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

06.15.18

The EPO’s Response to the Open Letter About Decline in Patent Quality as the Latest Example of Arrogance and Resistance to Facts, Truth

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 4:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sums up the attitude of the Office under Battistelli, who uses (or wastes) the EPO‘s savings on media puff pieces and so-called ‘studies’, commissioned (i.e. funded) by the EPO to invert reality

Slick man

Summary: Sidestepping the existential crisis of the EPO (running out of work and issuing many questionable patents with expectation of impending layoffs), the PR people at the Office choose a facts-denying, face-saving ‘damage control’ strategy while staff speaks out, wholeheartedly agreeing with concerned stakeholders

THE WORLD’S patent offices/systems, with the exception of China’s (SIPO), are doing reasonably OK. The USPTO is nowadays in the process of improving patent quality and we commend US courts for that, notably SCOTUS and the Federal Circuit below it.

“The EPO isn’t just above the law; it actively exploits that to break the law, so it has no credibility talking about courts.”The EPO, by contrast, is quite a monster. The EPO repeatedly disobeyed court orders. Corruption at the EPO is just outstanding, not to mention violations of the law, constitutions, and the EPC. The EPO isn’t just above the law; it actively exploits that to break the law, so it has no credibility talking about courts. It seems incapable of grasping the notion of justice. It also assaulted a judge, who is now rumoured to be hospitalised. Several hours ago the EPO wrote: “Next week we’ll explain how to use the European Case Law Identifier to access court decisions on patents across Europe.”

The EPO talking about “court decisions” is as laugh-worthy as dietary advice from Stalin, especially in Ukraine.

But anyway, the arrogance of the EPO is ever more visible in light of the now-famous open letter *, which was published towards the end of this week. We wrote about this back when (or right after) only Kluwer Patent Blog and then IPPro Patents had reported on the matter. There has since then been more, but nothing in ‘mainstream’ media. Battistelli has given enough payments (not at his personal expense) to motivate self-censorship among some of the largest publishers which cover patent matters and used to cover EPO scandals.

Kudos to IPPro Patents for covering this. It’s still rewriting and reposting pure PR/press releases (e.g. today for ANAQUA, as it does for other firms), but at least it covers EPO scandals occasionally. So does World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR), which has been rather useful and interested in SUEPO’s side of the story. This morning it published this article (the sole article about this today, at least as far as we can tell/see; there is also coverage in German with Thorsten Bausch in the mix; Mathieu Klos was reporting). Spotted via news search and via SUEPO and insiders was a seemingly complete list of coverage. Here’s WIPR, which waited for the EPO’s response and then said this:

Four German law firms have published an open letter citing concerns over developments at the European Patent Office (EPO), just two weeks before António Campinos is due to become president of the office.

In particular, patent law firms Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald, and Vossius & Partner are concerned about “modifications to the incentive systems for the examination of patent applications”.

Published last week, the letter is addressed to both outgoing EPO president Benoît Battistelli and future president Campinos, along with Christoph Ernst, chairman of the Administrative Council, and principal director of user support and quality management Niclas Morey.

[...]

As for recommendations for improvement, the firms “urgently” suggested the creation of new incentive systems for examining European patents so that the “high-quality of searches and examinations for which the EPO used to be known will be guaranteed again”.

A spokesperson for the EPO said that surveys carried out by the EPO and independently, as well as an annual quality report, show that the high-quality levels for which the office is known continue to increase further.

IAM-supported lies, as expected, have come back from the propaganda department of the EPO — the PR team with the ‘usual suspects’ (whose nature we covered here in past years). SUEPO and the Central Staff Committee were right all along. And now the EPO is being shamed by its own stakeholders. Notice the EPO’s vain response. As “Benoit Escobar” put it:

But guys face it: you are all wrong with your comments here!

See what the EPO told to WIPR : this letter is nothing else but “unsubstantiated claims”

https://www.worldipreview.com/news/german-law-firms-raise-concerns-over-epo-patent-quality-16193

They dare!

And to which the response was: “That is what Mr. Ernst (Chairman of the Administrative Council of the EPOrg) told German representatives: bring statistics, otherwise nothing has changed. And the EPO delivers a (self-measured) statistic. As that is the only one readily available, it is the only one he considers to be relevant. To ensure a minimum of independence/ability to counter pressure, change from one VP1 to three VPs (imstead of COOs), the office has grown considerably, these two additional VPs are well defendable within the range of the organisations structure. Then the “Chiefs of Operartions” could actually decide themselves and not fear direct repercussions from PD4.1 and her connection to the president.”

We commented on Ernst’s stance yesterday. He’s acting more like a protector of Battistelli’s propaganda efforts and it makes one wonder what kind of ‘boss’ Ernst will be to António Campinos.

The EPO is alluding to the IAM 'survey' which it immediately cited (after its publication). We’ve commented several times already about what’s wrong with it. By “quality” they do not mean patent quality but things like speed, which can be detrimental for all sorts of reasons that we covered here before.

Looking or navigating through the comments in Kluwer Patent Blog (which is aggressive with censorship nowadays), we’ve picked some more comments that we want to copy to highlight key parts and preserve them (Kluwer Patent Blog had all sorts of technical troubles this past year, with several downtimes lasting as much as a day if not longer).

Here’s a comment on the IAM ‘survey’: “Had they sent around this letter before, maybe le monsieur would have not dared publishing this last Monday: “Delivering High Quality Services – […] User feedback has been gathered through a multitude of channels and has confirmed increasing levels of satisfaction with the EPO’s products and services, year after year”.” (this links to the EPO’s Web site)

It received the following response from “Save the EPO from destruction”: “sure but hey : who believes in Battistelli’s prose ? everybody knows that this is pure PR (euphemism for propaganda) and that the situation is catastrophic. Now at least we have reputed, credible IP professionals who know what they talk about, who clear pull the brakes. So yes, better late than never and again Mr Campinos will face a dire situation with a bloodless EPO in which folly is the new norm.”

Then “MaxDrei”, who used to comment a lot at IP Kat (not many comments there anymore), gave his long message/thoughts:

My comments on the perceived “problems” a) to f):

a) why “must” quality suffer, merely because of a “aim” (which President Brimelow also had) to get to a grant or refuse decision “as quickly as possible”? And as for “within specific allowed times” I never heard it argued that the UK 1949 Patents Act’s hard limit on time to grant has an adverse effect on “quality” in the UK. That said, quality “must” inevitably suffer, if you impose unreasonable productivity targets on hard-working and conscientious Examiners. Worse, the imposition of such targets will generate a shoulder-shrugging “so what” mentality which is the enemy of “quality”.

b) the EPO is not the only Patent Office where its shareholders milk the Applicant community. That Patent Office fees are used a covert tax revenue operation is a different problem from giving Examiners enough time and resources to do a “quality” job of search and examination.

c) What, for goodness’s sake, is an “erroneous” scope of protection? Again, consider the UK Patents Act 1949. It required rigorous examination of clarity and novelty but no examination of obviousness. Everybody knew the Rules of the Game. Nobody complained, that the Office was issuing over-wide claims. My problem at the moment is that Examining Divisions of the EPO are setting too high a standard of clarity under Art 84 EPC. To much “quality” here, rather than not enough. Why that? Because the zealous in-house EPO Quality Police have to be seen (by Chairs of Exam Divisions) to be ferocious, and that is easier accomplished under Art 84 than under Art 54 or 56.

d) What? Patent owners at risk of not succeeding with claim 1 in an infringement action? When in the history of patents was this ever not the case? Upon issue, there is a Presumption of Validity, regardless of whatever level of “quality” the EPO runs at. What more do you want, for goodness’ sake? Spare a thought for the accused infringer, usually smaller than the Big Corp patent owner. Is his protestation, that the asserted claim is invalid, to be greeted with a shoulder shrug and a retort that if the EPO issued it, well then it must be valid? Of course when the Applicant is David and the accused infringer is Goliath, we need a system that delivers “Equality of Arms” to save Little David from obliteration. But merely giving an EPO Examiner unlimited time to examine David’s patent application is nowhere near enough to deliver that necessary objective.

e) See d) above. To nurture the patent system what is needed is a high level of confidence that, if you have an issued claim that is not invalid, you can enforce it speedily and economically, regardless how Big and Ugly the accused infringer is. Complain somewhere else if, in your country, that is not the case. It isn’t the EPO’s fault.

f) I agree. This grotesque surplus suggests opacity and corruption on an industrial scale. But hey, with supra-national organisations that’s the rule, not the exception. Nobody knows yet, how to stop it.

Overall, this Open Letter strikes me as a manifestation of I) German craving for certainty ii) German deference to “authority” and iii) a yearning for the Good Old Days, when if the DPMA granted your patent you were then the proud possessor of an “examined right” which, by definition was valid. Those days are gone. Life today is too complex. There is too much prior art these days, for the Office to know it all. A public prior use somewhere in the middle of Asia is just as novelty-destroying as a patent specification of a German competitor.

One last comment. I’m puzzled by the reference to “incentive systems”. Is this alluding to the idea of “One point for an allowance but two for a refusal”? Is this what troubles you so much? Or is it the never ending “bar raising” of the output productivity targets being imposed on Examiners? If the latter, I agree with you: it’s counter-productive, Mr Campinos. It has got to stop.

Thorsten Bausch I admire your work on this blog. My remarks above are deliberately provocative, to try to whip up a vigorous discussion here. I hope you don’t see my remarks as so offensive that they must be suppressed and denied publication here.

There’s a correction to this.

On why EPO management can barely reject applications (or penalises examiners for it): “One correction – in the middle of the year, the 2 counts for a refusal has been removed. Now examiners get one product for a grant and one for a refusal, irrespective of the amount of work required. Since a refusal has to cover all arguments raised and a grant only has to find one reason to grant, you can guess which is easier to achieve per unit time.”

More on this point and why in light of rumours of layoffs this may mean lower patent quality:

By the “incentive system” the open letter may be referring to the EPO’s career system which currently ties any career progression almost exclusively to the number of “actions” delivered in a given year by an examiner (in other departments, i.e. for staff other than examiners, it is more opaque). Someone here has already pointed out that a refusal has the same weicht as a grant which already has implications for quality. In this context, it is not just an examiner’s career that is affected: Any teammanager’s, director’s or principal director’s career depends entirely on whether a team, directorate or principal directorate has reached the expected number of actions (this now also applies for the BoAs btw).

But worse than the above: Those that are considered to be low performers of underperformers are targeted and threatened with disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal.
If you bear in mind the rumours that werde going around a while ago that the administration was planning mass lay-offs than it should be easy to understand what is going on and the impact this may have on quality.

Also in response to “MaxDrei”:

MaxDrei, don’t you get it? These days, the “incentive” is just not getting thrown out. Grant, don’t ask questions, don’t be difficult, OR ELSE. You’re gonna “do” whatever figure we throw at you.

Many, if not most, who are not anchored down with a mortgage, or are otherwise able to sustain their family, have already left.

Those who stay on have to put up with micromanagement, perpetual harassment, and contempt.

The EPO has deep structural problems that long predated BB, and I think that the alleged “good” results obtained from scapegoating and brutalizing the staff are a nothing but a flash in the pan which will be followed by a painful reckoning.

Alexander wrote about SUEPO’s foresight:

It is nice to see that applicants now realize what SUEPO has been denouncing for several years.
However, what they see as happening with search, examination and opposition has extended also to the Boards of Appeal. The pressure for reducing the backlog is leading to measures which clearly have an impact on the quality of the decisions. The quality of a decision is the quality of the reasoning leading to the decision and nothing else. Hastly and badly reasoned decisions are arbitrary and deteriorate the confidence in the judicial system.
There are still many experienced board members that deliver well reasoned decisions. However, in some years they will retire and be replaced by younger board members that never experienced a working environment in which quality and not quantity is the determining parameter. Reversing this will prove to be a steep mountain.

Here’s a response to that:

Whether and to what extent excessive administrative pressure might prevent members of the Boards of Appeal from taking considered and balanced decisions is central to the issue of their statutory independence, as will probably be examined in the pending German constitutional complaints.
In this respect a very interesting decision by the Bundesverfassungsgericht has just been published, which relates to the constitutionality of the appointment of judges for a limited period of time; see

https://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/SharedDocs/Entscheidungen/DE/2018/03/rs20180322_2bvr078016.html

There are numerous considerations there in relation to the required judicial independence which if applied to the Boards – in view inter alia of Judge Corcoran´s sad fate – might result in very dramatic conclusions in the EPO and UPC cases.
The decision has been issued by the second senate which is also in charge of the latter complaints, with the participation of Prof. Dr. Huber, the rapporteur in the same ….

Someone called “epo observer” then spoke of other issues:

Some of the points in this open letter are well taken. For example, the pressure to increase examiners’ production has led to summons to oral proceedings immediately following the applicant’s response to a first communication of the EPO, which is clearly premature.
However, the EPO should also be criticised for failing to consider simple measures targeting the practices of applicants and patent professionals :
– heavily increase filing fees linked to excessive length of applications and/or number of claims
– subject the 2-month extension of the deadline to a response to a fee
– make the fee for “continuation of proceedings” much more expensive than today’s derisory amount.
The EPO should also consider dissuading auxiliary requests, a practice regrettably endorsed by the Boards of Appeal (a patent office has no reason to “baby-sit” applicants).

“Experienced Examiner” (we presume an insider at present) gave these thoughts:

As a prerequisite, please bear in mind that the EPO is a kind of its own. The most striking difference from the point of view of staff is the lack of effective legal remedies. The only independent instance in disputes is the Adminisrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, to reach a decision takes years. This is simpy too long for a labour dispute. I believe you all recall the case of the Board of Appeal member who waited more than 2 years for a judgment, got the case against him thrown out, and was subsequently transferred to another location and job. By the same President who should not have been involved in the handling of the case in the first place. A President enjoying diplomatic immunity and therefore outside and above prosecution, even if making public derogatory comments on the Board member concerned.

The same applies for applicants, opponents and appellants. Early – premature? – summons to oral proceedings, excessive costs for the applicant, the EPO will not cover them. Cancellation of oral proceedings by the EPO, costs incurred, the EPO will not cover them. Financial shenenigans “on industrial scale” as put by Max, nobody aside from the Administrative Council can intervene. And as long as these guys get their renewal fees and some technical cooperation funds, they will not intervene.

The basic message is: the EPO and its top management may do whatever they want, they are unlikely to have to face any consequences, provided they keep the majority of the Administrative Council flooded with cash.

a) Of course it is reasonable to aim for “as quickly as possible”. The EPO puts much more emphasis on the second part “within specific allowed times”. It is not relevant whether a particular case would deserve more time. And believe me, the time we examiners get is pretty short. Some of us stopped reading the description. This will have an impact on quality.

b) I believe the point of the letter is that you pay premium and get mediocre in return. Stated differently, you pay for a Porsche and get a Fiat (no offense intended).

c, d) The EPO is supposed to grant patents with a high presumption of validity. We cannot determine the full scope of protection conferred by a claim and accordingly we cannot examine in this full scope on novelty and inventive step. And as Max correctly says, in any infringement you risk an attack on the patent based on new prior art. Still, the amount of uncertainty you face will depend on whether search and examination were thorough or sloppy. The letter mentions an “increased risk”.

But I believe the letter means more. Patents place restrictions on competitors, and if your products suddenly fall in the scope of a sloppy patent, you need to take action. You will not necessarily file an opposition or start nullity proceedings, but you will need to check whether the patent is valid in the whole claim range, collect prior art, maybe start negotiations. All that could have been avoided by thorough search and examination. Briefly, an undue scope of protection creates additional overhead costs.

e) I see a political message here, that the law firms in question may start recommending to their clients to go national with their patents. The EPO is routinely emphasizing the number of applications received and concludes that everything is fine because the numbers keep rising. Well, once the numbers drop it may be too late.

f) full agreement

Concerning the “German” aspects touched upon, I seriously disagree. In my opinion, the letter does not include anything in this regard. Looks like Max misinterpreted points c) and d). He appears to have overlooked the impact a patent with erroneous scope has on the competitors, as well as the “increased risk”. The law firms are aware that there is and will always be a risk. They question why this risk should be increased. A fair question, if you ask me, considering in particular the “high presumtion of validity” the EPO shall deliver.

Coming to the incentives. The reporting of examiners has changed, it is now “products” only, regardless of how much time you have (I never understood this “product” stuff, we deliver a service). As of now, a refusal which takes much longer than a grant wil be rewarded below the time needed. And you will have to deliver at least the same number of products as last year. Do the math: if you had 10 refusals last year, translating into 20 products, you do again 10 refusals this year and you need 10 additional products to keep up. I venture to say this is quite some increase which does not appear on the balance sheet as such. You need to take a look at the details.

Max mentioned a “shoulder shrugging so what mentality”. I can confirm such a mentality is spreading. If the management decision is to reduce the time we may spend on search, well, we will follow that decision. It is not advisable to deviate or to voice concerns. According to our management, quality is fine, so what? We follow the prescribed routines, and if there is a bit of time left once we are through with that, we do some additional steps – on a good day.

Rumour has it even EPO management has started to notice a drop in quality. Our in-house metrics, as shoddy or as good as they are, seem to indicate a decline, a quite rapid one over the last two years, from 98% compliance to 92% compliance, with a negative trend for the future. According to what I hear, the countermeasure proposed is to lower the benchmark. The quality indicator must remain above the benchmark, regardless of measured quality.

We hope to find more such “insider” thoughts; it helps refute the claims from the PR department and puts greater pressure on it to quit lying.

Curiously enough, even though Hoffmann Eitle has complained about patent quality, “Dominik Scheible of Hoffman Eitle opens the AI panel with a mock-up of a patent for C-3PO,” wrote patent maximalists today. "AI" is a buzzword (revived by the media last year) and it means software patents in Europe i.e. bunk patents that oughtn’t be granted. Examiners at the EPO ought to familiarise themselves with the 4 or so acronyms that the EPO’s management likes to use in an effort to justify granting patents on algorithms (thinly veiled as “IoT”, “4IR”, “ICT” and so on).

Those who found themselves pressured to grant because of some buzzwords (perhaps Line Managers/Directors push towards that) are encouraged to speak out anonymously. We’d love to hear such stories, similar to the leaked E-mails from the EPO's Roberto Vacca.
________
* The full letter reads:

Open Letter: Quality of Examination Proceedings at the EPO

Dear President Battistelli, Dear Dr. Ernst, Dear Mr. Morey, Dear Mr. Campinos,

Each year our law firms file more than 9500 patent applications with the EPO.

For several years now we have followed with great concern the developments at the European Patent Office, in particular the modifications to the incentive systems for the examination of patent applications. The incentive systems and internal directives appear to be increasingly directed towards rewarding or even requesting rapid “termination” of proceedings and a correspondingly higher productivity. This has resulted in penalization of detailed and thorough assessment of cases.

While we do appreciate the increased average speed of the proceedings, such an overreaching desire for high productivity has led to the following, specific problems regarding the examination of patents:

a) When the aim is to terminate proceedings as quickly as possible within specific allowed times, the quality of the search and examination of applications must suffer.

b) The fees for search and examination, which are rather high when compared internationally, can only be justified by giving the examiners sufficient time for an indepth assessment of each single application.

c) Patents that have been examined less thoroughly tend to have an erroneous scope of protection. This distorts and hinders economic competition within the EPC Member States.

d) Proprietors of inadequately examined patents are exposed to an increased risk of their patents not being able to be successfully asserted against competitors in their full scope.

e) If the users of the European system gain the impression that granted EP patents cannot be relied upon anymore due to insufficient search and examination, the users may increasingly be discouraged from filing European patents. This might unhinge the entire patent system.

f) The core task of the EPO is the examination and grant of European patents. This is an important public task, where the EPO needs to balance the interests of the public against the interests of patent applicants. The official fees are supposed to self-fund the EPO. However, in contrast to an industrial company, we cannot see why the profit of the EPO needs to be increased beyond the level of self-funding. From our perspective, the high surplus is rather an indication that the fees are too high and that a further, problematic increase of productivity is not appropriate.

We have observed that our perception of endangered quality of the examination of European patent applications is shared by a large number of patent examiners. As you know, a petition was recently published in which more than 900 examiners at the European Patent Office revealed that they are prevented by the internal directives from a thorough, complete search and examination.

In view of this background, we urgently suggest setting up new incentive systems for examining European patents so that the high-quality of searches and examinations for which the European Patent Office used to be known will be guaranteed again.

In the United States the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Which Assures Patent Quality, is Still Being Smeared by Law Firms That Profit From Patent Maximalism, Lawsuits

Posted in America, Deception, Law, Patents at 2:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They have the audacity to call patent tribunals “death squads” whilst abusing immunity to dodge these tribunals

A death squad

Summary: Auditory roles which help ascertain high quality of patents (or invalidate low-quality patents, at least those pointed out by petitions) are being smeared, demonised as “death squads” and worked around using dirty tricks that are widely described as “scams”

THE quality of patents — not the quantity — matters a lot; a new letter about the EPO demonstrates just that and USPTO leadership ought to take notice. Failing to ensure high patent quality or inability to assure consistent patenting standards may be disastrous; for instance, if an office grants very low-quality patents for a number of months/years, that may be enough to muddy the water and harm the reputation of (or confidence in) all patents, collectively. People and firms pay a humongous amount of money to patent offices under the assumption that granted patents would then be honoured by courts. When that stops happening the demand for patents declines and many are considered questionable if not worthless.

“This post is about the USPTO, where attacks on PTAB have intensified also at the executive level (not judicial), adding to the loud if not aggressive protests from patent extremists.”The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is the American equivalent of Europe’s BoA and it’s constantly under attack from patent maximalists, including Battistelli’s American equivalent, Andrei Iancu. He too is a patent maximalist, having come from a law firm and as we recalled in the previous post, he and Battistelli now jointly participate (in capacity as keynote speakers) in PTAB-bashing events organised by IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby. Why do they hate patent quality so much? Can’t they just accept what judges keep saying rather than cherry-pick whatever decision suits their personal agenda? Battistelli’s Office has demolished BoA (its capacity and its independence); Iancu hopes to do the same to PTAB, but after Oil States he’s facing an uphill battle. Iancu is not a judge and he can’t just defy laws or court rulings. Leave that to Battistelli, who exploits diplomatic immunity to routinely break the law and refuse to obey court orders. Anyway, this post isn’t about the EPO, which seems so defunct that António Campinos comes into Office only to fire workers. This post is about the USPTO, where attacks on PTAB have intensified also at the executive level (not judicial), adding to the loud if not aggressive protests from patent extremists.

The 'all-knowing' Mr. Gross has just said:

PTAB abuses [Section] 101 again:”we fail to see, how … ranking step, requires something other than computer functions that are well-understood, routine, and conventional, such as receiving, processing, and displaying data” https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2016004545-05-25-2018-1 … FFS all computer functions process data!

“There’s no PTAB abuse,” I told him. “The abuse was granting software patent in the first place.”

PTAB is, in effect, cleaning up the mess, as per the law and the Supreme Court’s decisions.

Then he started insinuating — yet again — that invalidating bogus patents is like “killing” (remember that they call judges and courts “death squads”). A couple of new examples:

If heard by usual PTAB panel suspects this patent is 100% dead under §101: rejection of “managing access to a partition of another airline’s flight-inventory database” is reversed! https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017002396-05-30-2018-1 … Apparently these judges didnt get “kill everything as abstract idea” memo

Goldman Sachs is getting KILLED at PTAB trying to get cases on trading technology; I have to wonder who is advising them to challenge these 101 rejections – its like watching Pickett’s charge: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2016008456-05-29-2018-1 … guess its nice work if you can get it

“It’s called applying the law,” I told him, not “killing”.

People like him won’t listen. They contribute articles to massive patent trolls such as Dominion Harbor. To them, justice is a “death squad”. They, the trolls, are what exactly? They blackmail firms, just like the Mafia. Who’s more worthy of the label “death squad”? Judges or patent trolls?

Anyway, the good news is that these people aren’t getting their way. They have been reduced to cherry pickers of district court cases, not Federal Circuit or even the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Borehead, LLC v Ellingson Drainage, Inc. was brought up yesterday. This is clearly not a case involving software patents or even patents on life. We suppose that patent maximalists like Patent Docs (Donald Zuhn in this case) only ever wind up/prefer to point out those oddball “35 U.S.C. § 101″ challenges that aren’t relevant to § 101. To quote some portions:

Ellingson moved to dismiss Borehead’s complaint, arguing that claim 1 is drawn to an abstract idea that is not patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. To determine whether claim 1 is directed to a patent ineligible abstract idea, the District Court applied the two-part inquiry set forth by the Supreme Court in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l. The inquiry requires that a court first determine whether the claim is directed to an abstract concept, and if so, determine whether additional elements transform the nature of the claim into a patent‐eligible application, which the Supreme Court described as “a search for an ‘inventive concept.’”

[...]

In addition, the Court noted that “[e]ven if Claim 1 could be considered to be directed at an abstract concept, it nevertheless incorporates the inventive idea of rearranging the conventional steps of moving pipe underground beneath an obstacle in a non‐conventional way in order to make the process easier and safer.” The District Court therefore denied Ellingson’s motion to dismiss Borehead’s complaint.

Well, we’ve seen this pattern before, even one day beforehand (more like a Mayo-type challenge, also in a district court). This is just a case of misapplying Alice or a weak defense strategy. But still, if appealed to the Federal Circuit, the defendant might get its way. The Federal Circuit is a lot stricter (compared to district courts).

Patent maximalist Iancu meanwhile makes his next move. “Memorandum addresses the question of how to evaluate the patent eligibility of method of treatment claims in light of the Federal Circuit decision in Vanda,” Michael Loney recalled (it’s from a day earlier).

Thus far we’ve seen plenty of rhetoric from Iancu, but never any substantial changes to law and practice. Maybe he’s just trying to appease the hounds who lobby him, telling them what they wish to hear rather than what’s about to really happen. IAM even puts words in his mouth, as does Watchtroll (like fabricating statements for dramatic headlines). This is just their modus operandi.

Writing about a PTAB inter partes review (IPR), Docket Navigator has just said that in Prisua Engineering Corp. v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al the relatively fresh SAS Institute Inc. v Iancu was brought up:

Following a jury trial but prior to the entry of judgment, the court sua sponte stayed plaintiff’s patent infringement action pending inter partes review after the PTAB reinstituted review in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu, 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018).

This does not actually change the outcome, only the process. This might slow down PTAB a little. Maybe that’s what the anti-PTAB lobby really hopes for. Watchtroll and the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) now speak of the latest anti-PTAB initiative, courtesy of Orrin Hatch [1, 2]. IAM’s ‘lobbyist’ who was ‘assigned’ to Iancu said this: “US Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a legislative amendment which would prevent generic drug companies from challenging brand-name drug patents using both the Hatch-Waxman and an inter partes review (IPR) routes. Instead, they would be forced to choose which of the two procedures that are currently available to them to use. IPR has proved to be particularly unpopular with the brand-name drug industry. It has complained that pharma patent owners face the twin threat of a Hatch-Waxman challenge, which has been in place for more than 30 years, and, since 2012, a post issuance review from generic competitors. ”

So Mr. Hatch basically protects giant pharmaceutical firms from generics, in essence harming poor people, denying them access to affordable medicine. It might be worth looking who donates to Hatch’s campaign if he seeks to shield them from PTAB’s scrutiny. Did Allergan offer some money?

And speaking of shielding oneself from PTAB’s scrutiny, remember what Allergan attempted to do with a tribe, as we last recalled some days ago because the tribe’s lawyer doubled down on the “scam”. Watchtroll’s Steve Brachmann (anti-PTAB because he’s paid for it) is 10 days late to the news. Yesterday he wrote:

On Monday, June 4th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a case appealed from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) which asks the appeals court to determine whether tribal sovereign immunity can be asserted to terminate inter partes review (IPR) proceedings at the PTAB. The Federal Circuit panel consisting of Circuit Judges Kimberley Moore, Timothy Dyk and Jimmie Reyna lobbed tough questions at counsel representing appellants St. Regis and Allergan, appellees Mylan and Teva as well as the respondent for the U.S. federal government, without giving much clue as to whether the panel favored the argument offered by any particular side.

Nobody should be immune from PTAB, not even government departments or universities. If patents were granted in error by the Office, then there should be a path for revocation. It’s really as simple as that. The above case is part of an elaborate “scam” because a tribe pretends to be a patent holder… of a patent it has absolutely nothing to do with, rendering it a clear misuse of tribal immunity that earned scorn and wrath from judges and politicians, not just the media.

The ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) Hype, Propped Up by Events of the European Patent Office (EPO), is Infectious and It Threatens Patent Quality Worldwide

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Same for “4IR”: EPO-Funded Propaganda for Software Patents Reaches as Far as East Asia and the EPO Then Brags About That

EPO gazette

Summary: Having spread surrogate terms like “4IR” (somewhat of a 'mask' for software patents, by the EPO's own admission in the Gazette), the EPO continues with several more terms like “ICT” and now we’re grappling with terms like “AI”, which the media endlessly perpetuates these days (in relation to patents it de facto means little more than “clever algorithms”)

TECHRIGHTS routinely comments, sometimes quite harshly, about the EPO and USPTO not because it opposes patents but because it opposes patent maximalism. The same can be said for copyrights and trademarks; we’re in favour of both, but in moderation. We need policy that actually reflects societal needs rather than a meta-industry saturated by lawyers. None of this is new of course; copyright maximalists typically receive most of the attention in the media (e.g. this story that’s circulating this week [1, 2]) and we feel like there’s a lack of sceptics when it comes to patent maximalism. Some sites are against patents altogether, but we’re not among them.

“Some sites are against patents altogether, but we’re not among them.”As we noted the other day, there’s this new example of patents being used to reach a deal over patents. These are not software patents and IPPro Patents makes is sound like an amicable agreement rather than a lawsuit or even a threat of lawsuit.

Global Graphics Software is licensing three patents covering inventions by Mitchell Bogart, the inventor and managing member of Rampage LLC.

The company plans to utilise the methods alongside its own software solutions for inkjet and to pass on the benefits exclusively to its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers.

The three patents are US patent numbers. 9,053,410, 9,734,440, and 9,278,566, which cover the Quantone processing methods of screening and compensation for multiple gray-level digital presses and automatic print head registration.

Sadly, the media does not have many stories like the above. We typically read and hear only about lawsuits. Sometimes we see press releases about newly-granted patents. Patent maximalists like the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) obsess over the number of patents (this one is from yesterday), not the quality. Why not just automatically generate and then grant a billion patents overnight. Would that make them happy?

“Only crazy patent fans who make a living from an overabundance of patents (irrespective of their quality) actually keep track of the number and salivate over US patent number 10 million. That’s IAM anyway.”Given the low quality of IAM’s own reporting (accuracy/fact-checking) or even the utter lack of objectiveness at this patent trolls’ megaphone, what makes us think/believe they don’t also fabricate so-called ‘benchmarks’ and surveys? It seems like what they call “quality” has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of patents; it’s about how many patents are granted and how quickly (known as “timeliness”).

The above post, titled “Celebrating US patent number 10,000,000,” is similar to many posts we saw before (this one is from Timothy Au, who several times earlier this month acted as Battistelli’s agent of Big Lies, namely the “quality” lie). The number of patents or mere quantity (lawsuits, patents) does not indicate level of innovation but of friction. Only crazy patent fans who make a living from an overabundance of patents (irrespective of their quality) actually keep track of the number and salivate over US patent number 10 million. That’s IAM anyway. Each newly-granted patent is another potential lawsuit (or several). Lawsuits are only/mostly fun for lawyers.

Having just finished an anti-§ 101 lobbying event in the United States, IAM must be very proud of itself (Microsoft was AI-washing software patents in there). It helped crooked Benoît Battistelli and Andrei Iancu. They’re both patent maximalists. A press release has just been issued by the USPTO to say:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted the annual meeting of the heads of the world’s five largest intellectual property offices, commonly referred to as the IP5. In addition to the USPTO, the members of the IP5 include the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO). Together, the five offices handle approximately 80 percent of the world’s patent applications.

They are already calling software patents “AI” in order to make software seem patentable (if judges actually ‘buy’ that). As IP Watch has just noted (hours ago): “World’s 5 Largest IP Offices Name Artificial Intelligence A Top Strategic Priority [...] The heads of the patent offices of China, Europe, Korea, Japan and the United States met today and declared artificial intelligence one of the top strategic priorities for them as a group. Other efforts included work on harmonising patent practices, the Global Dossier program, classification of new technologies, and patents and standards, according to a release.”

“More buzzwords like “fintech” (similar to “blockchain” in the contextual sense) are nowadays appearing as a pretext for software patenting.”And from the press release (as above) “In addition to USPTO Director Iancu, meeting participants included Benoît Battistelli, President of the EPO [...] The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the patent system was identified as one of the main IP5 strategic priorities to be the subject of common reflection.”

Dennis Crouch soon amplified this as well. Over the past month we wrote quite a few articles about this “AI” hype, which the EPO dedicated a whole pro-software patents event to. The EPO also uses terms like ICT, CII, and 4IR. It’s almost always about software.

More buzzwords like “fintech” (similar to “blockchain” in the contextual sense) are nowadays appearing as a pretext for software patenting. Here’s Tech Wire Asia on Singapore, having published this article only hours ago. Mind this part, which speaks more explicitly about software:

How Singapore’s fast-track patents will help fintech innovations

[...]

Unlike copyright, which in the case of software protects the code itself, patents protect the concept or functionality available on the software.

This means that a third party who replicate a similar function, even if using a totally different set of code, would be in violation of your patent. Patents tend to last for 20 years from the date of filing.

For businesses, this is crucial for distinguishing your offerings from others. If you are selling a piece of software or a service with a particularly unique feature, patents prevent other companies from copying it.

Another typical loophole for software patents? Calling things “fintech”, “blockchain” and whatever buzzword/hype du jour catches one’s eye?

“The EPO needs to watch out because large law firms are noticing the decline in patent quality (no matter what lies IAM is disseminating for Battistelli). They argue that this may result in significant decline in applications, necessitating layoffs and further fee reductions (to spur if not fake ‘demand’).”We recently wrote about Qualcomm‘s dubious patents, European Patents from the EPO included, as we noted earlier this month and last month [1, 2]. Josh Landau from the CCIA says* that the ITC might soon get involved and he notes that “Qualcomm has already dropped several patents from this case and in a companion European case admitted that some of its patents are of questionable validity.”

The EPO needs to watch out because large law firms are noticing the decline in patent quality (no matter what lies IAM is disseminating for Battistelli). They argue that this may result in significant decline in applications, necessitating layoffs and further fee reductions (to spur if not fake ‘demand’).
____
* Landau’s new post may be the subject of later reporting as it involves antitrust aspects too. To quote: “The first Apple/Qualcomm International Trade Commission (ITC) case is about to kick into high gear, with the prehearing conference scheduled for Friday and the hearing (essentially the equivalent of a trial in the ITC) opening next week. Qualcomm has already dropped several patents from this case and in a companion European case admitted that some of its patents are of questionable validity. Setting aside the merits of the patents in the ITC case, why is Qualcomm using the ITC as part of their litigation strategy?”

Links 15/6/2018: HP Chromebook X2 With GNU/Linux Software, Apple Admits and Closes a Back Door (‘Loophole’)

Posted in News Roundup at 12:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • How to select the right enterprise Linux

    Red Hat Enterprise Linux is widely thought of as the first choice in operating systems for important servers, but it may not be the right choice for all applications.

    The decision to use any modern edition of that operating system, generally spoken as RHEL with a silent H, is usually based on a need for component stability, paid technical support, and long-term version support, said Red Hat’s Ron Pacheco, director of global product management.

    Customers have other options for data center operating systems. RHEL wouldn’t always be appropriate for edge devices, functions-as-a-service, and highly specialized applications, Pacheco noted.

  • Desktop

    • HP Chromebook X2 is the first Detachable Chromebook with Linux app support

      We first heard of Chrome OS gaining Linux app support back in February. Google officially confirmed during Google I/O 2018 that the Pixelbook would be the first Chromebook with Linux app support, but since then the Samsung Chromebook Plus has joined in on the fun. Tonight, a device that we expected to eventually gain Linux app support finally got support for it: the HP Chromebook X2.

    • HP Chromebook X2 Receives Linux App Support In Canary

      Following Google’s addition of Linux app support for Chrome OS and its own Pixelbook shortly after this year’s Google I/O conference which took place last month, the same Linux treatment has now been given to the new HP Chromebook X2. The aforementioned device was released in April as the first Chrome OS notebook to be wrapped in a 2-in-1 format, boasting stylus support and a metal unibody design. The recent implementation of Linux apps is primarily aimed at developers and presently it can only be acquired by switching to the Canary channel.

    • HP Chromebook X2 Gets Official Linux App Support

      Google recently announced that Chrome OS devices will soon get support for Linux apps starting with the company’s own Pixelbook, after which Chromebooks from other manufacturers will also get the same treatment. Samsung’s Chromebook Plus was the first device from another manufacturer to get support for Linux apps, and now, HP’s Chromebook X2 has joined the league.

    • HP Chromebook X2 Looks to Be First Detachable Chromebook to Support Linux Apps

      Support for running Linux apps is becoming a thing among Chromebook fans, and it looks like each day new Chrome OS devices are getting Linux app support.

      During the Google I/O annual developer conference last month, Google announced it is working to bring support for Linux apps in future versions of its Linux-based Chrome OS operating system for Chromebooks, and the first Chromebook to receive support for running Linux applications is, of course, Google’s Pixelbook.

    • Windows 10 alternatives: best free, open source operating systems

      Switching to an open source OS could involve a learning curve, but the community, customisation and lack of cost should be enough to make up for it.

    • Laptops with 128GB of RAM are here

      Brace yourself for laptops with 128GB of RAM because they’re coming. Today, Lenovo announced its ThinkPad P52, which, along with that massive amount of memory, also features up to 6TB of storage, up to a 4K, 15.6-inch display, an eighth-gen Intel hexacore processor, and an Nvidia Quadro P3200 graphics card.

  • Server

    • Container and Kubernetes Security: It’s Complicated

      Container technology is being increasingly used by organizations as a way to deploy applications and micro-services. The promise of containers is improved agility and portability, while potentially also reducing the attack surface. Though container technology can be helpful for security, it can also have its own set of risks.

      In a panel session at the recent Kubecon + CloudNativeCon EU event titled “Modern App Security Requires Containers” — moderated by eSecurity Planet — security experts from Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project and Google debated what’s wrong and what’s right with container security.

    • Docker Defines Itself as the Open Choice for Containers at DockerCon 18

      Docker CEO Steve Singh kicked off his company’s DockerCon 18 conference here today, offering the assembled crowd of container enthusiasts a clear vision of where Docker is going.

      For Docker Inc, the company behind the eponymous container system, a lot is at stake. This is the first DockerCon where the founder of the company, Solomon Hykes is not present. Hykes left Docker in March, as the company direction has increasingly focused on enterprise adoption and commercial market growth.

    • Going Global with Kubernetes

      Kubernetes is often touted as the Linux of the cloud world, and that comparison is fair when you consider its widespread adoption. But, with great power comes great responsibility and, as the home of Kubernetes, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) shoulders many responsibilities, including learning from the mistakes of other open source projects while not losing sight of the main goal. The rapid global growth of CNCF also means increased responsibility in terms of cultural diversity and creating a welcoming environment.

    • Docker Enterprise Edition Offers Multicloud App Management

      Docker has expanded its commercial container platform software, Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) to manage containerized applications across multiple cloud services.

      The idea with this release is to better help enterprise customers manage their applications across the entire development and deployment lifecycle, said Jenny Fong, Docker director of product marketing. “While containers help make applications more portable, the management of the containers is not the same,” Fong said.

      Docker EE provides a management layer for containers, addressing needs around security and governance, and the company is now extending this management into the cloud.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Flash storage topics

      At the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Jaegeuk Kim described some current issues for flash storage, especially with regard to Android. Kim is the F2FS developer and maintainer, and the filesystem-track session was ostensibly about that filesystem. In the end, though, the talk did not focus on F2FS and instead ranged over a number of problem areas for Android flash storage.

      He started by noting that Universal Flash Storage (UFS) devices have high read/write speeds, but can also have high latency for some operations. For example, ext4 will issue a discard command but a UFS device might take ten seconds to process it. That leads the user to think that Android is broken, he said.

    • The ZUFS zero-copy filesystem

      At the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Boaz Harrosh presented his zero-copy user-mode filesystem (ZUFS). It is both a filesystem in its own right and a framework similar to FUSE for implementing filesystems in user space. It is geared toward extremely low latency and high performance, particularly for systems using persistent memory.

      Harrosh began by saying that the idea behind his talk is to hopefully entice others into helping out with ZUFS. There are lots of “big iron machines” these days, some with extremely fast I/O paths (e.g. NVMe over fabrics with throughput higher than memory). “For some reason” there may be a need to run a filesystem in user space but the current interface is slow because “everyone is copy happy”, he said.

    • A filesystem “change journal” and other topics

      At the 2017 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Amir Goldstein presented his work on adding a superblock watch mechanism to provide a scalable way to notify applications of changes in a filesystem. At the 2018 edition of LSFMM, he was back to discuss adding NTFS-like change journals to the kernel in support of backup solutions of various sorts. As a second topic for the session, he also wanted to discuss doing more performance-regression testing for filesystems.

      Goldstein said he is working on getting the superblock watch feature merged. It works well and is used in production by his employer, CTERA Networks, but there is a need to get information about filesystem changes even after a crash. Jan Kara suggested that what was wanted was an indication of which files had changed since the last time the filesystem changes were queried; Goldstein agreed.

    • Will staging lose its Lustre?

      The kernel’s staging tree is meant to be a path by which substandard code can attract increased developer attention, be improved, and eventually find its way into the mainline kernel. Not every module graduates from staging; some are simply removed after it becomes clear that nobody cares about them. It is rare, though, for a project that is actively developed and widely used to be removed from the staging tree, but that may be about to happen with the Lustre filesystem.

      The staging tree was created almost exactly ten years ago as a response to the ongoing problem of out-of-tree drivers that had many users but which lacked the code quality to get into the kernel. By giving such code a toehold, it was hoped, the staging tree would help it to mature more quickly; in the process, it would also provide a relatively safe place for aspiring kernel developers to get their hands dirty fixing up the code. By some measures, staging has been a great success: it has seen nearly 50,000 commits contributed by a large community of developers, and a number of drivers have, indeed, shaped up and moved into the mainline. The “ccree” TrustZone CryptoCell driver graduated from staging in 4.17, for example, and the visorbus driver moved to the mainline in 4.16.

    • Statistics from the 4.17 kernel development cycle

      The 4.17 kernel appears to be on track for a June 3 release, barring an unlikely last-minute surprise. So the time has come for the usual look at some development statistics for this cycle. While 4.17 is a normal cycle for the most part, it does have one characteristic of note: it is the third kernel release ever to be smaller (in terms of lines of code) than its predecessor.

      The 4.17 kernel, as of just after 4.17-rc7, has brought in 13,453 non-merge changesets from 1,696 developers. Of those developers, 256 made their first contribution to the kernel in this cycle; that is the smallest number of first-time developers since 4.8 (which had 237). The changeset count is nearly equal to 4.16 (which had 13,630), but the developer count is down from the 1,774 seen in the previous cycle.

    • Deferring seccomp decisions to user space

      There has been a lot of work in recent years to use BPF to push policy decisions into the kernel. But sometimes, it seems, what is really wanted is a way for a BPF program to punt a decision back to user space. That is the objective behind this patch set giving the secure computing (seccomp) mechanism a way to pass complex decisions to a user-space helper program.

      Seccomp, in its most flexible mode, allows user space to load a BPF program (still “classic” BPF, not the newer “extended” BPF) that has the opportunity to review every system call made by the controlled process. This program can choose to allow a call to proceed, or it can intervene by forcing a failure return or the immediate death of the process. These seccomp filters are known to be challenging to write for a number of reasons, even when the desired policy is simple.

      Tycho Andersen, the author of the “seccomp trap to user space” patch set, sees a number of situations where the current mechanism falls short. His scenarios include allowing a container to load modules, create device nodes, or mount filesystems — with rigid controls applied. For example, creation of a /dev/null device would be allowed, but new block devices (or almost anything else) would not. Policies to allow this kind of action can be complex and site-specific; they are not something that would be easily implemented in a BPF program. But it might be possible to write something in user space that could handle decisions like these.

    • Linux 4.18 Addition Helps Dell + Thunderbolt Systems

      In addition to the secondary power management updates sent in on Wednesday for the Linux 4.18 kernel merge window, a set of ACPI updates were also submitted.

      With this ACPI update that was already merged there is updates to the ACPICA code, debugger updates, and other routine work. Arguably the most user-facing change though is allowing Linux respond to the “Windows 2017.2″ _OSI string. That Windows 2017.2 operating system interface string is what’s used by Windows 10 Version 1709 in the latest buids of Windows.

    • When and Why was Linux Created?

      Why was Linux created? So that the young Linus Torvalds could use his computer hardware better and with fewer restrictions. Fast forward to 2018 and the Linux kernel (together with GNU,) is the most popular Operating System used on servers and by data administrators, among other clientele.

      You can breeze through Wikipedia’s record of Linux’s history for details on how events unfolded as well as milestones in the project’s development over the years.

      Are there any details you know that I shouldn’t have left out? Feel free to drop your two cents in the comments section below.

    • Soon It Might Be Possible To Finally Have A Nice ARM-Powered Linux Laptop

      While it’s now becoming possible to run real Linux apps on Chrome OS, for those that have been dreaming of a real and pleasant GNU/Linux desktop experience on an ARM-powered laptop without much hackery, that soon may finally be a reality.

    • Intel Posts Linux Graphics Driver Patches For Whiskey Lake, Amber Lake

      Intel open-source developers today posted the set of patches for adding support for upcoming Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake processors for the Linux kernel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver.

      The patches out today add Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake graphics support to the i915 kernel DRM driver. There isn’t yet patches for libdrm and Mesa, but given how simple these additions are, those patches should be out soon.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Schedule for Open Source Summit North America Is Now Live

        Join us August 29-31, in Vancouver, BC, for 250+ sessions covering a wide array of topics including Linux Systems, Cloud Native Applications, Blockchain, AI, Networking, Cloud Infrastructure, Open Source Leadership, Program Office Management and more. Arrive early for new bonus content on August 28 including co-located events, tutorials, labs, workshops, and lightning talks.

    • Graphics Stack

      • H.264 Decoding Tackled For Reverse-Engineered “Cedrus” Allwinner Video Decode Driver

        The Bootlin (formerly Free Electrons) developers working on the Cedrus open-source, reverse-engineered Allwinner video decode driver have posted their patches for enabling H.264 video decoding.

        Earlier versions of their Sunxi-Cedrus driver patches had just supported MPEG-2 with other codecs to be tackled, but hitting the kernel mailing list this week were their patches for enabling H.264 decoding on Allwinner hardware.

      • More Vega M Performance Numbers Surfacing, Linux State Looking Good

        The performance of the Intel Core i7-8809G “Kabylake G” processor with onboard Radeon “Vega M” graphics are looking quite good under Linux now that the support has been squared away.

      • Mesa RadeonSI Lands Possible Vega/Raven Performance Improvement

        Earlier this month AMD’s Marek Olšák posted RadeonSI patches for a scissor workaround affecting GFX9/Vega GPUs including Raven Ridge, which were based upon a RADV driver workaround already merged that helped affected games by up to ~11%. A revised version of that patch is now in Mesa 18.2 Git.

      • libinput and its device quirks files

        This post does not describe a configuration system. If that’s all you care about, read this post here and go be angry at someone else. Anyway, with that out of the way let’s get started.

        For a long time, libinput has supported model quirks (first added in Apr 2015). These model quirks are bitflags applied to some devices so we can enable special behaviours in the code. Model flags can be very specific (“this is a Lenovo x230 Touchpad”) or generic (“This is a trackball”) and it just depends on what the specific behaviour is that we need. The x230 touchpad for example has a custom pointer acceleration but trackballs are marked so they get some config options mice don’t have/need.

    • Benchmarks

      • The NVIDIA vs. Open-Source Nouveau Linux Driver Benchmarks For Summer 2018

        It has been some months since last delivering any benchmarks of Nouveau, the open-source, community-driven for NVIDIA GPUs. The reason for not having any Nouveau benchmarks recently has largely been due to lack of major progress, at least on the GeForce desktop GPU side, while NVIDIA has continued to contribute on the Tegra side. For those wondering how the current performance is of this driver that started out more than a decade ago via reverse-engineering, here are some benchmarks of the latest open-source Nouveau and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers on Ubuntu.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Retrospective: The KDE Mission Survey

        It might sound a bit weird that I’m now talking about something that took place two years ago, but I just realized that while the call to participate in the survey for the KDE Mission was published on the Dot, the results have so far not received their own article.

        People who have participated in the survey but don’t read the Community list might have missed the results, which would be a pity. Therefore, I’d like to offer a bit of a retrospective on how the survey came to be and what came out of it.

      • Google Summer of Code, Porting Keyboard KCM to Qt Quick — Part 2

        Hi! It’s been quite a while since the first blog post. I’ve been working on the new redesign of the Keyboard KCM, and in this post I’m going to show you the progress I’ve made so far.

        Since last time, I’ve been mainly focusing on working improving the infrastructure. One of the goals of this project was to make configuring the input methods (like fcitx, ibus, …) in the System Settings easier. I decided to start with fcitx, since we know the developer of it (Xuetian Weng), and thus easier to ask when there is a question/problem.

      • Krita 4.0.4 Painting Software Has Been Released | Install On Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver)

        Krita is a free and open source advanced painting software for cross platform. The development team has just announced a new maintenance release Krita 4.0.4. It brings several bug fixes and stability improvements. Here are the major improvements of Krita 4.0.4.

      • GSoC: Krita AVX mask optimizations, setting up the environment.

        Hi! GSoC student here :]. This first weeks coding for Krita have been so busy I forgot to write about them. So I’ll start to sum everything up in short posts about each step of the project implementation process.

      • KDE Plasma 5.13 Is Here – And It Looks Incredible

        Back in May we said that KDE Plasma 5.13 was shaping up to be one heck of a release — now that it’s out, I think I can say we were right.

        And to demo the key changes arriving in this update of the popular, resource-efficient desktop environment is a spiffy official release video.

        At a speedy 2 minutes 22 seconds long, the official clip offers a concise overview of the what’s new in Plasma 5.13, from its new-look system settings and nifty browser integration, to the redesigned lock and login screens and improved ‘Discover’ software tool.

      • GSoC 2018: First period summary

        Hi everybody, it has been a month since I started working on WikiToLearn PWA for Google Summer of Code program and many things happened!
        WTL frontend needed some improvements in terms of usability and functionalities. Course needed a way to update their metadata: title and chapters order for example
        So I implemented a work-in-progress EDIT MODE, as you can see below. You can drag chapters, insert new ones and/or modify course title.

      • Qt 3D Studio RC2 is available

        We have released Qt 3D Studio 2.0 RC2 today. It is available as both commercial and open source versions from online and offline installers.

        Qt 3D Studio 2.0 has a whole new 3D engine built on top of Qt 3D, a new timeline built from ground up with Qt based on the new timeline code in upcoming Qt Design Studio. Also there are a lot of improvements to the designer user experience, interactions in the 3D edit view and visualisation of lights and cameras being most notable ones. And of course we have numerous bug fixes.

      • Qt 3D Studio 2.0 RC2 Released For This 2D/3D UI Designer

        The second release candidate of the revamped Qt 3D Studio 2.0 is now available for testing.

        Qt developers have had a very busy week with the Qt Contributors’ Summit where they talked of early Qt 6.0 plans, releasing the inaugural Qt for Python, and also updating Qt 5.9 and Qt Creator 4.6. The latest is now their second test release of the upcoming Qt 3D Studio 2.0.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Be a redshirt this GUADEC

        If you’re planning to volunteer at GUADEC this year and be part of the selfless redshirt team (we’ve got 100% survival rate so far!), please register before the end of this week so that we have a better idea of which t-shirt sizes to order. If you can’t register soon, you can still volunteer even if you register on site!

      • GStreamer CI support for embedded devices

        GStreamer is a popular open-source pipeline-based multimedia framework that has been in development since 2001. That’s 17 years of constant development, triaging, bug fixes, feature additions, packaging, and testing. Adopting a Jenkins-based Continuous Integration (CI) setup in August 2013, GStreamer and its dependencies are now built multiple times a day with each commit. Prior to that, the multimedia project used a build bot hosted by Collabora and Fluendo. At the time of this writing, GStreamer is built for the Linux (Fedora & Debian), macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS platforms. A very popular deployment target for GStreamer are embedded devices, but they are not targeted in the current CI setup.This meant additional manpower, effort, and testing outside of the automated tests for every release of GStreamer to validate on embedded boards. To rectify this, a goal was devised to integrate embedded devices into the CI.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Leap 15 Linux OS Is Now Available for Raspberry Pi, Other ARM Devices

        Released last month, openSUSE Leap 15 is based on the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 operating system series and introduces numerous new features and improvements over the previous versions. These include a new disk partitioner in the installer, the ability to migrate OpenSuSE Leap 15 installations to SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 15, and integration with the Kopano open-source groupware application suite.

        openSUSE Leap 15 also ships with a Firewalld as the default firewall management tool, a brand-new look that’s closely aligned with SUSE Linux Enterprise, new classic “transactional server” and “server” system roles providing read-only root filesystem and transactional updates, and much more. Now, openSUSE Leap 15 was launched officially for ARM64 (AArch64) and ARMv7 devices, such as Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard, Arndale Board, CuBox-i, and OLinuXino.

      • openSUSE Releases Leap 15 Images for Raspberry Pi, Armv7 Devices

        Makers can leverage openSUSE Leap 15 images for aarch64 and Armv7 on Internet of Things (IoT) and embedded devices. Since openSUSE Leap 15 shares a common core SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 15 sources, makers who find success with a project or device can more comfortably transition to an enterprise product in the future should certifications become a requirement. Currently, the only IoT platform supported by SLE is the Raspberry Pi 3. However, there is no current supported migration from Leap 15 to SLE 15 with the Raspberry Pi. The barrier to entry in the IoT/embedded markets are lowered when a developer starts a project with Leap 15. Plus, the many supported arm boards can help developers circumnavigate future obstacles that might hinder project’s growth in a developing market.

    • Slackware Family

      • SBo DMCA Takedown

        About 14h ago, 10:32 PM GMT+7 (Western Indonesian Time), me (and several other people who forked SBo’s repository at GitHub) received a DMCA Takedown notice due to a company (Steinberg) filed a complaint to more than 200 open source repositories in GitHub that uses several of their header files (namely aeffect.h and aeffectx.h). We used that files in one of our scripts (jack-tools) which was changed over a year ago by the maintainer. At that time, it was OK to use their header files (although it has been unmaintained since 2013), but some time ago, Steinberg has made an announcement about dropping their support for VST 2 and focusing on VST 3 only. This drives the DMCA takedown action which affects SBo repositories in GitHub.

        The admins have discussed this matter last night and we came to a solution of fixing this issue permanently by removing the related commit and all the history for this script in master and 14.2 branch. This is not a trivial action as the commits involved were 11867 since 2017-02-04. Ponce did the initial testing and David did the final touch, including pushing an unexpected public update including with the mass re-base on master and 14.2 branch (Thanks David).

    • Red Hat Family

      • How to select the right enterprise Linux

        The decision to use any modern edition of that operating system, generally spoken as RHEL with a silent H, is usually based on a need for component stability, paid technical support, and long-term version support, said Red Hat’s Ron Pacheco, director of global product management.

      • CentOS 7.4 & kernel 4.x – Worth the risk?

        The reasons why we have gathered here are many. A few weeks ago, my CentOS distro went dead. With the new kernel containing Spectre patches, it refused to load the Realtek Wireless drivers into memory. Moreover, patches also prevent manual compilation. This makes the distro useless, as it has no network connection. Then, in my CentOS 7.4 upgrade article – which was flawless, including the network piece, go figure – I wondered about the use of new, modern 4.x kernels in CentOS. Sounds like we have a real incentive here.

        In this tutorial, I will attempt to install and use the latest mainline kernel (4.16 when I typed this). The benefits should be many. I’ve seen improved performance, responsiveness and battery life in newer kernels compared to the 3.x branch. The Realtek Wireless woes of the disconnect kind (like a Spielberg movie) were also fixed in kernel 4.8.7 onwards, so that’s another thing. Lastly, this would make CentOS a lean, mean and modern beast. Bravely onwards!

        [...]

        Now, I can breathe with relief, as I’ve delivered on my promise, and I gave you a full solution to the CentOS 7.4 Realtek issues post upgrade. I do not like to end articles on a cliffhanger, and definitely not carry the solution over to a follow-up article, but in this rare case, it was necessary. The mainline kernel upgrade is a topic of its own.

        The kernel installation worked fine, and thereafter, we seem to have gained on many fronts. The network issues are fully resolved, we can compile again, the performance seems improved despite worse figures in the system monitor, battery life and stability are not impaired in any way, and the CentOS box has fresh new life, wrapped in modern features and latest software. And none of this was meant to be in the first place, because CentOS is a server distro. Well, I hope you are happy. The one outstanding mission – Plasma 5. Once we have that, we can proudly claim to have created the ultimate Linux distro hybrid monster. Take care.

      • Red Hat Aims To Fuse Businesspeople Into ‘Citizen Integrators’
      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Binutils 2.31 Slated For Fedora 29

          To little surprise given that Fedora Linux always strives to ship with a bleeding-edge GNU toolchain, for the Fedora 29 release this fall they are planning to make use of the yet-to-be-released Binutils 2.31.

        • Linux 4.17 Stable Has Been Settling Well, Coming Soon To Fedora

          Since the release of Linux 4.17 almost two weeks ago, I haven’t heard of any horror stories, Linux 4.17 continues running excellent on all of my test systems, the 4.17.1 point release was quite small, and more distributions are gearing up to ship this latest kernel release.

        • [Older] Fedora vs Ubuntu
    • Debian Family

      • Microsoft loves Linux so much its R Open install script rm’d /bin/sh

        Microsoft had to emit a hasty update for its R Open analysis tool after developers found the open-source package was not playing nice with some Linux systems.

        The issue was brought to light earlier this week by developer Norbert Preining, who found that the Debian GNU/Linux version of Open R – Microsoft’s open-source implementation of the R statistics and data science tool – was causing headaches when it was installed on some systems.

      • Microsoft Fixes Faulty Debian Package That Messed With Users’ Settings
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Mesa 18.1.1 is Now Available to Install on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            The latest Mesa 18.1.1 graphics stack is now available to install on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

            Mesa 18.1.1 is the first point release update in the Mesa 18.1.x series, which debuted back in May with Mesa 18.1.0.

            The Mesa 18.1.x series touts plenty of improvements, including better Vulkan and OpenGL performance, updated Tegra, Nouveau, and Intel drivers, as well as support for the OpenGL 4.5 API.

          • Active Searching [Ed: This good Ubuntu man could use a job. Consider hiring?]

            I generally am not trying to shoot for terse blog posts. That being said, my position at work is getting increasingly untenable since we’re in a position of being physically unable to accomplish our mission goals prior to funding running out at 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time on September 30th. Conflicting imperatives were set and frankly we’re starting to hit the point that neither are getting accomplished regardless of how many warm bodies we’re throwing at the problem. It isn’t good either when my co-workers who have any military experience are sounding out KBR, Academi, and Perspecta.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Luke Klinker’s Talon for Twitter goes open source

    Knowing how successful the original version of Talon for Twitter was, it might not be a surprise that its revamped Material Design version is currently the top paid social app. There is clearly a demand for third-party Twitter apps that look good, a demand that developer Luke Klinker knows extends to other developers and tinkerers.

    That might be why Klinker announced that the current version of Talon will be open source from now on.

  • Google releases open source ‘GIF for CLI’ terminal tool on GitHub

    Tomorrow is the GIF’s 31st anniversary — exciting, right? Those animated images have truly changed the world. All kidding aside, it is pretty amazing that the file format came to be way back in 1987!

    To celebrate tomorrow’s milestone, Google releases a new open source tool today. Called “GIF for CLI,” it can convert a Graphics Interchange Format image into ASCII art for terminal. You can see such an example in the image above.

  • Is Open Source Software the Best Choice for IoT Development?

    For IoT development, new survey data shows enterprise IT teams are getting more comfortable with open source software.

  • The ‘problems’ with machine learning, Databricks MLflow to the rescue?

    Databricks announced a new open source project called MLflow for open source machine learning at the Spark Summit this month.

    The company exists to focus on cloud-based big data processing using the open source Apache Spark cluster computing framework.

    The company’s chief technologist Matei Zaharia says that the team built its machine learning (ML) approach to address the problems that people typically voice when it comes to ML.

  • The Open Revolution: the vital struggle of open vs closed, free vs unfree

    Rufus Pollock’s new book The Open Revolution: rewriting the rules of the information age, reimagines ownership in a digital age and its implications from the power of tech monopolies to control how we think and vote , to unaffordable medicines, to growing inequality. Get the book and find out more at openrevolution.net. – Cory

  • Dremio Announces the Gandiva Initiative for Apache Arrow
  • Open source “Gandiva” project wants to unblock analytics

    The key to efficient data processing is handling rows of data in batches, rather than one row at a time. Older, file-oriented databases utilized the latter method, to their detriment. When SQL relational databases came on the scene, they provided a query grammar that was set-based, declarative and much more efficient. That was an improvement that’s stuck with us.

  • Bitfi launching open source crypto wallet and 1st hardware wallet for Monero

    Bitfi, a global payments technology company working to enable businesses and consumers to participate in the digital currency economy, today announced Bitfi Knox Wallet – the first unhackable, open source hardware wallet with an accompanying dashboard that features wireless setup and support for many popular cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, including Monero, a fully decentralized private cryptocurrency that has previously never had a hardware wallet solution.

  • Sculpt OS available as live system

    Sculpt for The Curious (TC) is the second incarnation of the general-purpose operating system pursued by the developers of the Genode OS Framework. It comes in the form of a ready-to-use system image that can be booted directly from a USB thumb drive. In contrast to earlier versions, Sculpt TC features a graphical user interface for the interactive management of storage devices and networking. The main administrative interface remains text-based. It allows the user to “sculpt” the system live into shape, and introspect the system’s state at any time.

  • Events

    • Can you hack it? The importance of hackathons

      Back in the summer of 1999, 10 programmers from around the globe congregated in a room in Calgary, Alberta, to work on the obscure open source operating system known as OpenBSD. This was, in fact, the first ever recorded hackathon – a portmanteau of the words ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’ – anywhere in the world. Since…

    • Fynd Organizes Hackxagon, an Open Source Challenge for Its Engineers

      As an initiative to give back to the open source community, Fynd, the unique fashion e-commerce portal had launched gofynd.io, a few months ago. This project enabled the engineers of the fashion e-commerce portal to learn new technologies, improve the core infrastructure and enhance the Fynd platform. However, Fynd wanted to streamline the open sourcing process for which, the fashion e-commerce portal introduced Fynd Hackxagon—Open Source Challenge. The tech team open-sourced 13 projects in a day that were later made available in the Fynd GitHub public account.

    • South African Linux and Postgres conferences planned for October

      The South African open source, Linux, and Postgres community will be treated to two conferences in October – LinuxConf on 8 October and PostgresConf on 9 October.

      LinuxConf is a one-day conference in Johannesburg aimed at the Linux and open source community.

      Topics covered at LinuxConf will include Linux Kernel and OS, Linux distributions, virtualisation, system administration, open source applications, networking, and development environments.

      PostgresConf is aimed at the database administration and developer community, where they will exchange ideas and learn about the features and upcoming trends within PostgreSQL.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla To Create A Voice-Controlled Web Browser Called ‘Scout’

        Mozilla is reported to be working on a browser that works on voice commands instead of standard inputs obtained from mouse and keyboard.

        The project has been named ‘Scout’; the voice-controlled web browser would focus on accessibility and would allow users to surf the web without using a touchscreen and other conventionally used input systems.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Scientific Library 2.5 released

      Version 2.5 of the GNU Scientific Library (GSL) is now available. GSL provides a large collection of routines for numerical computing in C.

      This release introduces some new features and fixes several bugs. The full NEWS file entry is appended below.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Astounding t-shirt art, created by marker-wielding open source hardware plotters

        Evil Mad Scientist Labs sell a bunch of cool open source hardware kits for making plotters — basically, a very precise robot arm that draws with whatever pen or marker you screw into its grip. There’s the Eggbot (for drawing on curved surfaces like eggs, balloons and balls), but there’s also the Axidraw, which works on flat surfaces.

        Axidraw owners have been decorating tees with Axidraws and colored markers, creating some really smashing designs.

  • Programming/Development

    • Unplugging old batteries

      Python is famous for being a “batteries included” language—its standard library provides a versatile set of modules with the language—but there may be times when some of those batteries have reached their end of life. At the 2018 Python Language Summit, Christian Heimes wanted to suggest a few batteries that may have outlived their usefulness and to discuss how the process of retiring standard library modules should work.

      The “batteries included” phrase for Python came from the now-withdrawn PEP 206 in 2006. That PEP argued that having a rich standard library was an advantage for the language since users did not need to download lots of other modules to get real work done. That argument still holds, but there are some modules that are showing their age and should, perhaps, be unplugged and retired from the standard library.

    • Advanced computing with IPython

      If you use Python, there’s a good chance you have heard of IPython, which provides an enhanced read-eval-print loop (REPL) for Python. But there is more to IPython than just a more convenient REPL. Today’s IPython comes with integrated libraries that turn it into an assistant for several advanced computing tasks. We will look at two of those tasks, using multiple languages and distributed computing, in this article.

      IPython offers convenient access to documentation, integration with matplotlib, persistent history, and many other features that greatly ease interactive work with Python. IPython also comes with a collection of “magic” commands that alter the effect of single lines or blocks of code; for example, you can time your code simply by typing %%time at the prompt before entering your Python statements. All of these features also work when using the Jupyter notebook with the IPython kernel, so you can freely switch between the terminal and the browser-based interface while using the same commands.

    • Looking back on “Teaching Python: The Hard Parts”

      One of my goals when writing talks is to produce content with a long shelf life. Because I’m one of those weird people that prefers to write new talks for new events, I feel like it’d be a waste of effort if my talks didn’t at least age well. So how do things measure up if I look back on one of my oldest?

    • How to Install Latest Python on Ubuntu 18.04
    • An introduction to the Tornado Python web app framework

      Now let’s look at a somewhat different option: the Tornado framework. Tornado is, for the most part, as bare-bones as Flask, but with a major difference: Tornado is built specifically to handle asynchronous processes. That special sauce isn’t terribly useful in the app we’re building in this series, but we’ll see where we can use it and how it works in a more general situation.

      Let’s continue the pattern we set in the first two articles and start by tackling the setup and config.

Leftovers

  • Don’t trust the tech giants? You likely rely on them anyway
  • Science

    • European Commission Appoints Artificial Intelligence Expert Group, Launches AI Alliance

      The European Commission appointed 52 experts today to a new High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, and also launched the AI Alliance, an online forum to facilitate broad participation in dialogue on the burgeoning technology.

      According to a Commission press release, the multi-stakeholder High-Level Expert Group on AI, composed of members from academia, industry and civil society, is tasked to support the implementation of the EU Communication on Artificial Intelligence, make recommendations to inform policy and digital strategy, and develop ethical guidelines for AI.

    • This is what we learned about our science-reading audience

      That said, you’re not naive about things. When asked about general media coverage of science, 42 percent said it was too sensationalist, and the biggest complaint in a separate question was that unproven tech gets too much coverage (36 percent of respondents). You like knowing about science so much that a third of you complained that most media coverage is too superficial; only two percent said it’s good. “Other” answers in complaints about the media were dominated by “everything option but good”-style answers (e.g, “Complete unmitigated garbage” and “It’s pretty much shit, to be honest”).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Countries Discuss Prospect Of Plurilateral Agreement On Genetic Resources Protection

      Faced with a longstanding lack of progress at the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization on the protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, some developing countries are examining the possibility of moving outside the multilateral system toward a plurilateral agreement with like-minded countries. During an international conference last week, panellists pondered the prospects of such an option.

    • Illinois Lawmakers Demand Explanation on Children Stuck in Psychiatric Hospitals

      Illinois lawmakers have asked state child welfare officials to explain why they routinely fail to find better homes for hundreds of children in psychiatric hospitals, leaving them trapped for weeks and sometimes months.

      State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, called for a public hearing after a ProPublica Illinois investigation last week revealed that children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are confined to psychiatric hospitals after physicians have cleared them for release.

      The investigation found that, between 2015 and 2017, children and teens collectively spent more than 27,000 days stuck in psychiatric hospitals instead of in more appropriate placements, including residential treatment centers or foster homes. And the number of psychiatric admissions that went beyond medical necessity has surged, jumping from 88 in 2014 to 301 last year, an increase the department said it cannot explain.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Why Americans (and Koreans) Can Sleep Better After the Summit

      Scads of analysts and pundits have weighed in on the Trump-Kim summit talks in Singapore, parsing the brief agreement and presidential tweets for signs of just how strongly it actually commits North Korea to total, verifiable “denuclearization.”

      Most of them are missing the point. The real threat to U.S., Korean, and Japanese security of late has come not from North Korean nukes, but from threats by President Donald Trump and his closest advisers to launch a regional war to preempt any further North Korean progress on warhead and missile technology. Some experts were giving even odds of a U.S.-initiated war as recently as a few months ago.

      So even if the spectacle in Singapore was more theater than substance, even if the president’s effusive praise for a totalitarian leader was hard to swallow, we should applaud Trump for belatedly making good on his 2016 campaign promise to sit down with Kim Jong-un over a hamburger in search of peace.

      Throughout most of 2017, the Trump administration instead issued a steady stream of pronouncements warning that it was ready to go to war to stop Pyongyang from perfecting long-range missiles capable of hitting the United States with nuclear weapons.

    • National security wrap

      Drones continue to proliferate among US police forces. Drone manufacturer DJI has partnered with Axon, maker of police body cameras, to sell drones directly to police departments.

    • Judge green-lights ‘kill list’ lawsuit
    • Judge allows US journalist in Syria to challenge inclusion on ‘kill list’

      A federal judge today allowed an American journalist based in Syria to challenge his alleged placement on a US kill list, the Washington Post reported today.

      The green light gives Bilal Abdul Kareem, a journalist operating in Syria, the ability to seek answers as to whether he is included on a US kill list.

      US government lawyers asked the US Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District Columbia to dismiss the case, claiming that Kareem is not able to evidence his case based on the secrecy involved in targeted killing decision making in the US military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

      “Due process is not merely an old and dusty procedural obligation … It is a living, breathing concept that protects US persons from overreaching government action even, perhaps, on an occasion of war,” Collyer said in her ruling.

    • AP News Guide: What to know about Yemen’s yearslong war

      Yemen has seen decades of war, first with the 1960s civil war that ended North Yemen’s monarchy. Fighting between Marxist South Yemen and the north followed. Yemen unified in 1990, but resentment persisted under 22 years of kleptocratic rule by Ali Abdullah Saleh.

      Saleh served as a somewhat-trusted U.S. ally in the wake of the 2000 al-Qaida bombing of the USS Cole as it refueled off Yemen’s port city of Aden, killing 17 sailors. He allowed American forces to deploy to Yemen and conduct drone strikes on suspected al-Qaida militants, which also killed civilians. However, many Americans long suspected duplicity on the part of Saleh, who once described the challenge of navigating Yemen’s complicated tribal politics as “dancing on the heads of snakes.”

    • CIA document tags VHP and Bajrang Dal as militant religious outfits

      Sangh affiliates Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal have been classified as militant religious outfits in the recently updated World Factbook, published by the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    • CIA calls Bajrang Dal and VHP ‘militant religious organisations’, but who’s listening?
    • CIA classifies VHP, Bajrang Dal as millitant religious outfits
    • Pundits Worry Threat of Nuclear War Is Being Reduced

      On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the host was aghast (6/12/18) that the US says it will halt the annual war games it conducts with South Korea on North Korea’s doorstep, because doing so is “an absolute jackpot for the North Korean dictator,” “one of the things he wants most on earth,” and now Washington “has just given them that for free, for nothing.”

      Maddow implied that Trump has taken this step out of fealty to Russia, and complained that pausing war games that threaten North Korea benefits Russia and China. She twice called the Kim/Trump summit a “wedding,” twice said that the two leaders “love” each other two times, and referred to Kim as Trump’s “best friend.” In other words, de-escalation is for wimps, and what’s needed is toughness, even if it risks nuclear war.

      Not once did Maddow demonstrate the slightest concern with avoiding war. The message of her segment is that the US should subject all 25 million people in North Korea to the threat of nuclear annihilation until its leaders do what the US says, a threat that necessarily extends to the rest of East Asia, since it would be decimated in any nuclear exchange, to say nothing of the likely devastating effects on the rest of the world.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Film director Ken Loach: “The persecution of Julian Assange must end”

      Ken Loach is one of the world’s most respected film directors. His career began at the BBC in 1963 and consists of a body of work demonstrating socialist convictions and a deeply felt sympathy for the working class.

      Notable works include Up the Junction, Cathy Come Home, Kes, Days of Hope and A Question of Leadership. He dealt with the Spanish Civil War in Land And Freedom and the struggle against Britain’s oppression of Ireland in The Wind That Shakes The Barley—for which he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. He won a second Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake in 2016.

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. To force him to remain in the Ecuadorian Embassy for fear of extradition to the USA is clearly political.

      He is right to be fearful. In the current febrile atmosphere people in the US have called for his execution.

    • Free Julian Assange NZ – Global Protest – 19th June

      Thousands of Wikileaks supporters worldwide will hold protests at U.K and U.S Embassies on June 19th, 2018 to demand that the Governments of Australia, United States and United Kingdom pardon Assange and free the publisher from any potential indictment or charges in the U.S.

      The Protestors and Activists for Human Rights, and Justice, are demanding that Australia, Britain and the U.S. abide by the U.N. ruling to immediately free and compensate Julian Assange. The U.N. has ruled that Assange is being illegally detained.

    • Professor Piers Robinson demands freedom for Julian Assange

      We are living through very dark days for democracy and freedom of expression. Voices of reason and calm are being relentlessly smeared and bullied whilst courageous whistleblowers such as Julian Assange are subjected to increasingly coercive attempts to silence them.

      It is essential that all of us who value democracy and free speech stand up in defence of Assange and demand that this scandalous and shameful State-led harassment is brought to an end.

      Our freedom to speak truth to power, oppose immoral and illegitimate wars, and to campaign for truth and accountability, is being lost at frightening speed. Halting this democratic decay starts with demanding freedom for Julian Assange.

    • When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador
    • When #WikiLeaks founder Julian #Assange took refuge in the Embassy of #Ecuador https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/when-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-took-refuge-in-the-embassy-of-ecuador/2018/06/11/263e560e-578c-11e8-8836-a4a123c359ab_story.html

      Assange reasoned that the key structure that generated bad governance was conspiracy. To fight the conspiracies behind corrupt governments, he advocated a strategy to expose the conspirators and the conspiracies through a systematic use of leaks.

      His subversive proposal was to build a website for whistleblowers where they could upload their information in safety and from where it could be collectively analysed by citizen journalists. The name he gave his whistleblower-enabling website was WikiLeaks.

      With never more than a handful of volunteers, WikiLeaks became the most famous news organisation in the world, with its leaks affecting politics globally. It published confidential records of one of Iceland’s top banks, revealing its role in Iceland’s financial collapse, the Collateral Murder video, the Iraq War logs, the Afghan War Diary, the Cablegate cables — major stories followed one after the other with breathtaking rapidity. The achievements of the tiny band of WikiLeaks hactivists between 2006 and 2010 constitute the most extraordinary episode in the history of citizen journalism.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Oceans Unmanned’s FreeFLY Drone Program Is Helping Save the Lives of Entangled Whales

      Oceans Unmanned collaborated with drone companies DJI and DARTdrones to launch the freeFLY Drone Program, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. According to Oceans Unmanned’s press release, their mission here is clear: to use this affordable and sophisticated aerial support to save the lives of whales who have become dangerously entangled.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • National Die-In Protester Marcel McClinton Shares How It Felt to Storm the U.S. Capitol

      Marcel is part of a group called the Orange Generation, which considers itself a gun violence prevention — not a gun control — advocacy organization. The group favors a more moderate approach to gun reform; it doesn’t argue for any kind of bans, Marcel said, but still wants common sense gun reform. He explained that the group uses what could reasonably get passed in the state of Texas as a litmus test for measures it considers.

    • Senate confirms Trump Homeland Security cyber pick

      The Senate confirmed Christopher Krebs in a voice vote Tuesday to serve at the helm of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, or NPPD, roughly four months after Trump nominated him to the post.

      In the role, Krebs will be responsible for overseeing the security of federal civilian networks and spearheading the federal government’s efforts to protect critical infrastructure from cyber and physical threats. NPPD is also newly responsible for helping states secure their digital voting systems, in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    • Dems unveil push to secure state voting systems
    • Australia cements Solomon Islands deal amid China influence debate

      Australia has formally agreed to a deal to help build a 4,000km (2,500 mile) internet cable to the Solomon Islands.

    • Donald Trump Hyped Up North Korea’s Beachfront Condo Potential

      It may not have been the most ridiculous thing he said.

    • War is too deadly for Congress to keep dodging duty on declaring it

      The obligation of our lawmakers to declare war is not merely a constitutional but a moral responsibility.

    • Comcast makes $65 billion offer to steal 21st Century Fox away from Disney
    • Following AT&T’s Lead, Comcast Makes A $65 Billion Bid For Fox

      Comcast had previously hinted that it was waiting to see the outcome of AT&T’s own merger battle with the DOJ before making its own bid for Fox. Comcast and many analysts believe that the comically broad nature of AT&T’s court victory (based on a pinhole narrow reading of the markets by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who clearly has never heard of things like zero rating or net neutrality), means the precedent set will likely result in a DOJ that’s more hesitant to intervene in potentially problematic merger moving forward.

      That’s especially true of vertical integration mergers, where modern U.S. antitrust law tends to be ill-equipped to handle some of the more complex new media anti-competitive concerns that pop up. Combined with the death of ISP privacy rules and the neutering of net neutrality, we’re creating a brave new landscape where there’s very little to stop giants like Comcast and AT&T from using their last mile monopolies–combined with massive ownership of content needed to compete with these giants–as anti-competitive bludgeons against consumers and competitors alike.

      For example, there’s now nothing of note preventing AT&T and Comcast from exempting its own content (like HBO or a regional sports game) from arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps, while penalizing those who use a competitor’s service (Netflix, or the next Netflix). Similarly, there’s nothing stopping Comcast or Verizon from arbitrarily throttling competitors at interconnection points, driving up the cost for competitors to access their broadband subscribers. There’s an ocean of creative ways to hamstring competitors the government is now largely helpless to effectively police, and as the AT&T court win shows, the ISP claim that this isn’t a problem because antitrust will save us all clearly isn’t a valid argument.

    • Trump Told G7 Leaders That Crimea Is Russian Because Everyone Speaks Russian In Crimea
    • Once Again Congress Votes Proactively To Keep Itself Ignorant On Technology

      The Office of Technology Assessment existed in Congress from 1972 until 1995, when it was defunded by the Newt Gingrich-led “Contract with America” team. The purpose was to actually spend time to analyze technology issues and to provide Congress with objective analysis of the impact of technology and the policies that Congress was proposing. Remember how back when there was the big SOPA debate and folks in Congress kept talking about how they weren’t nerds and needed to hear from the nerds? Right: the OTA was supposed to be those nerds, but it hasn’t existed in nearly two decades — even though it still exists in law. It just isn’t funded.

      Rep. Mark Takano (in 2014 it was Rush Holt) thought that maybe we should finally give at least a little bit of money to test bringing back OTA and to help better advise Congress. While some would complain about Congress spending any money, this money was to better inform Congress so it stopped making bad regulations related to technology, which costs a hell of a lot more than the $2.5 million Takano’s amendment proposed. Also, without OTA, Congress is much more reliant on very biased lobbyists, rather than a truly independent government organization.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Swiss vote overwhelmingly in FAVOR of Internet censorship in June 10 gambling referendum

      The law requiring Swiss ISPs to censor parts of the Internet, in order to prevent Swiss people from accessing foreign gambling sites and services, has been working its way through the Swiss legislature for some time. It was challenged by Switzerland’s powerful democracy, where 50,000 citizens can challenge any new law in a country-wide referendum. This is what happened to the Internet censorship law, and where you would think it would face an Internet generation who understand that you don’t meddle with the Internet lightly.

    • How Pro-Eating Disorder Posts Evade Filters on Social Media

      New research published last month in the peer-reviewed journal New Media & Society highlights how pro-ED groups continue to evade attempts at moderation. The study also found that sites like Pinterest and Instagram sometimes suggest more pro-ED content to users via their recommendation algorithms. It isn’t an isolated problem—researchers have found that recommendation engines on platforms like YouTube also suggest problematic content, like conspiracy theories. But unlike fake news, users who share pro-eating disorder content could be suffering from a serious illness like anorexia or bulimia. Companies need to weigh not just the content itself, but also the effect that removing it might have on the vulnerable people who share it.

    • ‘Censorship on r/Bitcoin’ SubReddit Offers $250,000 Reward to Fix

      Roger Ver, one of the first to invest in bitcoin startups, has recently tweeted out saying that he would “donate $250K USD to the charity of Reddit’s choice if they simply appoint mods that allow people to actually discuss Bitcoin on /r/Bitcoin”.

    • Egyptian censors succumb to ‘Karma’

      Like most big screen romantic comedies, “Karma,” Egyptian director Khaled Youssef’s latest film, has a happy ending. After a 24-hour controversy, Egypt’s General Authority for Censorship announced on June 12 that the film could be screened in cinemas during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, backpedaling from its earlier ban issued the preceding day.

      Youssef, known for tackling controversial issues in his films, took to Twitter to announce the lifting of the ban and approval to hold screenings as scheduled, beginning June 14, without scenes being cut. The director, also a member of parliament, thanked the country’s “sovereign bodies” — the legislature and the Ministry of Culture — which pushed for the ban to be rescinded.

    • Bad ‘Karma’? Egypt’s Censorship Office Fails to Ban Popular Movie

      It only took few hours before the Egyptian director of “Karma” movie, Khaled Yousef, to announce that the censorship authorities reversed their decision to ban his movie screening from cinemas during Eid. Now the authorities have reversed their decision for a special screening.

      [...]

      While the actual reasons behind the ban are not clear yet, the General Authority for Censorship announced at first that the ban resulted of the filmmakers’ failure to obtain the necessary licenses for public screenings, however, the film team discharged the allegations saying they was obtained in April.

      Some critics attributed the ban to the controversial topics introduced in the movie, some suggested the political hidden side presented and others said the main song of the movie might be the reason behind of its ban, as it includes ideas might be interpreted as opposed to the regime.

    • Petaluma High learns censorship doesn’t work

      If you want to make sure people see or hear something, ban people from seeing or hearing something. That predates the internet, as any former teenager who ever hid under the covers listening to “Louie Louie” with the volume down can surely attest.

      We are talking about a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. If censorship didn’t work then on something as inconsequential as a pop song, you can imagine how ineffective it would be now on something as important as sexual assault.

    • Community takes aim at principal after student’s mic cut during speech

      The Petaluma community took aim at a principal Tuesday night after a student’s microphone was cut during her graduation speech.

      They spoke out that the problem is not just censorship, but the school turning a blind eye to sex assault.

      “My sophomore year I was sexually assaulted at Petaluma High School in the band room,” Bailey Walston said.

    • Films that pushed the censorship envelope

      “Gone With the Wind”

    • People are accusing Disney of censoring a kiss between two female video game characters
    • Petaluma High learns censorship doesn’t work
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook accused of trying to implement ‘eye-detecting’ software
    • Facebook has patents for eye-tracking technology but says it won’t be used for now

      Facebook has more data on us than we can imagine. The app can track your location, name, friends, job and one day it could also track your eye movements.

      The social media giant could build a technology that can detect your eye movement and emotions in future.

      Facebook in a 229-word documented answers to the questions asked at the US Congress hearings denied that it is currently building any such software but it holds two patents titled “Dynamic eye tracking calibration” and the other “Techniques for emotion detection and content delivery” – for the eye-tracking and emotion detection technology.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Denies Building Eye-Tracking Software For Facebook

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied that the company is building eye-tracking software in a written document of answers to Congress. He said that if the company ever did build out the technology, it would take privacy of user into account.

      According to reports, the company holds at least two patents for detecting eye movements and emotions, , which it said “is one way that we could potentially reduce consumer friction and add security for people when they log into Oculus or access Oculus content,” but claims they are to protect their intellectual property.

    • EU Politicians Tell European Commission To Suspend Privacy Shield Data Transfer Framework

      A couple of months ago, we wrote about an important case at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the region’s highest court. The final judgment is expected to rule on whether the Privacy Shield framework for transferring EU personal data to the US is legal under EU data protection law. Many expect the CJEU to throw out Privacy Shield, which does little to address the earlier criticisms of the preceding US-EU agreement: the Safe Harbor framework, struck down by the same court in 2015. However, that’s not the only problem that Privacy Shield is facing. One of the European Parliament’s powerful committees, which helps determine policy related to civil liberties, has just issued a call to the European Commission to suspend the Privacy Shield agreement unless the US tries harder…

    • Apple Pulls Plug On Phone-Cracking Tech Vendors, Will Prevent Data Transfer From Locked Phones

      The FBI lost control of the “going dark” narrative. Part of it unraveled thanks to outside vendors. Two vendors — Cellebrite and Grayshift — announced they could crack any iPhone made. This shot holes in the FBI’s theory that locked phones stayed locked forever and thereafter were only useful for hammering legislators over the head with until they cranked out an anti-encryption law.

      The second unraveling was the FBI’s own unforced error. Supposedly it couldn’t count phones without software and the software it had couldn’t count phones. What the FBI and others claimed was 8,000 uncrackable threats to the safety of the American public was actually a little over 1,000 phones. As for the latent threat posed by these locked devices, that’s still pure speculation until the FBI starts handing over some info on what criminal acts these phones are tied to.

      The FBI will probably be looking to restart its “going dark” campaign, thanks to Apple’s latest effort, which will render Cellebrite and Grayshift’s phone cracking boxes obsolete.

    • Judge warns Reality Winner’s attorneys over supporters’ billboard

      Supporters have placed a large billboard supporting imprisoned alleged leaker Reality Winner on Washington Road in Columbia County, GA., highlighting the fact that Winner has spent a year in jail without trial or bail, all for allegedly bringing to light information obviously in the public interest. The add brings attention to a case that has largely been ignored in the US press’s incessant coverage of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

      But the judge in Winner’s case, Chief U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall, has issued an order the day after the billboard was put up, demanding attorneys follow court rules barring public statements about the case that they know could “interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice the due administration of justice.” The order threatens the attorneys with being held in contempt of court, which could mean jail or fines, or “other measures.”

      The order comes despite the fact that Reality’s attorneys had nothing to do with the billboard and have had no communications with the group that put it up.

    • The Curious Case of a Former CIA Agent Selling Intel to China

      Chinese spies first contacted Kevin Patrick Mallory on LinkedIn, hoping to lure him into providing important intelligence.

      One Chinese agent claimed to be a corporate headhunter for a firm called Darren and Associates. He then introduced Mallory to his associate, who said he was working for a Chinese think tank, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences—a common cover identity for intelligence officers in the Shanghai State Security Bureau, a sub-branch of China’s Ministry of State Security, an intelligence agency similar to the FBI and CIA combined.

    • Apple to Close iPhone Security Loophole Used by Law Enforcement

      The patch prevents an iPhone’s USB port from being used for anything but charging an hour after the device has been locked, blocking access to data, Apple said in a statement. The move is already being criticized by some in the law-enforcement community, according to the New York Times.

    • Apple Officially Closes ‘Loophole’ Cops Used To Suck Your iPhone Data

      Apple is keen on making users its priority, and therefore after banning cryptocurrency mining apps and stopping developers from selling users’ contacts to third parties, Apple has yet again taken a major step towards maintaining high privacy standards for users on their platform.

      Apple has officially banned law enforcement bodies from cracking iPhones and accessing data stored on it by closing a technical loophole which has been exploited over the years by cops.

    • The US is using police dogs to sniff out hidden flash drives

      Originally the scheme, first rolled out in Connecticut was kept quiet to add that element of surprise to any discoveries, but now with 17 so-called Electronic Storage Detection (ESD) dogs in service around the US, it is their time to shine.

      A similar experiment with two dogs is already in place in the UK.

    • These dogs sniff out cybercrime

      Halligan then introduces the animal to new distractions, such as other dogs and playtime. The ones that stay with her for the food pass the test. Out of the 100 or so dogs, only a small handful make it.

    • MEPs: Privacy Shield should be suspended in wake of Facebook data scandal

      The Committee has called on the European Commission to suspend Privacy Shield until the US complies by 1 September and to keep it suspended until it does. It added that the US authorities should act swiftly to remove certified companies that have misused personal data from the Privacy Shield list.

    • WhatsApp sharing limited data with Facebook on payment feature

      WhatsApp on its website said that when a user makes a payment, the mobile messaging app creates the necessary connection between the sender and recipient of the payment, using Facebook infrastructure.

    • No-one could have predicted …

      No-one could have predicted the threats posed by information technology to civil liberties. But my friend Robert G. Kennedy III came close. In April 1989 he wrote Technological Threats To Civil Liberties. From almost 30 years later it is an amazingly perceptive piece. Here are two samples to encourage you to read the whole thing:

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Research: Do People Really Get Promoted to Their Level of Incompetence?

      The Peter Principle problem arises when the skills that make someone successful at one job level don’t translate to success in the next level. In these cases, organizations must choose whether to reward the top performer with a promotion or to instead promote the worker that has the best skill match with a managerial position. When organizations reward success in one role with a promotion to another, the usual grumbles ensue; the best engineer doesn’t make the best engineering manager, and the best professor doesn’t make the best dean. The same problem may apply to scientists, physicians, lawyers, or in any other profession where technical aptitude doesn’t necessarily translate into managerial skill.

    • Freethinking writer and politician shot dead in Bangladesh

      These threats came in the context of several earlier attacks, sometimes fatal, on humanists and freethinkers in Bangladesh, which IHEU has reported and campaigned on extensively. As detailed in the IHEU Freedom of Thought Report chapter on Bangladesh, these attacks included in 2015 alone the murders of Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananto Bijoy Das, and Shahzahan’s friend Niloy Neel days before the threats to Shahzahan were published.

    • South Carolina Drug Warriors Routinely Serving Regular Warrants Like No-Knock Warrants

      Betton was hit several times. He didn’t die, but he doesn’t have much left in working order. He lost part of his gallbladder, colon, and rectum. His liver, pancreas and small intestine all suffered damage. His left leg was broken along with one of his vertebrae.

      The cops immediately set about justifying their extreme tactics. First, they claimed Betton fired at them, but ballistics tests showed Betton’s gun hadn’t been fired. Then they claimed he pointed a gun at them, but did not fire it. This could have easily been proven if any of the task force had bothered to activate their body cameras before breaking Betton’s door down. But the footage shows no cameras were activated until after the task force stopped firing.

      The task force used a regular search warrant, meaning the officers were supposed to knock and announce their presence. Nearly all of them said they followed these stipulations. Video from Betton’s home security camera (which can be seen at the Washington Post) caught all these officers in a lie.

    • Pennsylvania State Police Adding Oversight to Troopers’ Interactions With ICE

      By the end of this month, Pennsylvania State Police officers will be required to file a report any time they call immigration authorities to the scene of a traffic stop, detailing the circumstances behind the call, the agency said Wednesday.

      This change comes two months after ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer published an investigation about state and local police officers in Pennsylvania helping ICE round up immigrants for deportation, using tactics that raise questions about racial profiling and unlawful arrest.

      The story focused on Pennsylvania state Trooper Luke C. Macke as an extreme example. In 2017, Macke turned over at least 19 undocumented immigrants to ICE after interrogating them about their legal status and detaining them for up to four hours without a warrant.

      In response to the April investigation, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf released a statement calling for “a need for stronger uniform procedures addressing state police requests for assistance from outside agencies, including ICE, especially given the new pressure on state and local agencies from the federal government.”

      Across the U.S., cities and states have wrestled with their relationship with ICE. Some jurisdictions have explicit partnerships with the federal agency to train and deputize their officers to enforce immigration laws. Many others — including the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — have implemented restrictions against officers questioning people about their immigration status and cooperating with ICE, worried that their agencies may come under civil rights scrutiny and alienate immigrant communities.

    • Internal CIA Docs: ‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Is Torture

      Back when the existential competition between the communist USSR and the capitalist USA was reaching its fevered pitch, the CIA published a report on Communist bloc interrogation techniques — which it denounced as “police tactics which would not be condoned in a democratic country.”

      The 1956 CIA study was commissioned amid Cold War hysteria surrounding reports of the Communists’ seeming ability to “brainwash” prisoners — coaxing them to “confess” to all manner of things that were untrue.

      “The Communists,” the report’s authors explain, “do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture.’” Instead, interrogators, “in a typical legalistic manner,” use methods that allow them to conform to Communist theory which demands that “no force or torture be used in extracting information from prisoners.”

    • Alice Marie Johnson Talks About Her Life Sentence, Getting Clemency, and Her Newfound Freedom

      Johnson was one of over 3,200 people serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for a nonviolent offense.

      I first met Alice Marie Johnson in April 2013. Seeking to tell the stories of the “living dead,” or the over 3,200 people serving life sentences without parole for nonviolent offenses, I wrote to prisoners around the country. I had originally written to Alice’s cellmate, but Alice then wrote to me, and soon we were talking on the phone and emailing. Alice had been sentenced to die in prison for her role in a nonviolent drug conspiracy, her first arrest or conviction. I profiled her story in “A Living Death,” a report we published later that year, and we featured Alice in a national campaign.

      Alice and I stayed in close touch over the years. I also got to know some of the members of her close-knit family who were fighting to bring her home. When Alice’s clemency petition was denied by President Obama without explanation in the final days of his presidency, I was shocked and devastated.

      Alice’s situation seemed hopeless until a video interview she gave with Mic.com in October 2017 went viral. Kim Kardashian saw the video and asked her lawyer, Shawn Holley, what could be done. We assembled a team of lawyers to pursue clemency for Alice: Shawn, me from the ACLU, and Brittany Barnett from the Buried Alive Project. We also brought on attorney Mike Scholl to try to get a sentence reduction through the courts in Memphis. We put in months of work on the clemency case and something amazing happened. Last week, President Trump commuted Alice’s sentence, and she was released after having served almost 22 years in prison.

    • By letting Kim off on human rights, Donald Trump is selling out democracy

      The most lasting image from Donald Trump’s historic meeting with Kim Jong Un on June 12 came shortly after the first hand shake; the US president gave a thumbs-up to the young dictator, who smiled back

      Later, Trump praised Kim, calling him “very talented,” and adding that “you see the fervor” in North Koreans’ “love” for their leader. “It was my honor to meet him,” he said.

    • Say Her Name: Recognizing Police Brutality Against Black Women

      America must recognize that Black women are impacted by police violence, too.

      “Put a copy of your driver’s license, registration, and insurance on the dashboard.” That’s what I tell my guy friends when they make their 300-mile road trip for homecoming. “Stay on the sidewalk and keep out of the alley.” That’s what I tell the boys in the neighborhood as they consider a shortcut to the park.

      These are survival tactics that Black men and boys have incorporated into their everyday lives. These are precautions to take so that summer play and fall traditions are not compromised by incidents with the police. Black women — mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and partners — have offered and echoed this advice (and experienced the trauma that comes from giving this advice) for years.

      We haven’t been giving ourselves the same advice, however. And though the Black Lives Matter movement was started by three Black women, we’ve largely been left out of the national narrative on police violence. Police violence impacts Black women and other women of color just as it does Black men. So sadly, we too need survival tactics for our teen girls attending pool parties and our girlfriends eating at the Waffle House.

    • Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan’s Family Separation Denial

      These comments mark the administration’s latest attempt to paint this inhumane policy in a decent light. It’s not working.

      In an interview with the LA Times published early Monday morning, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan set out to clarify CBP’s systematic practice of separating children from their parents at the border. Rather than provide real clarification, however, McAleenan’s comments continued the trend of Trump administration officials attempting to justify this unprecedented and horrific policy by spinning the truth and, worse, by making specious claims with little to no basis in fact.

      When asked how CBP was handling family separations, McAleenan at first forcefully denied that an official policy regarding separating children from parents even exists: “We do not have a policy of administrative separation.” But, this is misleading. While the statement is technically true — the administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy does not explicitly mention family separation — in practice, it is meaningless. Prosecuting every person who crosses the border somewhere other than a port of entry necessitates criminal detention. If a person has children with her, that necessitates taking the children away. As the AP has noted, “while separating families might not be official U.S. policy, it is a direct consequence of Sessions’ zero-tolerance approach.”

    • CBP Agrees To Hand Back Almost All Of The $58,000 It Stole From A 64-Year-Old Man At A Cleveland Airport

      A 64-year-old man, an Albanian with legal US citizenship, was stripped of more than $58,000 in cash by Customs and Border Protection at Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport last year. Rustem Kazazi was headed to Albania with the cash to fix up his family’s old home and possibly buy property there. The CBP claims… well, it really claims nothing, other than its right to Kazazi’s life savings.

      CBP agents thought it was suspicious Kazazi would have so much cash on hand, despite Kazazi also carrying with him documentation of the cash’s origin. That didn’t slow the CBP’s cash-hauling efforts at all. Asset forfeiture allowed the CBP to take Kazazi’s money, say something ominous about violating federal law by not reporting the funds, and never bother charging Kazazi for all the violations the CBP claimed it spotted.

      It is illegal to take more than $10,000 in funds out of the country without reporting it. The problem is there’s nothing in airports suggesting this is the case. Literature at airports, as well as information posted at the TSA’s own website, do little to clarify what must be done if you plan to take money out of the country. Even if you do know what needs to be done, it’s almost impossible to do before boarding a flight. The funds must be reported at the time of the departure. But they must be reported to a customs office, which is rarely conveniently located on airport property and very definitely never in the terminal.

    • Sessions cites Bible to defend immigration policies resulting in family separations

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible on Thursday in defending the Trump administration’s immigration policies — especially those that result in the separation of families — directing his remarks in particular to “church friends.”
      “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful. Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families are not unusual or unjustified.”
      The Catholic Church and other religious leaders have voiced strong criticism of policies resulting in family separations and recent moves Sessions has made to restrict asylum.

    • Uber’s plans to identify drunk passengers could endanger women

      According to the patent, the AI could measure a user’s walking speed, watch for unusual typos or sense whether a phone is swaying or being held at an unusual angle. This, it suggests, could “predict user state using machine learning” and recognise “uncharacteristic user states”. In short, knowing whether you’re pissed or not.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump administration fails to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

      The ruling (PDF) by US District Judge Richard Leon went entirely in AT&T’s favor. The Department of Justice had sued AT&T to block the merger, but the judge’s ruling, pending a possible appeal, would let AT&T complete the purchase without spinning off any subsidiaries.

    • Comcast says it won’t throttle heavy internet users — for now
    • Net neutrality officially ended this week – now what?

      All may not be lost. Several US states have brought in laws enshrining the principles at a state level. The European Union introduced net neutrality laws in 2016.

    • Net neutrality is officially dead in the US (except it really isn’t)

      In reality, the changes will be difficult to fully enforce as a number of states have brought in their own federal laws which will override the FCC decision. Washington, for example, will see no difference as its law came into effect as the federal one expired. California, New York and Illinois are also set to bring in legislation, thus bringing over half the US population back under net neutrality.

      Additionally, the FCC is facing accusations that it faked a DDoS attack to strengthen its case.

    • Dems question FCC’s claim of cyberattack during net neutrality comment period

      A pair of Democratic senators are demanding answers from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a 2017 cyberattack following a media report raising questions about the agency’s official story.

      Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent FCC Chairman Ajit Pai a list of questions about an incident last year during which the agency’s comment-filing website was taken offline after the late-night comedian John Oliver urged his audience to flood it with pro-net neutrality comments.>

    • Net neutrality rules expire in the US but will it affect Indian [I]nternet users? Not for now

      For now nothing changes. In fact, the FCC decision of rolling back net neutrality norms are likely to cause an uproar in the US and because of the federal nature of that country, chances are that many states will come out with their own rules that will enforce net neutrality. And some will sue FCC. In fact, 20 states in the US have already filed a lawsuit to stop the repeal. Several states including Washington, California, Oregon and New Jersey have even enforced norms that enforce the principles of net neutrality within their borders.

    • Your [I]nternet use could change as ‘net neutrality’ ends

      However, companies are likely to drop these self-imposed restrictions; they will just wait until people aren’t paying a lot of attention, said Marc Martin, a former FCC staffer who is now chairman of communications practice at the law firm Perkins Coie. Any changes now, while the spotlight is on net neutrality, could lead to a public relations backlash.

      Companies are likely to start testing the boundaries over the next six months to a year. Expect to see more offers like AT&T’s exemption of its DirecTV Now streaming TV service from customers’ mobile data limits. Rival services like Sling TV and Netflix count video against data caps, essentially making them more expensive to watch.

  • DRM

    • Imagine a world without DRM

      For 12 years, we’ve celebrated IDAD — making, organizing, protesting, and taking action to support the demolition of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) — and 2018 is no different! This year we will continue the fight against DRM and celebrate the work of activists, artists, and technologists who create DRM-free media and technology. You can read more about past IDADs online.

    • DeUHD Beats ‘New’ AACS 2.1 UHD Blu-ray Disc Protection

      Russian company Arusoft has released a new version of its DeUHD ripping tool which bypasses AACS 2.1. The new encryption version appeared last month on the UHD Blu-ray discs of Fury and The Patriot and couldn’t be bypassed with existing tools. The new version makes it possible for pirates to rip the discs in question, which happened soon after.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Can a court decision have preclusive effect on a TTAB proceeding?

        After the Supreme Court decision in B&B Hardware, Julia Matheson and Cathy Liu of Hogan Lovells examine a case considering whether a court decision can have preclusive effect on a TTAB proceeding

        In March 2015, in a decision that prompted significant anxiety and unease among a large segment of trade mark practitioners, the US Supreme Court ruled that likelihood-of-confusion decisions from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB)…

    • Copyrights

      • Eh, too: Canadians will also suffer under the EU’s proposed copyright rules

        I appeared on CBC Radio’s national flagship news programme As It Happens last night, talking about the EU’s Article 13 proposal to use AI algorithms to spy on and judge everything posted online for potential copyright infringements.

      • How Canadians could get caught up in the EU’s proposed copyright law

        Technology reporter Cory Doctorow says Canadians should be concerned about an expansive new copyright policy that could soon be adopted in Europe.

        This policy, under Article 13, would ensure that any copyrighted content — audio, video, images, text, code, etc. — couldn’t be uploaded or shared without the proper permissions. European Parliament will vote on the new law on June 20.

      • TVAddons: Telco Bailiffs Enter Operator’s Home Over Unpaid Attorney’s Fees

        Exactly a year after Canada’s largest telecoms companies executed a warrant against TVAddons founder Adam Lackman, unwelcome visitors have again attended his home. After a court order to pay attorney’s fees of CAD$50,000 went unsettled, bailiffs representing Bell, Rogers, and Videotron turned up at Lackman’s home Wednesday in an effort to seize property.

      • Pirate Bay Co-Founder Relieved of Looming €1 Million Fine Plus €350K Damages

        Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde no longer has a looming threat of a million euros hanging over his head, the District Court in Helsinki, Finland, has ruled. In addition, the record labels have abandoned their €350,000 damages claim. The Court did order Sunde to pay several thousand euros in costs, arguing that he has some liability, but this will be appealed.

      • Canadian Music Industry Pitches ‘You Must Be A Pirate’ Tax On Smartphones

        Every electronic device capable of storing data is just another tool in the pirate’s chest. If you think your phone or mp3 player or hard drive is just something for storing data and perhaps even purchased software, movies, and music, think again. The simple fact you’ve decided to purchase any of these devices pretty much ensures content creators everywhere will go bankrupt.

        The “you must be a pirate” tax is being pitched again. The senseless fee tacked on to blank plastic discs for so many years continues to migrate to electronic devices, including the tiny chips stashed away inside smartphones. Apparently, the Canadian music industry needs something to replace the revenue stream that dried up when people stopped buying blank CDs. Michael Geist, working with documents secured through a public records request, reports the Canadian music industry is looking for a hefty payout from the government.

      • European Citizens: You Stopped ACTA, But The New Copyright Directive Is Much, Much Worse: Speak Up

        It’s understandable that people are getting fatigued from all the various attacks on the internet, but as I’ve noted recently, one of the biggest threats to our open internet is the incredibly bad Copyright Directive that is on the verge of being voted on by the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee. The Directive is horrible on many fronts, and we’ve been highlighting two key ones. First, the dangerous link tax and, second, the mandatory upload censorship filters. Each of these could have major ramifications for how the internet will function.

        Incredibly, both are driven mainly by industry animus towards Google from legacy industries that feel left behind. The link tax is the brainchild of various news publishers, while the upload filters are mainly driven by the recording industry. But, of course, what should be quite obvious at this point is that both of these ideas will only make Google stronger while severely limiting smaller competitors. Google can pay the link tax. Google has already built perhaps the most sophisticated content filtering system (which still sucks). Nearly everyone else cannot. So, these moves don’t hurt Google. They hurt all of Google’s possible competitors (including many European companies).

      • Illegal memes? Weak Safe Harbor? Unpacking the proposed EU copyright overhaul

        The most contentious element is Article 13 of the proposed directive (EU-speak for law). It seeks to make Internet services that host large amounts of user-uploaded material responsible for policing their holdings to prevent copyright infringement. Until now, companies have been able to draw on the safe harbor protection in the EU’s e-commerce law, which online services enjoy when they are “mere conduits.” The new copyright directive would withdraw that protection for any service that “optimizes” content, which includes things like promoting, tagging, curating, or sequencing a site’s contents—most major online services, in other words.

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

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

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

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

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts