remand 101 Case to Board in Light of Berkheimer,” but as we noted earlier today (and will show later today), this is the exception rather than the norm. They’re cherry-picking. Berkheimer is very rarely brought up in today’s patent cases (rulings/opinions/determinations/judgments/arguments).

A week and a half ago (on May 31st) there was a case related to this. Dechert LLP was trying to ‘pull a Berkheimer‘ (we say 'pull', but they say things like “Berkheimer effect”) in order to shed uncertainty and doubt about many decisions to invalidate patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board as well as the Federal Circuit. From their summary:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit refused rehearing en banc of two significant decisions regarding patent-eligibility under § 101 (Aatrix and Berkheimer) on May 31, with a majority of active judges on the court affirming that the patent-eligibility inquiry, though a question of law, implicates subsidiary questions of fact. The effect of these cases will be to make it substantially more difficult to invalidate patents as being directed to patent ineligible abstract ideas or natural laws before trial. There was substantial uncertainty as to whether the earlier panel decisions would be adopted by the full Federal Circuit, but that uncertainty has now been partly resolved.

As we showed last weekend, they had explicitly expressed reluctance to deal with that case/issue any further. Berkheimer is just some perceived ‘lifeline’ or ‘rope’ to patent maximalists, such as the anti-PTAB site Anticipat. It mentioned Berkheimer 4 days ago when it said:

Since the two weeks since we predicted that the PTAB would start to dramatically change its outcomes of rejections under Section 101, we have seen no such change. Since then, recap emails have mostly shown affirmances (only 7 reversals of 86 total Section 101 decisions = 8% reversal rate). But a decision in yesterday’s recap email shows precisely the kind of rejection analysis that is expected to become more mainstream at the PTAB.

Ex Parte Galloway et al (PTAB May 22, 2018) reversed the judicial exception rejection under Section 101 because of a lack of evidence. The panel, consisting of Donald E. Adams, Demetra J. Mills, and Ulrike W. Jenks, found that the Examiner had not provided evidence to support a prima facie case of patent ineligible subject matter.

The panel cited to Berkheimer in support of an apparent defective step 2 analysis: “The Examiner has not established with appropriate factual evidence that the claimed method uses conventional cell counting methods.”

They’re again cherry-picking while openly admitting (as highlighted above) that they were wrong. Berkheimer has virtually no bearing/significance. As we said many times before, judges have left Berkheimer behind and the only ones who keep bringing it up are the patent maximalists.

It’s time to leave Berkheimer in the past and stop ‘pulling a Berkheimer‘ every other day/week.

Everyone Talks About Apple’s Notorious Design Patents But Not About ‘Abstract’ European Patents Used Against Apple and Linux

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Patents, Samsung at 3:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A ‘Battistelli era’ patent

EP2954737

Summary: What corporate media and the ‘mainstream’ speak of in relation to Apple and what more ‘niche’ bloggers pay attention to, serving to highlight a decline in patent quality at the European Patent Office (EPO)

LAST weekend we wrote about Zeroclick, LLC v Apple, Inc. We took note of the relation to a very malicious patent troll, Erich Spangenberg. Days later Watchtrolll wrote about this case as well, adding virtually no new information.

But Apple remains in headlines (about patents) mostly because of its own battles against Android (and by extension Linux). Professor Michael Risch’s analysis of Apple v Samsung is only days old and it speaks of the massive “damages” of ~$533,000,000. Risch’s views:

I’ve done a few interviews about the latest Apple v. Samsung design patent jury verdict, but journalistic space means I only get a couple sentences in. So, I thought I would lay out a couple points I see as important. We’ll see if they hold up as predictions.

There’s been a lot written about the case, so I won’t rehash the epic story. Here’s the short version. The design patent law affords the winning plaintiff all of the profits on the infringing article of manufacture. The Supreme Court ruled (reversing about 100 years of opposite practice) that the article of manufacture could be less than the entire accused device for sale. Because the original jury instructions did not consider this, the Court remanded for a determination of what the infringing article of manufacture was in this case (the design patents covered the shape of the phone and the default screen). The Federal Circuit remanded, and the District Court decided that, yes, in fact, the original jury instructions were defective and ordered a retrial of damages.

The District Court adopted the Solicitor General’s suggested test to determine what the article of manufacture was, determined that under that test it was a disputed fact question, and sent it to the jury. Apple asked for $1 billion. Samsung asked for $28 million. The jury awarded $533 million, which is more than $100 million more than the damages were before the Supreme Court ruled.

Josh Landau (CCIA) too wrote about these design patents, probably for the dozenth time or so. “Comments from Samsung Jurors Drive Home The Flaws In Design Patents,” Landau argued.

Flawed Logic

The logic of the jury’s verdict also requires a different result than profits on the entire device.

Even if we assume, contrary to both good policy and established case law, that profits on the components that produce the icon grid are available, those components still aren’t the whole phone. The cellular hardware, for example, is not involved in producing a display (after all, Apple’s iPod Touch produced a similar display without any cellular functionality), but is still part of Samsung’s total costs and profits. For that matter, the external casing isn’t required in order to produce the grid of icons.

If the article of manufacture is defined by the hardware required to produce the icon grid, then it’s also defined as something other than the entire phone.

Flawed Results

It all comes back to a single problem. The design patent total profits rule produces tests that are incoherent and impossible to apply when design patents are available for small pieces of complex, multi-component products. The total profits rule of § 289 simply doesn’t make sense in these situations.

We’re very disappointed to see Apple stooping to ‘Microsoft levels’ and 7-8 years ago we called for an Apple boycott (this made it into sites like Slashdot at the time). Has much changed since? Other than Steve Jobs’ death?

Well, sometimes we openly support Apple’s patent battles, e.g. against Qualcomm. As we explained before, if Apple wins this dispute, it will be good for phones that have Linux in them as well.

As it turns out, Qualcomm now uses a software patent granted by the EPO. To quote Florian Müller:

In 10 minutes: #Qualcomm v. #Apple #patent infringement trial in Mannheim, Germany. Patent-in-suit: EP2954737 on a „power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously“.

He later added:

After Judge Dr. Kircher of the Mannheim Regional Court expressed serious doubts about the validity of #Qualcomm‘s EP2954737, QCOM felt forced to stipulate, with #Apple, to a stay of this case pending the EPO‘s decision (in a year or so) on Apple and #Intel‘s opposition. https://twitter.com/fosspatents/status/1003968003413815298 …

On why it’s a software patent:

Yet another software patent: “the functions described may be implemented in hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof. If implemented in software, the functions may be stored on or transmitted over as one or more instructions or code on a readable medium”

Well, software patents like these have plagued the EPO, not just the USPTO. We doubt any of that will change under António Campinos; it’s like the EPO goes in the very opposite direction of the US (where the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidate software patents en masse).

Müller later put it together in a blog post [via], having watched this dispute for quite some time. To quote:

Four months back, Qualcomm’s lead counsel in the German Qualcomm v. Apple cases, Quinn Emanuel’s Dr. Marcus Grosch, hoped to obtain a Germany-wide patent injunction against Apple this summer. The related case (one of various patent infringement claims Qualcomm has brought against Apple in Germany) went to trial this afternoon, and it’s unlikely that anything, if ever, will happen in that particular matter before the summer of 2019.

The patent-in-suit, EP2954737 on a “power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously,” is under massive pressure because of Apple and Intel’s opposition to its recent grant. Of the four prior art references cited, Alcatel Lucent’s European patent application EP2442440A1 poses the greatest–though not the only–threat to Qualcomm’s patent.

Why did the EPO foolishly grant such a patent? In the US, in the meantime, software patents are being invalidated and yesterday Müller gave a new example:

Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office had bad news for a particularly broad member of Twitter’s key patent family, U.S. Patent No. 9,088,532 on a “device[-]independent message disribution platform.” As I reported in March, the ’532 patent is being reexamined based on a patent application by independent Indian inventor Yogesh Rathod as well as a couple of other prior art references. The reexamination requested related to claims 1-3, 8, 9, 13-15, 17, 20, and 21, all of which are being reexamined. In a (first) Office communication since opening the reexamination proceedings, the USPTO has held all of the reexamined claims invalid, challenging Twitter to persuade the examiner that its patent claims should be upheld.

Prior art rather than Section 101 (or similar) was cited here, but still… it’s a testament or evidence of the fact that the US improves patent quality, whereas Europe moves in the opposite direction under Battistelli’s crooked leadership.

Growth in Petitions Against Questionable Patents (PTAB IPRs) and Patent Trolls’ Migration to China

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 2:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In spite of fee hikes, inter partes reviews (IPRs) are still up

Shanghai road

Summary: The United States is saying goodbye to a lot of the nuisance which held back development of good products; there’s meanwhile a reported surge in patent litigation in China (up as much as 85% in Guangdong)

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is seeing work being shifted to it from what otherwise might have been court battles. This is good because it keeps disputes within the realms of the USPTO, hence less expensive (favours the interests of relatively small firms which are easy target/prey to trolls). Attempts to use the Supreme Court’s SAS Institute v Iancu to slow down PTAB (giving it more workload) aren’t succeeding. The patent maximalists have just said this:

Chief Judge Ruschke reveals 44% of pending cases were not instituted on all grounds and that the Board has already granted more than a dozen extensions to trials in response to SAS

“CAFC [the Federal Circuit] Determines No Requirement To Reopen Non-Instituted Claims Post-SAS” however, according to Josh Landau, who 3 days ago wrote this:

PGS owns a patent on certain techniques for marine seismic surveying.

In November 2014, WesternGeco challenged the validity of PGS’s patent at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB instituted IPR on some, but not all, of the PGS patent’s claims. WesternGeco settled out of the IPR, but the PTAB continued the IPR. In June 2016, the PTAB invalidated some of the claims on which it had instituted the IPR.

PGS appealed the PTAB’s final decision to the Federal Circuit, and the case was argued in April of 2018, a week after the SAS opinion was handed down.

Faced with the question of whether to reopen claims where institution was denied, the Federal Circuit determined that there was no reason (particularly where no party requested it) to reopen those claims, and that it was permissible to deal with only the claims that the PTAB actually decided.

We’re going to revisit this separately later today (in relation to more relevant an argument/context).

“…It’s up an incredible 85% in Guangdong; good for patent lawyers, but we know at whose expense.”In the meantime, statistics speak for themselves. Instead of filing patent lawsuits, based on these numbers, people and firms now file complaints about bogus patents to be invalidated by the USPTO (which wrongly granted these). To quote:

Post-Oil States PTAB filing increases while district court patent case filing slumps to lowest figure this year

Patent Trial and Appeal Board petition filing was up in May while district court patent case filing slumped.

PTAB is becoming the big scene with all the action. Soon, according to this morning’s post, “Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Judges Kalyan Deshpande, Susan Mitchell, and Michael Zecher will provide an explanation of Board jurisdiction, rules, and proceedings, and then lead a discussion on practice tips for successful oral and written advocacy in the PTAB forum.”

Where have all the trolls gone? Some of them moved to China. As Jacob Schindler from the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) put it just before the weekend, in China “the number of first instance patent cases grew by nearly 30% year-on-year to about 16,000 in 2017. The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) reports that more than half of this activity took place in the three key regions that are home to specialised IP courts – Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.”

It’s up an incredible 85% in Guangdong; good for patent lawyers, but we know at whose expense. China’s embrace of patent maximalism is a shot in its own foot.

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