Software Patents Are Not Coming Back, Those Are Mere Buzzwords That Mislead and Overcome Rejections But Cannot Fool Courts

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 11:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paper rejected

Summary: The reemergence of abstract patents using trendy hype waves and buzzwords notwithstanding, there’s no evidence suggesting that courts really fall for these

AS WE last noted yesterday, patent law firms try really hard to convince people and firms to still pursue software patents, based on their misinformation. Sure, major patent offices like the EPO and USPTO may grant such patents, but that does not mean that these patents become (successfully) enforceable. Failed enforcement can cost the plaintiff a fortune (paying the defendant’s legal bills as well). Nowadays, patents can also be invalidated outside the courts, owing to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) which receive affirmations from the Federal Circuit.

“Some applicants are using buzzwords to patent software, but these patents are still not honoured by courts and Iancu hasn’t changed this.”Hours ago Watchtroll published yet another attack (among many attacks) on PTAB’s credibility; these people are simply afraid of PTAB, knowing that PTAB is voiding thousands of software patents. Hours ago another site of patent maximalists published this “Guest Post” (advertisement/advocacy) from Richard P. Beem, falsely claiming that “[s]oftware patents and applications are making a quiet comeback under Director Andrei Iancu’s leadership of the U.S.”

This is totally false; it’s what some call “fake news” because there’s no evidence backing it. Some applicants are using buzzwords to patent software, but these patents are still not honoured by courts and Iancu hasn’t changed this. He does not control the courts. From Beem’s post:

In the hands of reductionists, the Alice formula for rejection/invalidation was easy to apply. Every invention can be reduced to an abstract idea. Whatever is left can be explained away as “routine” or “conventional.” In the last four years, many software patent applications suffered repeated rejection and the ignoble death of abandonment for lack of will or lack of funds. Even when granted, many software patents were mowed down in inter partes review (IPR) in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Yes, this has not actually changed. Iancu cherry-picked some court cases, resulting (at best) in some negligible changes.

We understand that patent law firms are desperate to sell their ‘products’ and ‘services’ (such as lawsuits), but lying to prospective clients only harms their cause. Clients don’t appreciate poor advice. In the remainder of this post we shall present our observations from this past week, showing that the only resurgence — if it can be called that at all — is that of buzzwords.

“PTAB keeps breaking new records every year (e.g. number of filings, even in spite of soon-to-be-repeated fee hikes) and its invalidation rates are very high, some might say extremely high.”
PTAB has not relented. PTAB keeps breaking new records every year (e.g. number of filings, even in spite of soon-to-be-repeated fee hikes) and its invalidation rates are very high, some might say extremely high. Not only for Section 101, either. Earlier this month a technical attorney, Peter Keros, wrote about Sections 102 and 103 (prior art) in relation to a case which was mentioned here before. What’s exceptional about this case is that the Federal Circuit did not agree with PTAB, which is rare. To quote:

The Court disagreed with the PTAB, noting that while Perrodin discloses an embodiment that “happened to result in continuity,” “[n]othing about Perrodin’s algorithm required contiguity.” In re Facebookat *5. Perrodin disclosed another embodiment in which resizing one image element resulted in a grid that lacked images in one or more spaces in the grid, i.e., the image elements were not contiguous in the grid. Perrodin’s algorithm allowed noncontiguous image elements in the grid, so “Perrodin could not have disclosed the ‘rule requiring the image elements to be contiguous’” as recited in claim 1. Id.at *6. The Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s decision and remanded for further proceedings.

This case isn’t about Section 101. It’s quite rare and unusual for CAFC judges to disagree with PTAB on Section 101. Berkheimer was the only memorable exception.

A few days ago Suzanne Monyak wrote about another case of patents perishing at PTAB because Nomadix was foolish enough to think that trivial patents have merit. This one was obvious:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board on Wednesday refused to revive claims from a Canadian hotel entertainment company that two patents owned by network device maker Nomadix Inc. are invalid as obvious.

In a pair of decisions, the PTAB denied Guest-Tek Interactive Entertainment Ltd.’s request to rehear its challenges to Nomadix’s computer network systems patents, after the PTAB granted review of the patents, and then expunged that decision and denied review 10 days later.

On a move which was covered a lot earlier month (PTAB and Ex Parte Jung) Christopher Francis wrote: “This case nonetheless raised an interesting discussion of SuperGuide Corp. v. DirecTv Enters., Inc., 358 F.3d 870 (Fed. Cir. 2004), which interpreted language in the form of “at least one of A and B” to mean at least one of A and at least one of B, as well as the line of subsequent cases discussed in the Jungdecision that distinguish SuperGuide.”

“It’s quite rare and unusual for CAFC judges to disagree with PTAB on Section 101.”This isn’t about Section 101, but it shows PTAB on top of its agenda.

For new examples involving Section 101, see what the patent maximalist Charles Bieneman wrote some days ago. When even the Eastern District of Texas accepts that software patents are bunk and someone like Bieneman accepts this decision it’s pretty clear that hope for such patents is irrational and chances of withstanding a court’s scrutiny (even in Eastern Texas) are slim. The Federal Circuit, upon appeal, agrees:

In a one-line order under its Rule 36, the Federal Circuit has affirmed a decision of Judge Schroeder in the Eastern District of Texas granted a Rule12(b)(6) motion to dismiss claims of patent infringement where claims were directed to “adjusting the number of devices allowed to use a digital product (e.g., software) under a license.” Uniloc, USA, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 2017-2051 (Fed. Cir., Aug. 9, 2018). The district court decision finding claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,566,960 patent-ineligible under the Alice/Mayo test and 35 U.S.C. § 101 is discussed in this post.

Charles Bieneman separately acknowledged that at the Federal Circuit not even a Microsoft patent case can salvage software parents. This time too it’s the Eastern District of Texas backed by the higher court:

The Federal Circuit has affirmed a summary judgment from the Eastern District of Texas holding that claims directed to indexing and accessing information in large databases are patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test. BSG Tech LLC v. BuySeasons, Inc.,No. 2017-1980 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2018) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Hughes, joined by Judges Reyna and Wallach). The patents at issue, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,035,294,6,243,699, and 6,195,652, “have substantially overlapping specifications and are directed to a ‘self-evolving generic index’ for organizing information stored in a database.”

Texan judges too are starting to ‘get’ it. As Karen Kidd put it, the “Federal Circuit affirms Texas judge’s ruling that database patents failed Alice/Mayo test” (Section 101). To quote:

Three indexing software patents allegedly infringed by a Wisconsin-based party supply company are invalid because they only contain abstract ideas, a federal appeals court ruled in an East Texas case earlier this month.

The patents failed both steps in the so-called “Alice/Mayo” test, the industry standard for analyzing inventions under Section 101 of U.S. code, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a decision handed down Aug. 15.

“If a claimed invention only performs an abstract idea on a generic computer, the invention is directed to an abstract idea at step one,” the appeals court decision said. “…We must, therefore, consider whether the focus of the claims is on a specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities or, instead, on a process that qualifies as an abstract idea for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.”

The Federal Circuit agreed with an earlier ruling by a Judge Robert W. Schroeder III of the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas, who granted summary judgment in BSG Tech LLC v. BuySeasons Inc. after finding that plaintiffs’ allegations were directed to abstract ideas rather than patentable inventions. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district judge’s ruling, affirming that none of the patent claims were eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

So just because the USPTO grants some software patents doesn’t mean they’ll be honoured by courts, not even in Texas (not anymore).

“In 1990,” an article said some days ago, “software accounted for just 5% of patents filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In 2015, that number reached 40%.”

“So just because the USPTO grants some software patents doesn’t mean they’ll be honoured by courts, not even in Texas (not anymore).”That’s the hallmark of a bubble; and that bubble is nowadays bursting. That’s really bad for the USPTO’s reputation because all these software patents that it granted for a number of decades are now bunk, worthless. The worst it can do it continue to grant these.

We’ve been carefully watching patent news over the past week, with particular focus on software patents. We are still seeing many such patents being granted despite the above trends (in courts). Odessa American, for instance, said that “Princeton Identity Receives Three New Patents for Iris Recognition Technology”. Citizentribune and other sites soon published the same thing [1, 2]. These are just software patents again. Computer vision is just software, maths. I know this because it is my field of research, which I practiced for about a decade. Can the examiners at the USPTO not see this (pun intended)? Computer vision (not processing but analysis) tasks are just algorithms.

“That’s the hallmark of a bubble; and that bubble is nowadays bursting. That’s really bad for the USPTO’s reputation because all these software patents that it granted for a number of decades are now bunk, worthless. The worst it can do it continue to grant these.”At around the same time/day we saw this new article claiming “worldwide patented software system for driver recognition.”

These are software patents and hence bunk patents except perhaps in China. SIPO is just about the only major patent office that formally accepts software patents; Software patents are not allowed in India and the rest of IP5 (China is the only exception). An article by Stuti Sinha (Khurana and Khurana) would have us believe otherwise because, quite frankly as usual, patent law firms lie or at best embellish on such matters. Citing an Amdocs case (35 U.S.C. § 101), Sinha talks about “Surviving The Clouds Of Alice Rejections” (the term “surviving” is a loaded one, insinuating that patent invalidation is the moral equivalent of manslaughter). To quote:

The Patent Statute of the US defines patentable subject matter as ‘any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter’ and any improvements. But patent cannot be granted for laws of nature, natural phenomena or abstract ideas. On June 2014, the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank sent software patents down the rabbit hole. Essentially, the Court ruled that ‘implementing the abstract idea’ on a computer does not make it patentable. To determine whether claims are patent eligible or not, the Supreme Court gave a two-part test- In step 1, the Court has to determine whether the claims are directed to an abstract idea or not; Step two- If the claims are directed to an abstract idea, then the Court determines whether the claims include elements showing an inventive concept that transforms the idea into patent- eligible invention. Within two years of the decision, more than 8400 applications got abandoned while 60,000+ applications got rejected due to the decision. The ambiguity and uncertainty still reigns for both the patent owners and the defendants, making it difficult to navigate the eligibility issue.4

Amidst the rejection of software patents, there have been some decisions where the claims of the patents overcame the 35 U.S.C. § 101 challenge under the Alice Decision, giving us a hope that even this tunnel of uncertainty can reach an end.

Hope for who? Who’s “us”? Patent lawyers? Patent trolls? Besides, these people merely cherry-pick outcomes that favour their agenda while mostly ignoring the rest (the vast majority).

“…these people merely cherry-pick outcomes that favour their agenda while mostly ignoring the rest (the vast majority).”A few days ago Peter Leung (Bloomberg Law) wrote about Genedics’ US patent numbers 8,319,773, 8,477,098, 8,730,165, 8,902,225, 9,110,563, and 9,335,890. Genedics is like a patent troll (last mentioned here back in March). Leung asserted that “Vagueness of 3D Interface Patents May Have Saved Them, For Now…”

Using buzzwords and hype (trendiness) to make abstract patents look as though they’re valid even when they’re not isn’t too novel a trick. Quoting Leung:

A California-based company that makes augmented reality headsets lost its bid to knock out a patent infringement suit related to 3D user interfaces.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware Aug. 21 rejected Meta Co.’s arguments that six patents owned by Genedics LLC, a Massachusetts-based patent licensing company, are ineligible for patent protection because they cover abstract ideas without an inventive concept.

The decision shows some of the difficulties courts face when determining whether a patent covers eligible subject matter.

The Federal Circuit can overturn such decisions, as it often does.

“Iancu isn’t bringing software patents back. Iancu just strives to lower patent quality, thereby reducing confidence in US patents even further and in the process devaluing the whole.”To give some more blatant misuses of hype and buzz, here we have Intuit trying to set up patent traps to ensure its competition cannot develop (without risk of litigation). These are bunk software patents — one of which we mentioned before (Intuit has worried the cryptocurrency community with this patent). Microsoft too wants a monopoly on something evil: ‘Trusted’ Computing in relation to blockchains. As a cryptocurrency-centric site put it:

Two new patents from Microsoft reveal that the tech giant is looking to bolster its blockchain solutions with the use of trusted execution environments (TEEs), according to two filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) August 9.

Both applications outline how the use of TEEs could further improve security within a consortium blockchain network, which requires that specific nodes are endorsed to act as validator nodes (VNs) on the blockchain.

Those are patent applications on abstract ideas. Clearly! Will examiners see that? Also on the subject of cryptocurrency and blockchains, days ago there was a lot of press coverage such as [1, 2, 3, 4] (dozens more). The Bank of America continues to assemble a patent thicket around its perceived threat/competition:

The U.S.’s second-largest bank, Bank of America (BofA), has applied for another blockchain patent on the development of a secure crypto storage system, according to a patent document published by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) August 23.

The patent, entitled “Block Chain Encryption Tags,” describes a system of recording and storing cryptocurrency-related transactions that are handled by enterprises. In short, the invention offers a system of data security for blockchain networks by implementing encryption and linking data units to the blocks of a certain blockchain.

In the patent document filed on April 18, 2018, the North Carolina-based bank introduced a system that includes a device with a processor that first receives a set of data elements, and then acquires an encryption key prior to encrypting the elements within the first block on a blockchain.

Why are patents like these ever being granted? Why does the USPTO openly promote blockchain patents? When will courts finally have the opportunity to tackle such patents and make it clear that adding “blockchains” to software does not make that software any less abstract? Adding words like “cloud”, “AI” and “IoT” to patents is no magic recipe, unless the principal goal is to fool examiners rather than manipulate judges.

Iancu isn’t bringing software patents back. Iancu just strives to lower patent quality, thereby reducing confidence in US patents even further and in the process devaluing the whole.

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is Not Changing US Patent Scope, But Cases Such as Ariosa v Illumina Are Interesting Nonetheless

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 9:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Major reforms reinforced by SCOTUS (e.g. Alice against software patents, TC Heartland against patent trolls, Oil States in favour of mass invalidations on the cheap) are unchanged for the foreseeable future; we take stock of what’s coming next…

THE USPTO is not above the law. In fact, law is very much in the hands of US courts, such as the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court, SCOTUS. Examiners at the USPTO receive guidelines, based on courts’ rulings — essentially rules by which to assess and judge patents/patent applications. They are not judges in the legal sense, but they judge applications and decide whether to award a patent.

“It is worth noting that none of these cases can impact patent scope, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), or the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).”The difference between judgments and assessments (or a court ruling and examination) is profound; it’s important to distinguish between those two things because patent lawyers certainly conflate whenever it suits them, as we last noted yesterday. We shall revisit this subject again in a few hours.

A few days ago Alex Moss from the EFF (together with the R Street Initiative, which is typical) wrote about Ariosa v Illumina, which is an upcoming SCOTUS case concerning novelty. To quote:

There is room to debate what makes an invention patentable, but one thing should be uncontroversial: patentable inventions should actually be new. That’s what EFF and the R Street Initiative told the Supreme Court this week in an amicus brief urging it to grant certiorari and reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision in Ariosa v. Illumina [PDF]. We explained that the Federal Circuit’s decision is wrong on the law and bad for innovation, access to knowledge, and the patent system.

In Ariosa, the Federal Circuit departed from more than a century of case law to uphold a patent that claimed an “invention” that someone else had already described in a published patent application. According to the court, the description didn’t qualify as material that could invalidate the patent being challenged because it did not appear in the “claims”—the section specifying the legal boundaries of the applicant’s rights – but rather in the section of the patent application describing the nature and operation of the applicant’s work.

This case is not about patent scope (the aspect most cherished by us), but it’s still important. Watchtroll is meanwhile writing about amicus briefs striving to influence other cases dealt with by SCOTUS — something which we doubt will happen for several reasons outlined before.

It is worth noting that none of these cases can impact patent scope, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), or the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). “The Supreme Court Should Say No to Patents That Take Old Ideas Away from the Public,” the EFF said, so it’s mostly about prior art. The latter is about medicine and it says that “the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., on appeal from the Federal Circuit. The case will ask the Supreme Court to decide whether an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party that is obligated to keep the invention confidential qualifies as prior art for purposes of determining the patentability of the invention under the terms of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).”

So this too deals with prior art. Hatch-Waxman ANDA is nowadays back in the headlines and 6 days ago at Watchtroll Theodore Chiacchio remarked on the Federal Circuit in relation to Hatch-Waxman:

When conducting an obviousness analysis, courts examine the scope and content of the prior art; the differences between the patent claims at issue and the prior art; the level of ordinary skill in the art; and relevant secondary considerations that may shed further light on the inquiry. Graham v. John Deere Co. Of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1 17-18 (1966). One such so-called secondary consideration is the degree to which one or more commercial embodiments of the claimed invention has enjoyed success in the marketplace. Id. The rationale behind taking into account commercial success is, to the extent the claimed invention has been commercially successful (as reflected, for example, by strong sales and profits, gains in market share, and meeting and exceeding sales projections), the associated market demand would have led to development and marketing of the claimed invention sooner if the subject matter was in fact obvious (or so the thinking goes). Merck & Co., Inc. v. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc., 395 F.3d 1364, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

In order to establish that the commercial success factor supports a non-obviousness finding, the patentee must establish that a connection (or nexus) exists between the novel aspects of the patent claim(s) and the alleged commercial success. Id.; WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., 889 F.3d 1308, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2018). In other words, the patentee must show that the novel aspects of the claim(s) are driving sales and not aspects of the claim(s) that were known in the prior art. In re Huai-Hung Kao, 639 F.3d 1057, 1069 (Fed. Cir. 2011); WesternGeco, 889 F.3d at 1330. In cases brought pursuant to the Hatch-Waxman Act, while there are exceptions, it is most common that patent challengers’ arguments focus predominantly or entirely on an alleged lack of nexus given the substantial sales typically enjoyed by the brand-name drug products that are the subject of such litigation. Though it bears noting that the mere fact that a company is pursuing a generic version of a brand-name drug, by itself, does not support a “commercial success” finding. Galderma Labs., Inc. v. Tolmar, Inc., 737 F.3d 737, 740 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical was mentioned by Chiacchio extensively, just as it was mentioned by Managing IP alongside TC Heartland — a case which limits litigation venue/s, especially for domestic (US) companies. The summary says:

Managing IP explores the foreseeable impact of the US Supreme Court’s rulings in WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical and TC Heartland v Kraft on patent damage awards

Thugs and liars from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will lobby Congress regarding patents. As noted yesterday: “As part of its 2018 Driving Innovation Roadshow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) will host three intellectual property and innovation business roundtables in Minnesota and Illinois.” Members of Congress are specifically being targeted and lobbyists are bashing their own country, based on falsehoods, to push their agenda.

Based on another post from yesterday, the effect of Mayo (SCOTUS) on large pharmaceutical firms’ drugs has attracted further flirtations, e.g.:

Assessing the latest decisions on § 101 and their implications for branded pharmaceuticals;

Those are often critical drugs whose research and development was actually funded by taxpayers’ money. They just want price hikes, exploiting a monopoly that mostly harms poor countries. Does SCOTUS take such considerations into account? What magnitude do ethical factors have? Should competition be blocked? Should generics be banned?

Josh Landau’s (from the technology-centric CCIA) latest post on the bad approach of the ITC, which overzealously embargoes products when it should not and does not have to. Quoting the outline:

The International Trade Commission’s (ITC) basic function is to protect American industry against unfair foreign competition by prohibiting the importation of unfairly produced trade goods. That includes preventing the importation of goods that infringe a valid U.S. patent through what are called “exclusion orders.”

But that function is limited by the second part of its mission—a requirement that the ITC consider the impact of such protection on the American economy, American consumers, and public health and welfare. If ITC action excluding a product from importation would significantly harm the economy, consumers, or health and welfare, the ITC isn’t supposed to issue an exclusion order.

The ITC’s present practice has resulted in an all-or-nothing approach to remedies; either a product is excluded, or it isn’t. But the ITC has the power to tailor its remedies more narrowly.

As always, when it comes to patent law, embargo should be the very last resort if any resort at all. Embargoes benefit nobody except one monopoly. Recall what Microsoft did to TomTom less than a decade ago.

In summary, not much is changing in the US and that is a good thing. Software patents and trolls generally languish.

Links 26/8/2018: Linux 4.19 RC1, UBports Release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-4

Posted in News Roundup at 8:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

    • Happy Birthday, Linux!

      While some would argue that October 5, 1991 is the actual birthday of Linux (that was when prototype code first dropped), today marks the anniversary of when Linus Torvalds first revealed he was working on a modest “hobby” OS that would go on to “revolutionize the world.” To celebrate, OMG! Ubuntu! has rounded up 27 interesting facts about Linux, which includes Steve Jobs offering Linus Torvalds a job in 2000 on the condition he stopped working on Linux (thankfully, he declined).

    • The New & Improved Features Of The Linux 4.19 Kernel

      The Linux 4.19-rc1 kernel is expected to be released today and with that marks the end of feature development on this next kernel version. Here is a look at the new and improved features to be found in Linux 4.19.

      Linux 4.19 has been an interesting cycle and was fairly eventful but some problematic pull requests led Linus Torvalds to calling it a horrible merge window From our original reporting over the past two weeks, highlights of the Linux 4.19 kernel include…

    • Linux 4.19-rc1

      So two weeks have passed, and the merge window for 4.19 is over.

      This was a fairly frustrating merge window, partly because 4.19 looks
      to be a pretty big release (no single reason), and partly just due to
      random noise. We had the L1TF hw vulnerability disclosure early in the
      merge window, which just added the usual frustration due to having
      patches that weren’t public. That just shows just how good all our
      infrastructure for linux-next and various automated testing systems
      have become, in how painful it is when it’s lacking.

      At least we didn’t actually have a lot of problems on that front in
      the mainline kernel, there seemed to be many more pain points in the

      We also had a report of a TLB shootdown bug come in during this merge
      window, and while the patches for ended up not being a huge problem,
      TLB invalidation issues is actually one of the things that stresses me
      out. They’re really nasty to debug (thanks to Jann Horn for
      pinpointing this one), and our interfaces to the architecture specific
      routines are subtle and pretty complicated. And messy. I think the
      discussion will result in a few cleanups later, but timing could have
      been so much better for this.

      Oh well. I guess I can partly just blame myself for having delayed
      4.18 by a week, which just made everything happen during that first
      and busiest week of the merge window. Bad luck. Although even the
      second week – when things usually calm down – was also pretty busy
      this time around.

      Anyway, on to the actual changes. And there’ a lot of them. There’s
      just a lot of things going on, and while this isn’t the biggest
      release we’ve had (4.9 still keeps that crown), this does join 4.12
      and 4.15 as one of the bigger kernel releases, at least just judging
      by number of commits in the merge window.

      As usual, there’s way too many patches to list even in shortlog
      format, but appended is my usual “mergelog” of people I merged from
      and a one-liner overview of the merge. There’s actually a couple of
      pull requests that I might still look at after the merge window, but
      that are probably in the “there’s always the next one” pile.

      The “big picture” of the merge window looks pretty normal: just under
      two thirds of the changes are to drivers (gpu and network drivers
      being the bulk – as usual), with the rest being architecture updates
      (all the usual suspects), filesystems, core kernel and networking.
      There’s a fair chunk of documentation and tooling updates too
      (selftests, tracing, perf..).

      Anyway, go forth and test,


    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux 4.19 Kernel, First RC Is Out Now

      Linus Torvalds has officially kicked off the development cycle of the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel series today by releasing the first Release Candidate (RC).

      It’s been two weeks since the Linux 4.18 kernel series was launched, so the merge window for the next major release, Linux kernel 4.19, is now officially closed as Linus Torvalds announces today the availability of the first Release Candidate (RC) for public testing.

    • Linux 4.19-rc1 Released Following “A Fairly Frustrating Merge Window”

      As expected, Linus Torvalds has closed the merge window for 4.19 and released Linux 4.19-rc1.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Heterogeneous Memory Management Still Being Worked On For Nouveau / Radeon / Intel

        Longtime Red Hat developer Jerome Glisse has published his latest patches concerning the Heterogeneous Memory Management support, a.k.a. HMM.

        Heterogeneous Memory Management was merged in Linux 4.14 as one of the kernel pieces sought after by NVIDIA and other vendors. HMM allows a process address space to be mirrored and system memory to be transparently used by any device process.

      • The Linux DRM Projects Are Plotting Their Transition To Gitlab

        With many of the FreeDesktop.org projects having already transitioned from their CGit and hodgepodge of services over to Gitlab, the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) trees appear to be up next.

        Having already made the move this year to the new FreeDesktop.org Gitlab deployment has been Mesa, the X.Org Server, and many of the smaller repositories. This FreeDesktop Gitlab instance running on Google Compute Engine has been a big improvement for the project compared to their aging bare metal servers, their administration resources stretched thin, and Gitlab offering a modern UI compared to CGit and friends. Longer term, Gitlab should yield them more capabilities too around continuous integration and other modern development features.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Neon Arrives For Pinebook

        KDE developers have announced the release of a dedicated version of KDE Neon for the Pinebook, ARM architecture-based laptops that came out last year with some fanfare due to its tight price: $89.
        Now there is more than one Pinebook model and none costs $89, all are over $100 including shipping, but the invention – mobile hardware for the desktop – is here to stay and if the label was already used at the beginning Linux to introduce them, it is Linux that is now introduced to them and for everything big, with KDE Plasma.

        And we are talking about equipment that assembles components such as 64-bit ARM CPU with quad-core at 1.2 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of eMMC storage and an 11 or 14-inch TN LCD screen with a resolution of 1366 × 768. With the exception of the processor and the storage, they are specifications of a decade ago, but with which it is possible to offer a low cost device with full functionality. However, nobody thought to put Plasma there, right? Well, they have done it.

      • KDE Picks Up New Screen Layout Switcher Plasmoid, Other Enhancements

        KDE developers remain on their spree of various usability enhancements and polishing. KDE contributor Nate Graham also continues doing a great job summarizing these enhancements on a weekly basis.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 33

        Time for your weekly dose of Usability & Productivity! It’s another big one, and there’s a ton of stuff winding through the review pipeline that didn’t quite make the cut this week.

      • Akademy 2018: I was there! =D

        So, Akademy happened for me this year. And it was AMAZING!

        After like 15 hours traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Vienna, I was able to get to the pre-registration event after Akademy with my dear old friend Adriann de Groot aka [ade] , where I was meeting a lot of new KDE people and a few old ones that I met during my time at Randa Meetings 2016. Valorie received me with a great hug making me feel a lot welcome even with all my tiredness and jet lag. (Brazil is +5 hours for Vienna time)

      • Localization: Translate KDE Dolphin and Preview Translation

        Suppose you want to translate Dolphin File Manager into your language –say, Indonesian– and quickly preview each change. You can do it as long as you know the basic workflow and commands. You will be able to translate the menubar, toolbar, configurations, and more to your language. Here’s a simple guide that is very easy for anyone to try out and have fun.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • 12 Reasons Why To Use Gnome Desktop

        You must (occasionally) be wondering which Desktop Environment is the best for Linux. And while most long-time Linux users have found their preferred desktop based on experience and computing purposes, some of us and including newbies are still stuck with the same question. I have switched to various Linux distros many times and frankly, all the Desktop Environments have their own advantages and disadvantages. Sticking to one of them depends entirely on the perspectives of the user and his preferences.

        However, if you’ve recently just bought a new computer priced at medium range (say an Intel i5 processor with 8GB RAM and equipped with Solid State Drive) and you’re lurking around the Internet searching for a cool Linux distro, so you can get the best Linux experience on your new awesome hardware. Then I recommend trying Linux with GNOME desktop due to its innovative look and ease of use.

      • GParted – Graphical Disk Partition Editor – Releases Version 0.32.0

        GParted is the best graphical disk partition utility for Linux. It is capable of creating, resizing, deleting partitions in Disks, USB drives. Based on libparted, it supports almost all popular file systems.

  • Distributions

    • A Bigger Toolbox | The Roundup #9

      Welcome to The Roundup #9, your bytes of Solus news. In this roundup, we are focusing on the continued modernizing of our software stack, improved resilience, and what is coming up this week!

    • Solus Deploys Flatpak 1.0, Prepares For X.Org Server 1.20, Better Intel GVT Support

      The popular Solus Linux distribution has experienced a busy week of updates but more changes are on the way to this desktop-focused OS.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GeckoLinux 150 Static Plasma review – Not quite

        GeckoLinux 150 was supposed to be the cure to all openSUSE Leap 15 ailments. It is not. I was expecting flawless results on all fronts, but then there were big issues with multimedia playback and associated performance, visual glitches, imperfect smartphone support, and of course, the graphics driver bomb. This hardly warrants the effort. I also didn’t mention various crashes – the kgreeter crash on logout, every time – but they were there, too. Samba issues, printing issues, and the list goes on. The good things are nice and commendable, but there must be a stable base.

        However, the real dealbreaker is the Nvidia setup. This is supposed to just work. If it works in a dozen other distros on this same box, then it should continue working. And I’m certain this has nothing to do with Nvidia drivers but with how the repo contents were compiled and packaged. Then, no easy rescue, none of that SUSE enterprise-like resilience. Finally, you do gain some, but not enough to justify the experience. I will sample Gecko sometime in the future again, but the bad karma around openSUSE remains. So long.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Carl Chenet: FOSS: passive consumerism kills our community

    TL;DR: Don’t be a passive consumer of FOSS. It’s going to kill the FOSS community or change it in bad ways. Contribute in any way described in this article, even really basic ones, but contribute daily or on a very regular basis.

    I have been a system engineer for more than 10 years now, almost exclusively working with GNU/Linux systems. I’m also deeply involved in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community for a long time and I spend a lot of time on social networks (mostly Twitter and Mastodon these days). And some behaviours always piss me off.

  • #Friendica vs #Hubzilla vs #Mastodon

    I’ve been running a #Friendica node for several years now. Some months ago I also started to run a #Hubzilla hub as well. Some days ago I also installed #Mastodon on a virtual machine, because there was so much hype about Mastodon in the last days due to some changes Twitter made in regards of 3rd party clients.

    All of those social networks do have their own focus:

    Friendica: basically can connect to all other social networks, which is quite nice because there exists historically two different worlds: the Federation (Diaspora, Socialhome) and the Fediverse (GnuSocial, Mastodon, postActiv, Pleroma). Only Friendica and Hubzilla can federate with both: Federation and Fediverse.
    Friendicas look&feel appears sometimes a little bit outdated and old, but it works very well and reliable.

    Hubzilla: is the second player in the field of connecting both federations, but has a different focus. It is more of one-size-fits-all approach. If you need a microblogging site, a wiki, a cloud service, a website, etc. then Hubzilla is the way to go. The look&feel is a little bit more modern, but there are some quirks that appears a little odd to me. A unique feature for Hubzilla seems to be the concept of “nomadic accounts”: you can move to a different hub and take all your data with you. Read more about that in the Hubzilla documentation.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • My 20 years of web

        Next I joined the Mozilla to work on the Firefox platform partnerships. It has been fascinating working with this team, which originated from the Netscape browser in the 1990′s and transformed into an open-source non-profit focusing on the advancement of internet technology in conjunction with their former competitors, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • 7 emerging open source Big Data projects that will revolutionize your business

      Twenty years ago, the Open Source framework was published, delivering what would be the most significant trend in software development since that time. Whether you want to call it “free software” or “open source”, ultimately, it’s all about making application and system source codes widely available and putting the software under a license that favors user autonomy.

      According to Ovum, open source is already the default option across several big data categories ranging from storage, analytics and applications to machine learning. In the latest Black Duck Software and North Bridge’s survey, 90% of respondents reported they rely on open source “for improved efficiency, innovation and interoperability,” most commonly because of “freedom from vendor lock-in; competitive features and technical capabilities; ability to customize; and overall quality.” There are now thousands of successful open source projects that companies must strategically choose from to stay competitive.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • The Commons Clause will destroy open source

      Personally, I have a harder go of it because very little of my open source software is appealing to the businesses that have the budget to sponsor them. Instead, I rely on the (much smaller and less stable) recurring donations of my individual users. When I started accepting these, I did not think that it was going to work out. But today, I’m making far more money from these donations than I ever thought possible2, and I see an upwards trend which will eventually lead me to being able to work on open source full time. If I were able to add only a few business-level sponsorships to this equation, I think I would easily have already reached my goals.

      There are other options for securing financing for open source, some of which Redis has already been exploring. Selling a hosted and supported version of your service is often a good call. Offering consulting support for your software has also worked for many groups in the past. Some projects succeed with (A)GPL for everyone and BSD for a price. These are all better avenues to explore – making your software proprietary is a tragic alternative that should not be considered.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD DRM Is Causing A Load Of In-Fighting This Week

      DRM is causing a lot of vibrant discussions this week on the FreeBSD mailing list… And no, it’s not even Digital Rights Management but rather colorful commentary about their Direct Rendering Manager code and plans for FreeBSD 12.

      It began by an announcement made back on 21 August that DRM/DRM2 has been removed from the upcoming FreeBSD 12.0 release. For Direct Rendering Manager kernel graphics driver support moving forward, users should use graphics/drm-legacy-kmod if running really old graphics hardware otherwise one of the drm-stable-kmod / drm-next-kmod / drm-devel-kmod options from FreeBSD Ports.


  • Security

    • About OpenSSH “user enumeration” / CVE-2018-15473

      Regarding CVE-2018-15473: a few people have asked why we just committed
      a fix for this without any secrecy or treating it as a security
      problem. The reason is that I and the other OpenSSH developers don’t
      consider this class of bug a significant vulnerability – it’s a partial
      disclosure of non-sensitive information.

      We have and will continue to fix bugs like this when we are made aware
      of them and when the costs of doing so aren’t too high, but we aren’t
      going to get excited about them enough to apply for CVEs or do security
      releases to fix them. The following explains our reasoning.

    • Weak passwords let a hacker [sic] access internal Sprint staff portal

      Using two sets of weak, easy-to-guess usernames and passwords, a security researcher accessed an internal Sprint staff portal. Because the portal’s log-in page didn’t use two-factor authentication, the researcher — who did not want to be named — navigated to pages that could have allowed access customer account data.

    • Hacker Summer Camp 2018: Wrap-Up

      I meant to write this post much closer to the end of Hacker Summer Camp, but to be honest, I’ve been completely swamped with getting back into the thick of things. However, I kept feeling like things were “unfinished”, so I thought I’d throw together at least a few thoughts from this year.

    • SQL Injection Vulnerabilities in Seagate Personal Cloud Media Server allow Retrieval of Private Data

      The Seagate Media Server is a UPnp / DLNA Network Attached Storage mechanism incorporated into the Seagate Personal Cloud for individual level use. In an advisory on the IoT security bug hunt website Summer of Pwnage, several SQL injection vulnerabilities in the Seagate Media Server were discovered and discussed, risking the retrieval and modification of personal data stored in the database used by the media server.

      The Seagate Personal Cloud is a cloud storage facility that is used to store photos, videos, and other kinds of multimedia in its media server. As personal data is uploaded into this cloud, it is protected with authorization checks and password security, but within its layout, a public folder exists to which unauthorized users have the right to upload data and files.

    • Remote Code Execution Vulnerability in Apache Struts 2.x Resolved in Update

      In an advisory published on the Confluence website maintained by the ASF community, a remote code execution vulnerability in the Apache Struts 2.x was discovered and elaborated upon by Yasser Zamani. The discovery was made by Man Yue Mo of the Semmle Security research team. The vulnerability has since been given the label CVE-2018-11776. It is found to affect the Apache Struts versions 2.3 to 2.3.34 and 2.5 to 2.5.16 with possible remote code execution exploit opportunities.

    • Systemd Will Now Use RdRand Directly If The Kernel Can’t Deliver Entropy [Ed: So systemd will use Intel's notorious back door, the RNG which BSD developers continuously distrust and reject. First Speck in the kernel (4.17) thanks to Google and now this.]

      Systemd will now resort to using Intel’s RdRand hardware random number generator directly if the Linux kernel is unable to provide the init system with sufficient entropy.

      This systemd change stems from the issue of the Linux boot process getting stuck if there’s not enough entropy due to a kernel change to eliminate CVE-2018-1108 over early boot processes potentially having weak random seed data. With systemd’s random-util change, systemd will now use RdRand directly if the kernel can’t provide any randomness, rather than having to block/stall.

    • Google Found A Serious Security Flaw In Fortnite Installer For Android

      Epic Games’ decision to make its popular game Fortnite available on Android through its own website instead of Google Play Store seems to have backfired.

      Google has publicly disclosed an extremely dangerous security flaw in Fortnite’s installer that allows attackers to download anything on an Android phone.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Your government has a secret kill list. Is that OK with you?

      Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American citizen, thinks the government is trying to kill him. And he might be right.

      Kareem’s story, recently chronicled in Rolling Stone, neatly captures the havoc that the war on terror has wreaked on the legal system and the dangers of abandoning legal traditions that have served us well for centuries.

      Kareem resides overseas and is struggling to determine why he is apparently on the government’s secret “kill list,” which targets terror suspects for drone strikes. Kareem finds that objects in his vicinity tend to explode with some frequency, and he has taken the issue to court, arguing that the American government cannot blow him up without due process.

    • Museum of Flight Lecture – Secret CIA Flights from Taiwan Revealed

      On Sept. 1 the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington will present the story of how CIA pilots of the Republic of China Air Force (Taiwan) “Black Bat Squadron” flew a daring nighttime mission to deploy secret surveillance equipment near a Chinese nuclear weapons base in 1969.

    • US Army Brass Warns Against Overuse of Drones, But ‘Pandora’s Box’ Already Open

      A senior US Army official warned Tuesday that drones are “not a panacea” because “drones don’t smell, they don’t feel” and can’t deliver the same battlefield intelligence humans can. However, a leading anti-war activist told Sputnik, don’t expect this to mean drone warfare will be in any way curtailed in the future.

      “There is value to having an unmanned aerial system teamed with a manned system,” Gen. James McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army, said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2018 Army Science & Technology Symposium and Showcase in Washington, DC, Tuesday. But, he warned, “it’s not a panacea.”


      She noted how Defense Department officials boast that “we’re going to spend a lot of money, this is the future of warfare, we’re going to use these unmanned systems, working with manned and unmanned together, and maybe unmanned and unmanned together.”

      “Congress just approved a 700-plus billion dollar ‘defense’ budget and a lot of money for drone technology, and all the drone manufacturers are now getting richer and richer. And it’s not just the United States — dozens of countries have drones, many countries have armed drones, and it’s just — it’s a Pandora’s box.” And with the US using drones to drop bombs on countries it’s not even technically at war with — Pakistan being one example — how long will it be before this practice spreads?

    • Drone deterrence: Easy to buy, tricky to use legally

      “If you fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire, you could get someone killed,” said the warning.

      FAA and aviation law experts advised federal, state and local agencies that due diligence is needed before deploying anti-drone systems.

      The FAA, which has been testing drone detection systems with airports around the country since 2016, cautioned that federal laws can preclude the use of some systems.

    • The CIA was warned of a potential “Red Dawn” scenario in Alaska

      A 1951 letter to the Central Intelligence Agency from a former spymaster warned of Russian infiltration in North America’s northern territories. A copy of the letter, which postdates the beginning of the joint CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Air Force stay behind program, was sent from the Assistant CIA Director directly to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, with a copy being sent to the leadership of G-2 (Army intelligence). As described by the CIA’s cover letter, “the Soviet threat to Alaska and Canada is discussed in very general terms.” Despite the letter’s “general terms,” its information and warning were considered important enough to send to Hoover in a package marked SECRET, and it remained classified until late 2018 – 67 years after it was written.

    • CIA Front Staffed by Ex-Nazis: US Government Propaganda Agency Rebrands

      The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the little-acknowledged US government body employing thousands of journalist and media professionals, has been rebranded the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

      In a statement, the newly-minted USAGM’s CEO John F. Lansing boasted the organization operated “far beyond traditional broadcast mediums”, such as television and radio — the name change was thus necessary as “the term ‘broadcasting’ does not accurately describe what we do”.

      However, the new moniker arguably doesn’t accurately describe what the organization does either.

    • Bob Marley BOMBSHELL: Reggae star ‘assassinated by CIA’ claim made in deathbed confession

      Reggae legend Bob Marley tragically died aged only 36-years-old, leading music lovers world-wide to grieve.

      The Jamaican icon’s life and career were cut short following a four-year battle with cancer.

      However, startling claims have emerged of a deathbed confession made by an ex-CIA officer, where he admitted to the killing.

      79-year-old Bill Oxley is alleged to have claimed the murder of Marley among 17 other assassinations for the American government between 1974 and 1985, at a time when he said the CIA “was a law unto itself.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • With Case Largely Over, Attorney For Reality Winner Speaks

      Defense attorney Titus Nichols, who was part of the team of attorneys that represented former NSA contractor Reality Winner, contends the Espionage Act makes it very difficult for a person accused of violating the law to defend themselves.

      In an interview with Shadowproof, Nichols also suggested Winner was treated more extraordinarily than other criminal cases. However, generally, he said Winner and the legal defense team were “satisfied with the result” because “the judge accepted the plea deal” and “directed her to be placed” at Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.

      Winner pled guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act when she disclosed an NSA report that alleged Russian hackers targeted United States voter registration systems in the 2016 election.

      Winner was sentenced on August 23 to five years and three months in prison. She was in detention for one year and 83 days prior to the judge accepting the deal. That time served will count toward her sentence, according to Nichols.

    • Why Democracy Needs Solidarity for Julian Assange’s Freedom

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains in solitary confinement inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum in 2012 against the threat of extradition to the United States for his publishing activities. In recent months, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, under pressure from the U.S. began threatening to evict this political refugee.

      In response to this dire situation, people across the political spectrum began to form solidarity through #Unify4J, an online platform to organize a social media movement in support of Assange. Among those include prominent Trump’s supporters. In the midst of Trump administration’s draconian measures on immigrants and empowerment of white supremacist groups, the idea of working with Trump’s key allies triggered reaction among the left. Recently, Classconscious.org, an outlet spearheading global civic action for Assange’s freedom, scrutinized the idea of uniting with ultra right forces that back Trump and urged the movement to draw a line.


      Without understanding the essence of this new invention, people’s attitudes toward WikiLeaks swing back and forth. Whether it is capitalism or socialism, Democrats or Republicans, many demand WikiLeaks to demonstrate its allegiance to their political ideology and support their preferred candidate. They conflate the invention with the inventor, becoming obsessed with Assange.

      One publication put him in a category of a leftist, while another turns him into a right wing. People speculate and get overly attached to Assange’s political views. Ultimately, the opinion of this inventor does not and should not matter. In the same way that people don’t have to know who invented electricity to have a light or a combustion engine to drive a car, everyone can benefit from this new journalism and use it to enrich society at large.

      Yet, for those who still feel the need to know, Assange’s thoughts are not shaped by a conventional political dichotomy of left and right. The ideas that conceived WikiLeaks originated from the philosophy of cypherpunks, an electronic mailing list that advocates privacy through the use of strong cryptography.

    • Why Did Reality Winner Do It?

      Reality Winner stood in a county jail in rural Georgia, phone receiver pressed to her ear, staring at a brick wall and racking her brain, trying to remember the minimum sentence for violating Chapter 18, Section 793(e) of the U.S. Criminal Code. She’d signed papers acknowledging the penalty so many times — it was a requirement for anyone who handled classified information — but whatever recess of her mind the details were tucked away in, she was having trouble accessing it.

      The date was June 4th, 2017. Winner was 25 years old, blond, blue-eyed, 5-foot-5, approximately 145 pounds, according to an FBI search warrant executed the day before. She’d spent exactly one night in jail. She didn’t fully recognize it yet, but life as she knew it — her day job as a subcontractor for the National Security Agency, the yoga classes she taught in her spare time, the date she’d missed because of her arrest — was rapidly slipping away from her.

    • Texan Sentenced to Five Years for NSA Leaks on Russian Hacking

      Winner worked as a linguist and translator in Arabic and Farsi with the National Security Administration in Fort Meade, Maryland.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison

      NSA whistleblower Reality Winner was sentenced Thursday to five years and three months in prison—the longest sentence ever imposed in federal court for leaking government information to the media. Twenty-six-year-old Reality Winner is the first person to be sentenced under the Espionage Act since President Trump took office. Reality Winner was arrested by FBI agents at her home in Augusta, Georgia, on June 3, 2017, two days before The Intercept published an exposé revealing Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before the U.S. presidential election last November.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Time to End Cheap Flights

      African cities generally use less electricity than their European equivalents, as people own fewer appliances and have greater need for thrift. Jet engines are essentially the same as turbines used for electricity generation, and the engines on a single jumbo would power a small African city had they generators attached. Remember that next time you fly.

      Worldwide aviation emissions pump slightly more pollution into the atmosphere than the entire United Kingdom economy, and aviation emissions continue relentlessly to increase year after year. Air transport is simply far too cheap for the damage it causes and the resources it consumes. You cannot cause more damage to the Earth’s atmosphere with £30 worth of resources, than by buying a £30 Ryanair ticket to Barcelona. If you spend that £30 on fuel for your diesel car, or on coal and burn it in your garden, you will not come close to the damage caused by your share of emissions on that Ryanair flight.

      The fundamental reason air travel has expanded to be so harmful is the international understanding that tax and duty is not charged on aviation fuel – unlike vehicle, train or maritime fuel. Even citizens of Saudi Arabia or Venezuela no longer can access fuel as cheaply as you do in effect when you fly.

  • Finance

    • Anti-Corruption Commission Investigating Tendai Biti Over $30m Deal From GNU Era

      The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is reported to be investigating former Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti over a transaction which took place during the Government of National Unity (GNU) era. This comes after the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) alleged that Biti had unprocedurally ordered the social authority to release $30 million to Renaissance Bank between 2009 and 2013. Rennaisance is now defunct.

    • Biti probed over $30m Nssa deal

      THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating former Finance Minister Mr Tendai Biti over a $30 million deal between the National Social Security Authority and the now defunct Renaissance Bank.

      This comes at a time Zacc has stepped up the fight against corruption by hiring 30 lawyers, forensic auditors and investigators. The anti-graft body has also opened provincial offices countrywide.

    • If Trump Is Laundering Russian Money, Here’s How It Works

      Shell companies, pseudonyms, shady lawyers, and secrecy: The president’s and his lawyer’s business practices match the classic pattern of suspicious activity.

    • Wage Subsidies Are No Cure for Stagnation

      William A. Galston’s prescription to cure wage stagnation—expanded government wage subsidies—would be worse than the disease (“Wage Stagnation is Everyone’s Problem”, op-ed Aug. 15). Employers will quickly incorporate the expected subsidies into their salary planning activities. Because subsidies won’t change the market price for labor, it is more likely that they will be used to offset current wages as to raise them. What business wouldn’t want the government to pick up part of its labor costs? Once embedded, the subsidies will become a permanent part of the economic landscape, forever misallocating labor to jobs and…

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • This a Freak Show, Not a Democracy (Thanks, Founders)

      If you are like most people I know, you quite reasonably hate Donald Trump. You loathe him for accelerating the climate crisis and the destruction of a livable environment, the biggest issue of our or any time (since nothing else we care about is going to matter on a dead planet). You detest hate him for being a racist, a nativist, a sexist, an arch-authoritarian, a gross and plutocratic oligarch. a record-setting pathological liar, and an agent of what can fairly be called “creeping fascism.”

      These aren’t the reasons that much if not most of the U.S. ruling-class disapproves of Trump. Let’s be candid. The lion’s share of the nation’s financial and corporate masters have long been comfortable with: dog-whistling racism and nativism as a Machiavellian political tool; the relentless oligarchic smiting of democracy; the reckless plunder and pollution of the natural and social commons; the upward concentration wealth and money through various means including giant bailouts (as under Bush43 and Obama44) and big tax cuts for the rich (as under Bush 43 and Trump45 last year).

    • Trump Fires Back at His Attorney General for Not Investigating Corruption on ‘Other Side’

      President Donald Trump sent multiple tweets Friday morning, attacking Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not investigating corruption on the “other side.”

      “‘Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.’ Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the “other side” including deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr……” Trump tweeted. The quote Trump referenced was from a statement Sessions released Thursday, where the attorney general defended his tenure at the Justice Department. Sessions released the statement after the president attacked him during a “Fox and Friends” interview, which aired earlier Thursday morning.

    • Trump responds to Sessions speaking out: “Come on Jeff”

      President Trump publicly pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “look into all of the corruption” of his adversaries Friday morning, after Sessions issued a rare statement Thursday saying the Justice Department will “not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” Sessions’ statement Thursday appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s claim on Fox & Friends Thursday that Sessions “never took control” of the DOJ.

      Mr. Trump has long pressured his attorney general — in a very public way on Twitter — to investigate Hillary Clinton and current and former top Justice Department officials he dislikes. But those urgings have intensified in recent days, as many in the president’s former circle face charges. On Tuesday, former longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law and claimed the president directed him to take the actions to do so. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts related to bank fraud.

    • ‘Come on Jeff, you can do it!’: Trump calls on Sessions and the DOJ to investigate ‘the other side’ in mocking tweets

      President Donald Trump has returned fire in a dispute with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, calling on him to examine what Trump described as “all of the corruption” of Trump’s critics and those investigating him, including Hillary Clinton, James Comey, and the special counsel Robert Mueller.

    • Trump in war of words with Attorney General Jeff Sessions

      US President Donald Trump has continued to engage in a public spat with his own top law enforcer, Jeff Sessions, accusing him of being “unfair” for applying “double standard” in prosecuting suspects.

      In a Friday morning rant on social media, Trump complained that a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor is getting 63 months in jail over “classified information”.

      “Gee, this is ‘small potatoes compared to what Hillary Clinton did! So unfair Jeff, Double Standard,” the US president wrote, naming his Democrat opponent in the 2016 presidential election.

    • A Short Article Not Mentioning Alex Salmond

      An Ambassador is evidently not as important as a Scottish First Minister, but there is one interesting similarity. You get to live in a palatial Residence at public expense, and you host numerous social events there, from intimate lunches to grand dinners to receptions for many hundred people. Indeed as a diplomat you do this throughout your career – as an Ambassador, Deputy High Commissioner, First Secretary and even Second Secretary I hosted many scores of such events in my home, and in every case was supported by office and domestic staff who worked under me, both British and local.

    • The Anti-President

      The U.S. is now a endless machine for war profiteering and endless war itself. Simultaneously a hyper Imperialist machine directed toward global hegemony. Domestically it is a McCarthyesque empire of propaganda and censorship and mass incarceration.


      Many of these bases are as large as small cities. Camp Liberty in Iraq has concrete sidewalks, traffic signals, spas and cinemas as well as coffee shops and Burger Kings. Generals and Admirals employ private jets, and siphon off taxpayer money for vacations at luxury resorts and shopping trips for their wives and family. The bookeeping has been described as functionally fictive. The vast amounts of monies misplaced or unaccounted for is in the trillion of dollars. Everything….from shower heads to gym equipment, to electrical cable is from private firms that usually have spent small fortunes lobbying Pentagon officials or even state department higher ups to *win* these contracts. So ponder that a moment: TRILLIONS of dollars. When anyone asks why *we* are still in Afghanistan after 17 years, this is but one of the answers.

    • Senator John McCain, Republican War Hawk, Dead at 81

      Meanwhile, media critics Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson offered this pre-spin news brief—titled “Don’t Let the Media Erase McCain’s Far Right Legacy“—as a warning against the inevitable narrative that will dominate the coming days in which efforts to venerate the lawmaker will steadfastly ignore the sizable and documented damage his political career left in his wake:

    • A Brief History of Miami’s CIA Ties and Propaganda Efforts

      Ex-Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado now runs the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting, a federal agency that creates pro-American “news” and blasts it in the vague direction of Cuba. It would be perhaps inaccurate to say the OCB’s stations — Radio Martí, TV Martí, and Martí Noticias — “broadcast” in Cuba, because even the U.S. government admits the Cuban government is easily able to jam the signals.

      Critics argue that as bad as the Castros are, the federal government’s ongoing, near-slapstick attempts to sabotage the administration have done little but ratchet up the tension between the two nations for no real reasons other than spite and force of habit.

    • Danny Boyle quit Bond in dispute over film’s Russian villain

      Rumours that the film’s script was the source of the disagreement have been reported, with producers alleged to be unhappy with the decision to focus on contemporary political tensions with Russia and a “modern-day Cold War”.

      However one industry source told the Telegraph the split was due to a fall out over whether to cast Tomasz Kot as the lead villain. The 41-year-old Polish actor stars in Cold War, a love story set in 1950s Europe, and was described as a “left-field” decision for a Bond enemy.

      “Craig has a big say in all the casting decisions. None of the Bond girls have been chosen without his say so,” the source said.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Inside Tencent’s Struggle to Bring World’s Hottest Game to China
    • Fortnite, Tencent and the fate of world’s biggest game market
    • Tencent needs help from the world’s hottest game
    • Gardenscapes, iDreamSky Technology never expected to tangle with Chinese regulators
    • Tencent in Chinese battle royale over videogame censorship
    • 15 Cities Across U.S. to Hold Banned Together Censorship Concerts During Banned Books Week

      Theatre artists in 15 cities across the U.S. will unite during Banned Books Week (September 23–29) for Banned Together 2018, a series of “censorship cabarets” featuring material from plays and musicals that have been censored or challenged on American stages.

      Organized by the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, the non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of writers and other theatre artists facing censorship, the concert series will kick off September 23 in Atlanta, continuing throughout the week with performances taking place in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and more.

    • Letter: Writer concerned about social media censorship

      Social media companies, being privately owned businesses, can establish their own terms of use and enforce them as they see fit. The problem arises when they wield the massive platform they’ve created to push or silence a certain narrative. Many people rely solely on social media for their news, whether it be from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, etc.. All of these outlets have displayed a tangible bias against conservative viewpoints. Reddit “curates” their front page content, showing favor towards liberal articles. Twitter allegedly “shadowbans” conservative accounts. Facebook filters their news, and is now banning conservative accounts.

    • Has censorship gone too far?

      In 2002 , CNN reported fake news that there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. This was part of former President George W. Bush’s narrative to rally public support for the Iraq War. To Facebook, Jones may have reported a false and offensive story, but CNN’s false reporting helped push Americans into an unnecessary and ungodly war, which is considerably worse than any consequence Jones may have fostered.

    • Supreme Court decisions could curb campus censorship

      Recent First Amendment rulings by the Supreme Court could force courts and university administrators to take a closer look at controversial practices that have marginalized certain political views – often conservative ones – on campus.

    • Tech Titans Made Serious Mistakes, and More Censorship Won’t Right the Ship

      t seems like each week brings yet another example of strange and amateurish Facebook censorship. Last Friday morning, the immensely popular PragerU platform tweeted that Facebook had blocked access to its videos. PragerU screen-capped the proof. By the evening, Facebook reported that it had “mistakenly” removed the videos and was restoring access.

      Then, yesterday, journalist and bestselling author Salena Zito reported that Facebook seemed to be censoring a story she wrote for the New York Post detailing why many Trump supporters won’t be shaken by the Paul Manafort conviction or the Michael Cohen plea deal. Some of her readers reported that it was being marked as “spam.” Others told her that Facebook was reporting that the article “did not follow” its “Community Standards.”

    • Facebook escalates censorship of left-wing, anti-war organizations

      One year ago this week, the World Socialist Web Site published an open letter to search monopoly Google demanding that it end its censorship of the internet.

      The letter documented that a change in Google’s search algorithms that the company claimed was aimed at promoting “authoritative” news sources had led to a substantial decline in search traffic to left-wing, socialist and anti-war sites. Google, the letter from WSWS International Editorial Board Chairperson David North stated, was “engaged in political censorship of the Internet.”

      One year later, it is clear that the allegations against Google were both correct and extremely prescient. The measures taken by Google initiated a sweeping system of corporate-state censorship adopted by all the US technology monopolies, including Facebook and Twitter. A campaign that began under the pretext of combatting “Russian meddling” and “fake news” is ever more openly targeting left-wing views.

      The latest and most extreme attack on democratic rights came Tuesday, when Facebook announced that it has removed hundreds of user accounts and pages, many opposing the crimes of the American, Saudi, and Israeli governments in the Middle East, claiming they were the result of “influence campaigns” by Iran and Russia.

    • Wickr Adds New Censorship Circumvention Feature to its Encrypted App

      Secure Open Access addresses void created by Google, Amazon decision to disallow domain fronting, company says.

      Wickr has added a new Secure Open Access capability to its instant messaging app, which the company says enables encrypted communications that is far more resilient to Internet traffic restrictions and censorship attempts than typical domain-fronting approaches.

      The new feature is based on the open source Psiphon Internet censorship circumvention tool developed by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab for users of Windows and mobile devices. It uses domain fronting as just one of multiple techniques, including SSH and VPN technology, for directing encrypted traffic around blocking attempts.

    • Traveling to China for work? Punch through the Great Firewall and securely connect with your home office

      “Use Signal, use Tor” remains the gold standard for securing personal communication, but they are not a good fit for enterprise deployments where corporations want to use mobile device management (MDM) software to provision thousands of employee devices. A new partnership between secure messaging service Wickr and censorship circumvention tool Psiphon proposes that enterprises instead “use Wickr, use Psiphon.”

    • Wickr has a new plan for dodging internet blocks

      Wickr’s latest solution is a partnership with the circumvention service Psiphon, which will be available to enterprise users starting today and rolling out to free users in the weeks to come. Similar to a VPN, Psiphon will disguise Wickr traffic through proxies and other routing protocols designed to make the traffic hard to spot and even harder to block.

    • After Google and Amazon Drop Anti-Censorship Support, Wickr Steps In

      On Thursday, Wickr announced that paying, and soon free, users will be able to route their Wickr traffic through a network used to circumvent internet censorship, which could be useful for users in Iran, Russia, or perhaps China.

    • Wickr teams up with Psiphon to ensure your packets arrive safely no matter where you are

      Encrypted collaboration app Wickr has added a feather to its cap with a partnership with Psiphon, provider of smart VPN tools. Wickr will use Psiphon’s tech to guarantee your packets get where they need to go regardless of whether you’re at home, at a cafe with bad Wi-Fi or at a cafe with bad Wi-Fi in China.

      The idea is that the user shouldn’t have to be auditing their own connection to be sure their apps will work properly. That can be a matter of safety, such as a poorly secured access point; connectivity, such as one where certain ports or apps are inoperable; or censorship, like requesting data from a service banned in the country you’re visiting.

    • Wickr may have a workaround for Russia’s crackdown on encrypted chat

      Encrypted chat apps aim to keep you communicating securely, but they have a problem: Some governments want to block them from operating entirely. What’s more, some parts of their services can be easily blocked on a local level by anyone with a Wi-Fi network.

      To keep conversations flowing, encrypted communications app maker Wickr said Thursday it’s implementing new tools that make its app of the same name immune to blocking attempts. The company will partner with software maker Psiphon, the brainchild of anticensorship researchers at the Citizen Lab, to roll out Wickr Open Access.

    • Chat App Wickr Seeks to Evade State-Level Censorship

      Encrypted chat apps are being heavily targeted by government organizations, and one of the most popular victims is Telegram. Wickr seeks to evade censorship laws and any state’s ability to block traffic to and from its servers at a national level. Most of the government organizations order ISPs to block traffic from the official servers of the apps. However, if the data is untraceable, it becomes highly difficult to identify the traffic and block it.

      Wickr has partnered with Psiphon to include anti-blocking mechanisms. The added anti-blocking features will be available to only enterprise users for now, and it will be made available to free users in the coming weeks. While the new anti-blocking technology made by Psiphon offers features similar to that of a VPN, traffic is routed through proxies and complex routing protocols to make the data almost untraceable.

    • Wickr announces a firewall-circumventing tool to help beat national censorship regimes

      Wickr, a private, secure messaging company, has teamed up with Psiphon (previously), a spinout from Citizen Lab (previously) to allow its users to communicate even when they are behind national firewalls.

      Messaging platforms had long used “domain fronting” — whereby secure messaging traffic was undetectably mixed in with traffic from Amazon, Google and others — to beat national firewalls, but these were largely discontinued by the major platforms in the face of threats of censorship by authoritarian governments.

      Wickr proposes using Psiphon (which uses a variety of techniques to circumvent censorship) as an alternative to domain fronting, initially rolling it out for paid business users, with a promise to extend the feature to all users in the near future.

    • Activist fights social media censorship

      Youtube has removed one of her videos, published in 2012, and given her video channel a “strike.”

      After three “strikes,” she could be shut down for good.

      “Basically it will mean it will silence your voice on the Internet for anybody to see your video. That’s a problem,” she warns.

    • Twitter Beats Censorship Lawsuit by Banned White Nationalist

      Taylor is the founder of the New Century Foundation, which “purports to show the inferiority of blacks to whites,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Taylor describes himself as a “racialist” who believes in “racial realism.” Taylor alleged that Twitter won’t allow him and his publication “to respectfully share their views on its open platform.”

    • Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, by Nadine Strossen

      I recently accompanied my son to his first university open day. He wants to study politics and was inspired by the lecturers he met. Unfortunately, just before we left, he picked up a copy of the student newspaper and his excitement turned to disappointment. A controversial YouTube star he’s interested in had been invited to speak on campus, but the debate had been cancelled.

      Hours before the event was to take place, the students’ union decreed that a neutral chairperson was needed, and no one suitable could be found. There had been no recourse to the law and no charges of hate speech. No doubt those convinced that campus free speech controversies are fabricated will shrug and say this is bureaucracy, not censorship. But a speaker some wanted to hear, a debate that had been months in the planning, was halted.

      In Hate, Nadine Strossen brings wisdom garnered from decades at the forefront of arguing for civil liberties to bear on the polarised and often inflammatory discussion of free speech. Her central contention, that hate speech laws are “at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive”, is well made. She argues that hate speech should be met by more speech, “counterspeech”, rather than legal restrictions.

    • ACLU Cautions Against Social Media Censorship

      The ACLU is seemingly concerned about social media censorship.

      In his conversation with HuffPost, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, Ben Wizner, drew parallels to how the situation might play out if the government were in charge of determining what is considered hate speech.

    • Prager Seeks To Revive ‘Censorship’ Suit Against Google
    • Censorship is coming
    • China Seeks to Block Access to 124 Foreign Crypto Exchanges
    • China Tightens the Noose on 124 Offshore Cryptocurrency Exchanges
    • China’s Social Media Giant WeChat Blocks a Number of Crypto Media Accounts, Sources Say
    • China to block more than 120 offshore cryptocurrency exchanges as crackdown escalates
    • China’s Bitcoin Censorship Continues as WeChat Is Targeted by Regulators

      China has become a very hostile nation for cryptocurrency. It is a very worrisome trend, but it appears there is nothing that can be done about it. In another crackdown, the country is now targeting WeChat content pertaining to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

    • Social media’s trickery with censorship
    • Trump whines about fake social media ‘censorship’ again
    • Counter tech’s content censorship with transparency, rights, says David Greene
    • Twitter CEO to testify before House panel

      Dorsey had been reluctant to commit to an appearance, even amid reports that Congress was preparing to subpoena him.

    • Google shuts down YouTube channels in expansion of state-directed online censorship
    • IRIB slams closure of its social media accounts as ‘clear censorship’

      The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has condemned a coordinated move to block its channels on social media platforms, describing it as a “clear example of censorship” aimed at preventing the dissemination of truth and alternative viewpoints online.

      In a Saturday statement, the IRIB World Service said “stifling independent media” amounts to a “political scandal” taking place in the age of communications and freedom of press.

      On Thursday, Google removed 39 YouTube channels linked to the Iranian state broadcaster. Google terminated those accounts, along with six blogs on its Blogger service and 13 Google+ accounts linked with Iran. The move came after Twitter and Facebook also blocked hundreds of accounts on suspicion of possible ties with Iran.

    • Iran Condemns Social Media Censorship

      Tehran, Aug 25 (Prensa Latina) Iran condemned today the international censorship of its media on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus.

      The foreign service of the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran issued a statement, which expresses its strongest protest against the blockade of several accounts in the country in internet.

    • What We Now Know About Iran’s Global Propaganda Campaign

      They set up phony news sites with stories ripped from other sources, backing up their state-sponsored agenda. They stole photos for their social media profiles and made up names to catfish unsuspecting victims. They formed an incestuous web of promotion across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Reddit, and other platforms. They seemed to have a thing for Bernie Sanders. And then they got caught.

      Yes, that’s the story of the infamous Russian trolls who spread divisive content throughout the 2016 presidential campaign season. But it just as easily applies to the recently discovered propaganda network that Facebook and Google have linked to Iran’s state media corporation, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. They and Twitter have since deleted hundreds of accounts between them, thanks to a tipoff from vigilant researchers at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

    • Big Tech Corporations Are Now Censoring Iranian Social Media Accounts – A Banned Student Journalist Speaks out

      Big Tech corporations in the United States have tightened their social media dragnet, censoring accounts that criticize the US government and its allies.

      In a Russiagate hysteria promoted incessantly by the US government and corporate media, social media accounts that were identified by shady private cybersecurity firms as supposed “Russian trolls” were targeted first. Then pro-Venezuelan government websites like the state-funded media outlet TeleSUR English and even the independent Venezuela Analysis had their Facebook pages temporarily removed.

      Now Silicon Valley has set its sights on Iran. While the Donald Trump administration is banning Iranians from traveling and imposing suffocating sanctions on their country, Big Tech is banning them from using social media.

    • Russia election meddling fears expand to other countries

      Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election may be motivating other foreign adversaries to use social media to try to disrupt U.S. elections going forward, security experts warn.

      Experts point to Facebook’s announcement this week that it shuttered hundreds of pages tied to foreign governments, with many of the pages — as well as accounts shut down on Twitter and Google — linked to the government of Iran.

      The development boosted the Trump administration’s claim that other foreign groups, not just Russians, are intent to sow discord while putting a fresh spotlight on the need to ward against election meddling coming from any country.

    • Google removes 58 accounts tied to Iran’s disinformation campaign from YouTube and other sites in crackdown

      Google is the latest Silicon Valley giant to find new evidence of misinformation campaigns by Iranian accounts.

      The search giant said in a blog post Thursday that it removed 58 accounts with ties to Iran from YouTube and other sites.

    • FireEye is tech firms’ weapon against disinformation, staffed with ‘the Navy SEALs of cyber security’
    • These are the liberal memes Iran used to target Americans on Facebook
    • These are the liberal memes Iran used to target Americans on Facebook

      They were the kind of social media posts that regularly get shared in liberal circles, but they were coming from sham accounts originating in Iran, the most recently uncovered attempt by a foreign adversary to sway U.S. voters.

      One meme on Facebook from a page called the Progressive Front showed former First Lady Michelle Obama holding a doctored sign that read “An Immigrant Took My Job,” a swipe at Slovenia-born Melania Trump. A tweet from the account Liberty Front Press urged people to watch a video of a parent and child reunited after being separated at the border “and be reminded of why we fight every day against the monstrous and evil policies of the Trump regime.” YouTube channels featured videos like “Everything You Need to Know about Impeachment.”

    • Here comes ‘antidisinformation as a service’

      Facebook said that 652 Facebook pages and groups run by the Iranian and Russian governments were deleted because they were found to be “misleading,” by which it meant that the pages and social profiles presented themselves as something other than what they really were.

    • Google Deletes 39 YouTube Channels Pushing Iran’s Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Nuclear Deal Propaganda
    • Fake pro-independence Facebook page originated in Iran

      A LEADING member of the Iranian opposition in exile has said Iran’s clerical regime has devoted “significant” funds and personnel to social media over the years, with the aim of spreading disinformation in pursuit of its own aims.

    • It turns out Russia isn’t the only country turning Facebook and Twitter against us
    • Google Joins Facebook, Twitter In Deleting Iran-Linked Accounts

      Accounts linked to an Iranian “influence operation” are being removed from major social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter announced their efforts to prevent the operation from levering their platforms earlier this week, and now Google has done the same for several of its sites.

      The number of accounts Google removed from YouTube, Blogger and Google+ pales in comparison to the number of accounts Facebook and Twitter removed. Google cut some 39 channels with “13,466 total U.S. views on relevant videos” from YouTube, removed six blogs from Blogger and deleted 13 accounts on the Google+ social network.

    • Google takes down content it says is related to Iranian misinformation campaign

      The YouTube channels generated few views, according to Google, only 13,466 U.S. views in all. Walker said there was not much he could say at the moment because Google was working with law enforcement. He did say that the operation has been ongoing since 2017.

    • Google removes dozens of YouTube channels linked to ‘influence operation’
    • The cybersecurity firm that helped Big Tech find election attacks

      FireEye, a California-based cybersecurity firm, has been credited twice just this week with helping two of the biggest tech companies uncover midterm election threats — and got a stock bump as a result.

    • Google terminates ‘Iran, Russia-linked’ accounts

      “Actors engaged in this type of influence operation violate our policies, and we swiftly remove such content from our services and terminate these actors’ accounts,” he added.

      “In addition to the intelligence we received from FireEye, our teams have investigated a broader range of suspicious actors linked to Iran who have engaged in this effort,” the company said, referring to an alleged cybersecurity firm, on whose tip it had started the crackdown.

    • Google removes several blogs, YouTube accounts linked to Iran

      Google has also removed 39 YouTube channels and six blogs on Blogger and 13 Google+ accounts.

    • It turns out Russia isn’t the only country using Twitter, Facebook against us
    • Not just Russians: Google follows Facebook to remove Iranian accounts
    • College of Charleston student group sues, alleging censorship and discrimination

      A group of students have filed a federal lawsuit against the College of Charleston for allegedly violating their right to free speech.

      The lawsuit, filed by South Carolina Politics Club and members Jeremy Turner and Adam Gainey, alleges the College of Charleston repeatedly refused to recognize the group — which describes itself as “student-led” and “non-partisan” — as an official, registered student organization. Without that designation, the group is unable to reserve space, invite speakers or access school funds, according to the complaint, filed Tuesday.

      A spokesman for the College of Charleston declined to comment, as the college does not comment on pending litigation.

      The college denied the South Carolina Politics Club’s application because it is too similar to other, non-partisan, political student organizations, according to the complaint. When the club appealed the decision, the university told members in order to become a recognized group, it would have to either change its views or assimilate into another, existing group at the College of Charleston, according to the complaint.

    • Prosper student journalists win battle with principal against censorship of school newspaper
    • Facebook Censorship Strikes Again

      My guess is that the post was deleted by a Facebook employee who applied a simple standard: the post wasn’t critical of President Trump. Facebook can’t defend that standard, of course, so when Salena persisted, it relented. Again, without explanation or apology.

    • Censorship: Double standard
    • Weekly Mail drew a line on censorship

      The tactic for which The Weekly Mail is most famous was the use of black lines as a form of subversive self-censorship. It consisted of publishing an article that contained material that violated the censorship restrictions and then placing black lines over the “illegal” words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs. This tactic was developed during a particularly stressful evening the night before the newspaper was to be distributed.

      The minister of information declared that the first edition of The Weekly Mail to be published under the new emergency regulations contained subversive material and ordered police to confiscate all copies of the newspaper from newsstands across the country. It was a devastating blow to the paper and revealed the lengths to which the government would go.

    • Why Social Media Shouldn’t Censor Hate Speech

      Nadine Strossen, the former president of the ACLU, argues that censorship does more harm than good—especially when it comes to social media platforms. In an interview filmed at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival in June, Strossen explains that hate speech is not a recognized legal concept in the United States. “That said,” she continues, “speech that conveys a hateful message—along with speech that conveys any message—may, in a particular context, be punished if it directly causes specific, imminent, serious harm.” Strossen goes on to demarcate the difference between free speech and hate speech. Ultimately, she makes a case for leaving the conversation about hate speech to citizens rather than government entities or social media platforms.

    • Imran Khan Government Lifts Political Censorship In State-Run Media

      Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister, Imran Khan, commenced his work as the PM and as one of the first and welcome move, he ended the political censorship on the state run radio and television. Henceforth, Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan will be allowed to air shows without any political interference or discrimination.

    • Lifting of censorship on state media step towards press freedom: IPI

      The Intern­ational Press Institute (IPI) — a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists — has welcomed the decision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift censorship on the state-run media.

      In a press statement released on Thursday, IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said: “The annou­ncement by the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan that state media will be allowed editorial independence appears to be an important step towards restoring respect for press freedom in Pakistan.”

    • Democratizing Pakistan:Prime Minister Imran Khan Lifts Censorship of State-run Media

      In what seems like an attempt to “democratize” Pakistan, the main agenda of the recently held Pakistan Elections, the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan has lifted the censorship of state-run media outlets Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan.

      Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry announced that the Imran Khan-led PTI government has lifted all censorship that existed on the state-run media houses.

    • Facebook’s Ex-Security Chief Warns: U.S. Isn’t Ready for Midterm Elections
    • Google blocks accounts in ‘influence operation’ linked to Iran
    • Google Deletes Accounts With Ties to Iran on YouTube, Other Sites

      Google announced Thursday that it deleted 58 accounts with ties to Iran on its video platform YouTube and its other sites, the latest sign that foreign agents from around the world increasingly seek to spread disinformation on a broad array of popular websites.

      The new removals targeted 39 channels on YouTube, which had more than 13,000 views in the United States, as well as 13 accounts on the social networking site Google Plus and six accounts on Blogger, its blogging platform, the company said. Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, said in a blog post that each of the accounts had ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, which is tied to Iran’s ayatollah, and that they “disguised their connection to this effort.”

      Google’s announcement comes days after Facebook suspended hundreds of accounts on its site and photo-sharing app, Instagram, that originated in Iran as well as Russia, and Twitter made a similar move. At the time, YouTube confirmed it had removed one account, called Liberty Front Press, which appeared to have connections to Iranian state media.

    • Following Facebook and Twitter, Google Targets Iranian Influence Operation

      The news comes as President Trump tweets opposition to take-down efforts by the tech giants.

      In the wake of influence-campaign takedowns by Facebook and Twitter, Google has issued a report detailing its own efforts to root out foreign influence operatives allegedly tied to an Iranian state-run media broadcaster.

    • Google Cites CIA-Backed Firm in Ban of Allegedly Iran-Backed Accounts

      Google followed in the footsteps of fellow tech giants Twitter and Facebook by blacklisting accounts a CIA-backed cybersecurity firm claims with “moderate confidence” are linked to Iran’s government.

      Google banned 58 accounts allegedly linked to Iran from its platforms on Thursday after “working closely with FireEye,” a cybersecurity firm bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Google deletes 58 accounts operated by Iran

      “In recent months, we’ve detected and blocked attempts by state-sponsored actors in various countries to target political campaigns, journalists, activists, and academics located around the world,” he added.

      Google issued a statement saying, “In addition to the intelligence we received from FireEye, a leading cybersecurity group, our teams have investigated a broader range of suspicious actors linked to Iran who have engaged in this effort.

      “We’ve updated US lawmakers and law enforcement about the results of our investigation, including its relation to political content in the United States,” the statement continued.

      “Our investigations on these topics are ongoing and we will continue to share our findings with law enforcement and other relevant government entities in the US and elsewhere, as well as with others in the industry.”

    • Letter: Social media outlets practice censorship

      I read with alarm a recent article by Doug Wead on The Federalist website. It described how he has been shadow banned on Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Wikipedia defines “shadow banning” as “the act of blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.”

      Wead is not a member of the Ku Klux Klan or a neo-Nazi. He does not promote hate speech. Wead is a conservative commentator. He has taken positions supportive of President Donald Trump, and for that he has been punished by these social media platforms.

      Free speech is a core value of this nation. So, why do these platforms think they have the right to silence voices that are contrary to the liberal narrative? Is it because they are not so confident in their arguments?

    • Overseas China scholars face self-censorship dilemma

      As China combines internal censorship and a major crackdown in its Xinjiang region, with aggressive verbal attacks and informal pressure on overseas academics, the self-censorship dilemma is becoming acute for overseas China scholars who comment China’s human rights, Tibet, Taiwan independence and other sensitive topics.

      Self-censorship is rife and some who previously spoke out on China matters have gone silent fearing access to the country, on which much of their research depends, could be curbed if they irritate the Chinese authorities.

      “There is a constant reminder with certain topics that this or that could get you into trouble with Beijing. It influences graduate topics and choices for academics and even their behaviour on social media. There is a very widespread concern about this,” says Kevin Carrico, a lecturer in Chinese studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.

    • Uni bosses deny censorship
    • AUT student editor fears censorship, despite university denying claims

      An Auckland student newspaper fears university bosses censored them during a busy open day by hiding magazines critical of campus mental health services.

      Debate magazine editor Julie Cleaver alleged “stifling freedom of speech” after magazine stands were moved from their usual prominent places inside AUT’s main building today.

      But uni officials denied censorship, saying the magazine stands were only temporarily moved during the AUT Live open day.

      “Magazine stands in the main building (WG) were not in their usual locations, but this was an issue of clearance rather than censorship,” a spokeswoman said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Who needs democracy when you have data?

      In 1955, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov published a short story about an experiment in “electronic democracy,” in which a single citizen, selected to represent an entire population, responded to questions generated by a computer named Multivac. The machine took this data and calculated the results of an election that therefore never needed to happen. Asimov’s story was set in Bloomington, Indiana, but today an approximation of Multivac is being built in China.

      For any authoritarian regime, “there is a basic problem for the center of figuring out what’s going on at lower levels and across society,” says Deborah Seligsohn, a political scientist and China expert at Villanova University in Philadelphia. How do you effectively govern a country that’s home to one in five people on the planet, with an increasingly complex economy and society, if you don’t allow public debate, civil activism, and electoral feedback? How do you gather enough information to actually make decisions? And how does a government that doesn’t invite its citizens to participate still engender trust and bend public behavior without putting police on every doorstep?

      Hu Jintao, China’s leader from 2002 to 2012, had attempted to solve these problems by permitting a modest democratic thaw, allowing avenues for grievances to reach the ruling class. His successor, Xi Jinping, has reversed that trend. Instead, his strategy for understanding and responding to what is going on in a nation of 1.4 billion relies on a combination of surveillance, AI, and big data to monitor people’s lives and behavior in minute detail.

    • Before the CIA, There Was the “Cloak and Dagger Group of Snoopers”

      “First, CIG was literally nothing more than an interdepartmental committee subsisting on handouts of money, people, and facilities from three departments which — capriciously or otherwise — could withdraw their sustaining support at any moment,” a CIA history says. “Also, while CIG could enumerate the many functions assigned to it, the embarrassing truth was that it lacked the power to carry them out.”

      The CIG was also beset by bureaucratic jockeying as the senior military officials, diplomats and former OSS officers all fought for influence in the new national security order. “Wild” Bill Donovan, founder of the OSS, once said the CIG was “a good debating society but a poor administering instrument.”

      Still, American leaders understood the need for a peacetime espionage agency and CIG lived on 20 months before the National Security Act took effect in September 1947, transforming the CIG into the CIA. For the next 70 years that agency would grow into the global spying, drone striking organization it is today.

    • NSA Taken to Court Over Warrant-Free Surveillance

      The ACLU announced this week that the NSA’s PRISM program, revealed by national security whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, will be reviewed in court. The PRISM program allows the NSA, as well as other U.S. intelligence agencies, to access U.S. citizens’ international emails, internet calls and chats without a warrant.

    • Beyond the GDPR: here comes the EU’s ePrivacy regulation – but not yet

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important – and controversial – privacy law passed in recent years. Despite its origin in the EU, its reach is truly global, since it affects anyone storing the personal data of EU citizens, no matter where the organization is located. In part because of a flurry of annoying pop-ups asking visitors to sites to agree to new terms and conditions, most people know about the GDPR by now. But few have heard of its sibling, the EU’s proposed ePrivacy Regulation, which in many respects will be even more far-reaching than the GDPR.

      Where the GDPR protects personal data when it is gathered and stored, the ePrivacy Regulation protects personal data when it is transmitted. Traditional telecoms companies are already subject to laws in this area; the ePrivacy Regulation aims to extend that to the new generation of online services that transmit personal data over the Internet. In particular, the proposed law seeks to regulate how metadata is gathered and used, and to limit how people are tracked online, for example using cookies.

    • You Should Delete Facebook’s VPN App

      [...] Onavo is a virtual private network app that lets you access the internet on your phone through a private Facebook server. While that makes it harder for third parties or hackers to spy on your phone activity, it gives Facebook full access to it. [...]

    • Phone Numbers Were Never Meant as ID. Now We’re All At Risk
    • CIA-Backed Firm Tipped Off Facebook to ‘Inauthentic’ Accounts

      Facebook removed 652 pages, groups and accounts on Tuesday for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” after it was tipped off to the accounts by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Unlike Facebook’s last round of bans, the company has a attributed the operators of the newly removed accounts to the usual scapegoats: Russia and Iran.

      “These were distinct campaigns, and we have not identified any links or coordination between them,” the company said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Rebel

      You have been told that it is dangerous to trust yourself to move through life ungoverned by rules and authority and social pressures, but it isn’t dangerous. Rules and authority and social pressures are what got us to this point, and now we’re staring into the abyss of extinction because of them. Rules and authority and social pressures are what’s dangerous. Living authentically is safety. Once you move past all the voices telling you you mustn’t and you shouldn’t, you will find that your own inner truth is so much wiser and healthier than society’s dead ideas about how we all ought to live.

      Trust yourself to be bravely and defiantly true to the truth, clear-eyed rebel. I trust you. Life trusts you. You can trust yourself. Climb up over that slaughterhouse rail and go live a life uninhibited by the painted lanes of a servile society, for the good of our species and for the honor of your own majesty. Leave the cage they built for you in a ditch by the freeway and stride out boldly into uncharted lands beneath the open sky.

    • Christopher Allan Webber: Privilege isn’t a sin, but it’s a responsibility and a debt to be repaid

      Recently I was on a private mailing list thread where there was debate about whether or not the project should take on steps to improve diversity. One of the mailing list participants was very upset about this idea, and said that they didn’t like when people accused them of the “original sin” of having white male privilege.

      I suspect this is at the root of a lot of misunderstanding and frustration around the term “privilege”. Privilege is not a sin… you are not a sinner for having privilege. However it is a responsibility and a debt to be repaid and corrected for, stemming from injustices in society.

      A popular social narrative is that everyone has an equal place at the starting line, so the winners and losers of a race are equally based on their merit. Unfortunately this isn’t true. Privilege is being able to show up at the starting line having had sleep and a good meal and the resources to train… you still worked to be able to get to the finish line and having privilege does not take that away. But if we look at the other people on the track we could see that they not only maybe didn’t get enough sleep or were not able to allocate time to train (maybe they had to work multiple jobs on the side) or couldn’t afford to eat as healthily. Some of them actually may even have to start back farther from the starting line, there are rocks and weeds and potholes in their paths. If we really want to treat everyone based on merit, we’d have to give everyone an equal place at the starting line, an equal track, etc. Unfortunately, due to the way the race is set up, that does mean needing to correct for some things, and it requires actual effort to repair the track.

    • Lithuania decides not to appeal against ECHR ruling on CIA prison

      The Lithuanian government has decided not to appeal against the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA detention facility.

      “It was decided that it would make no sense to appeal the judgement to the Grand Chamber, because there are no legal criteria for that,” Karolina Bubnyte-Sirmene, the government’s representative at the ECHR, told BNS on Wednesday.

      Although Lithuania has doubts about the standard for evaluating evidence used by the Strasbourg-based court, this cannot serve as a ground of appeal, Bubnyte-Sirmene said.

      Under the rules, judgments can only be reviewed if it is proved that the court’s case law is unclear or that the case dealt with a matter of universal importance, she said.

      The ECHR ruled on May 31 that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA prison for terror suspects between 2005 and 2006.

      The court ordered Lithuania to pay 130,000 euros to Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabia-born Palestinian, in compensation for his arbitrary detention in Lithuania.

    • Lithuania says it will not appeal European court ruling over CIA torture jail

      Lithuania on Wednesday (22 August) said it would not appeal a European court ruling that the Baltic state had been complicit in a clandestine CIA programme by holding terror suspects at a secret detention site on its territory.

      “We decided it would make no sense to appeal to the Great Chamber because there are no legal criteria for that,” government official Karolina Bubnyte Sirmene told AFP.

    • Lithuania Not to Appeal European Court Ruling Over US CIA Prisons – Official

      Lithuania decided not to appeal the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the Baltic country hosted a secret CIA jail, where the agency held and interrogated terrorism suspects, the press service of Lithuania’s representative at the court said in a statement on Thursday.

      “A decision was taken not to refer to the Grand Chamber over the case Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania. Such a decision is a result of several factors which would ultimately prevent the appeal from achieving its goal and could possibly undermine Lithuania’s reputation on the international scene,” the statement read.

      The ECHR ruled in late May that Lithuania was complicit in CIA’s secret rendition program which led to rights violations and arbitrary detention in CIA “black sites” of al-Qaeda* suspects, including Palestinian Abu Zubaydah.

    • The long legacy of Frederick Douglass

      Neil Roberts: What I wanted to do was to have, in a single volume, something that had not been made before. That’s a single volume that combines new essays with reprints of important essays from Frederick Douglass’s contemporaries, all on Douglass’s political thought. Douglass has, rightly so, been written about extensively in the areas of literature, history, rhetoric and public policy. But interestingly, he has not been treated as widely and as systematically in terms of his political thought, in terms of his contribution to different concepts.

      I wanted to assemble this volume so that scholars of Douglass, lay intellectuals, and even those who are relatively unknowledgeable about Douglass could all access very accessible works. In addition, the book has a very extensive, thematic bibliography. So beyond just the book it offers a lot for those who are interested in biographies of Douglass, works by Douglass, or secondary works either about Douglass or about themes that Douglass wrote about in his wide career.

      In my introduction (“Political Thought in the Shadow of Douglass”), instead of writing a summation of the essays in the book, I spent a large degree of time trying to reflect on, 200 years after his birth, why Douglass is significant in our current moment. I am really excited about its publication this summer, and my hope is that it can be a resource for readers who are interested in Douglass and in wanting to keep his legacy alive.

    • Sen. John McCain’s complicated moral legacy on torture

      The late Republican senator was a strong moral voice against torture. But his willingness to compromise his principles tarnished that legacy.

    • McCain’s experience as POW shaped lifelong opposition to torture

      During the Vietnam War, John McCain, then a 31-year old Navy pilot, was shot down in his plane over North Vietnamese territory, leading to five brutal years of captivity as a prisoner of war.

      The torture McCain endured at the hands of his captors produced lifelong physical effects, including the inability to raise his arms above his head and a slight limp.

    • See Ya, John

      Glorifying McCain as a war hero allows us to imagine away the sins of Vietnam by making ourselves the victim. He encouraged unjust war in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and more as a cornerstone of his career.

      When given the chance, he sold out and took Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate, enabling a change in the GOP and political discourse we are still paying for and he is responsible.

      As a victim himself of torture, McCain stood mostly silent when America tortured, finally mouthing some mild public platitudes while allowing the coverup to hide what we did. The American public knows 10x as much about McCain’s own torture as we do about what was done by American torturers to other human beings. Honor is not allowing torturers to go unpunished. Duty is not helping a coverup. Country deserves better from someone who knows better.

    • Former top Vatican official claims Pope Francis knew about abuse crisis and now should resign

      A former top Vatican official has accused Pope Francis of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent U.S. cardinal for years and called on him to resign, in an unprecedented broadside against the pope by a Church insider.

      In a detailed 11-page bombshell statement given to conservative Roman Catholic media outlets during the Pope’s visit to Ireland, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused a long list of current and past Vatican and U.S. Church officials of covering up the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last month in disgrace.

    • In Case Against Indigenous #NoDAPL Activist Chase Iron Eyes, Judge Accepts Plea Deal That Drops Most Serious Charges

      On August 21, North Dakota state prosecutors offered attorney and activist Chase Iron Eyes a plea deal for charges filed against him. They stem from protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline on February 1, 2017.

      The plea agreement dropped all serious charges against Iron Eyes, which included inciting a riot and criminal trespass. He faced a maximum of six years in state prison and would have lost his license to practice law.

      It reduces his charges to a class B misdemeanor of disorderly conduct, keeping him out of jail and removing the risk that he may lose his license to practice law.

      North Dakota Supreme Court Judge Lee Christofferson approved the plea deal on August 23.

      Private military contractor TigerSwan identified Chase Iron Eyes as one of the leaders of the No DAPL movement during the protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and conducted surveillance on him according to documents obtained by the Intercept. He ran as the Democratic candidate in the 2016 election to try to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer to represent North Dakota’s at-large congressional district.

      In his first interview since the plea deal was offered and accepted, Iron Eyes explained why he accepted the deal.

    • Understanding the mainstreaming of the far right

      Much has been written recently about the rise of the far right and its growing impact on mainstream politics. While the campaign and election of Trump remains the most covered event, the strong performance of the Freedom Party in Austria, the Front National in France, the Lega in Italy and the victory of Brexit in the UK amongst others have made such discussions ubiquitous. Countless texts focus on the ways in which the discourse of parties and movements once considered toxic have evolved or been adapted.

      While the concepts of ‘mainstream’ and ‘mainstreaming’ have commonly been invoked, their definition has been elusive, or rather avoided by scholars and experts on the topic – partly due to the fact that defining the mainstream is itself a challenge. Defining the mainstream is itself a challenge.

      It is therefore not surprising that much of the scholarly work about the mainstreaming of the far right in Europe has been based on electoral performance. Yet, focusing solely on parties and electoral politics risks both underestimating and exaggerating certain phenomena. In the 2007 French presidential election, for example, the defeat of the Front National was only a result of Nicolas Sarkozy’s absorption of many of its ideas, leading in turn to the mainstreaming of the far right party and its return to the forefront of politics. UKIP faced a similar fate after the Brexit victory, and Farage, who has continued to receive disproportionate coverage, was only too happy to say as he stood down from the party leadership that “The Ukippers will have been the turkeys who voted for Christmas.” In the US, white supremacists such as Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer, whose electoral weight is close to nil, have also received disproportionate coverage, including by the more liberal media. This occurs in a context where the far right has endorsed and been supported and emboldened by Trump.

      Therefore, we believe that it is essential to move beyond electoral politics to understand the way the far right is being mainstreamed. To do so, a few ‘common sense’ tropes must be challenged…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A Design of its Own: How to Protect the Fashion Industry

      This note discusses the gap in intellectual property protections for the fashion industry. First, it details why fashion is art of the type that typically qualifies for copyright protection, and not just a means of covering the body. Next, it discusses why this hybrid nature makes it unique and worthy of protection under current U.S. copyright law. Because designs are often chosen not just for their functional purpose, but for their artistic and expressive qualities, clothing is different from many other types of works protected by IP frameworks, including trademark and patent. The dual purpose and ability of fashion to be used as a form of expression should not keep if from the protection it deserves. The Supreme Court addressed the standard for copyright protection in the context of clothing design in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands. This Note suggests that this recent development marks an opportune time to push for new legislation that will expand the Star Athletica ruling. These increased protections for the fashion industry should be developed by drawing on other forms of IP protection for fashion in the United States, and protections in place in other countries. These hybrid works call for a hybrid solution. Though its solution, this Note fills the gap for fashion designs, particularly for designers that are just starting out or less conspicuous when it comes to branding.

    • Critical Review of Intellectual Property of Its Issue and Challenge

      Intellectual Property ordinarily includes patent, design, trademark and copyright. Due to the technological growth and globalization. Intellectual Property (IP) has acquired an international character. The greater importance on Intellectual Property all over the world can be traced from the concern of different international organization. WIPO and WTO are playing the leading role jointly for the protection of Intellectual property. Under the WTO agreement developing countries and transition economies were given use years to ensure that their laws and practices conform with the TRIPS agreement (1995 to 2000). Least-developed countries had 11 years, until 2006 conform to the TRIPS agreement. This papers described about the critical review of Intellectual property and its issue, challenge and opportunity.

    • Is Intellectual Property ‘Disrupted’ by the Algorithm That Feeds You Information in an Era of Fake News?

      In April, 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by members of Congress in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. in a series of questions about the company’s best effort to protect privacy and act against Russian interference in the 2016 election. For the reason that Facebook merely considers itself as “a technology company—one that has built a ‘platform for all ideas’,” it allows the News Feed Algorithm to respond to what the company deems the most important “kind” of information for the users. However, those contents in the information flow are sometimes cheaply generated by what we called “content farms” and can be intentionally manipulated by data analytics firms, such as Cambridge Analytica. Everyone is asking: everyone thinks Cambridge Analytica is dangerous, but no one can describe in great detail what it has done. Just the same as what we are facing now: everyone thinks Big Data is an ever-changing and far-reaching technology, but no one exactly knows why intellectual property (IP) laws should play an important part in regulating Big Data. Here, in a downright way, the issue is: is the function of IP laws “disrupted” or “undisrupted” by the News Feed Algorithm?

      The insight to answer this question may be obtained from the classical debate, “law of the horse,” between Judge Easterbrook of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Professor Lawrence Lessig: do we have a special need to adjust IP laws specially for Big Data, or we should go back to the basics: what is IP law in general and what kind of role does IP play in the society and cyber-society? Significantly, the News Feed Algorithm is targeting the mass who read the information, while IP laws are about the protection of Big Data companies’ valuable IP assets, such as patent protection for the algorithm. All the issues have the same concern: does public law have the supremacy to “disrupt” private property protection?

    • Yochai Benkler on Innovation & Networks

      Yochai Benkler is a giant within the intellectual history of IP law; some of his work will surely end up on my Classic Patent Scholarship page if I expand it to post-2000 works. Even though I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I think IP scholars should at least be familiar with his arguments. For those who haven’t read his earlier works—or who just want a refresher on his take—you might enjoy his recent review article, Law, Innovation, and Collaboration in Networked Economy and Society, 13 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. 231 (2017).

    • Copyrights

      • TorrentFreak is Blocked as a Pirate Site and Hacking Resource

        Court-ordered pirate site blockades are pretty common nowadays. While not everyone sees these as the ideal solution for the problem at hand, they follow the letter of the law. More problematic are the private blocking efforts by various Wifi providers, which we are frequently the target of. Apparently, TorrentFreak is a pirate site too.

Patent Trolls Roundup: Epic IP (IP Edge), Cumberland Systems, MacroSolve and Others

Posted in America, Patents at 8:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hvítserkur Rock Formation – The Troll of North-West Iceland

Summary: A quick weekly look at actions by and against parasites that produce nothing but patent lawsuits, typically with unoriginal software patents that have no footing in today’s patent climate in the United States

THE USPTO has fed the trolls. Yes, it has. By granting millions of patents that are of questionable validity it created an ‘underworld’ or a ‘black market’ of blackmail and extortion. Trolls with such dubious patents go after small businesses that are unable or unwilling to pursue legal defense; if the patent ‘protection’ sums (it’s really just a racket) don’t add up as much as litigation against large firms with deep pockets, then the trolls make up by ‘volume’ (targeting potentially thousands of small businesses with threatening letters).

“Bounties nowadays help invalidate patents of patent trolls (i.e. disarm/neutralise them), as we first noted some months back.”It is important to name and shame the trolls, which are often pseudo-(or poly-)nymous. They keep shifting shapes and names so as to better cover their tracks and hide who’s behind them (subsidising them and sometimes directing them, as Microsoft often does).

Several days ago when we wrote about patent trolls dropping like flies (because of legal challenges to their patents) we could just about predict/foresee Watchtroll writing in defense of these trolls. We don’t want to feed the (Watch)trolls, but let’s just say that it’s pretty revealing who supports them and props up their agenda. It’s often the sites sponsored by the trolls (like IAM) or authors to whom trolls are clients.

Bounties nowadays help invalidate patents of patent trolls (i.e. disarm/neutralise them), as we first noted some months back. Days ago Unified Patents (prolific filer of inter partes reviews (IPRs) at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)) posted not just one but two new examples of this. Someone “received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 6,434,599, owned by Epic IP,” Mr. Jain wrote. Here’s some background:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Nikhil Bhaskar, who received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 6,434,599, owned by Epic IP, an IP Edge subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’599 patent, directed towards an online chatting method, has been asserted against numerous companies in district court litigation. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

We would also like to thank the dozens of other high-quality submissions that were made on this patent. The ongoing contests are open to anyone, and include tens of thousands of dollars in rewards available for helping the industry to challenge NPE patents of questionable validity by finding and submitting prior art in the contests. Visit PATROLL today to learn more about how to participate.

Another patent troll was tackled by patent prior art and bounties help motivate submissions to that effect. To quote:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Sachin Srivastava, who received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 8,023,647, owned by Cumberland Systems, LLC, a well-known NPE. The ’647 patent, directed to a password encryption system and method, has been asserted against numerous companies in 24 district court litigations. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

Josh Landau (from the technology-centric CCIA) has meanwhile written about software patents which enable patent troll (“NPE”) MacroSolve to blackmail restaurants. “NPE Resurrects Canceled Patent To Go After Restaurants—Questionable questionnaire patent revived to go after restaurant mobile apps,” said the accompanying tweet and here’s the gist of it (the patents at hand):

A few years ago, a company called MacroSolve stopped creating products and started creating patent litigation. Its tool was a patent that claimed to cover mobile questionnaires. But after several of their targets decided to fight back, filing an ex parte reexamination request that wound up cancelling all of the claims of its patent, MacroSolve dropped their litigation campaign.

That should have been the end of the story—a poor-quality patent is issued, a company asserts the patent, and the patent gets invalidated. But as of last week, a new patent claiming the same basic idea is being used to go after a wide variety of restaurants under a new company name—Fall Line.

Questionable Patent #1

MacroSolve’s original patent on a “System and method for data management”—the ‘816 patent—claimed to cover taking a questionnaire, turning the questionnaire into tokens, wirelessly sending the tokens to a remote computer, using the tokens to collect a survey response from a user, and sending the results back.

In other words, the same online web survey using HTML forms that I filled out when I registered for college classes, years before MacroSolve “invented” the idea.

Say Goodbye To Questionable Patent #1

MacroSolve took the ‘816 patent and sued over 60 different companies, ranging from airlines to retailers to hotels. They filed their suits in the Eastern District of Texas. Rather than face the expense of litigation, a number of companies took inexpensive licenses, but eventually MacroSolve sued Newegg and Geico. They chose to fight, rather than settle, filing a request for ex parte reexamination.

The USPTO took a look at the ‘816 patent and agreed that it should never have issued—they cancelled all of the claims of the ‘816 patent.

And Hello To Questionable Patent #2

That should have been the end of the story. It wasn’t.

MacroSolve had filed a continuation application, which creates a separate patent application unaffected by the first patent being invalidated. After the ‘816 patent was invalidated, MacroSolve transferred the patents to a new company, Ediche, which continued to try to patent the same basic idea

We have meanwhile found Kluwer Patent Blog covering the recent Facebook case, which was first mentioned here last week (days after the decision from the Federal Circuit). It’s one of the latest defeats for software patents in this high court for patents (highest bar SCOTUS). To quote:

In a challenge to Facebook’s patent application for a method for arranging images contiguously in an array, a prior art reference—a patent application filed by Perrodin that related to placing images on a grid and did not require contiguity in response to resizing or rearranging in all cases—could not have disclosed the limitation of Facebook’s application that required all of the image elements to be contiguous, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled.

Last but not least, here’s an oddly-titled report, “Blackberry Patent War Mostly Survives Attack by Facebook, Snap” (very gross inversion of narratives).

Blackberry barely acts like a real company anymore (some call it a “troll”), so Facebook and Snap are defending themselves from the troll’s (Blackberry) attack. It’s not Blackberry “surviving” and being “attacked” but its questionable software patents reassessed. The lawsuit/battle is still in its early stages and here is what has happened thus far:

A federal judge on Tuesday kept intact the bulk of Blackberry’s patent infringement claims against Facebook and Snap, finding it’s too early in the proceedings to say Blackberry’s patents aren’t valid.

Blackberry sued the social media titans in March, claiming it pioneered the “sense of real-time presence” that is now standard in instant messaging applications when it developed the first messaging platform with timestamps.

The Canada-based smartphone maker accused Snap and Facebook of copying patents covering the timestamp tool, message notification icons, push notifications for ads and mapping media activity by users for their services.

Like we said at the time, these are software patents which PTAB would likely deem/consider to be invalid. Patent lawsuits such as these, however, can take a long time (years) and cost millions of dollars irrespective of the outcome.

The Patent ‘Industry’ Continues to Mislead the Public on Software Patents

Posted in Deception, Patents at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mainstream media saturated/flooded by sales pitch rather than information

A sale

Summary: Even though software patents are still abstract and are therefore disallowed in courts, those who are in the business of patent litigation try hard to convince people/firms to pursue such patents

THE LEGALITY or rather the legitimacy of software patents was once the subject of interest in Europe, even more than a decade before EPO scandals. Can patents be granted which courts would, as a matter of law, repeatedly reject? Can patent offices and patent courts be so out of tune? The USPTO has, in recent years, faced a similar dilemma. What if US patents are granted on algorithms and these patents consistently get knocked out in the courtroom? What would be the effect on confidence in patents at large?

As we have been saying for a number of years, software patents are a waste of time and money; if disguised somehow as non-abstract, examiners might award them. But what kind of “award” are these really if granted patents aren’t admissible in courts? Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) often eliminate these even outside the courts.

As always, the patent ‘industry’ does not like to acknowledge the above because it’s “not good for business” (their business). Don’t ask patent lawyers about software patents. These patent-centric lawyers will lie to anyone about needing a patents arsenal or portfolio (potentially billions to be made in the process of applying, selling and suing). Even if most of these patents are bunk, toothless and worthless, law firms stand to benefit financially.

There’s this new article titled “Ask a Lawyer: How do I patent my tech innovation?”

The aforementioned observations about legitimacy of software patents are set aside and this article by Brett Slaney, who says he “is a patent agent,” misleads on the matter. He is giving the false impression, as usual, that these patents are worth pursuing. Here’s the relevant part:

Patenting software-based methods

For most software patents, particularly those focusing on algorithms, the claimed invention is typically embodied as a method that involves carrying out particular steps (e.g., according to an “algorithm”) to provide an inventive contribution to a technical field.

For example, a mathematical algorithm or function that can reduce the size of a data packet or encrypt that data packet, when recited as a series of steps applied to the data packet to create a compressed or encrypted data packet in a new way, could be patented as a method. Similarly, an algorithm that reduces the computational efforts in traversing a neural network or that creates a more accurate classifier in a machine learning application, could be patented as a method.

Furthermore, any system (i.e. machine) that includes the necessary technical components (transceivers, processors, memory, etc.) to carry out the method, and the computer-executed instructions, that when executed by a computer carry out the method, can also be patented. Far from being excluded from the patent system, here are three types of patent protection Alice and Bob can consider for their tool.

Don’t take lawyers’ advice on patents. They ‘sell’ lawsuits. Even ones to lose (both the plaintiff and the defendant need to hire lawyers). Notice that Alice isn’t being mentioned above, nor is the appalling track record of software patents in the courtroom.

As usual, most patent lawyers lie about software patents in an effort to sell their crappy services. Honesty is not “not good for business” (their business) and here we have a new article from James J. DeCarlo and George Zalepa (Greenberg Traurig) saying that “[t]he last four years have posed significant hurdles to software patents…” (correct)

“…nevertheless they continue to be filed and allowed,” says the summary.

Allowed by who? The office. They’re very rarely allowed in courts. It’s that latter that matters a lot more.

PTAB Haters (the Patent Maximalists) Hope That SCOTUS Will Save Their Quality-Reducing Agenda

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 1:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mere months after Oil States, which dealt with this matter already

Patent Lawyers' Tears

Summary: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) still exploit 35 U.S.C. § 101 to invalidate a lot of abstract patents; in between rants about § 101 itself, proponents of software patents (typically patent lawyers) try to undermine the very mechanism of applying § 101

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), taking precedential Federal Circuit (CAFC) rulings into account, already limits patent scope — to the point of patent grants decreasing in number.

“They just want to waste even more of the courts’ time, giving perception of interim legitimacy for their massive, elaborate ‘scam’.”Patent lawyers’ interests, which are purely financial (because they do not create anything), aren’t served by this trend. Some have already attempted dirty tricks by which to avoid patents being rechecked (knowing that a reassessment would likely void patents). Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), for example, are being dodged by misusing (claims of) immunity. A few days ago Kevin E. Noonan revisited the patent ‘scam’ from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (its law firm along with Allergan’s). They just want to waste even more of the courts’ time, giving perception of interim legitimacy for their massive, elaborate ‘scam’. Eiren O’Keeffe told me: “This is indeed an elaborate scam, designed to further shield big Pharma from opening up to keep profits high and patients subservient. Ridiculous this is even allowed to progress given the obvious motivation behind these actions.”

Here is what Noonan wrote:

On July 22nd, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., affirming the decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that denied the Tribe’s motion to terminate Mylan’s inter partes review (IPR) proceedings as being barred by tribal sovereign immunity. Yesterday, the Tribe filed its brief in support of its petition for rehearing en banc.

We are pretty certain that SCOTUS won't deal with this. It would be a total waste of the court’s time.

“They are trying to make it seem as though software patents still have some worth, but that’s patently untrue.”Be sure, however, that patent extremists would do anything they can to advocate even ‘scams’ (like the above). They hate PTAB with a passion, so they’d cling onto anything!

The anti-PTAB site Anticipat, for instance, uses or takes out of context very tiny difference which can be easily explained to say “abstract idea reversal rate continues upward trend for July” (that’s the headline). They are trying to make it seem as though software patents still have some worth, but that’s patently untrue. To quote:

Similar to June, in July the PTAB decided a lot of abstract idea rejections. Of 195 total, 32 were reversed, yielding a pure reversal rate of 16.5%. One decision was partially affirmed, yielding a partial reverse rate of 17%.

The difference is minuscule and we offered an explanation for it earlier this month. In a nutshell, fewer people even bother with their patents; only ‘stronger’ cases are even being tested.

Moving on to other anti-PTAB sites, Watchtroll again (and intentionally) conflates patents with innovation or “invention” (yesterday’s guest article from Trevor Day and Neil Ferraro). One can invent things without patent applications, as many have done for centuries. But let’s put this spin aside.

Over at Watchtroll, Burman York (Bud) Mathis III is again heckling judges of CAFC because of their stance on software patents. He sure has a habit of doing so. To quote: “Judge Jimmie Reyna’s decision in McRO v Bandai is without question one of the best decisions to emerge from the Federal Circuit as it competently addressed key elements of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. Judge Kara Stoll and Judge Richard Taranto, who signed onto this landmark opinion, should also be praised with Judge Reyna. The McRO decision, among other things, stands for the idea that software is a process under 35 U. S. C. § 101, and that a claim that does naught more than receive data, process data and “apply” the processed data is patent eligible under § 101. The representative claim of McRO is reproduced below for convenience.”

“Watchtroll produced anti-PTAB pieces even twice on the same day (Monday).”McRO is a relatively old decision (a couple of years old) from back when Watchtroll attacked CAFC judges pretty viciously. The site does not care about patent quality at all; to make matters worse, it actively bashes technology companies and judges who oppose abstract software patents. Does Watchtroll stand for science and technology? Or for litigation? For justice? Or just for profits? Watchtroll has always been this crude. Watchtroll’s anti-PTAB agenda resumes, as does the 35 U.S.C. § 101 bashing for abstract ideas, which meant the very end of software patents (at least in US patent courts). These people once again hope that the Justices — however unlikely this may be — would offer redemption to them. Days ago Patently-O wrote: “Whether undisputed evidence that a patented invention is not unduly preemptive, presented to technically proficient judges of the Board, is relevant to the question whether the invention is patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

Dennis Crouch said it in relation to Smartflash v. Samsung, which saw a SCOTUS petition filed (“Smartflash Patents at issue here: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,334,720; 7,942,317; 8,033,458; 8,061,598; 8,118,221; 8,336,772; and 8,794,516.”).

Watchtroll’s Steve Brachmann wrote about a patent troll’s petition (Advanced Audio Devices) under “Supreme Court Petition Challenges PTAB’s Constitutionality Under the Takings Clause” (this issue or a similar issue was already challenged or tackled only months ago).

“These patent extremists believe that can somehow abolish IPRs, but they cannot.”Watchtroll produced anti-PTAB pieces even twice on the same day (Monday). Gene Quinn did another one, insinuating that there are “Shell Games” at PTAB. Then again on Wednesday Watchtroll was attacking PTAB (over “Transparency”). These patent extremists believe that can somehow abolish IPRs, but they cannot. Justices stand in their way. They know it. Days earlier Jeremy Doerre added another one of those patent maximalist pieces and Patently-O talked about stupid design patents (SCOTUS should knock these out and probably would had it gotten the chance). Here’s what Patently-O said:

During prosecution, the USPTO (examiner then PTAB) rejected the patent — finding the claim indefinite and not enabled. The particular problem with the drawing is that it is a flat plan view and does not show the three-dimensional structure — what do these lines actually represent in terms of 3D hills and valleys? The figures below is more ordinary for a shoe sole design — showing more than just a plan-view of the base.


In the end, this means that Maatita’s patent will be much broader in scope because it is not limited to any particular three-dimensional shape, but rather only a to the appearance from a particular perspective.

The decision here is also in-line with the Federal Circuit’s ongoing undermining of the indefiniteness doctrine — what does “reasonable certainty” mean to the court?

Patents on shoe sole designs? What next? Things like the patent below… (assigned to Zach Snyder)

Zach Snyder patent

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