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07.12.18

Links 12/7/2018: GTK+ 4.0 Plans, OpenBSD Gains Wi-Fi “Auto-Join”

Posted in News Roundup at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How developers can get involved with open source networking

    There have always been integration challenges with open source software, whether in pulling together Linux distributions or in mating program subsystems developed by geographically distributed communities. However, today we’re seeing those challenges writ large with the rise of large ecosystems of projects in areas such as networking and cloud-native computing.

    Integration was one topic of my conversation with Heather Kirksey, the VP of Community and Ecosystem Development at the Linux Foundation, recorded for the Cloudy Chat podcast. We also talked about modularity and how developers can get involved with open source networking. For the past three years, Kirksey has directed the Linux Foundation’s Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV), which is now part of the LF Networking Fund that’s working to improve collaboration and efficiency across open source networking projects.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Localization, Translation, and Machines

        Now that’s rule-based, and it’d be tedious to maintain these rules. Neural Machine Translation (NMT) has all the buzz now, and Machine Learning in general. There is plenty of research that improves how NMT systems learn about the context of the sentence they’re translating. But that’s all text.

        It’d be awesome if we could bring Software Analysis into the mix, and train NMT to localize software instead of translating fragments.

        For Firefox, could one train on English and localized DOM? For Android’s XML layout, a similar approach could work? For projects with automated screenshots, could one train on those? Is there enough software out there to successfully train a neural network?

      • New Features in Firefox Focus for iOS, Android – now also on the BlackBerry Key2

        Since the launch of Firefox Focus as a content blocker for iOS in December 2015, we’ve continuously improved the now standalone browser for Apple and Android while always being mindful of users’ requests and suggestions. We analyze app store reviews and evaluate regularly which new features make our privacy browser even more user-friendly, efficient and secure. Today’s update for iOS and Android adds functionality to further simplify accessing information on the web. And we are happy to make Focus for Android available to a new group: BlackBerry Key2 users.

      • Which email client do you prefer? [Ed: Thunderbird is probably still the best one around and it’s good that Mozilla hired people to maintain/develop it.]

        Email’s decentralized nature makes it a fundamental part of the free and open internet. And because of this, there are a ton of clients to choose from, including several great open source choices. We’ve compiled lists of some of our favorites.

  • Databases

    • Google Releases Open Source Tool That Checks Postgres Backup Integrity

      Google has released a new open-source tool for verifying PostgreSQL (Postgres) database backups.

      Enterprises using the PostgresSQL can use the tool to verify if any data corruption or data loss has occurred when backing up their database. Google is already using the tool for customers of Google Cloud SQL for Postgres. Starting this week, it is now also available as open source code.

      Brett Hesterberg, product manager at Google’s cloud unit and Alexis Guajardo, a senior software engineer at the company described the new feature as a command line tool that administrators can execute against a Postgres database.

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD gains Wi-Fi “auto-join”

      In a change which is bound to be welcomed widely, -current has gained “auto-join” for Wi-Fi networks. Peter Hessler (phessler@) has been working on this for quite some time and he wrote about it in his p2k18 hackathon report.

    • OpenBSD Finally Has The Ability To Auto-Join WiFi Networks

      Granted OpenBSD isn’t the most desktop focused BSD out there and that WiFi isn’t therefore the highest priority for this security-focused operating system, but with the latest code it can now finally auto-join WiFi networks.

  • Licensing/Legal

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Undercooked: An Expensive Push to Save Lives and Protect the Planet Falls Short

      For many decades, it was one of the globe’s most underappreciated health menaces: household pollution in developing countries, much of it smoke from cooking fires.

      The dangerous smoke — from wood, dung or charcoal fires used by 3 billion people in villages and slums across Africa, Central America and Asia — was estimated by health officials to shorten millions of lives every year. The World Health Organization in 2004 labeled household pollution, “The Killer in the Kitchen.” Women and children nearest the hearth paid the greatest price.

      If the health costs were not ominous enough, many environmental advocates worried that what was known as “biomass” cooking also had potentially grave consequences for the planet’s climate. Emissions from the fires were contributing to global warming, it was feared, and the harvesting of wood for cooking was helping to diminish forests, one of nature’s carbon-absorbing bulwarks against greenhouse gases.

    • Whose injera is it anyway?

      Injera, Ethiopia’s staple food, was invented by a Dutchman in 2003.

      That’s according to the European Patent Office, which lists the Netherlands’ Jans Roosjen as the “inventor” of teff flour and associated food products. Teff is a plant endemic to Ethiopia, and the grain is used to make the spongy fermented pancake that Ethiopians eat with their meals.

      Roosjen also has a patent for the “invention” in the United States — though he is patently not the inventor of a product that has been around for millennia.

      Ethiopians are nonplussed.

    • Around the IP blogs!

      Afro-IP picks up on a recent article in the South African Mail & Guardian claiming that the EPO has recognized a Dutchman as the inventor of Ethiopia’s ubiquitous sourdough flat bread, injera. The Mail & Guardian identified an EP patent EP1646287 for a method of processing teff flour, the key ingredient of injera. As Afro-IP points out, the patent is not directed to teff flour per se, but an improved form of teff flour, obtained by ripening the teff grains post-harvest before grinding. Given the simplicity of the method, Afro-IP is doubtful that prior to the priority date of 2003, no one in Ethiopia produced teff flour that would have fallen under the scope of the patent: Nuances of Patents and TK.

  • Security

    • A sysadmin’s guide to SELinux: 42 answers to the big questions

      Security. Hardening. Compliance. Policy. The Four Horsemen of the SysAdmin Apocalypse. In addition to our daily tasks—monitoring, backup, implementation, tuning, updating, and so forth—we are also in charge of securing our systems. Even those systems where the third-party provider tells us to disable the enhanced security. It seems like a job for Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt.

      Faced with this dilemma, some sysadmins decide to take the blue pill because they think they will never know the answer to the big question of life, the universe, and everything else. And, as we all know, that answer is 42.

    • Shutting down the BGP Hijack Factory

      It started with a lengthy email to the NANOG mailing list on 25 June 2018: independent security researcher Ronald Guilmette detailed the suspicious routing activities of a company called Bitcanal, whom he referred to as a “Hijack Factory.” In his post, Ronald detailed some of the Portuguese company’s most recent BGP hijacks and asked the question: why Bitcanal’s transit providers continue to carry its BGP hijacked routes on to the global [I]nternet?

      This email kicked off a discussion that led to a concerted effort to kick this bad actor, who has hijacked with impunity for many years, off the [I]nternet.

    • Malformed Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) Leads to Discovery of Vulnerability in IDN Libraries

      The Punycode decoder is an implementation of the algorithm described in section 6.2 of RFC 3492. As it walks the input string, the Punycode decoder fills the output array with decoded code point values. The output array itself is typed to hold unsigned 32-bit integers while the Unicode code point space fits within 21 bits. This leaves a remainder of 11 unused bits that can result in the production of invalid Unicode code points if accidentally set. The vulnerability is enabled by the lack of a sanity check to ensure decoded code points are less than the Unicode code point maximum of 0x10FFFF. As such, for offending input, unchecked decoded values are copied directly to the output array and returned to the caller.

    • GandCrab ransomware adds NSA tools for faster spreading

      “It no longer needs a C2 server (it can operate in airgapped environments, for example) and it now spreads via an SMB exploit – including on XP and Windows Server 2003 (along with modern operating systems),” Beaumont wrote in a blog post. “As far as I’m aware, this is the first ransomware true worm which spreads to XP and 2003 – you may remember much press coverage and speculation about WannaCry and XP, but the reality was the NSA SMB exploit (EternalBlue.exe) never worked against XP targets out of the box.”

    • Intel Discloses New Spectre Flaws, Pays Researchers $100K

      Intel disclosed a series of vulnerabilities on July 10, including new variants of the Spectre vulnerability the company has been dealing with since January.

      Two new Spectre variants were discovered by security researchers Vladimir Kiriansky and Carl Waldspurger, who detailed their findings in a publicly released research paper tilted, “Speculative Buffer Overflows: Attacks and Defenses.”

      “We introduce Spectre1.1, a new Spectre-v1 variant that leverages speculative stores to create speculative buffer over-flows,” the researchers wrote. “We also present Spectre 1.2 on CPUs that do not enforce read/write protections, speculative stores can overwrite read-only data and code pointers to breach sandboxes.”

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Year-old router bug exploited to steal sensitive DOD drone, tank documents

      In May, a hacker perusing vulnerable systems with the Shodan search engine found a Netgear router with a known vulnerability—and came away with the contents of a US Air Force captain’s computer. The purloined files from the captain—the officer in charge (OIC) of the 432d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s MQ-9 Reaper Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU)at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada—included export-controlled information regarding Reaper drone maintenance.

    • Security Hardening Rules

      Many users of Red Hat Insights are familiar with the security rules we create to alert them about security vulnerabilities on their system, especially concerning high-profile issues such as Spectre/Meltdown or Heartbleed. In this post, I’d like to talk about the other category of security related rules, those related to security hardening.

      In all of the products we ship, we make a concerted effort to ship thoughtful, secure default settings to minimize the amount of configuration needed to do the work you want to do. With complex packages such as Apache httpd, however, every installation will require some degree of customization before it’s ready for deployment to production, and with more complex configurations, there’s a chance that a setting or the interaction between several settings can have security implications which aren’t immediately evident. Additionally, sometimes systems are configured in a manner that aids rapid development, but those configurations aren’t suitable for production environments.

      With our hardening rules, we detect some of the most common security-related configuration issues and provide context to help you understand the represented risks, as well as recommendations on how to remediate the issues.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump’s Criticism of NATO Ignores the Real Questions

      The usual NATO summit begins and ends with U.S. and European leaders issuing platitudes about the unbreakable bonds between Western democracies. The two-day summit that began Wednesday is not the usual NATO summit. President Donald Trump came to Brussels armed with a barrage of insults and Twitter blasts against his ostensible allies.

      He gave a public tongue-lashing to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, saying it was unfair for the U.S. to pay the most for protecting Europe while Germany agreed to a new natural gas pipeline to import natural gas from Russia. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia,” Trump said. “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” But Germany turned to Russia after the Trump administration threatened sanctions on Europeans who buy Iranian natural gas. The U.S. also wants to sell more expensive natural gas to Germany.

    • A 1955 CIA Document Reported Hitler Survived World War II

      A document on the Central Intelligence Agency’s website makes an explosive, if outlandish, claim: Adolf Hitler survived World War II.

      “CIMELODY-3 [a code name] was contacted on 29 September 1955 by a trusted friend who served under his command in Europe and who is presently residing in Maracaibo,” the acting intelligence chief in Caracas, Venezuela sent to his supervisor days later, on October 3, 1955. “CIMELODY-3′s friend stated that during the latter part of September 1955, Phillip CITROEN, former German SS trooper, stated to him confidentially that Adolph HITLER is still alive.” It continued, “CITROEN commented that inasmuch as ten years have passed since the end of World War II, the Allies could no longer prosecute HITLER as a criminal of war.”

      [...]

      In the declassified memo, the photo is attached, showing an “Adolf Schrittelmayor” in Tunga, Colombia in 1954, seated next to a companion. “The person on the left is alleged to be CITROEN and the person on the right is undoubtedly the person which CITROEN claims is HITLER. The back side of the photograph contained the following data: ‘Adolf Schrittelmayor, Tunga, Colombia,1954.’”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador’s government negotiating Julian Assange’s fate with the UK

      Within the last week, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno and Foreign Minister José Valencia have issued public statements indicating that they are in negotiations with the UK government of Prime Minister Theresa May regarding the fate of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, who has spent the last six years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum in June 2012.

      The Moreno government cut off Assange’s access to the Internet in March and denied him both phone calls and visitors, outside of his attorneys, leaving him effectively under incommunicado detention with less rights than a convict.

    • Prominent whistleblowers and journalists defend Julian Assange at online vigil

      Over the weekend, dozens of public figures, including prominent whistleblowers and journalists, took part in a 36-hour international online vigil in defence of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange.

      The event was the third “Unity4J” vigil organised by independent journalist and New Zealand Internet Party leader, Suzie Dawson, since Assange’s communications were cut-off by Ecuadorian authorities at their London embassy last March.

      The vigil reflected the widespread public support for Assange, and opposition to the attempts to force him into British and US custody, where he faces possible espionage charges for exposing the war crimes and diplomatic intrigues of the major powers.

      The speakers included individuals who have been persecuted by governments for taking a courageous stand against war and authoritarianism.

      [...]

      Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, said that within the US intelligence apparatus, there was a “maniacal hatred of Julian and WikiLeaks. In their eyes they have to get him and they have to make an example of him so there won’t be any more Julian Assanges.”

      Hedges placed the attacks on WikiLeaks in the context of the broader drive to end online freedom of speech. He referenced Google’s introduction of censorship algorithms last year, which he said were aimed at reducing traffic to the World Socialist Web Site, Truthdig and other “anti-capitalist” and “anti-imperialist” web sites.

      Hedges stated that governments were using “the classic method, which is to tar WikiLeaks, or dissenters like myself, as being agents of a foreign power.” He explained: “We have the whole Russia hysteria here, which is a smokescreen and fictitious, but which the corporate media can’t spend enough time hyperventilating about. Because the elites do not want to acknowledge that it’s social inequality which they engineered which has created this loss of faith in the ruling ideology of global capitalism.”

    • CIA World Tour: Northern, Southern, and Western Europe

      As part of our ongoing project to document Central Intelligence Agency activities around the planet, we’re compiling a curated list of links to records in the CIA archives, divided by country and presidential administration. Today we’re looking at Northern, Southern, and Western Europe.

    • CIA archives outline the pre-history of the infamous OPM hack

      The plot of John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold hinges on the bureaucratic details of retirement benefits for spies. Recently uncovered documents from the Central Intelligence Agency archives show that real-world spy stories sometimes do, too.

      The documents reveal a history of bureaucratic maneuvering in the three decades before the massive breach of Office of Personnel Management computer systems in 2015.

      The OPM hack was widely seen as an embarrassment for US government cybersecurity and intelligence. But what went largely unremarked on in the media is that for decades, intelligence officials had expressed concerned about working with civilian agencies. In fact, shortly following the creation of OPM in 1979, CIA began a lengthy process of negotiation with this new civilian agency. As usual, the Agency was highly protective of any and all personnel information.

    • Nixon and Johnson Pushed the CIA to Spy on U.S. Citizens, Declassified Documents Show

      What prompted the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to spy on American citizens on U.S. soil in the 1960s—in violation of its own charter? Because two inhabitants of the White House suspected sinister foreign influence behind the decade’s growing civic unrest.

      For President Richard Nixon, the anti-war demonstrations that mired his presidency never made sense. During one conversation with his treasury secretary John Connally, he described the unrelenting protesters as “a wild orgasm of anarchists sweeping across the country like a prairie fire.”

      His confusion wasn’t entirely misplaced. More than a quarter-million Americans demonstrated against the conflict in Vietnam, a sustained and widespread effort that helped erode morale amongst servicemen overseas. It was a sharp break from the broad bipartisan support Americans had offered to the previous wars of the century.

    • How to Find Out About Hot Dogs, Puppy Names and Parking Tickets

      There are all sorts of unexpected, even fun, ways to use FOIA. WBEZ reporter Elliott Ramos found out which Chicago neighborhood had the most block parties. He requested applications for block parties from the Chicago Department of Transportation. Curious about the most popular dog names? Block Club Chicago took a look at the dogs of the Windy City, using pet application data from City Clerk’s office.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How Swiss software is helping drones survey wildlife in Namibia

      A new technique combining drones and automated image analysis is being used to help researchers count animals in Namibia’s huge nature reserves.

      The work being funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) offers a more accurate and cheaper way of counting gnu, oryx and other large mammals in areas that can be half the size of Switzerland.

  • Finance

    • Uber laid off its self-driving car safety drivers in Pittsburgh

      The company convened a meeting on July 11th to inform around 100 safety drivers — employees who ride in Uber’s self-driving vehicles and monitor their operation — that their positions would be terminated, according to the report. The drivers had been kept on the payroll even though Uber suspended its self-driving tests in North America following the deadly March 19th crash in Arizona.

    • Uber has terminated its self-driving car operators in Pittsburgh

      Uber confirmed it laid off about 100 autonomous vehicle operators in Pittsburgh and eliminated the position. The company plans to replace these jobs with about 55 “mission specialists”—specialists who are trained in both on-road and more advanced test-track operations, and who are expected to provide more technical feedback to self-driving car developers. Uber said affected operators could apply for these positions.

    • Uber HR chief resigns in racism scandal

      Liane Hornsey, Uber’s HR chief, quit Tuesday after an investigation into racial discrimination found she “systematically dismissed internal complaints” about racism there.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won New York’s 15th District Reform Party Primary Even Though She Wasn’t Running

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has scored another unexpected ballot-box victory — in an election where she wasn’t running, the New York Daily News reported. The rising democratic socialist star just won the congressional primary for the Reform Party for New York’s 15th district, beating incumbent Democrat representative José Serrano, even though neither was running for the Reform ticket. Although Ocasio-Cortez is the democratic candidate for New York’s neighboring 14th district, voters in the 15th district wrote in her name on the ballot for the Reform Party, giving her a nine-vote lead over Serrano.

    • The special relationship once enriched Britain’s politics. No longer
    • Trump’s relationship with Merkel sinks even lower

      President Trump’s relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel seemingly couldn’t get any colder.

      The two have been at odds since before his presidency began.

      Trump ripped Merkel during the campaign and didn’t shake her hand the first time she visited Washington after his inauguration.

      Merkel, who enjoyed a strong relationship with President Obama, has responded in kind. Her office released a now-famous photo after the G-7 summit in Canada earlier this year that appeared to depict her staring down Trump. For many, the photo highlighted Trump’s isolation among western leaders.

      On policies, the two are far apart.

      Trump’s “America First” agenda has meant tariffs on German exports and a hard public line on taking in immigrants and refugees. Merkel has pressed for free trade and more open borders, though she faces resistance to some of those policies at home.

    • Twitter Removes Millions Of Fake Accounts | Trump Loses 100,000 Followers

      After Whatsapp’s efforts to curb fake news, it’s Twitter turn to put the kibosh on the number of fake accounts on the platform. As reported by the New York Times, Twitter will start deactivating “tens of millions” of fake accounts from today onwards.

      The move is targeted at restoring the trust of users on the platform after a rise has been seen in the number of fake followers obtained through unfair means. Many accounts have been ‘buying’ followers to increase their influence and social status.

    • Battling Fake Accounts, Twitter to Slash Millions of Followers

      Twitter will begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers on Thursday, signaling a major new effort to restore trust on the popular but embattled platform.

      The reform takes aim at a pervasive form of social media fraud. Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.

      Twitter’s decision will have an immediate impact: Beginning on Thursday, many users, including those who have bought fake followers and any others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their follower numbers fall. While Twitter declined to provide an exact number of affected users, the company said it would strip tens of millions of questionable accounts from users’ followers. The move would reduce the total combined follower count on Twitter by about 6 percent — a substantial drop.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Well-Meaning “Internet Censorship Bill” Should Be Sent Back

      The Film and Publications Amendment Bill approved by the National Assembly in March 2018 is a classic example of good intentions gone bad.

      The draft legislation now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) should be sent back to be re-written.

      The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) believes there is a requirement for the Film and Publications Act to be redrafted for the Internet and social media age. The Act was drafted in 1996 – pre-Internet in SA – and a series of amendments over the years have done nothing to help the Board to pursue its mandate of providing information to consumers to allow them to choose the content they consume online.

    • Winthrop Incident Cited in Watchdog’s Art Censorship Report

      The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national watchdog group focused on civil liberties, is releasing a new report about art censorship on college campuses this week. The Rock Hill, S.C.-based Winthrop University is cited in the report for an incident that happened in November 2016. Outside of Tillman Hall on the school’s campus, student Samantha Valdez was one of the participants in an artist collective’s installation, hanging miniature figures from trees and adorning an existing sign for the hall reading “Tillman’s Legacy.” Benjamin Tillman, the South Carolina governor for whom the hall is named, was known for anti-African-American rhetoric and being a supporter of lynch mobs.

    • College watchdog group releases report on campus censorship

      The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education this week released a lengthy report on several decades’ worth of campus censorship, highlighting instances in which universities indulged in “the all-too-common impulse to hide upsetting artwork rather than grapple with its message.”

      The report, titled “One Man’s Vulgarity,” examines “just how far campus censors are willing to go to stifle artistic freedom instead of grappling with a work’s meaning,” the organization said in a news release.

    • In Their Decision to Abstain from Censorship, Valve Has Taken the Coward’s Way Out

      Those anxieties soon turned into a debate over the rules governing game makers and freedom of speech. While developers, the press and Steam customers were discussing the issue, Valve came up with their own solution.

    • V&A exhibition to put censorship of the arts in the spotlight

      An exhibition exploring freedom of expression in the arts has been launched to mark 50 years since state censorship of the British stage was abolished.

      Censored! Stage, Screen, Society at 50 has opened at the V&A to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Theatres Act (1968) coming into force. This heralded the end of state censorship of British theatre.

      The exhibition will examine how censorship has affected the performing arts and considers its impact on society more generally.

      The V&A said the exhibition will look at how censorship has been “adapted to govern what we see and experience in the theatre”, and will explore whether the role of the state has been replaced by other factors.

    • SA’s ‘censorship bill’ must be rewritten, ISP body says

      The Films and Publications Amendment Bill raises serious freedom-of-speech concerns and should be rewritten, the Internet Service Providers’ Association said on Thursday.

      Describing the bill as a “classic example of good intentions gone bad”, the association, which represents many of South Africa’s ISPs, said that although the draft legislation “sets out a framework for classification of online content which could be useful, this is lost in vague definitions and ill-considered attempts to expand the role of the Film and Publication Board into an Internet policeman”.

      “Problematic definitions effectively turn all South African Internet users into online content distributors, directly regulated by the Film and Publication Board,” said the association’s regulatory advisor, Dominic Cull, in a statement.

    • A FOSTA Of One’s Own: UK Parliament Members Looking To Punish Websites, Push Traffickers Underground

      Our government decided to make the internet worse, endanger the lives of sex workers, and make it harder for law enforcement to hunt down sex traffickers. And it was all done in the name of fighting sex trafficking. SESTA/FOSTA’s passage immediately contributed to all three problems upon passage, throwing sex workers under the bus along with Section 230 immunity. The upside for the government was obvious: it could now target websites and site owners, rather than sex traffickers, for grandstanding prosecutions.

      Violet Blue reports for Engadget that the UK government — no stranger to terrible laws targeting the internet — is thinking about copy-pasting FOSTA for its own use. It would also like to do all the things listed above, only without the minimal restraint of the First Amendment.

      [...]

      It will be worse in the UK where a challenge along civil liberties lines is more likely to fail. UK speech laws are a mess and it’s unlikely opponents of the proposed law will find judicial relief from UK FOSTA knockoff. The lives the law endangers are of zero concern to a majority of politicians and the platform the law is built on — ending sex trafficking — is something very few feel comfortable taking a stand against.

    • Cuba imposes more taxes and controls on private sector and increases censorship on the arts

      The Cuban government issued new measures on Monday to limit the accumulation of wealth by Cubans who own private businesses on the island. The provisions stipulate that Cubans may own only one private enterprise, and impose higher taxes and restrictions on a spectrum of self-employment endeavors, including the arts.

      The government announced that it will start issuing licenses to open new businesses — frozen since last August — but established greater controls through a package of measures intended to prevent tax evasion, limit wealth and give state institutions direct control over the so-called cuentapropismo or self-employment sector.

      The measures will not be immediately implemented. There is a 150-day waiting period to “effectively implement” the new regulations, the official Granma newspaper reported.

    • Report: IDF Censorship of Israeli Press Averages One Redaction Every Four Hours

      In the “only democracy” in the Middle East, military censors are working overtime to control the content of reporting and keep certain stories hidden from the public. According to a recent report by Israeli journalist Haggai Matar for online magazine +972, Israel’s military censor has notably increased the percentage of articles it partially or fully redacted in the Israeli press over the past year, a trend unlikely to decline as Israel prepares for potential war with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

      The report, which used government figures obtained via freedom of information request, found that over the course of the past year 271 articles were prohibited by the military censor and an additional 2,358 were partially or fully redacted. On average, Israel’s military censor made a redaction in a story once every four hours and completely censored a story an average of five times a week.

    • Apple’s China-Friendly Censorship Caused an iPhone-Crashing Bug
    • Chinese Censorship Bug Caused iPhone Crashes when Receiving Taiwan Flag Emoji
    • Chinese Censorship Run Amuck Crashes iPhones With Taiwan Flag Emoji
    • Apple’s Chinese Censorship Features Caused iPhone Crashing Bug
    • How Is Internet Censorship Affecting Chinese Culture?
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Walmart Patents Technology to Eavesdrop on Workers

      In the latest piece of evidence that we’re living squarely in a dystopia, Walmart has won a patent for technology that will allow bosses to eavesdrop on their workers. The audio surveillance technology can measure workers’ performance and listen to their conversations with customers at checkout. The “listening to the frontend” technology, as its called, might never be used—it’s one of many patents the company has applied for in recent years—but shows that company bosses are thinking about how they can use tech to monitor their workers. Walmart said in a statement: “We’re always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers, but we don’t have any further details to share on these patents at this time.” According to the patent, the surveillance system would use sensors in the cashier area to collect audio such as “beeps,” “rustling noises,” and “conversations between guests and an employee stationed at the terminal.” It would then analyze the information and use it to calculate “performance metric[s]” for the employee.

    • Facebook Gave “2-Week Special Access” To A Russian Tech Giant, Says Report

      Over a month ago, another news of Facebook giving data access to nearly 60 companies had surfaced. Among these companies, the Russian company Mail.Ru was also listed.

      Facebook told CNN that Mail.Ru developed “hundreds of Facebook apps,” out of which two apps were granted a two-week extension past the cut-off date in 2015.

    • Russian company had access to Facebook user data through apps
    • Privates on parade: fitness tracker app reveals sensitive user details
    • Polar Flow Fitness App Exposes Soldiers, Spies
    • Polar Flow app exposes location of security personal around the globe
    • Fitness App Polar Data Reveals Top Secret US Military Locations
    • The security of Polar users’ data could be comprised, in a big way
    • DARE: Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Decided Against Net Neutrality and for NSA Surveillance
    • Brett Kavanaugh’s defense of NSA phone surveillance looms as confirmation question

      Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, forcefully defended the National Security Agency’s dragnet collection of domestic call records, alarming privacy advocates who view the collection as unconstitutional.

      It’s not yet clear if Kavanaugh’s November 2015 concurrence while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will factor prominently in his confirmation proceedings. But before he was nominated, progressive and conservative advocates expressed concern.

      “I believe Judge Kavanaugh is an excellent judge, though certainly not a perfect one,” Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, told the Washington Examiner last week. “His Fourth Amendment perspective is troubling.”

      “As someone who sued the NSA over their metadata gathering as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, he and I disagree on that point, and I think a lot of liberty-minded folks are going to have that as a major concern,” said Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general.

    • European Parliament Turns Up The Pressure On US-EU Privacy Shield Data Transfer Deal A Little More

      Many stories on Techdirt seem to grind on forever, with new twists and turns constantly appearing, including unexpected developments — or small, incremental changes. The transatlantic data transfer saga has seen a bit of both. Back in 2015, the EU’s top court ruled that the existing legal framework for moving data across the Atlantic, Safe Harbor, was “invalid”. That sounds mild, but it isn’t. Safe Harbor was necessary in order for data transfers across the Atlantic to comply with EU data protection laws. A declaration that it was “invalid” meant that it could no longer be used to provide legal cover for huge numbers of commercial data flows that keep the Internet and e-commerce ticking over. The solution was to come up with a replacement, Privacy Shield, that supposedly addressed the shortcomings cited by the EU court.

      The problem is that a growing number of influential voices don’t believe that Privacy Shield does, in fact, solve the problems of the Safe Harbor deal. For example, in March last year, two leading civil liberties groups — the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch — sent a joint letter to the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and other leading members of the European Commission and Parliament, urging the EU to re-examine the Privacy Shield agreement. In December, an obscure but influential advisory group of EU data protection officials asked the US to fix problems of Privacy Shield or expect the EU’s top court to be asked to rule on its validity. In April of this year, the Irish High Court made just such a referral as a result of a complaint by the Austrian privacy expert Max Schrems. Since he was instrumental in getting Safe Harbor struck down, that’s not something to be taken lightly.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Iran, Instagram and the case of dancing teen Maedeh Hojabri

      The case of a teenage girl who is believed to have been detained after posting videos on social media showing her dancing has stirred debate in Iran.

      The controversy arose after it was reported that 18-year-old Maedeh Hojabri was arrested after sharing her dance videos – one of which was viewed close to one million times – on Instagram.

      Some of the clips showed her dancing to Persian music in her room. In others, she can be seen with no headscarf swaying to songs by popular artists such as Justin Bieber and Shakira.

    • Marvel plans to introduce first Muslim superhero into the MCU

      And it seems it could very well be with Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel, with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige revealing to the BBC that her addition to the cinematic universe is “definitely sort of in the works”.

      “Captain Marvel’s shooting right now with Brie Larson,” Feige said. “Ms. Marvel, which is another character in the comic books, the Muslim hero who is inspired by Captain Marvel, is definitely sort of in the works. We have plans for that once we’ve introduced Captain Marvel to the world.”

    • Car Crash Brexit – How the UK is set to become a second-hand dealer in EU automotive regulation

      Regulation is too often seen as inherently boring. But today tens of thousands of people owe their lives to good European regulation imposed against the wishes of the motor industry in 1998. Regulation is the anvil of life and death outcomes. It is at least as important as ownership – its consequences more widely relevant across our entire social and economic experience.

      Anthony Barnett’s article for openDemocracy – on the significance of regulation as a fourth domain of power and authority alongside the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, and how Brexit will be shaped by it – is welcome. If ‘Take back control’ was Brexit’s major selling point, then voters will learn this applies to their chances of survival in road crashes and the quality of the air they breathe. Yet, outside the Single Market, Britain will become just a follower of European Union (EU) vehicle safety and emission standards. This is the reality.

      The irony is that one of the UK’s most successful unsung achievements has been the role the British played in advancing EU consumer protection and public health. The adoption twenty years ago of new crash test standards has halved the number of car occupant deaths. This dramatic improvement in road safety is a success story of UK engagement in the Single Market led by British research and campaigners. Their actions have significantly reduced road deaths not just in the UK but across the EU.

    • Revealed: Charity watchdog probes pro-Brexit anti-NHS think tank

      The Charity Commission is examining whether the Institute of Economic Affairs has breached charity regulations on political independence, openDemocracy can reveal. The watchdog is looking at the free market think tank after concerns were brought to the commission’s attention.

      The IEA is one of the UK’s most influential think tanks. IEA representatives regularly appear on the media, advocating everything from privatising the NHS to a hard Brexit, and it has strong links with a number of Conservative ministers, including new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and health minister Matt Hancock.

      The IEA – which does not disclose its funders – is registered as an educational charity. The Charity Commission does not register charities that exist for a political purpose.

      The charity watchdog says that it will look at information provided about whether the IEA breached rules on political independence before deciding whether to take action against the think tank.

      Concerns about the IEA’s charitable status have been raised previously. Last year, the Charity Commission found that a hypothetical Conservative manifesto jointly written by the IEA and the Tax Payer’s Alliance calling for tax cuts and more privatisation breached charity guidance on political activity.

      Andrew Purkis, a former Charity Commission board member, called on the regulator to act against the IEA.

    • “Old, New, Orthodox” – CIA predicts a fragmented Europe

      Namely, the CIA sees the European continent as quite different to what it is today in the near future – divided in three parts: “new,” “old,” and “(Christian) Orthodox” – and Serbia would be a part of the third.

      At the same time, Stratfor has also predicted big changes – the strengthening of Poland and Romania through a strategic partnership with the US, the rise of Turkey as a regional power, and a decline in Germany’s influence.

      According to the CIA, by 2020, there will be a western bloc, “Old Europe,” made up of Germany, France, Austria, UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland; “New Europe” would include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Croatia – and these, mostly former Warsaw Psct countries, would now form America’s main military bastion in Europe.

    • Bob Woodruff Foundation Acquires Veterans Org Got Your 6

      delete

      The Bob Woodruff Foundation, one of the United States’ largest veterans support foundations, has acquired Got Your 6, a coalition which seeks to to empower veterans by uniting nonprofit…

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • India Approves New Net Neutrality Rules, Signs off on New Telecom Policy

      Eight months after India’s telecom regulator came out swinging heavily in favour of the principle of net neutrality, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has finally agreed to adopt the same.

      The recommendations proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in November 2017 would prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from engaging in “any form of discrimination or interference” in the treatment of online content.

      ISPs will also not be able to engage in practices such as “blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content”.

      The Telecom Commission (TC), the highest-decision making body within the DoT, on Wednesday approved the new neutrality rules, the new telecom policy and a host of other proposals that had come up for discussion.

    • India Has Agreed To Net Neutrality: A Big Win For Internet Users

      While web users in the States are still battling for open and fair Internet services, India has approved on what could be the world most progressive policy – free internet for all.

      In a major triumph for netizens across India, the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) has agreed to follow Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations regarding net neutrality rules.

    • Guidelines for Brutalist Web Design

      A website’s materials aren’t HTML tags, CSS, or JavaScript code. Rather, they are its content and the context in which it’s consumed. A website is for a visitor, using a browser, running on a computer to read, watch, listen, or perhaps to interact. A website that embraces Brutalist Web Design is raw in its focus on content, and prioritization of the website visitor.

    • Guidelines for brutalist web design

      “Raw content true to its construction” — no hinky web frameworks, no broken javascript soiling itself at the first whiff of interaction the developer didn’t design for, no dark patterns, no performance-crushing superficial cleverness, no contempt for the user: guidelines for brutalist web design.

    • UK gov wants full fibre broadband across Blighty by 2033

      Those targets might be subject to change, but they’re arguably heady ambitions all the same as full fibre broadband connections, whereby fibre cables are run directly to a building rather than rely on copper wiring to take up the slack in what’s called the ‘last mile’, are rather slim in terms of coverage and adoption.

    • Ajit Pai’s Cure For The ‘Digital Divide’ Looks Suspiciously Like A Giant Middle Finger

      FCC boss Ajit Pai likes to repeatedly proclaim that one of his top priorities while chair of the FCC is to “close the digital divide.” Pai, who clearly harbors post-FCC political aspirations, can often be found touring the nation’s least-connected states proclaiming that he’s working tirelessly to shore up broadband connectivity and competition nationwide. More often than not, Pai can be found somewhere in flyover country “highlighting how expanding high-speed internet access and closing the digital divide can create jobs and increase digital opportunity.”

      And that would be great… if he was doing anything to actually accomplish that goal.

      While Pai’s best known for ignoring the public and making shit up to dismantle net neutrality, his other policies have proven to be less sexy but just as terrible. From neutering plans to improve cable box competition to a wide variety of what are often senseless attacks on smaller competitors, most of Pai’s policies are driving up costs for the rural Americans he so breathlessly pledges fealty to.

      For example, a guy that’s actually trying to improve competition wouldn’t be taking steps to hide that lack of competition by weakening broadband availability standards. Similarly, a politician actually focused on improving broadband connectivity to rural areas wouldn’t be actively dismantling programs specifically designed to accomplish that goal.

    • FCC proposes overhaul to comment filing system

      FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a letter to Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that the commission has put in a request with the House and Senate Appropriations committees to upgrade its Electronic Comment Filing System to crack down on comments from bots, noting that the FCC “inherited” this system from the Obama administration.

    • Ajit Pai finally gets around to fighting fraud in FCC comment system

      The Federal Communications Commission is planning to overhaul its public comments system to deter fraud and abuse, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a letter to lawmakers last week.

      The FCC may institute a CAPTCHA system as part of a redesign that will “institute appropriate safeguards against abusive conduct,” Pai told Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.).

      “[T]he FCC is planning to rebuild and re-engineer ECFS [Electronic Comment Filing System] and has submitted a request to reprogram the funds necessary to undertake this project,” Pai wrote. “This reprogramming request is pending before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and we hope they will enable us to make important improvements by approving it soon.”

      The FCC comment system accepts public input on FCC proposals. The system allows anyone to comment and takes no significant steps to prevent spam or fraud.

    • FCC Retracts a Plan to Discourage Consumer Complaints

      The FCC offers two ways for people to complain about billing problems, privacy concerns, and other issues with telecom carriers. Formal complaints cost $225 to file and work a bit like court proceedings. But the commission also offers an informal complaint system, which is free.

      Critics said that the proposed change would have left the informal complaint system toothless, forcing consumers to spend the time and money of the formal review process if they wanted to the FCC to take action on their complaints.

    • Freedom and Fairness on the Web

      There is an ongoing debate about freedom and fairness on the web. I’m coming from the free and open source software community. From this perspective it’s very clear that the freedoms to use, share, and modify software are the cornerstones of sustainable software development. They create the common base on which we can all build and unleash the value of software which is said to eat the world. And the world seems to more and more agree to that.

      But how does this look like with software we don’t run ourselves, with software which is provided as a service? How does this apply to Facebook, to Google, to Salesforce, to all the others which run web services? The question of freedom becomes much more complicated there because software is not distributed so the means how free and open source software became successful don’t apply anymore.

      The scandal around data from Facebook being abused shows that there are new moral questions. The European General Data Protection Regulation has brought wide attention to the question of privacy in the context of web services. The sale of GitHub to Microsoft has stirred discussions in the open source community which relies a lot on GitHub as kind of a home for open source software. What does that mean to the freedoms of users, the freedoms of people?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Dutch telecom’s SEP assertion against Xiaomi in Beijing comes up short

      Xiaomi has prevailed at the Beijing IP Court in an SEP case brought against it by KPN. The Dutch telecom’s action was being watched by some as a test case – one of just a few we know about where a foreign firm was seeking to enforce an SEP against a Chinese company in Chinese litigation. After three years, Xiaomi has seen off the suit at first instance in what statistics say is a very pro-plaintiff venue.

    • Japan considers expanding design protection to cover wider range of designs

      Japan is considering expanding design protection beyond the definition of ‘design’ in the Design Law.

    • Interpol Leads Massive Operation Against Counterfeit Goods

      The international police agency Interpol today announced that it coordinated a massive sweep of arrests and seizures of tons of fake goods across four continents in recent months.

      According to a release, more than 645 suspects have been identified or arrested so far, and more than 1,300 inquiries are underway, across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.

    • Paris Court of Appeal refuses preliminary injunction in SPC dispute

      Court of Appeal upholds an interim order from the first instance court based on Articles 3C and 3D of the SPC Regulation and confirms the need for core inventive advance

      The Paris Court of Appeal refused to grant a preliminary injunction based on a combination product supplementary protection certificate (SPC) against a French pharmaceutical company last month.

    • Trademarks

      • USA: Cortes-Ramos v. Martin-Morales, United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, No. 16-2456, 27 June 2018

        The federal district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, erred in dismissing copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and state law claims brought by a music contestant against pop recording artist Enrique Martin-Morales (aka Ricky Martin) on the ground that the contest rules compelled arbitration of the claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled.

      • Federal Circuit expands generics – including ZERO for soft drinks

        The claimants were companies within the Dr Pepper Snapple Group which have been fighting the case for more than a decade. They asserted that ZERO is either generic for or highly descriptive of soft drinks and sports drinks which contain no calories. Therefore, disclaimers to the term should be required in registrations for the applicant’s ZERO-inclusive marks.

      • Warner Bros Presses Library to Rename ‘Harry Potter Festival’

        Following pressure from Warner Bros. lawyers, the yearly Harry Potter festival in Odense, Denmark, has changed its name. The movie studio condoned the non-profit event over the past years, but that’s no longer the case. All names and images referring to the young wizard’s movies are now off limits, which has far-reaching consequences.

    • Copyrights

      • ‘Pirate’ Kodi Boxes Breach Copyright But Seller Threatens to “Wipe Floor” With Sky

        A court in New Zealand has ruled that ‘Kodi’ boxes sold on the basis that they can receive otherwise premium channels breached both the Fair Trading and Copyright Acts. The decision was welcomed by Sky TV, which brought the case against device seller Fibre TV. In response, a spokesperson for the company threatened to “wipe the floor” with the broadcaster.

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