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06.21.18

Links 21/6/2018: Microsoft’s ‘Damage Control’ Amid Role in ICE Scandals, 11-Hour Azure Downtime (Again), GNOME 3.29.3, and More GNU/Linux Wins

Posted in News Roundup at 9:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • ONF Announces New Reference Designs

    Driving Formation of a New Supply Chain To support operators’ impending deployment of these Reference Designs, a number of tier-1 vendors have joined the efforts as ONF partners to contribute their skills, expertise and technologies to help realize the RDs. Adtran, Dell/EMC, Edgecore Networks and Juniper Networks are actively participating as supply chain partners in this reference design process. Each brings unique skills and complementary competencies, and by working together the partnership will be able to expedite the production readiness of the various solutions.

  • ADTRAN Partners with Open Networking Foundation (ONF) in Reimagined Strategic Plan
  • At C.H. Robinson, open source adoption brings iterative, fast development — almost too fast

    In 2014, C.H. Robinson, a third-party services and logistics firm, faced a roadblock: How do you remove bottlenecks in the technology development pipeline?

    Engineering teams with eight to 10 people aligned with a module or product worked to build out a functionality, such as an order management capability, according to Vanessa Adams, director, architecture and application development at C.H. Robinson. But individual teams were often held up by other product groups whose work they relied on.

    At one point, 12-15 teams were required to meet most development deliverables and milestones, Adams told CIO Dive. In an effort to minimize the number of development dependencies, C.H. Robinson began exploring the idea of allowing people to work in other product areas rather than making them wait in line in the prioritization loop and hope project timelines synced up.

    [...]

    With open source, legal departments have to approve contributions to open source projects, procurement departments have to understand there may not be a place to send an invoice and managers have to learn giving back to the open source framework on work time is part of the process. It’s a long term shift that can take months, if not years, to execute, McCullough said.

  • Kafkaesque: Instaclustr creates Kafka-as-a-Service

    Instaclustr has announced Kafka-as-a-Service in bid to provide an easier route to the real-time data streaming platform

    An open source player from the start, the e-dropping Instaclustr specifies that this release follows an ‘early access programe’ that saw a handful of Instaclustr users deploy the Kafka-as-a-Service solution to manage high volume data streams in real-time.

  • Why are so many machine learning tools open source?

    Open source and machine learning go together like peanut butter and jelly. But why? In this article, Kayla Matthews explores why many of the best machine learning tools are open source.

  • Events

    • New adventures – old challenges

      I’ve also spent a lot of time on promoting free and open source software. I’ve spoken at conferences, gone to hackathlons, spoken at the university, and arranged meetups. All this culminated in foss-north which I’ve been organizing for the past three years.

      The conclusion from all of this is that there is an opportunity to focus on this full time. How can free and open source software be leveraged in various industries? How does one actually work with this? How does licensing work? and so on. To do so, I founded my own company – koderize – a while back and from now on I’m focusing fully on it.

  • Web Browsers

    • Brave/Mozilla

      • Deterministic Firefox Builds

        As of Firefox 60, the build environment for official Firefox Linux builds switched from CentOS to Debian.

        As part of the transition, we overhauled how the build environment for Firefox is constructed. We now populate the environment from deterministic package snapshots and are much more stringent about dependencies and operations being deterministic and reproducible. The end result is that the build environment for Firefox is deterministic enough to enable Firefox itself to be built deterministically.

      • Brave Launches User Trials for Opt-In Ads That Reward Viewers

        We’ve been busy building our new Basic Attention Token (BAT) platform, which includes a new consent-based digital advertising model that benefits users, publishers, and advertisers. Our first phase started last Fall with the integration of BAT into Brave Payments, and enabled users to anonymously distribute contributions to their favorite publishers and creators.

      • Get Paid For Watching Ads: Brave Browser Announces Opt-in Trials

        Brave, the web browser which garnered a huge fan following, predominantly for its ad blocking feature, and depriving advertisers of confiscating private data by blocking trackers is in the news again. And this time, users can earn some cash.

        In a blog post, Brave announced that it will be conducting voluntary testing of their new ad model in which they will showcase at least 250 pre-packaged ads to users who will sign up for their early access version. Thus, offering a small amount of money in the form of micropayments.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • How markets coopted free software’s most powerful weapon (LibrePlanet 2018 Keynote)

      Several months ago, I gave the closing keynote address at LibrePlanet 2018. The talk was about the thing that scares me most about the future of free culture, free software, and peer production.

    • How markets plundered Free Software’s best stuff and used it to create freedom for companies, not people

      Bejamin “Mako” Hill (previously) is a free software developer, activist and academic with a long history of shrewd critical insights into the ways that free software, free culture and the wider world interact with each other.

      In his keynote address to the annual Libreplanet conference, Mako traces the history of software freedom and how it changed when it met the forces of relentless commercialization and extraction.

      Early free software advocates assumed that working on free software would be centralized and would be a kind of voluntary ideological project that would result in pay-cuts to programmers who wanted to ensure that users of programs got as much freedom as possible, and were willing to sacrifice to achieve this.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source traffic management

      Louisville is sharing what it learned from the initial project with Waze with over 60 governments around the world through the Open Government Coalition, a network of government agencies working together on open source projects.

      The Louisville open source traffic project has four components: putting the Waze data into a database that can be queried and analyzed, replacing traffic studies with data visualizations, building out an application programming interface to allow integration with existing systems, and allowing cities to create real-time and historic online maps of their data.

      Eight cities have already downloaded the city’s code to create a database of traffic data.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Hardware: Good for Your Brand, Good for Your Bottom Line

        Chip makers are starting to catch on to the advantages of open, however. SiFive has released an entirely open RISC-V development board. Its campaign on the Crowd Supply crowd-funding website very quickly raised more than $140,000 USD. The board itself is hailed as a game-changer in the world of hardware. Developments like these will ensure that it won’t be long before the hardware equivalent of LEGO’s bricks will soon be as open as the designs built using them.

      • Desktop Radio Telescope Images The WiFi Universe

        A HackRF SDR and GNU Radio form the receiver, which just captures the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) value for each point as the antenna scans.

  • Programming/Development

    • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in Rapperswil, June 2018

      A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting of the ISO C++ Standards Committee (also known as WG21) in Rapperswil, Switzerland. This was the second committee meeting in 2018; you can find my reports on preceding meetings here (March 2018, Jacksonville) and here (November 2017, Albuquerque), and earlier ones linked from those. These reports, particularly the Jacksonville one, provide useful context for this post.

      At this meeting, the committee was focused full-steam on C++20, including advancing several significant features — such as Ranges, Modules, Coroutines, and Executors — for possible inclusion in C++20, with a secondary focus on in-flight Technical Specifications such as the Parallelism TS v2, and the Reflection TS.

    • Proposal for a staged RFC process

      I consider Rust’s RFC process one of our great accomplishments, but it’s no secret that it has a few flaws. At its best, the RFC offers an opportunity for collaborative design that is really exciting to be a part of. At its worst, it can devolve into bickering without any real motion towards consensus. If you’ve not done so already, I strongly recommend reading aturon’s excellent blog posts on this topic.

      The RFC process has also evolved somewhat organically over time. What began as “just open a pull request on GitHub” has moved into a process with a number of formal and informal stages (described below). I think it’s a good time for us to take a step back and see if we can refine those stages into something that works better for everyone.

      This blog post describes a proposal that arose over some discussions at the Mo

    • C gfx library for the Linux framebuffer with parallelism support

      FBGraphics was made to produce fullscreen pixels effects easily with non-accelerated framebuffer by leveraging multi-core processors, it is a bit like a software GPU (much less complex and featured!), the initial target platform is a Raspberry PI 3B and extend to the NanoPI (and many others embedded devices), the library should just work with many others devices with a Linux framebuffer altough there is at the moment some restrictions on the supported framebuffer format (24 bits).

    • 16 blogs and newsletters to follow for DevOps practitioners

Leftovers

  • Why Ford Is Buying Detroit’s Derelict Train Station
  • Divers, underwater drone join Indonesia’s search for 192 missing in ferry disaster

    Divers and an underwater drone on Wednesday joined a fleet of rescue vessels in Indonesia’s search for at least 192 passengers missing two days after an overcrowded wooden ferry sank in one of the world’s deepest volcanic lakes in Sumatra.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Validity of Gilead’s Swiss TRUVADA® SPC confirmed but Switzerland will move away from the “infringement test” for future SPCs for combination products

      The Swiss litigation is about the validity of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Swiss SPC C00915894/01 for the combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate plus emtricitabine. The SPC was granted by the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property on 29 August 2008 based on the marketing authorization for TRUVADA®, a medication used to treat (and in some jurisdictions also to prevent) HIV/AIDS. It is a fixed-dose combination of the two antiretroviral medications tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine.

      On 3 January 2017 Mepha Pharma AG, a Swiss subsidiary of Teva, filed a revocation action against Gilead’s Swiss SPC. Mepha essentially argued that the ratio legis of the Swiss law on SPCs requires that the “infringement test”, which had been confirmed in a decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1998 (BGE 124 III 375), be set aside, and that this change of practice shall be applicable with immediate effect even for existing SPCs. Mepha was of the opinion that Swiss courts should apply EU case law and if it did, Gilead’s SPC would be invalid in light of the practice of the CJEU for combination products because the two active ingredients were not specified in the claims of the basic patent and did not correspond to the basic patent’s core inventive advance.

    • MSF Challenges Gilead Hepatitis C Patent In China

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) filed a patent challenge at the China State Intellectual Property Office today, asking for the invalidation of a Gilead patent on a hepatitis C medicine.

      In a press release, MSF explains that it requested the invalidation of a patent granted to US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences for oral hepatitis C medicine velpatasvir. According to the health advocacy group, the patent is unmerited as it involves “well-known technologies.”

      “Without access to affordable DAAs [direct-acting antivirals], people with hepatitis C in China are still forced to take an older, injected drug called interferon, which has low cure rates and causes people severe side effects, such as psychosis,” Gaëlle Krikorian, head of policy for MSF’s Access Campaign, said in the release.

    • Suppressed Study: The EPA Underestimated Dangers of Widespread Chemicals

      A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by the Trump administration because of the “public relations nightmare” it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has been quietly released online.

      The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the controversial 852-page review of health dangers from a family of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — manmade chemicals used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams — on its website this morning, and will publish a notice in the Federal Register tomorrow.

      The study upends federally accepted notions for how much of these chemicals are safe for people — recommending an exposure limit for one of the compounds that is 10 times lower than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has maintained is the safe threshold, and seven times lower for another compound. The stricter exposure thresholds are similar to those established by state health agencies in New Jersey and Michigan. All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought.

  • Security

    • Why an Infrastructure Transition is the Perfect Time to Invest in Security

      The idea behind containers has been around since the 1970s, when the technology was first used to isolate application code on Unix systems. However, the use of containers only became widespread in 2013 with the advent of Docker, and container orchestration tools like Kubernetes are even newer than that.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Millions of Streaming Devices Are Vulnerable to a Retro Web Attack

      Sitting in his Chicago apartment, two blocks from Lake Michigan, Dorsey did what anyone with a newfound hacking skill would: He tried to attack devices he owned. Instead of being blocked at every turn, though, Dorsey quickly discovered that the media streaming and smart home gadgets he used every day were vulnerable to varying degrees to DNS rebinding attacks. He could gather all sorts of data from them that he never would have expected.

    • Pros vs Joes CTF: The Evolution of Blue Teams

      Pros v Joes CTF is a CTF that holds a special place in my heart. Over the years, I’ve moved from playing in the 1st CTF as a day-of pickup player (signing up at the conference) to a Blue Team Pro, to core CTF staff. It’s been an exciting journey, and Red Teaming there is about the only role I haven’t held. (Which is somewhat ironic given that my day job is a red team lead.) As Blue teams have just formed, and I’m not currently attached to any single team, I wanted to share my thoughts on the evolution of Blue teaming in this unique CTF. In many ways, this will resemble the Blue Team player’s guide I wrote about 3 years ago, but will be based on the evolution of the game and of the industry itself. That post remains relevant, and I encourage you to read it as well.

      [...]

      It turns out that a lot of the fundamental knowledge necessary in securing a network are just basically system administration fundamentals. Understanding how the system works and how systems interact with each other provides much of the basics of information security.

      On both Windows and Linux, it is useful to understand:

      How to install & update software and operating system updates
      How to change permissions of files
      How to start and stop services
      How to set up a host-based firewall
      Basic Shell Commands
      User administration

    • 5 Best practices for protecting SAP in Linux environments
    • Does Linux need antivirus?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Military should be deployed to combat cyber attacks, new head of Army says
    • The Pentagon Expands Its Provocative Encirclement of China

      U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy in a little noticed statement on May 30.

      From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both.

      Such a name change may not sound like much, but someday you may look back and realize that it couldn’t have been more consequential or ominous. Think of it as a signal that the U.S. military is already setting the stage for eventual confrontation with China.

      If, until now, you hadn’t read about Mattis’s decision anywhere, it’s not surprising as the media gave it virtually no attention — less certainly than would have been accorded the least significant tweet Donald Trump ever dispatched. What coverage it did receive treated the name change as no more than a passing “symbolic” gesture, a Pentagon ploy to encourage India to join Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies in America’s Pacific alliance system.

    • The Persistent Myth of U.S. Precision Bombing

      Opinion polls in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that a majority of the public in both countries has a remarkably consistent belief that only about 10,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

      Estimates of deaths in Iraq actually range from 150,000 to 1.2 million. Part of the reason for the seriously misguided perception may come from a serious belief in guided weapons, according to what the government tells people about “precision” bombing. But one must ask how so many people can be killed if these weapons are so “precise,” for instance in one of “the most precise air campaigns in military history,” as a Pentagon spokesman characterized the total destruction last year of Raqqa in Syria.

      The dreadful paradox of “precision weapons” is that the more the media and the public are wrongly persuaded of the near-magical qualities of these weapons, the easier it is for U.S. military and civilian leaders to justify using them to destroy entire villages, towns and cities in country after country: Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq; Sangin and Musa Qala in Afghanistan; Sirte in Libya; Kobane and Raqqa in Syria.

    • A £1m military drone flew over a packed primary school sports day – then there was a crash

      Then the camera pans upwards to reveal at least £1m of British military hardware: a Watchkeeper drone, still in its test and development phase, flying over a packed primary school sports day attended by about 100 children and a similar number of adults.

      On the same afternoon that the drone flew over Penparc School in west Wales it – or another almost-identical Watchkeeper – crashed just a couple of miles away from the village primary, in the process narrowly missing a 17-year-old boy having his first driving lesson.

    • The US Has Conducted 550 Drone Strikes in Libya Since 2011 — More Than in Somalia, Yemen, or Pakistan

      The United States has conducted approximately 550 drone strikes in Libya since 2011, more than in Somalia, Yemen, or Pakistan, according to interviews and an analysis of open-source data by The Intercept.

      The Intercept’s reporting indicates that Libya has been among the most heavily targeted nations in terms of American remotely piloted aircraft and radically revises the number of drone strikes carried out under the Obama administration, doubling some estimates.

      During a four-month span in 2016, for example, there were approximately 300 drone strikes in Libya, according to U.S. officials. That’s seven times more than the 42 confirmed U.S. RPA attacks carried out in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan combined for all of 2016, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based nonprofit news organization. The Libya attacks have continued under the Trump administration, with the latest U.S. drone strike occurring last week about 50 miles southeast of the town of Bani Walid.

    • Study: 242 Libyan civilians killed by airstrikes since 2012
    • Seven years after Obama’s ‘worst mistake,’ Libya killing is rampant

      Years after then President Barack Obama made what he has described as his worst mistake by not adequately planning for the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya remains in chaos. In the past seven years, four nations have conducted air strikes in Libya and hundreds of civilians have died in those strikes.
      As the protests of the Arab Spring swept through Libya, Gadhafi mounted a war of attrition against his own people describing those who were protesting his rule as “rats.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pickets in Sri Lanka and India demand freedom for Julian Assange

      The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) in Sri Lanka held a successful picket in Colombo yesterday afternoon to demand Julian Assange’s freedom. In India, supporters of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) organised a demonstration at Sriperumbudur, 40 kilometres from Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Both events were live streamed via Facebook.

      Nearly 60 SEP and IYSSE members and supporters participated in the protest held in front of Colombo Fort railway station. A substantial Tamil-speaking delegation from the war-ravaged Jaffna peninsula and also plantation workers from central Sri Lanka took part.

    • The Government Sponsored Torture of Julian Assange Will be Remembered With The Shame Felt Regarding The Ill-Treatment of Alan Turing

      Outside of the sciences though, Turing is best remembered as a code-breaker who worked with the UK government during the Second World War in cracking highly sophisticated German messages that were intercepted by the Allies in The Atlantic. At the time, Turing was hailed as a hero who played an invaluable role in helping to defeat fascist Germany.

      But Turning’s hero status shifted abruptly after the Second World War when in 1952, he was prosecuted by the same state he once worked for during war time. His offence was committing homosexual acts at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom. In lieu of prison time, Turning underwent a controversial chemical castration procedure which itself led to Turing committing suicide in 1954.

    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Should Not Face Extradition to U.S. for Leaking Secrets, Says Human Rights Watch

      Six years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains in limbo. The government of Ecuador recently terminated his internet connection, and reports from his legal representatives suggest his medical situation is worsening.

      This week, on the anniversary of his arrival at the embassy in June 2012, Human Rights Watch threw its weight behind the controversial figure, saying he should not be forced to face judgment under the “antiquated” U.S. Espionage Act.

      “The U.K. has the power to resolve concerns over his isolation, health, and confinement by removing the threat of extradition for publishing newsworthy leaks,” wrote the general counsel of Human Rights Watch, Dinah PoKempner, in a blog post on Tuesday. “It should do so before another year passes.”

    • ‘Ex-CIA officer Joshua Schulte case intended to send chilling message to whistleblowers’

      Charges against an ex-CIA employee are intended to send a message to potential whistleblowers, warning them that they will have no defense when pursued by the government, the executive editor of 21st Century Wire told RT.

      Former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte is facing charges over what has been described as the largest information leak in the agency’s history.

      Prosecutors claim that he unlawfully obtained information on the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the CIA during his time at the agency. He is alleged to have provided the information to an organization for it to be disseminated.

    • Ex-CIA Worker Denies Feeding US Secrets To WikiLeak

      A New York man accused of stealing secrets while working for the Central Intelligence Agency in 2016 and feeding them to WikiLeaks pled not guilty Wednesday to charges of stealing and transmitting national defense information and asked for time to consider if he will consent to proceeding in Manhattan federal court.

    • Charges brought against CIA Vault 7 suspect

      When Schulte was arrested last year, investigators charged him with possession of child pornography, which they allege they found on his seized computer, but they didn’t charge him for the breach and disclosure at the time, even though that was the subject of the initial investigation. The appearance of child pornography charges as a pretext for detention in national security investigations is something we’ve seen before and provides an additional reason for this case to be monitored carefully.

      Several observers have noted that, whatever its merits of his case, Schulte does appear to have adopted some objectively terrible operational security practices, including uploading CIA source code (some of which did indeed appear in the Vault7 leaks) to his public GitHub page. In the light of the second massive loss of US intelligence community hacking tools in a year, questions should be asked about whether it is ever justified to hoard devastating vulnerabilities when their security and use has to be entrusted to fallible humans.

    • Vigil Held For WikiLeaks’ Assange in Ecuador’s London Embassy

      The two-hour event was held to highlight the deteriorating physical and mental health of the Australian activist, who has not left the embassy in more than five years.

      An international group of lawyers contacted the UN Human Rights Council earlier this week to express concerns that Assange’s protracted confinement is forcing him to choose between asylum and healthcare.

      “The United Kingdom shows a deliberate disregard for his medical needs by forcing him to choose between his human right to asylum and his human right to medical treatment,” said human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson. “No-one should ever have to make this choice.

      “We call upon the special rapporteur to give immediate attention to Mr Assange’s case, to plan an official visit to the Ecuador Embassy and to urge the United Kingdom to give the assurances required for him to leave the embassy to obtain the medical treatment he requires.”

      Footage of the event posted on social media showed dozens of demonstrators hoisting banners reading ‘Defend free speech’ and ‘Don’t shoot the messenger.’

    • Vigil for the health of Julian Assange to take place in London

      A vigil will take place Tuesday evening outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the health of its longstanding resident Julian Assange.

      The vigil will be held between 6 and 8 p.m. local time and will be attended by Susan Manning, mother of Chelsea Manning, along with Peter Tatchell, Vivienne Westwood and Lauri Love.

      Tuesday marks six years since WikiLeaks founder Assange first entered the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges. The charges have since been dropped, but Assange is still wanted in the UK for skipping bail in 2012. He is concerned that if he leaves the embassy the US may also seek to extradite him on espionage charges.

    • Protesters at Ecuador embassy vigil in London demand freedom for Julian Assange

      Wiesje from the Netherlands came to support Assange because he had exposed the lies of governments and the press and was now being treated “vindictively.”

      She noted how the Netherlands government was implementing laws to suppress information under the guise of “fake news.”

      The European Union, which includes the Netherlands, is voting this week on a Copyright Directive, Wiesje explained, “that installs copyright filters to censor information and restrict the sharing of links as had happened with YouTube’s changing of its algorithms. It means information will be even more concentrated in the hands of the big corporations.

      “All the governments of the European Union say they are opposed to ‘fake news’ but the real distributors of fake news are papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. In Holland, the TV we get fed is pure propaganda, a narrative of the government.”

    • The persecution of Assange is an attempt to silence mass anti-war sentiment

      The International Youth and Students for Social Equality fully supports the fight to free Julian Assange.

      This is a decisive struggle for our generation. We have grown up amid a relentless barrage of pro-war lies and falsifications by the corporate media and all the parliamentary parties.

    • ‘Refugee Is Not Forever’: Ecuador FM Vows to Review Assange’s Asylum Status

      Assange’s communications with the outside world were cut off in March after the country accused the Iraq war whistleblower of putting its good ties with London at risk. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno later ordered to remove extra security at the diplomatic mission.

    • After six years confinement: WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange in great danger

      WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange is still trapped inside Ecuador’s London embassy, cut off from all communication with the outside world, and in failing health, despite vigils and rallies held internationally this week to demand his freedom.

      Demonstrations organised on Tuesday marked the sixth anniversary of him entering the embassy. There he remains an effective political prisoner, with the British government denying him even the right to seek medical treatment.

      The protests signalled the renewal of the campaign for his defence, and underscored the enduring support for the courageous journalist and publisher among broad layers of the population.

      However, as Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Assange, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “AM” radio program yesterday, his situation has become “very difficult.”

    • Educators internationally must stand up for Julian Assange

      On behalf of the Committee For Public Education, I would like to state our opposition to the malicious and anti-democratic treatment of the courageous whistleblower Julian Assange.

      The attack on Assange is not an isolated incident, but part of a global assault on the most basic and fundamental rights of young people and the international working class.

    • Assange is being punished for exposing state secrecy and the reality of war

      I’d like to welcome all of you and commend you for taking the decision to attend this highly significant rally, all the more so because the situation facing Julian Assange, and our efforts to defend him, are being subjected to an ongoing media blackout, not only in Australia but around the world.

      At the outset, I’d like to send the warmest greetings, on behalf of everyone here today, to journalist Julian Assange and his colleagues in WikiLeaks. Our greetings also go to journalists and workers in every country who are fighting government, military-intelligence and corporate efforts to suppress their democratic rights and intimidate them into silence.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Why tipping in America is up for debate

      Tipping originated in feudal Europe. It disappeared there, though not before arriving in America in the late 1800s. Some employers took advantage of the practice to shortchange employees. The result was a two-tiered pay structure for tipped and non-tipped workers. Under federal law, tips belong to front-of-house staff, such as servers and bartenders. They earn a lower base pay than back-of-house staff, like cooks and dishwashers, with tips covering the difference. So while the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, it is $2.13 an hour for tipped workers. (Employers must fill the gap if tips fail to do so.) Seven states—Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—have ended the two-tiered system. On Tuesday, residents of Washington, DC, voted to do so as well. Michigan and New York may follow suit.

    • ‘Facebook is taking everything’: rising rents drive out Silicon Valley families

      “Facebook is taking everything we have … and giving us what? Nothing. Just pain in our lives,” said the pre-school teacher and restaurant worker, seated inside her dimly lit apartment, a mile from the company’s headquarters. “Facebook is just ruining the community.”

      The displacement of working-class and low-income Latino families in the shadow of Facebook’s behemoth campus, which is undergoing a major expansion adjacent to their homes, offers a stark illustration of California’s housing crisis and expanding income inequality. By many measures, the tech industry has in recent years exacerbated the crisis of evictions, homelessness and poverty.

    • Women in Tech Score Symbolic Wins, but Cash Is Still Hard to Come By

      EzCater, run by a woman, just raised $100 million—but it’s more an exception than the rule.

    • Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit

      His pro-Leave lobby groups raised nearly £12m – but claim they spent less than £1m during the ‘official’ Brexit campaign. So where did the rest go? Andy Wigmore says he has “no idea”

      [...]

      In total, the two groups declared that they were given £11.7 million in the first half of 2016 – with Mr Banks the main donor to both, including making loans worth £6m to Leave.EU. Yet referendum rules only required them to disclose how they spent money during the ten weeks between 15th April 2016 until the day of the vote on 23rd June. In that ‘controlled’ period, strict spending limits apply: each group was only legally allowed to spend up to £700,000.

      From 9th March until polling day, Leave.EU received donations and loans worth £9.2 million. The group claims that it only spent £693,000 of this during the ‘controlled’ campaigning period – although it has since been fined for multiple breaches of the law by the Electoral Commission, which found that Leave.EU “failed to include at least £77,380 in its spending return, thereby exceeding the spending limit”. The Commission also stated that the “unlawful overspend may have been considerably higher”, and that “it has reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences”. The Commission said it was referring Leave.EU CEO Elizabeth Bilney to the Metropolitan Police.

    • Revealed: New evidence of ‘Hard Brexit svengali’ Shanker Singham’s ‘unparalleled access’ to senior government figures

      The pace of the British government’s Brexit progress seems to be frustrating even the most enthusiastic supporters of life outside the European Union. At an event in Glasgow last week, Shanker Singham, billed by the organisers as “one of the world’s leading trade lawyers”, complained that the UK’s “lack of clarity” over Brexit was causing “confusion”.

      But what he didn’t talk about was his own role in the middle of this muddle: Singham himself has continued to enjoy unrivalled access to Brexit ministers and officials. The trade advisor, whose work for the Legatum Institute has attracted significant media attention, had repeated private meetings with the highest official in the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) according to new information released to openDemocracy.

      Singham, a former Washington lobbyist – who has been said to enjoy “unparalleled access” to senior government figures – left Legatum earlier this year to head up a new trade unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Earlier this month, the charity regulator ruled that Legatum’s Brexit work had ‘crossed the line’ and did not meet its charitable objectives.

    • The blockchain beyond bitcoin

      Blockchain technologies have been made popular by the creation of bitcoin, but how exactly can a blockchain benefit an enterprise? A blockchain provides an immutable store of facts. This model delivers significant value in the face of regulatory oversight by providing irrevocable proof that transactions occurred. Some even refer to these uses of a blockchain as enterprise resource planning (ERP) 2.0.

    • Singer Akon Unveils His Cryptocurrency “AKoin”; Wants To Develop “Real-life Wakanda”

      The popular American singer, who made rounds with his famous song “Smack That,” is in the news; it’s not for the release of some new music but for a cryptocurrency. Yes, Akon has announced a new crypto coin called ‘AKoin,’ reports Page Six.

    • Akon set to launch cryptocurrency called Akoin

      Senegal-born star Akon — whose Lighting Africa project is bringing solar power to Africa — is at Cannes Lions launching a new cryptocurrency called Akoin that will be available for sale in two weeks with hopes it will help further help the continent.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Minnesota’s Vague Ban On ‘Political’ Wear At Polling Places Shut Down By The Supreme Court

      Eight years after Minnesota’s vague ban on “political” apparel at polling places was first challenged, the Supreme Court has finally struck the ordinance down as unconstitutional. The law allowed election judges to decide whether or not someone’s t-shirt or button or whatever sent a “political” message that might somehow sway the vote.

      The law covered far more than overt messages about political parties or specific candidates. According to the state’s arguments, it could be read as covering anything possibly pertaining to referendum issues and/or issues any political candidate had expressed an opinion on. This lead to a spectacular bit of oral argument [PDF] when the state’s lawyer tried to explain what may or may not be covered by the apparel ban.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Sex workers are rallying around a congressional candidate who’s pledged to fight FOSTA
    • EU Parliamentary Committee Votes To Put American Internet Giants In Charge Of What Speech Is Allowed Online

      As we’ve been writing over the past few weeks, the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted earlier today on the EU’s new Copyright Directive. Within that directive were two absolutely horrible ideas that are dangerous to an open internet — a link tax and a mandatory copyright filtering requrement (i.e., the “censorship machines” proposal). While there was a big fight about it, and we heard that some in the EU Parliament were getting nervous about it, this morning they still voted in favor of both proposals and to move the entire Copyright Directive forward.

    • China’s anti-porn office cracks down on videos of women whispering into microphones
    • China’s Latest Censorship Crackdown Target: Videos Of Women Rubbing, Kissing And Licking Binaural Microphones

      The banned videos in China typically show people — well, nearly always young women — whispering into special high-quality binaural microphones that aim to capture audio the same way our ears hear sounds. As well as producing extremely realistic results, the microphones also allow sounds to move from one ear to the other — best experienced with headphones to enhance this effect — as if the person speaking is right next to you, and moving around very close to you.

      The women in the videos whisper, rather than speak, because it has been found to be the most effective way to produce ASMR’s characteristic “tingling” sensation. But ASMR videos also include the sounds of people licking, kissing, and rubbing the microphones in various ways — which may explain that “vulgar use of a microphone controller” the Chinese authorities want to censor. As a representative example, the Abacus News points to a two-hour long YouTube video of one of the ASMR stars in China, Xuanzi Giant 2 Rabbit

    • Commentary: How to ‘fix’ social media without censorship

      The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal may have changed the way millions of people perceive the risks to privacy when they go online. But it could have obscured an equally profound digital age debate: widespread resistance to internet companies’ role as the global speech police of the digital age. The future of free speech depends on getting this debate right.

      And yet the most influential corporations in this sphere wield extraordinary power from a distance. They develop rules, standards, and guidelines, often in Silicon Valley, to determine for people around the world the appropriate boundaries of expression. In many places, American companies provide the dominant source of news and information, having an enormous impact on public life.

    • Big Brother is watching you: the exhibition aiming to tackle surveillance and censorship

      Surveillance and censorship are becoming part and parcel of daily life around the world, and yet many citizens seem content to turn a blind eye to it. A new exhibition at Wei-Ling Gallery in Kuala Lumpur called Seen is addressing that issue. Curator Line Dalile brings together ten leading international and Malaysian artists, hoping that through documentary, photography and conceptual practice, the artwork can open people’s eyes to the modern threats encroaching on our privacy

    • China censors John Oliver after scathing 20 minute video

      Comedian John Oliver has been scrubbed from Chinese microblogging site Weibo after satirizing Chinese president Xi Jinping on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”

      HBO is part of WarnerMedia, which also operates CNN parent company Turner.

      Oliver spent 20 minutes Sunday criticizing Xi on everything from the removal of term limits, allowing him to rule for life, to China’s economic leverage.

      One of his critiques focused on censorship. “While China has never exactly been known as a haven for free expression, (Xi) has clamped down noticeably on any form of dissent whatsoever,” Oliver said, citing banned phrases online such as “personality cult.”

      True to form, Chinese censors soon wiped posts about Oliver and his show from Weibo.

      Users can still search his name, but all recent content has been deleted, leaving only posts from before June 12.

    • Media Censorship

      Access to information is the right of every citizen of Pakistan – this also includes being able to subscribe to a publication of their choice. However, there is growing censorship in the media, especially as the dates of the general elections are drawing near. One media group which is being targeted at the moment is Dawn, as confirmed in their statement that hawkers are being stopped from distributing the paper in several parts of the country. This is a gross violation of the Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees the freedom of the press unless there is a special restriction imposed in circumstances that pose a threat to the security of the state. However, that too is a legal course of action and is not initiated without due process. Prohibiting the distribution purely on the personal basis is an act against the constitution of Pakistan and must be looked into because guaranteeing a right offered by the constitution is the duty of all the institutions of the state.

      [...]

      We live in a global digital age where such blanket bans are bound to be noted and create the air of insecurity because it portrays that certain elements are trying to infringe upon the basic rights of the people of the country.

    • ACLU challenges Scott on social media censorship
    • ACLU calls on Scott to stop censoring constituents on social media
    • ACLU asks Vermont Gov. Scott to stop blocking online critics
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Court Says Probation Violations By Teen Don’t Justify On-Demand Warrantless Searches Of His Electronics

      It’s assumed (wrongly) that minors have few, if any, Constitutional rights. The error is easy to make because they’re just kids. They can’t drink, smoke, vote, or even serve their country/secure these own valuable freedoms by [checks sources] aiding in the increase of opium production in foreign countries. “Hundreds of government officials can’t be wrong!” someone is sure to exclaim, being just as wrong as the hundreds half-assedly cited in their stinging rebuttal.

      Minors do have rights. They’re subject to more limitations but they’re far from nonexistent. But that doesn’t stop prosecutors, cops, and school officials from pretending “limited” equals “zero.” A case highlighted by FourthAmendment.com shows a court pushing back against this assumption, which took the form of an overly-invasive probation condition slapped on a minor following a search of the student which uncovered a small knife, rolling papers, and a lighter.

      The incident leading to the search began when the student fell asleep during class, which is possibly one of the most ordinary things a student can do. The student admitted he had smoked marijuana the night before (also possibly one of the most normal things a high school student can do), but hadn’t smoked any that day or on school property. He was asked to consent to a search and he volunteered he had a knife in his possession. The search uncovered the rest of the “contraband.” The 15-year-old was then arrested, detained, and placed on home detention.

    • Data Localization (Nearly) Banned In EU

      The European Parliament, Council and European Commission on 19 June cut a deal on a new regulation on the free flow of non-personal data. The regulation, which is expected to pass the final votes in Parliament and Council without further issue, is a European answer to concerns over potential data localization obligations, which came into some demand following the Snowden revelations about intelligence services hoovering data from netizens.

      “Data localization restrictions are signs of protectionism for which there is no place in a single market,” EU Vice-President Andrus Ansip said after the agreement.

    • Balancing transparency and privacy as big data meets HR

      This is an exciting time for HR—the use of analytics is predictably changing the conversations and the perception around HR as a function. Most organizations are convinced of the role people analytics can play in making HR a strategic partner to the C-suite, thus firmly involved in the agenda of business transformation. While people analytics has been one of the most crucial tools to usher in this change, the unintended effect is that is has opened up a big debate about transparency vs. privacy in the workplace.

    • The California Attorney General’s Office Says It’s Finally Taking Database Abuse Seriously—But Time Will Tell

      In 2017, 22 law enforcement employees across California lost or left their jobs after abusing the computer network that grants police access to criminal histories and drivers’ records, according to new data compiled by the California Attorney General’s office. The records obtained by EFF show a total of 143 violations of database rules—the equivalent of an invasion of privacy every two and half days.

    • Victory: California Overhauls Police Database Oversight Procedures in Wake of EFF Investigations

      New Data Shows Law Enforcement Abused Network 143 Times in 2017

      San Francisco – Responding to years of investigations and pressure from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the California Attorney General’s Office has overhauled and improved its oversight of law enforcement access to a computer network containing the sensitive personal data of millions of state residents, which police abused 143 times in 2017.

      The new policies and data will be presented at a regular oversight meeting on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at the Folsom City Council Chambers.

      EFF has been investigating abuse of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (CLETS)—the computer network that connects criminal record and DMV data with local and federal agencies across the state—since 2015. Law enforcement personnel access this data more than 2.8 million times daily.

      EFF’s research found that misuse of this system was rampant. Examples include officers accessing confidential data for domestic disputes and running background checks on online dates. One particularly egregious case involved an officer who allegedly planned to hand sensitive information on witnesses to the family member of a convicted murderer.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘The Black Athlete Has Been Involved in the Political Struggle From the Beginning’

      When Colin Kaepernick wanted to join thousands of other Americans in expressing his outrage and sorrow at the killing of black people by police, the San Francisco 49er spoke with—among others—Nate Boyer, another football player for the Seattle Seahawks, who was a Green Beret. Boyer suggested that rather than sit out the national anthem, Kaepernick take a knee—the way, he said, soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, as a way to express dissent without disrespect for the military or veterans.

      That critics, including in the press, would describe Kaepernick’s gesture as a refusal to stand, an insolent refusal to act rather than an action consciously chosen, is telling; much as many people still believe Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus because her feet were tired. Like Parks, Kaepernick is in fact engaged in thoughtful, political action—in his case, the particular expression of political action that African-American athletes have engaged for decades, known informally as “the Heritage.”

      That history and its meaning in the present moment is the subject of a new book, The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America and the Politics of Patriotism, out now from Beacon Press. Our next guest is its author. Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, and sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He’s also author of, among other titles, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston and The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron. He joins us now by phone from Massachusetts.

    • How a Montana Prison Is Reforming Its Treatment of People With Disabilities

      Our criminal justice system has long struggled to accommodate persons with disabilities. So when a state prison reforms how it treats incarcerated people with disabilities, those reforms can have an immediate and vital effect. As a result of a groundbreaking settlement approved yesterday by Judge Jeremiah Lynch in our case, Langford v. Bullock, just such a set of reforms is now underway at the Montana State Prison.

      While life at Montana State Prison is certainly difficult for all prisoners, it is especially hard on those who are disabled. Deaf prisoners have been punished for failing to respond to orders to stand for count issued through an intercom they could not hear. Men with mobility impairments, many of whom are elderly due to the long sentences handed down in the state, were denied access to vocational and educational programs the prison offered on the second floor of one of its buildings and in areas that were otherwise inaccessible.

    • Trump Signed an Executive Order to End Family Separation, But It Comes at a Cost
    • Where Are We in the Fight for Dreamers?

      With immigration bills scheduled for a vote in Congress this week, here’s a recap on where DACA currently stands.

      The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program turned 6 years old last week. The future of the program, which has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and injected billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, remains uncertain.

      Last September, President Trump announced he was ending the DACA program, placing hundreds of thousands of recipients who came to this country as children at risk of deportation. Nine months and many twists and turns later, DACA recipients remain in limbo. Immigration bills scheduled for a vote this week do nothing to appropriately address the problem. In the meantime, various courts have weighed in. Below is a recap on where DACA currently stands.

    • U.S. Marine to Be Imprisoned Over Involvement With Hate Groups

      Vasillios Pistolis, a United States Marine Corps lance corporal who ProPublica and Frontline identified as a neo-Nazi and assailant during last August’s bloody white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been convicted at a court martial on charges of disobeying orders and making false statements.

      Pistolis, 19, will be imprisoned for a month, docked pay and reduced in rank to private first class, and then likely forced from the Corps, according to a USMC spokesman.

      Pistolis, a water support technician, was treated as low-level offender by military authorities, who tried him at what is known as a summary court martial, which is akin to a misdemeanor trial.

    • In Georgia, Imprisoned Deaf and Disabled People Don’t Stand a Chance

      The Georgia Department of Corrections is failing its obligations to deaf prisoners at every stage.

      In Georgia, deaf people ensnared in the criminal legal system are routinely denied sign language interpretation and other accommodations, dramatically disadvantaging them while in prison and at every stage of their criminal justice proceedings. The ACLU today filed a motion seeking a class action lawsuit on behalf of currently and formerly imprisoned deaf people in Georgia. The motion highlights gross violations of their constitutional rights.

      The criminal legal system is stacked against many of the most vulnerable Americans, including people with disabilities. At every stage — arrest, interrogation, trial, sentencing, prison, and parole — deaf people are more susceptible to going to prison more often, staying longer, suffering more, and returning to prison faster.

      Deaf people with other marginalized identities — including those who are LGBTQ and come from communities of color — fare even worse. Throughout the country, our system refuses to provide sign language interpreters and other communication access, as required by federal law. Our case against the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles — calls out these institutions for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Constitution.

    • Chaos and Cruelty for Immigrants Held in Brownsville, Texas

      In the federal courthouse in Brownsville, in the space of 75 minutes, 63 people were read their charges, asked to plead guilty or not guilty, and sentenced. Handcuffed and chained at the waist, they had to stoop to raise their right hands.

      All this for a misdemeanor: entry without inspection.

      The 63 men and women shared the same lone public defender. When they spoke, they spoke in timid whispers, nearly inaudible except to the translators. Eleven said they would happily be deported if they could be reunited with their children. The judge said it is “U.S. policy that once you are finished here, you’ll be reunited with your children.”

    • Federal Judge to Consider Independent Monitor for Illinois Child Welfare Agency

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois asked a federal judge on Wednesday to take the rare step of appointing a “special master” to resolve disputes and data requests related to statewide child welfare reforms, including providing more appropriate services for children languishing in psychiatric hospitals.

      The ACLU, which has monitored the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for decades as part of a federal court consent decree, appeared in front of U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso after writing in court documents that DCFS had repeatedly “failed to honor promises made during negotiations.”

      The most recent dispute centers on how the oft-criticized department is carrying out a reform plan. That plan calls for a total overhaul of the agency, as well as the turnover of relevant data to the ACLU and independent experts named in 2015 to aid and oversee the department’s progress.

    • Making a difference

      No, I have not gone insane. The reason for the latter is that here in Kansas, the Democrats rarely field candidates for most offices. The real action happens in the Republican primary. So if I can vote in that primary, I can have a voice in keeping the crazy out of office. It’s not much, but it’s something.

    • Ex-CIA Contractor Makes Millions Flying Immigrant Kids to Shelters

      The Trump administration has been paying an intelligence contractor millions of dollars to to fly immigrant children to shelters across the United States.

      MVM, Inc. has a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide “unaccompanied alien children (UAC) transportation services” worth $162 million, according to records reviewed by The Daily Beast. MVM’s recent job postings show it sought to hire people to escort immigrant children from the border on commercial airlines. MVM is one of a number of defense contractors cashing in on the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of locking up immigrant families.

    • Gina Haspel’s New Vision for CIA? [Ed: These Trump supporters support torture]

      After a bruising confirmation fight, one wonders if newly approved Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel will have the political support to put her own stamp on how the agency is structured and operates. Insiders note that, though she was acting director for only two months, she did little more than continue the changes made by her predecessor Mike Pompeo, who had been in charge of the agency for 15 months.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Calif. state lawmaker accuses fellow Dem of ‘gutting’ net neutrality bill

      “What happened today was outrageous,” Sen. Scott Wiener (D) said in a statement Wednesday after an Assembly committee rewrote his legislation. “These hostile amendments eviscerate the bill and leave us with a net neutrality bill in name only.”

    • California Net Neutrality Bill Was ‘Hijacked,’ Lawmaker Says

      The amended version of the bill still bans broadband providers from blocking or throttling legal content, and from creating “fast lanes.” But critics of the changes worry that they could create loopholes that would allow broadband providers to undermine net neutrality. Perhaps most important is the removal of a prohibition on broadband providers charging access fees to content providers. Depending on how courts interpreted the bill, this could create a loophole that would allow companies like Verizon or Comcast to charge companies like Facebook or Netflix additional fees to make their content available and block access to content from companies that don’t pay.

    • Corruption at the Assembly Committee Gutted California’s Net Neutrality

      In the morning before S.B. 822 was to get its first hearing in front of a California Assembly committee before the cameras were on to catch it, the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance introduced and got a vote on amendments that substantially weakened the net neutrality provisions of S.B. 822. EFF received word that was his intent and we were disappointed he would carry out such a bait and switch on behalf of AT&T and Comcast.

      Chair Miguel Santiago, along with seven other Assembly members both Republican and Democratic, voted for those amendments. Amendments proposed at 10 pm the night before the hearing. Amendments voted on before the bill was heard and before the bill’s author, State Sen. Scott Wiener, could argue against them. Amendments voted on before the witnesses and Wiener could argue for the bill as written.

      This comes after the committee chair refused a move to join S.B. 822 and S.B. 460 so that there was a single net neutrality package rather than two bills. That proposal was rejected in favor of new amendments that stripped net neutrality protections right out including provisions that banned discriminatory zero rating that hurt low income Internet users.

    • Sprint, T-Mobile to FCC: Our Job Killing, Competition Eroding Megamerger Will Create Jobs & Competition

      Americans tend to be oddly gullible when it comes to megamerger promises. Especially over in the telecom sector. Time after time we’re told that the latest major deal will provide all manner of amazing synergies, jobs and added competition. And time after time we subsequently realize that the only people that usually benefit from these deals are investors and executives. Shortly after that, we realize that the slow consolidation and steady erosion in competition results in higher rates and even worse service, something AT&T, Comcast and Charter customers are intimately familiar with after decades of M&A mania.

      And yet it’s a historical lesson we refuse to learn much of anything from.

      The latest megadeal du jour in the telecom space is Sprint and T-Mobile’s latest attempt at a $23 billion super-union. The two companies filed their formal sales pitch with the FCC this week, and you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who thinks agency head Ajit Pai and friends won’t rubber stamp the deal.

      [...]

      It’s not entirely clear why America loves to play Charlie Brown and Lucy style football when it comes to megamerger promises. Time and time again we’re promised the world, and time and time again we give companies the benefit of the doubt as they promise an ocean of synergies, jobs and competition that never actually materialize. By every indication the millennials that have bought into T-Mobile’s consumer friendly (except for opposing that whole net neutrality thing) branding schtick are about to learn their first real lesson on this front the hard way.

    • Net Neutrality And The Broken Windows Fallacy

      I’ve mentioned the idea of the broken windows fallacy — not to be confused with the long debunked broken windows theory of policing — twice in the past in reference to net neutrality, including in my recent post about what Ajit Pai should have said about repealing net neutrality. But both times I talked about it, it was kind of buried in much longer articles, and the more I think about it, the more important I think it is in understanding why Pai and his supporters are so far off in their thinking and understanding on net neutrality. What I find most perplexing about this is that people who often position themselves as doing away with overly burdensome regulations — which is a stance that Pai has staked out pretty clearly — are usually the kind of folks who talk frequently about the broken windows fallacy. And yet, here, those same folks seem to be missing it.

      As background, the broken windows fallacy comes from Frederic Bastiat, the French economist often associated with free market and libertarian thought, and it’s his clever and highly evocative way of explaining why destructive behavior — while it may generate economic activity, is not good for the economy, because it misses all of the other (often hidden) costs, including the opportunity cost of investing that money in more productive activity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Myth Of IP Incentives For All Nations – Q&A With Carlos Correa

      Dr Carlos Maria Correa, an Argentinian economist and lawyer, is globally renowned for his expertise on international trade, intellectual property, health, technology transfer, investment policy and especially their impact on developing countries. He has authored several books and academic articles and been a visiting professor at several universities. Additionally, he has consulted with many United Nations agencies, the World Bank, and other regional and international organisations and has advised several governments on intellectual property, innovation policy and public health. Correa was a member of the UK Commission on Intellectual Property, of the Commission on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health established by the World Health Assembly and of the FAO Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture.

      [...]

      Any simplification about those links may be characterized as a ‘myth’. IP protection does not necessarily lead to more innovation or trade. It may have the opposite effect, for instance, if local companies at an early stage of technological development cannot enter certain markets, they will be prevented to move through the learning curve and upgrade technologically. Historical studies show that today developed countries advanced in their industrialization processes on the basis of lack of IP protection or flexible IP regimes. The US itself provides a good example in this regard.

    • Xiaomi has spent over $1 billion on IP royalties over the past three years, IPO documents show [Ed: Microsoft among those who blackmailed it using patents because it used GNU/Linux]

      File this under: things I missed while going through Xiaomi’s 600-page IPO prospectus. An analysis at Chinese tech news portal Sina points out that the company revealed its IP licensing outlays for the past three years (hat tip to Don Merino for digging this up and sharing on LinkedIn). Here are the figures, converted to present US dollars (the original data can be found on page 447 of this document): Expense 2015 2016 2017 Royalty fees $252m $293m $533m To be specific about what’s being reported, Xiaomi describes these figures as “royalty fees paid to third-party intellectual property holders”.

    • South Korea First Country To Adopt WIPO’s AI Translation Tool [Ed: Automated translations are rubbish and not legally-binding, even if you add the "AI" buzzword to that]

      According to a press release, WIPO and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) signed a memorandum of understanding that demonstrates KIPO’s intent to integrate the AI translation tool. The signing occurred during the 23-25 May “Meeting of Intellectual Property Offices on ICT Strategies and Artificial Intelligence for IP Administration.”

      The tool, called WIPO Translate, uses advanced technology to mirror a language to another language without many words getting lost in translation.

    • WIPO Workshop Looks At Potential Impact Of Reducing Patent Fees For Universities [Ed: The highly abusive WIPO (against its own staff, too) just wants to artificially inflate the number of patents]

      The World Intellectual Property Organization’s main financial resource is from the global patent treaty it manages, allowing inventors to file international patent applications and gain protection in a large number of countries. WIPO members have been debating for some time whether universities should benefit from a fee reduction, in particular those from developing countries to encourage patent filing. A workshop held at WIPO this week pondered whether a fee reduction would lead to more patenting of inventions by universities. The answer is apparently not clear-cut.

    • Lawsuits involving Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Volvo underline growing auto sector patent focus

      A couple of recent infringement suits involving long-established car manufacturers have shown once again that patent assertion remains a looming threat in an auto industry that is undergoing some very significant changes. Late last week Jaguar Land Rover brought a case against Bentley Motors accusing the luxury carmaker of infringing one of its patents relating to its “terrain response” technologies. The patent-in-suit, RE46,828 entitled “vehicle control” is a re-issue of 7,349,776.

    • Decision finding that “Swiss claims” were affected by Spain’s Reservation to the EPC now revoked

      In July 2017, the Patents Court of Barcelona handed down a decision finding that “Swiss-type” claims were affected by the Reservation made by Spain when it ratified the European Patent Convention (“EPC”), whereby European patents, insofar as they confer protection on chemical or pharmaceutical products “as such“, shall be ineffective in Spain. In particular, the decision lifted a preliminary injunction that had been ordered “ex parte”, based on claim 16 of the patent asserted, and which read as follows:

      “Use according to claim 15, wherein the pharmaceutical composition is for treating hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia and atherosclerosis”.

      This decision caused an earthquake within Spanish patent circles for several reasons.

    • Infringement-by-manufacture requires complete — not merely substantial — manufacture

      In FastShip, LLC v. U.S., the question before the Federal Circuit was whether the infringing Littoral Combat Ships (“LCS”) were “manufactured” by the Government before the patent expiration dates. In particular, the accused LCS-3 ship model was still under construction when the asserted patents expired, but the patentee argued that it should be considered manufactured since it was substantially complete, including the key aspects of the claims at issue that had no non-infringing uses.

    • PGS Geophysical: Partial Institution and Remand

      Our timeline for theses appeals probably began with WesternGeco’s infringement lawsuit against its Norwegian competitor PGS. In the S.D.Tex. lawsuit, PGS counterclaimed alleging infringement of its U.S. Patent Nos. 6,906,981 and 6,026,059. WesternGeco then petitioned the PTO to begin Inter Partes Review Proceedings against those patents. Happy to oblige, the PTO partially instituted the IPRs and eventually cancelled a number of claims of each patent. In the midst of the appeal WesternGeco and PGS settled settled their dispute. On appeal, however, the PTO intervened to defend its decision. In its decisions, the Federal Circuit has largely affirmed, I raise a few interesting points from the decisions below.

    • When are Confidential Sales Prior Art?

      In the pending case of Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., et al., No. 17-1229 (Supreme Court 2018), the petitioner has asked the Supreme Court to offer its statement on whether Congress altered the “on sale bar” to now apply only to non-confidential sales or offers.

    • Thanks to 2016′s trade secret law and algorithmic justice, America’s courts have become AI-Kafka nightmares

      In 2014, the Alice decision made it much harder to patent software in the USA; in 2016, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, creating the first federal trade secrets statute: the result of these two developments is that software companies aggressively switched from patents to trade secrets as a means of controlling competition and limiting inspection and criticism of their products.

      This has wide-ranging effects, but the most vivid and immediate ones were on the criminal justice system, where algorithmic forensic analysis, bail assessment, and sentencing has become the norm. As a result, people facing criminal penalties are frequently told that trade secrecy means that they can’t look at the evidence against them, can’t challenge the basis for their bail, and can’t look at the calculations that went into their sentencing.

      This is absolutely unprecedented: criminal defendants have never had their rights curtailed by the trade secrecy of the technology providers who contract with the courts and police. What’s more, repeated experience tells us that the machine learning systems that accuse, convict and sentence criminal defendants are wildly imperfect, subject to racial bias (and other forms of bias), riddled with errors, and really, just the sort of thing you’d hope to be able to inspect before you were sent to prison.

    • Trademarks

      • Warner Bros. Turns Harry Potter Fan Events Into Events For The Franchise That Must Not Be Named

        It’s always a weird look for companies and IP owners to go after clear expressions of fandom from their customers. And, yet, this sort of thing is done often, with fan get-togethers or festivals regularly being threatened by the IP owners they’re fans of. Often times we hear the usual nonsense trademark law excuse that fans must be served with cease and desist letters, or sued, or else the trademark owner will lose its rights. That, as we’ve discussed repeatedly, is not true, as there are other options available to the trademark holder besides threatening fans.

      • Registering ZERO: Trademarks mean Nothing to Me

        This case stems from Royal Crown’s opposition of Coca-Cola’s attempt to register various trademarks with the term ZERO. These include, among others, SPRITE ZERO, FANTA ZERO, COKE ZERO, PIBB ZERO, and my favorite COKE ZERO ENERGY.

        [...]

        Coca-Cola argued that no disclaimer was necessary since its use of the ZERO mark was not generic and has acquired distinctiveness under Section 2(f) of the Lanham Act. The TTAB agreed with Coca-Cola and approved the marks for publication without any disclaimer.

    • Copyrights

      • Link Tax, ‘Censorship Machines’ Pass EU Committee Vote

        By far the most criticized articles by activists and other EU politicians have been Article 11 and Article 13. Article 11 refers to the so-called “link-tax,” which will require sites that link to news stories to pay the original authors.

      • MEPs ignore expert advice and vote for mass internet censorship

        The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, which mandates the mass monitoring and censorship of internet uploads. The vote comes after widespread criticism of these measures and against the advice of civil society, of leading academics and universities, of research institutions, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and even the inventors of the internet and of the world wide web.

      • EU Parliament Committee Adopts Piracy ‘Upload Filter’ Proposal

        The EU’s plans to modernize [sic] copyright law in Europe are moving ahead. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament (JURI) just adopted several proposals, including the controversial “upload filters.” Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda is disappointed but notes that the fight is not over yet.

      • EU votes for copyright law that would make [I]nternet a ‘tool for control’

        MEPs defy warnings from [I]nternet pioneers, civil liberties groups and commercial interests

      • EU takes first step in passing controversial copyright law that could ‘censor the internet’

        Both Article 11 and Article 13 were approved by the JURI committee this morning but won’t become official legislation until passed by the entire European Parliament in a plenary vote. There’s no definite timetable for when such a vote might take place, but it would likely happen sometime between December of this year and the first half of 2019.

      • ‘Disastrous’ copyright bill vote approved

        The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs voted by 15 votes to 10 to adopt Article 13 and by 13 votes to 12 to adopt Article 11.

        It will now go to the wider European Parliament to vote on in July.

      • The EU’s Terrible, Internet-Wrecking Copyright Plan Lurches Forward

        The proposal won’t officially become EU law until passed by the entire European Parliament in a plenary vote, which isn’t expected until the tail end of this year or early 2019. There’s also some potential for improvement during closed-door “trilogue negotiations” between EU legislators and member states—though this process has been derided for being entirely non-transparent.

      • Europe’s Proposed Copyright Law Could Screw Up the Whole Internet
      • Today, an EU committee voted to destroy the [I}nternet. Now what?
      • Europe advances copyright law that could filter the Internet

        The Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs voted 15-10 “to approve the controversial Article 13, which critics warn could put an end to memes, remixes and other user-generated content,” the BBC reported. The full parliament is expected to vote on the measure in July.

      • EU panel approves controversial copyright legislation

        The measure includes two controversial provisions that critics say will have a devastating effect on the [I]nternet.

        One provision includes a “link tax” that would force companies like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from news media companies before they can link to their online stories.

        Another provision, an “upload filter,” would require all online content uploaded from within the EU to be screened for copyright infringement.

      • EU votes to effectively ban memes electronically as Article 13 ‘copyright filter’ passes

        In fact, Article 13 had been removed from the original final draft of the bill, only to reappear on GDPR day – nobody knows why. Truth be told, nobody is entirely sure what the end game is here.

      • EU Copyright Reform Proposal Clears Lead Legislative Committee, To Cheers And Jeers

        The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) adopted its report on the European Commission-proposed copyright in the digital single market directive yesterday. The vote, by the lead committee vetting the proposal, sparked a continuation of the acrimonious debate that has raged for many months over several controversial provisions: The creation of a new right for online publishers and a requirement that Internet platforms monitor users’ uploads for copyright infringements. The narrow majority that approved the report by German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Axel Voss, of the European People’s Party, “suggests that the struggle is still long,” telecom consultant Innocenzo Genna blogged.

      • European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee Gives Green Light to Harmful Link Tax and Pervasive Platform Censorship

        Today, the European Parliament the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of the most harmful provisions of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

        The outcome reflects a disturbing path toward increasing control of the web to benefit powerful rights holders at the expense of the open internet, freedom of expression, and the rights of users and the public interest in the digital environment.

        The committee voted 13-12 in favor of Article 11, the provision known as the “link tax,” which grants an additional right to press publishers requiring anyone using snippets of journalistic content to first get a license or pay a fee to the publisher for its use online. Article 11 is ill-suited to address the challenges in supporting quality journalism, and it will further decrease competition and innovation in news delivery. Similar efforts have already failed miserably in Germany and Spain.

      • Think Tank: Congress Should Make Streaming Piracy a Felony

        The Free State Foundation, a think tank founded in 2006 which receives regular donations from the MPAA, is calling on Congress to tackle the threat from streaming piracy. In a new paper, FSF notes that those streaming unlicensed content to the public are currently guilty of a misdemeanor, an offense that should be upgraded to a felony if piracy is to be brought under control.

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