Links 4/9/2018: Wine-Staging 3.15 and NetBSD 7.2

Posted in News Roundup at 3:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Hollywood formalizes support for open source in filmmaking

    It’s an interesting world that we live in. On August 10, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences—the same organization responsible for the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars), not exactly an industry that’s renowned for its openness—teamed up with the Linux Foundation to form the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF). The purpose of this organization is “to increase the quality and quantity of contributions to the content creation industry’s open source software base.” That’s right; the film industry has put together an organization in support of open source software.

    According to the ASWF, over 80% of the film production industry uses and even produces open source software, especially for visual effects and animation. Some very critical libraries and interchange formats like OpenEXR, OpenColorIO, and Alembic have been born directly from companies like Industrial Light and Magic and Sony ImageWorks.

  • How blockchain can complement open source

    The Cathedral and The Bazaar is a classic open source story, written 20 years ago by Eric Steven Raymond. In the story, Eric describes a new revolutionary software development model where complex software projects are built without (or with a very little) central management. This new model is open source.

    Some of the reasons open source is so successful can be traced back to the founding principles Eric describes. Releasing early, releasing often, and accepting the fact that many heads are inevitably better than one allows open source projects to tap into the world’s pool of talent (and few companies can match that using the closed source model).

  • Open Source week coming to South Africa in October

    The organisers of PyConZA, LinuxConfZA, and PGConfZA have announced the “first ever” Open Source week.

    “This will be a monumental and historic first for South Africa, as we host a series of community-organised conferences and events for an entire week at the same venue,” said the organisers.

    Open Source week will run from 8-14 October 2018, and will be hosted at the Birchwood Hotel – 10 minutes aware from OR Tambo airport outside of Johannesburg.

  • Open-Source Software: From The Periphery Of Tech To The Mainstream Of Finance
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Variable Fonts Arrive in Firefox 62

        Firefox 62, which lands in general release this week, adds support for Variable Fonts, an exciting new technology that makes it possible to create beautiful typography with a single font file. Variable fonts are now supported in all major browsers.

        What are Variable Fonts?

        Font families can have dozens of variations: different weights, expanded or condensed widths, italics, etc. Traditionally, each variant required its own separate font file, which meant that Web designers had to balance typographic nuance with pragmatic concerns around page weight and network performance.

        Compared to traditional fonts, variable fonts contain additional data, which make it possible to generate different styles of the font on demand. For one example, consider Jost*, an open-source, Futura-inspired typeface from indestructible type*. Jost* comes in nine weights, each with regular and italic styles, for a total of eighteen files.

      • Welcome Alan Davidson, Mozilla’s new VP of Global Policy, Trust and Security

        I’m excited to announce that Alan Davidson is joining us today as our new Vice President of Global Policy, Trust and Security.

        At a time when people are questioning the impact of technology on their lives and looking for leadership from organizations like Mozilla, Alan will add considerable capacity to our public policy, trust and security efforts, drawing from his extensive professional history working to advance a free and open digital economy.

        Alan will work closely with me to help scale and reinforce our policy, trust and security capabilities and impact. He will be responsible for leading Mozilla’s public policy work promoting an open Internet and a healthy web around the world. He will also supervise a trust and security team focused on promoting innovative privacy and security features that put people in control of their online lives.

        “For over 15 years, Mozilla has been a driving force for a free and open Internet, building open source products with industry-leading privacy and security features. I am thrilled to be joining an organization so committed to putting the user first, and to making technology a force for good in people’s lives,” says Alan Davidson, Mozilla’s new Vice President of Global Policy, Trust and Security.

      • Mozilla Firefox Announces a Change in their Approach to Anti-Tracking

        In an announcement made through Mozilla blog, it was revealed that Mozilla developers will be changing their approach towards anti-tracking. This announcement came on August 30th, 2018 and stated that in the upcoming days, Firefox will be protecting its users from potential data breaches by default. Mozilla would achieve this by blocking all kinds of tracking and offering a clear set of controls. The blog stated that these controls aimed to give users ‘more choice over what information they share with sites.’

        Mozilla developers also mentioned the reason for why are they announcing this approach, “This is about more than protecting users — it’s about giving them a voice. Some sites will continue to want user data in exchange for content, but now they will have to ask for it, a positive change for people who up until now had no idea of the value exchange they were asked to make.”

  • Funding

    • Auterion raises $10 million for open source drone operating system

      Auterion has raised $10 million in funding for its open source commercial drone operating system and launched its drone OS today as an enterprise version of the PX4 open source standard.

      The Zurich, Switzerland-based company will use the money to scale its operations and speed up development of its platform.

      The funding comes from Lakestar, Mosaic Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Tectonic Ventures. Auterion will continue to work in close alignment with the PX4 community, the most widely used open source drone autopilot software, to bring the technology to the enterprise.

    • Open source drone software startup Auterion lands $10M seed funding

      Auterion, a startup that offers a drone operating system built on top of the popular PX4 open source software, has landed $10 million in seed funding. Backing the round is Lakestar, Mosaic Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Tectonic Ventures.

      The young Swiss company says the injection of cash will be used to work closely with the wider PX4 community to further develop the open source code, and to bring the technology to more enterprise customers in the form of the Auterion platform.

  • BSD

    • NetBSD 7.2 released (August 29, 2018)

      The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 7.2, the second feature update of the NetBSD 7 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons, as well as new features and enhancements.

    • NetBSD 7.2 Released – Backports USB 3.0 Support, Raspberry Pi 3 Compatibility

      While NetBSD 8.0 was released in July with new features like initial USB 3.0 support and UEFI boot-loader support for x86 64-bit hardware, for those not wanting to jump to 8.0 from the 7 series can now enjoy NetBSD 7.2.

      NetBSD 7.2 is a feature update to NetBSD 7 for those not yet or unable to migrate to NetBSD 8.0. NetBSD 7.2 back-ports support for USB 3.0 hardware, enhances the Linux emulation subsystem, provides support for newer Intel WiFi/WLAN cards, adds Raspberry Pi 3 support, offers various USB improvements, and has various bug fixes and stability improvements.

    • NetBSD 7.2 Branch Update Release Brings USB 3.0 and Raspberry Pi 3 Support

      The NetBSD Project has released NetBSD 7.2, which is the second feature update of the NetBSD 7 release branch. This release brings a subset of fixes that were deemed important to security or stability reasons, and several new features and overall enhancements.

      NetBSD is a free and highly portable Unix-like operating system, and is entirely Open Source. It is available for many platforms such as 64-bit x86 servers, to various embedded ARM and MIPS based devices (SoCs).


    • A Fresh Concern About Open-Source Software

      The issue came to a head last week due to two separate licensing decisions in the space. First, the database project Redis, which is known for its ability to store data in memory, announced it would use a new kind of license called “The Commons Clause,” which looks like open source (in that the source is available to use and modify) but doesn’t fully fit the standard because it allows the project to require that some commercial clients pay for use.

      The problem for Redis Labs, the maker of the software, was that many cloud providers, such as Amazon, use its software but don’t contribute to its upkeep.

      “Cloud providers contribute very little (if anything) to those open source projects. Instead, they use their monopolistic nature to derive hundreds of millions dollars in revenues from them,” the company wrote on its licenses page. “Already, this behavior has damaged open-source communities and put some of the companies that support them out of business.”

    • Loongson 3A1000/3A2000/3A3000 Processor Support For GCC

      A compiler engineer working for Loongson Technology Co is looking to land a number of improvements to these newer MIPS64 processors into the mainline GCC code-base.

      Paul Hua of Loongson Tech sent out a number of patches to improve the GNU Compiler Collection’s support for these Chinese MIPS64 CPUs. In particular, the six patches officially add support for the 3A1000, 3A2000, and 3A3000 series processors. Also, there is support for the older Loongson 2K1000 processor series.

    • Sustainable Computing

      Recent discussions about the purpose and functioning of the FSFE have led me to consider the broader picture of what I would expect Free Software and its developers and advocates to seek to achieve in wider society. It was noted, as one might expect, that as a central component of its work the FSFE seeks to uphold the legal conditions for the use of Free Software by making sure that laws and regulations do not discriminate against Free Software licensing.

      This indeed keeps the activities of Free Software developers and advocates viable in the face of selfish and anticompetitive resistance to the notions of collaboration and sharing we hold dear. Advocacy for these notions is also important to let people know what is possible with technology and to be familiar with our rich technological heritage. But it turns out that these things, although rather necessary, are not sufficient for Free Software to thrive.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Why schools of the future are open

      Someone recently asked me what education will look like in the modern era. My response: Much like it has for the last 100 years. How’s that for a pessimistic view of our education system?

      It’s not a pessimistic view as much as it is a pragmatic one. Anyone who spends time in schools could walk away feeling similarly, given that the ways we teach young people are stubbornly resistant to change. As schools in the United States begin a new year, most students are returning to classrooms where desks are lined-up in rows, the instructional environment is primarily teacher-centred, progress is measured by Carnegie units and A-F grading, and collaboration is often considered cheating.

  • Programming/Development

    • Why I love Xonsh

      Shell languages are useful for interactive use. But this optimization often comes with trade-offs against using them as programming languages, which is sometimes felt when writing shell scripts.


  • Boundary Maintenance on Twitter

    Last Saturday was cut-down day in the NFL, when rosters are shaved from 90 players down to 53. For the first time, I decided to follow the action for my team by spending time (too much time, really – the kids were monopolizing the TV with video games) watching a Twitter list solely dedicated to reporters and commentators discussing my team.

    I’ve never used Twitter this way, but from an academic point of view I’m glad I did, because I witnessed first-hand the full microcosm of Twitter journalism. First, there were the reporters, who were all jockeying to be the first to report someone was cut (and confirm it with “sources.”). Then, there were the aggregators, sites with a lot of writers devoted to team analysis and discussion, but who on this day were simply tracking all of cuts/trades/etc. Ironically, the aggregators were better sources of info than the reporters’ own sites, because the reporters didn’t publish a full list until later in the day, along with an article that they were too busy to write because they were gathering facts.

    Then there were the professional commentators – journalists and semi-professional social media types who have been doing this a long time or have some experience in the sport, but who were not gathering facts. They mostly commented on transactions. Both the reporters and commentators answered fan questions. And then…there were the fans, commenting on the transactions, commenting on the reporters, commenting on the commentators, etc. This is where it got interesting.

    Apparently experienced commentators don’t like it when fans tell them they’re wrong. They like to make clear that either a) they have been doing this a long time, or b) they have a lot of experience in the league, and therefore their opinion should not be questioned. Indeed, in one case a commentator’s statement seemed so ridiculous that the “new reporter” in town made fun of it, and all the other reporters circled the wagons to say that the new guy shouldn’t be questioning the other men and women on the beat, all of whom had once held his job but left for better jobs. Youch! It turns out the statement was, in fact, both wrong and ridiculous (and proven so the next morning).

  • Hardware

    • Review of the HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd

      The HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd packs a lot of power for a price that is hard to match when building your own PC. However, it might surprise you that I would not recommend this exact machine to others. The reason is that Nvidia cards are still better supported on openSUSE Leap 15. I feel that for most people, the HP Pavilion Power 580-037nd would be the better choice. This machine features an Intel i5-7400 CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and has 8 GB of RAM. The pricing is very comparable. And the outside of the machine is the same.

      For me personally, this machine was absolutely the right choice. I am very interested in the AMD Ryzen CPU’s. I also like AMD’s strategy to develop an open source driver for its GPU’s (amdgpu) for the Linux kernel. I was looking for an AMD machine and this HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd fits the bill and then some.

    • Ancient Hardware I Have Hacked: My First Computer

      For the first couple of decades of my life, computers as we know them today were exotic beasts that filled rooms, each requiring the care of a cadre of what were then called systems programmers. Therefore, in my single-digit years the closest thing to a computer that I laid my hands on was a typewriter-sized electromechanical calculator that did addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I had the privilege of using this captivating device when helping out with accounting at the small firm at which my mother and father worked.

      I was an early fan of hand-held computing devices. In fact, I was in the last math class in my high school that was required to master a slide rule, of which I still have several. I also learned how to use an abacus, including not only addition and subtraction, but multiplication and division as well. Finally, I had the privilege of living through the advent of the electronic pocket calculator. My first pocket calculator was a TI SR-50, which put me firmly on the infix side of the ensuing infix/Polish religious wars.

    • backups⁉️

      A nice long weekend (in the US at least) is a great time to deal with your Backups. You do have backups right? They work right?

      For a number of years now I have been using rdiff-backup for my backups. Unfortunately, a week or so before flock my backups started erroring out and I put off looking into it for various reasons until now.

    • Your iPhone Might Have A Serious Problem: Here’s How To Find Out And Fix It
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Prominent Houston Judge Quits St. Luke’s Board After Heart Transplant Troubles Revealed

      A prominent federal judge quietly resigned from the board of directors at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center this year after the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica detailed a high rate of patient deaths and unusual complications following heart transplants at the hospital.

      Carolyn Dineen King, a senior U.S. Circuit Court judge, confirmed that she stepped down from the St. Luke’s board on May 30, two weeks after the investigation was published. King joined the board in January 2014 and chaired the committee that oversees quality and patient safety at the hospital.

      A reporter asked King, 80, if she quit because she hadn’t been fully informed by the hospital about problems in the heart transplant program. She responded: “I don’t want to talk about it any further than what you just laid out, what you’ve acquired. I don’t really want to get into it.”

    • African Health Ministers Approve Roadmap For Medicines Access, Framework To End Cholera

      Health ministers from the World Health Organization Africa region last week endorsed a roadmap for access for the years 2019-2023 concerning areas such as fair pricing, intellectual property management, and supply chain management. The previous day, they pledged to implement key strategies to end cholera outbreaks in the African region by 2030.


      On 28 August, 47 African countries adopted a Regional Framework [pdf] for the implementation of the global strategy for cholera prevention and control, 2018–2030, according to a press release. The framework includes key strategies for ending cholera outbreaks in the African region by 2030, it said.

      Moeti in the release said, “Every death from cholera is preventable. We have the know-how and today countries have shown that they have the will to do whatever it takes to end cholera outbreaks by 2030.”

      Africa is vulnerable to cholera, which has led to over 3,000 deaths in 17 countries in Africa, mainly because 92 million people in the region still drink water from unsafe sources, according to the release.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • 2FA with ssh on OpenBSD

      Five years ago I wrote about using a yubikey on OpenBSD. The only problem with doing this is that there’s no validation server available on OpenBSD, so you need to use a different OTP slot for each machine. (You don’t want to risk a replay attack if someone succeeds in capturing an OTP on one machine, right?) Yubikey has two OTP slots per device, so you would need a yubikey for every two machines with which you’d like to use it. You could use a bastion—and use only one yubikey—but I don’t like the SPOF aspect of a bastion. YMMV.

      After I played with TOTP, I wanted to use them as a 2FA for ssh. At the time of writing, we can’t do that using only the tools in base. This article focuses on OpenBSD; [...]

    • Germany, seeking independence from U.S., pushes cyber security research

      Germany announced a new agency on Wednesday to fund research on cyber security and to end its reliance on digital technologies from the United States, China and other countries.

    • Intel blocked kernel fixes on Meltdown and Spectre

      Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman criticized Intel’s slow initial response to the Spectre and Meltdown bugs in a talk at the Open Source Summit North America.

      Kroah-Hartman said that when Intel finally decided to tell Linux developers, the disclosure was siloyed.

      “Intel silenoed SuSE, they siloed Red Hat, they siloed Canonical. They never told Oracle, and they wouldn’t let us talk to each other.”

    • Linux Creator On Intel CPU Bugs: “It’s Unfair. We Have To Fix Someone Else’s Problems”

      Almost all modern CPUs use Speculative Execution as a means to improve performance and efficiency. Your computer’s processor performs tons of calculations in advance and chooses the correct one according to a program’s flow. It makes sense as an idle CPU is undoubtedly a wasted resource.

      When it comes to Linux creator Linus Torvalds, he likes the way speculative execution improves performance. What irritates him is the fact that not all incorrect calculations are completely discarded — this is what turned out to be the root cause of bugs like Spectre and Meltdown.

    • John McAfee’s ‘unhackable’ Bitfi wallet got hacked — again

      If the security community could tell you just one thing, it’s that “nothing is unhackable.” Except John McAfee’s cryptocurrency wallet, which was only unhackable until it wasn’t — twice.

      Security researchers have now developed a second attack, which they say can obtain all the stored funds from an unmodified Bitfi wallet. The Android-powered $120 wallet relies on a user-generated secret phrase and a “salt” value — like a phone number — to cryptographically scramble the secret phrase. The idea is that the two unique values ensure that your funds remain secure.

    • Linux Mint Debian Edition “Cindy” Released, MyCrypto Inc. Raises $4 Million Series A, John McAffee’s Unhackable Crypto Wallet Hacked, The Linux Foundation Works to Improve Security of Open-Source Code and openSUSE 2019 Registration and Call for Papers

      In somewhat related news, John McAfee’s $120 Android-based unhackable cryptocurrency wallet was hacked again. TechCrunch reports that “Security researchers have now developed a second attack, which they say can obtain all the stored funds from an unmodified Bitfi wallet” and that with this cold-boot attack, “it’s possible to steal funds even when a Bitfi wallet is switched off.”

    • “Barack Obama” Ransomware Is Infecting Windows PCs: Here’s What You Need To Know

      Prior to cybercriminals using crypto mining scripts to harness your CPU power illegally, different kinds of ransomware like WannaCry kept infecting computers all across the world. It’s not like the ransomware threat is over — every now and then, a new and interesting ransomware appears on the horizon.

    • Barack Obama’s Blackmail Virus Ransomware Only Encrypts .EXE Files
    • Wireshark fixes serious security flaws that can crash systems through DoS
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #175
    • How Hackers Can Spy On You By “Listening” To LCD Screens

      You might have come across the term side-channel attacks while reading news articles on Spectre and Meltdown. These exploits were possible due to the way Speculative Execution was implemented in Intel CPUs. Here, I’ll be telling you a new type of “physical” side-channel attack.

      In such an attack, the hackers can steal the information stored on your computer by measuring the effects of the same on the physical environment. Dubbed Synesthesia, this specific exploit measures the “acoustic leakage from LCD screens.” LCD screens with both CCFL and LED backlights are affected.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Open Source Security: Time to Look Gift Code in the Mouth? [Ed: Microsoft’s partner WhiteSource continues to smear (FUD) and attack FOSS in an effort to sell itself at Computer Business Review (PR platform)]
    • It’s time to recognise the defensive potential of open source [Ed: As usual, Flexera's Jeff Luszcz uses mostly positive language rather than FUD and smears against FOSS to sell his stuff]

      Open source has become one of the mainstays of modern vehicle technology. As vehicles move from being a mere assembly of parts into a full automotive experience, OEMs and suppliers need to delve further into the realms of technology but, as research from Flexera has revealed, this revolution is reliant on vast amounts of open source software that many companies do not realise they are even using, as Jeff Luszcz, Vice President of Product Management at the company, explained in a recent Automotive World webinar.

    • Google open-sources internal tool for finding font-related security bugs

      Google has open-sourced an internal tool that can help security researchers find security bugs in font display (rasterization) components.

      The tool is named BrokenType and is the work of Google Project Zero security engineer Mateusz Jurczyk, one of the leading experts in font-related security bugs.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • UK used secret threats to keep Chagos Islands, court hears

      The UK has retained possession of a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean that includes the strategic US airbase of Diego Garcia through political pressure and secret threats, the international court of justice has been told.

      In the opening submissions of a legal challenge to British sovereignty of the Chagos Islands at the court in The Hague, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Mauritius’s defence minister, alleged that his country was coerced into giving up a large swathe of its territory before independence.

      That separation was in breach of UN resolution 1514, passed in 1960, which specifically banned the breakup of colonies before independence, the Mauritian government argued before the UN-backed court, which specialises in territorial and border disputes between states.

    • Britain’s shame: Colonial-style evictions to make way for military base

      British officials threatened Mauritians with the withdrawal of an independence agreement if they did not surrender a large tract of their territory to the British, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) heard on Monday.

      This is according to the statement delivered by Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Mauritius’s defence minister, before the court in the Hague, as it embarked on its public hearings that may determine the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. The archipelago is Britain’s last remaining African colony.

    • Britain fights for control of its last African colony

      On Monday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague began public hearings that may determine the fate of the Chagos Islands — Britain’s last remaining African colony.

      Twenty-two nations have applied to take part in the proceedings. Supporting Britain in its bid to retain control of the islands are the United States, Australia and Israel. The United States maintains a large and strategically important naval base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands.

      Opposing Britain’s continued rule over the Indian Ocean archipelago is Mauritius, which argues that the Chagos Islands should fall under its sovereignty.

    • Chagos Islands dispute: UK ‘threatened’ Mauritius

      The British government has been accused of threatening a close ally in an increasingly bitter diplomatic tug-of-war over the fate of a tiny, strategic archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

      The dispute over the Chagos Islands – home to the US military base on Diego Garcia – is being portrayed by some as an indication of Britain’s waning influence on the world stage following the Brexit vote.

      Next week the issue will come before judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

      “We have had verbal threats,” said the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, in an interview with BBC News.

      He did not dispute a report that Britain’s former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had called him personally to pressure Mauritius to back down on its demand that the islands be returned after decades under UK control.

    • CIA spied on me even after ’98 Pokhran tests: Rtd army officer

      After the 1998 nuclear weapon tests at Pokhran, codenamed Operation Shakti, the CIA had recruited a spy in a bank at Port Blair to keep track of a senior army officer who had played a major role in the project.

      Twenty years after Colonel Gopal T Kaushik (retired) commanded the 58th Engineering Regiment, which was entrusted with the challenging task of ensuring the security of the Pokhran test range, deceiving CIA spy satellites, assembling bombs, carrying out construction and transportation in a remote location in Rajasthan, he narrated untold spy stories, akin to a James Bond thriller, at Nehru Centre in Worli on Saturday.

    • CIA-Saudi conspire to cover-up 9/11 details secret, reveals new book

      John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, the authors of a new explosive book on 9/11 have taken a new and deeper look and find huge holes and contradictions in the official story into the tragedy, happened on September 11, 2001, mere “a failure to connect the dots.”

    • Chagos Islands: international dispute and human dram

      Fifty years ago Britain separated the Chagos Islands from its colony Mauritius, expelling the entire population to make way for the installation of a US military base that is today highly strategic.

      Britain’s 1965 acquisition of the Indian Ocean archipelago has been disputed ever since, with Mauritius demanding its return.

      As the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague holds hearings on the case from Monday, here is some background.

    • Zimbabwe: Chamisa Reportedly Wants ED to Fire VPs in Engagement Demands

      MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has reportedly demanded the axing of Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi in a list of demands he has reportedly placed before President Emmerson Mnangagwa before he could accept the latter as President.

    • Chamisa Demands Axing of Chiwenga Mohadi As Part of Demands for GNU Agreement

      MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has reportedly demanded the axing of Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi in a list of demands he has reportedly placed before President Emmerson Mnangagwa before he could accept the latter as President.

      His spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said weekend that the opposition leader will not negotiate in public although he could not be drawn into revealing if there was any engagement between the political rivals.

    • ‘GNU Can Only Function If Chamisa Is Declared President’

      Taruvinga castigated President Emmerson Mnangagwa for attempting to use Chamisa’ s name to mend his tattered relations with the international community.

    • ‘ED stole elections!’ insist Chamisa – what happened to ‘stringent measures to stop rigging’?

      MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa wants any talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to yield electoral reforms and an economic rescue package for the country.

      “On 29 August 2018, the national council met in Harare at Morgan Tsvangirai House, to review the situation and consider its position and way forward,” wrote Chamisa.

    • Israel to charge drone maker executives with fraud

      Israeli prosecutors say they plan to charge executives of an Israeli drone company with fraud and export violations concerning its dealings with a “significant client.”

      A Justice Ministry statement said Wednesday that after an almost yearlong investigation the State Attorney’s office summoned top Aeronautics Ltd. officials, including its chief executive, for a hearing pending indictment.

    • Israeli Drone Maker, Said to Have Bombed Artsakh Targets, Faces Charges

      Top officials of the Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd, an Israeli arms manufacturer, on Wednesday were summoned to a hearing by Israel’s State Attorney’s office, which said it intends to indict the company for allegedly using an armed kamikaze drone against Artsakh targets last year under orders from Baku during a live demonstration of its product, the Orbiter 1K model UAV.

      According to The Times of Israel, Wednesday’s announcement comes after a nearly year-long joint investigation of the Israel Police’s Unit of International Crime Investigations, the Defense Ministry’s investigation unit and the State Attorney’s Office into Aeronautics’s conduct.

    • Israel Accuses Drone Maker Of Bombing Armenian Soldiers, At Baku’s Request

      Israel has accused an Israeli drone maker of bombing ethnic Armenian soldiers in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region at the request of Azerbaijani clients during a sales demonstration, government and local media reported.

      The accusation by Israel’s Justice Ministry on August 29 did not specifically mention Azerbaijan or Nagorno-Karabakh in its statement. But Israeli media said a complaint filed with the Defense Ministry, which promoted an investigation, made it clear that Azerbaijani officials and ethnic Armenian soldiers were involved.

    • Israeli company is charged with live-testing drone on Armenian soldiers

      Employees of an Israeli drone manufacturer are facing charges for reportedly demonstrating their weaponry on Armenian soldiers at the request of clients from Azerbaijan, the justice ministry and media said on Wednesday.

      “Aeronautics and 10 of its employees were informed that they were set to be charged, pending a hearing,” the justice ministry said of the company based in the central Israeli town of Yavneh.

      Aeronautics chief executive Amos Mathan and other senior employees were suspected of “fraudulently obtaining something under aggravated circumstances” as well as violations of Israel’s security export control law, the ministry said.

    • Israeli drone firm faces charges for ‘bombing Armenians for Azerbaijan’

      Israel’s State Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday, August 29 that it intends to indict, pending a hearing, officials of a drone manufacturer that allegedly attempted to bomb the Armenian troops in Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) on behalf of Azerbaijan during a demonstration of one of its unmanned kamikaze aerial vehicles last year, the Times of Israel reports.

      Among those from Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd summoned to appear before the State Attorney’s Office’s Economics Division are the company’s CEO Amos Matan, deputy CEO Meir Rizmovitch, development director Haim Hivashar and marketing director David Goldin.

    • Israel to charge drone maker executives with fraud

      Israeli prosecutors say they plan to charge executives of an Israeli drone company with fraud and export violations concerning its dealings with a “significant client.”

      A Justice Ministry statement said Wednesday that after an almost yearlong investigation the State Attorney’s office summoned top Aeronautics Ltd. officials, including its chief executive, for a hearing pending indictment.

    • Officials at Aeronautics summoned for hearing before indictment

      The State’s Attorney’s Office’s Economic Department has summoned ten employees of Aeronautics Defense Systems, a company that produces UAVs and multirotor drones, to a hearing.

      Employees are to be questioned regarding one of the company’s deals with a major client abroad. The details are still concealed under a gag order.

    • Israeli company that allegedly attempted to bomb Armenian military to face trial

      The Israeli state prosecutor’s office intends to sue the Israeli drone firm Aeronautics Defense Systems for using the drone against Armenian troops during the demonstration in Baku.

    • Drones Are Catching on in Public Safety Circles, But Denver PD Isn’t Totally Convinced
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks associate

      Norwegian police on Sunday said they were investigating the disappearance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s associate Arjen Kamphuis, a cyber security expert, who was last seen in northern Norway.

      “We have started an investigation,” police spokesman Tommy Bech told AFP, adding that so far they had no clue about the Dutch citizen’s whereabouts.

      The police “would not speculate about what may have happened to him,” Bech said.

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s key associate
    • ‘Strange disappearance’ of WikiLeaks consultant

      Associate of founder Julian Assange goes missing in Norway

    • ‘Strange disapppearance’ of WikiLeaks consultant in Norway

      The internet transparency entity WikiLeaks tweeted on Sunday about Arjen Kamphuis’ “strange disappearance,” saying he has been missing since August 20 when he left his hotel in the northern Norwegian town of Bodo.

      WikiLeaks said that Kamphuis, an associate of founder Julian Assange, had a ticket for a flight departing on August 22 from Trondheim, which is over 700 kilometres (435 miles) south of Bodo.

      “The train between the two takes (approximately) 10 hours,” suggesting he disappeared either in Bodo, Trondheim or on the train, WikiLeaks said.

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks associate

      Norwegian police on Sunday said they were investigating the disappearance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s associate Arjen Kamphuis, a cyber security expert, who was last seen in northern Norway.

      “We have started an investigation,” police spokesman Tommy Bech told AFP, adding that so far they had no clue about the Dutch citizen’s whereabouts. The police “would not speculate about what may have happened to him,” Bech said.

      WikiLeaks tweeted on Saturday about Kamphuis’s “strange disappearance”, saying he had been missing since August 20 when he left his hotel in the northern Norwegian town of Bodo.

      It added that Kamphuis had a ticket for a flight departing on August 22 from Trondheim, a city located more than 700 kilometres (435 miles) south of Bodo.

    • Julian Assange’s associate cyber security expert mysteriously missing in Norway

      Police in Norway are looking into the disappearance of Arjien Kamphuis, a Dutch citizen with links to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Versions on Twitter have ranged from a hiking incident, to a secret assignment, to a CIA hit.

      Kamphuis, a cyber security expert and co-author of a handbook for investigative journalists on how to keep themselves and their work safe from government spying, has been missing since August 20th, when he checked out of a hotel in the town of Bodø in northern Norway.

    • Julian Assange’s Associate’s ‘Strange Disappearance’ Probed by Norway Police

      This weekend, the WikiLeaks Twitter account claimed that cybersecurity expert Arjen Kamphuis went missing on August 20, two days before he was scheduled to fly to Amsterdam. This comes amid concerns about the security of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is about to end his six-year self-imposed confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      Norwegian police have opened an investigation into the disappearance of Arjen Kamphuis, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s associate, who was last seen in the northern Norwegian town of Bodo on August 20.

      The investigators don’t know the whereabouts of Kamphuis, police spokesman Tommy Bech said, as cited by AFP. He refused to speculate on what may have happened to the missing Dutchman.

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks associate

      Norwegian police on Sunday said they were investigating the disappearance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s associate Arjen Kamphuis, a cyber security expert, who was last seen in northern Norway.

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks associate

      “The train between the two takes (approximately) 10 hours,” suggesting he disappeared either in Bodo, Trondheim or on the train, WikiLeaks said, triggering numerous conspiracy theories on Twitter.

      Assange has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 when he was granted political asylum as he feared extradition to the United States to face trial over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

    • Norway to investigate disappearance of WikiLeaks’ associate

      NORWEGIAN police said yesterday they were investigating the disappearance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s associate, Arjen Kamphuis, a cyber security expert, who was last seen in northern Norway.

      “We have started an investigation,” police spokesman Tommy Bech told AFP, adding that so far they had no clue about the Dutch citizen’s whereabouts.

    • Report: WikiLeaks Consultant Mysteriously Disappears in Norway

      Kamphuis, a cybersecurity expert, was scheduled to fly out of Trondheim, a town located 435 miles south of Bodo, but appears to have never boarded his plane. “Arjen left his hotel in Bodø on August 20. He had a ticket flying out of Trondheim on August 22. The train between the two takes ~10 hours, suggesting that he disappeared in within hours in Bodø, Trondheim or on the train,” WikiLeaks tweeted over the weekend.

    • Missing Julian Assange associate raises questions over links to Wikileaks
    • ‘Strange disappearance’ of Wikileaks consultant and associate of Julian Assange is investigated in Norway

      Assange’s organisation WikiLeaks tweeted on Saturday about the Dutchman’s disappearance, sparking numerous conspiracy theories online.

    • Norwegian Police Launch Investigation Into Disappearance of WikiLeaks Associate

      Kamphuis, 47, was last seen Aug. 20 checking out of his hotel in the Norwegian town of Bodø.

    • What Does The Intercept’s NSA Leak Say About Russian Vote Hacking?

      With Reality Winner sentenced to five years behind bars, The Intercept’s Jim Risen joins Aaron Maté to discuss the NSA leaker’s harsh sentence and what the document she revealed actually says. Is there solid evidence of Russian vote hacking?


      NSA leaker Reality Winner was recently sentenced to five years in prison for sending a top secret NSA document to the Intercept. The document accuses Russian military intelligence of a cyber operation targeting the U.S. voting system. Reality Winner’s prison sentence is the longest ever for a media leak in a federal U.S. case. And among many issues, her case has renewed concerns about the selective and harsh prosecution of some government leakers but not others. In a statement, the Intercept said Winner was, quote: “prosecuted with bishops resolve under the Espionage Act,” which it calls, quote: “an attack on the First Amendment that will one day be judged harshly by history,” unquote.

      Well, joining me is Jim Risen. He’s the Intercept’s senior national security correspondent, and director of First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund, which supported Reality Winner’s defense. Welcome, Jim. The issue of the prosecution of government leakers has been an issue that you’ve been close to for some time. Talk about the prosecution of Reality Winner, and how it fits into the concerns you’ve been raising for a while about who gets prosecuted, who doesn’t, and how they’re treated by the justice system.

    • Journalists arrested over suspected theft of Loughinisland massacre documents

      amilies of a notorious massacre during the Northern Ireland troubles have condemned the arrest of two investigative journalists who worked on a documentary on the outrage.
      Award winning reporters Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey have been detained over the suspected theft of confidential documents relating to the Loughinisland killings of 1994.

      Six men were murdered when loyalists opened fire on a crowd of football fans gathered around a TV in a village pub watching the Republic of Ireland play in the World Cup.

      Last year’s No Stone Unturned film examined the persistent claims of state collusion in the murder and broke new ground by publicly naming what it said were suspects.

    • Foreign minister says Gruevski pretended to want solution in name dispute

      Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias hit back at the main opposition on Monday after New Democracy implicitly accused the government of caving into the demands of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the name deal achieved last June, following information revealed in a Wikileaks cable.

      The leaked information shows FYROM was willing to accept the name Republic of Northern Macedonia or Republic of North Macedonia as early as 2008, provided it included the recognition of the “Macedonian” language and nationality.

    • Sparks over WikiLeaks release

      New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated his pledge on Monday not to ratify the deal reached between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the latter’s name back in June, following the release by WikiLeaks of a cable which showed Skopje would have accepted the name “North Macedonia” in 2008 provided it included the recognition of the “Macedonian” language and nationality.

      “Today’s revelation from WikiLeaks, that Skopje had been asking since 2008 to name their country ‘North Macedonia’ and their people ‘Macedonians’ who supposedly speak the ‘Macedonian’ language confirms in the most tragic way what I have been stressing all those months. That [PM Alexis] Tsipras, [Defense Minister Panos] Kammenos and [Foreign Minister Nikos] Kotzias wanted to present their extremely damaging agreement – which satisfied what Skopje had been demanding for years and had been rejected by all previous governments – as a success for Greece,” Mitsotakis said in a statement.

    • Wikileaks: FYROM would have accepted ‘North Macedonia’ in 2008

      The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was willing to accept the name Republic of Northern Macedonia or Republic of North Macedonia as early as 2008, provided it included the recognition of the “Macedonian” language and nationality, according to a cable of the US embassy in Skopje, released by Wikileaks.

      The classified cable, titled “What the Macedonians need to resolve the name dispute”, is dated July 29, 2008 and was compiled by the then US Ambassador to the neighboring country, Gillian Milovanovic.

      The cable shows FYROM’s negotiating targets have not changed much in the last decade and were achieved – to a certain extent – with the signing of the Greek-FYROM deal in Prespes Lake region in June this year.

    • Mitsotakis reiterates tough stance on FYROM name deal after Wikileaks cable

      New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated on Monday his pledge not to ratify in Parliament the deal reached between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name back in June, following a cable by Wikileaks which showed Skopje would have accepted the name “North Macedonia” in 2008.

    • Wikileaks reveal FYROM would have accepted “North Macedonia” since 2008

      The nationalistic government of Skopje under Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski back in 2008 appeared ready to accept an agreement with Greece under the name “Republic of North Macedonia” or “Republic of Northern Macedonia”, a previously classified cable of the US embassy in Skopje, released by Wikileaks.

      Specifically, the document entitled “What the Macedonians need to resolve the name dispute”, dated July 29 2008, reveals that FYROM has made no concessions towards the Greek side, despite currently ruling SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition government’s story surrounding the Prespes Agreement.

      Signed by the then US Ambassador to the Balkan country Gillian Milovanovic, the cable shows that FYROM had already set its own “red lines” demanding the recognition of the “Macedonian” language and nationality in order to proceed to a deal with Greece.

    • FYROM would have accepted ‘North Macedonia’ 10 years ago, Wikileaks reveals

      According to a classified cable from the US embassy in Skopje which was released by Wikileaks on Monday, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was willing to accept the name Republic of Northern Macedonia or Republic of North Macedonia since 2008.

      The basic term clarified in the cable titled ‘What the Macedonians need to resolve the name dispute’ and dated July 29, 2008 was to secure the recognition of the “Macedonian” language.

      The cable compiled by the then US Ambassador to the neighboring country, Gillian Milovanovic was in fact very similar to the joint deal that was signed by FYROM and Greece in the Prespes Lake region back in June.

    • Kathimerini: Sparks over WikiLeaks release

      New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated his pledge on Monday not to ratify the deal reached between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the latter’s name back in June, following the release by WikiLeaks of a cable which showed Skopje would have accepted the name “North Macedonia” in 2008 provided it included the recognition of the “Macedonian” language and nationality, Kathimerini writes.
      “Today’s revelation from WikiLeaks, that Skopje had been asking since 2008 to name their country ‘North Macedonia’ and their people ‘Macedonians’ who supposedly speak the ‘Macedonian’ language confirms in the most tragic way what I have been stressing all those months. That [PM Alexis] Tsipras, [Defense Minister Panos] Kammenos and [Foreign Minister Nikos] Kotzias wanted to present their extremely damaging agreement – which satisfied what Skopje had been demanding for years and had been rejected by all previous governments – as a success for Greece,” Mitsotakis said in a statement.

    • Zaev says Wikileaks cable additional reason to approve name deal

      The revelations in a Wikileaks document released on Monday, according to which the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) would have accepted the name North Macedonia back in 2008, provided that Greece recognized a Macedonian language and identity, are one more reason for FYROM citizens to vote “Yes” in the upcoming referendum on the name deal, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Tuesday.

      “Part of the name solution and its erga omnes use was accepted, both for North and Upper Macedonia,” Zaev told reporters. “I am pleased that we have received confirmation of our identity, the Macedonian language, which was an important objective of the negotiating team.”

    • Wikileaks: FYROM would have accepted new name in 2008

      Just tree weeks before a referendum on 30 September on Macedonia’s name deal with Greece, a US embassy cable revealed by Wikileaks showed the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was willing to accept the name Republic of Northern Macedonia or Republic of North Macedonia as early as 2008. The name dispute has blocked closer EU relations.

    • Norwegian police begins investigating the strange disappearances of colleagues of WikiLeaks founder news ZIK.UA

      Norwegian police have launched an investigation into the disappearance Arjen Kamphuis, Dutch expert on cybersecurity and colleagues of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was last seen two weeks ago in Norway.

      WikiLeaks published an updated tweet on Saturday, “about the strange disappearance of the” man that called itself a “digital specialist of self-defense”, – informs the Huffington Post.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • New Labour’s Irrational Adoration of Thatcher

      When Michael Crick embarrassed Theresa May by quizzing her on her non-existent opposition to apartheid as she visited Mandela’s old cell, the response of New Labour was to defend May by claiming the Tories had opposed apartheid all along. Progress and Labour Friends of Israel rushed immediately to the defence of the person they truly adore, who sits higher still in their Pantheon than Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. They rushed to defend the memory of Margaret Thatcher.

      Ex-Labour MP Tom Harris and Blair’s former Political Director John McTernan (who now write for the Tory Spectator and Telegraph) led the suicide charge of the Labour Thatcherites.


      The truth is very easy to discover, and it is not what the Blairites now claim in their deluded Thatcher worship. Sir Patrick Wright, former Head of the Diplomatic Service, was absolutely correct in observing that Thatcher supported a “Whites-only” state:

    • Engaging Students in Critical Media Literacy—in the Classroom and Beyond

      In the past five years, more than 1,300 students from dozens of college and university campuses in the United States and Canada have flexed their media literacy “muscles” by researching and publicizing important but underreported news stories through Project Censored’s Campus Affiliates Program.

      Critical thinking and media literacy are essential skill sets for students in the 21st century, as supporters of Project Censored no doubt appreciate. Through the Project’s Campus Affiliates Program, college and university professors across North America provide their students with direct, hands-on opportunities to develop their critical thinking skills and media literacy by researching what we call Validated Independent News stories.

    • Abby Martin, Mike Prysner, and Kevin Gosztola
    • How To Own Life Like A Fucking Wizard

      Because here’s the thing: since society is made of narrative, and since nobody knows what the fuck is going on, you can pretty much arrange the narratives around you in a way that suits you just by declaring confidently, consistently and assertively what it is that’s happening. People will adjust their ideas about what’s going on to accommodate your ownership of the narrative, and before you know it you’re being uplifted by society and supported toward whatever goals you’ve got in mind. Decide you’re a leader, they’ll make you a leader. Decide you’re successful, they’ll make you successful. Decide you know what’s happening, they’ll believe you. Say what you want like it’s going to happen, and if it’s a want that society can fulfill, they will.

    • Trump claims he’s losing social media followers because of Google, Facebook, and Twitter censorship

      While you’d never know it from this statement, the “censorship” charges against Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all fairly different. Trump’s main complaint here seems to be losing followers on Twitter, which is suspending large numbers of apparent spam accounts. That’s completely different from his complaint about Google, which he claims is manipulating its algorithms to display a disproportionate amount of negative news coverage about him. Trump hasn’t talked as much about Facebook, but a few Congress members have complained about conservative publishers getting less page traffic than usual — without, however, providing evidence that this isn’t part of a larger traffic slump for all publishers.

    • Mugabe’s ‘priest’ wants youths to lobby for GNU formation

      Catholic priest, Father Fidelis Mukonori, has called on youths from both Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance to lobby their warring party leaders to set aside their differences and form another Government of National Unity (GNU) to end the current stalemate, which he said was crippling economic transformation.

      In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, the cleric, who facilitated former President Robert Mugabe’s stepping down last November, said the current polarised environment was compromising the national agenda.

    • “End Political, Economic Stalemate Through GNU”: Says Mugabe Priest Father Fidelis Mukonori

      Father Fidelis Mukonori, has urged youths from both Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance to lobby their party leaders to set aside their differences and form another Government of National Unity (GNU) and end the current statemate which he said was crippling the country’s economic transformation.

      Father Mukonori said the youths had the mandate to sing the GNU mantra daily as a way of encouraging both leaders to form a coalition government as a way forward for Zimbabwe.

    • Donald Trump Has Betrayed American Workers—Again and Again and Again

      Despite his campaign promises, Trump has consistently put corporations and the rich ahead of American workers.

    • Now we know: ‘the resistance’ is the establishment

      John McCain‘s funeral exposed the cynicism of Anti-Trumpism.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Private censorship

      The technical issue being raised by many is that social media is being misused for creating enmity between communities, which is being dubbed as hate speech. There are laws to curb hate speech. The police and society have instruments to prosecute people who misuse social media, which in turn has the responsibility to respond to the state as soon as it is warned of a potential misuse.

      But social media platforms argue they are not Indian platforms as they operate from the US. Google and Facebook take the position that they are not bound by the Indian law; only the US law governs them.

      India has laws to prosecute people who misuse social media. Social media platforms have to cooperate with the state in fulfilling its basic function, and if they don’t, we should explore options to make them liable under Indian law. After all, hate is not freedom of speech; it’s culpable offence under the Indian law.

    • Islamic UN “Human Rights” Boss Seeks “Proactive” Web Censorship

      Perhaps learning from past failures, Hussein was strategic about his calls for Internet censorship. Rather than just outright demanding that speech he disagrees with be purged from the Web — for instance, speech criticizing mass Islamic migration into the West, Islam itself, or even its prophet, Mohamed — he interspersed his comments between references to reported Buddhist attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (also known as Burma). In fact, he even threatened Internet companies such as Facebook that they could be prosecuted by self-styled global “authorities” as “accessories” to crimes, merely for not taking down speech that the UN thinks should be banned.

    • Criticism Is Not Censorship
    • Brown statement, community letter on gender dysphoria study

      Following the decision to remove a news article on “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” the University issued the following statement, and the School of Public Health dean wrote to Brown’s public health community.

    • Brown University Censors ‘Gender Dysphoria’ Study from Website After Pressure Campaign

      Brown University has censored a research paper on gender dysphoria from its website after it sparked a backlash from the LGBT community.

      A research paper was published by Brown University School of Public Health Professor Lisa Littman about a trend amongst teenagers involving gender dysphoria. The piece contends that young people are experiencing “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.”

    • University Criticized Over Removal of Transgender Study
    • People noticed that anti-trans junk science is, in fact, junk. Conservatives aren’t taking it well.
    • Brown U. censors ‘gender dysphoria’ study, worried that findings might ‘invalidate the perspectives’ of transgender community

      Is there a need to censor social media in our society?

      Let’s be more specific, do we need to censor social media influencers?

      The issue prior to this one tackled about influencers in the marketing world. This time, the thin line that separates “freedom of speech” from “decency or censorship” and how these influencers acknowledge that line, if there is, in the way they express their thoughts online.

      Anyone here thinks there should be a limitation on how the personalities we follow on social networking sites express themselves?

    • Tell us what you think: Do you trust big tech companies or Donald Trump? [Ed: Corporate media, corporate spin and a false dichotomy: either you trust corrupt Trump or large corporations. No option for neither.]

      In recent months, technology companies have come under increasing public scrutiny as they aim to strike a delicate balance between allowing free user expression on their platforms and preventing abuse.

      Last Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump took aim at Facebook, Google and Twitter as he said the platforms were “treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.”

      Trump’s remarks came after he alleged that Google had “rigged” its search engine to prioritize left-leaning media outlets as well as negative news about him and other conservatives.

    • Danzig’s 1988 Debut Album Exposed a Flawed Attempt at Censorship

      Alternative rock’s rise to prominence in the early ’90s made for some surprising hit singles, including some from cult heroes for whom mainstream acceptance never seemed in the cards. After Nirvana, it seemed like a shot at their proverbial 15 minutes. But even by that measure, the success of Danzig‘s “Mother ’93” felt a little bit like hell freezing over.

      Glenn Danzig wasn’t groomed for major radio and MTV, and even his hit single took five years to break through the underground to wider audiences (“Mother ’93” is a slightly retooled version of “Mother”, originally released on the self-titled 1988 debut album from the singer’s namesake band). But the song’s success won Danzig more than record sales and fame. It also earned him some hearty vindication.

    • The president’s attacks on social media are incoherent and depressing

      Conversations about social media continued to dominate the capital. “Conversations” is too strong a word — it was more like a sustained airing of petty grievances. As usual it was unclear what, if anything, would emerge from these grievances, other than another round of headlines about them.

    • Facebook accused of censorship by Anne Frank Center just weeks after Zuckerberg’s holocaust denial debacle

      FACEBOOK has been blasted as “hypocritical” after it removed a post by the Anne Frank Center just weeks after its CEO Mark Zuckerberg said holocaust deniers would not be banned.

      “Hi @Facebook, you removed our post promoting the need for Holocaust Education for apparently violating community standards. You haven’t given us a reason, yet allow Holocaust Denial pages to still exist. Seems a little hypocritical?” tweeted the Anne Frank Center on Wednesday.

    • Facebook Apparently Censors Anne Frank Center’s Post Promoting Holocaust Education

      Facebook recently removed a post by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect over an alleged violation of the site’s “community standards.” So far, the tech giant has not answered questions as to why the post was removed.

    • Facebook criticised for taking down Anne Frank Center post promoting Holocaust education

      Facebook has apologised for removing a Holocaust news article by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect “for violating community standards”.

      The image showed naked, emaciated children at a Nazi concentration camp and linked to a news article titled “Americans and the Holocaust. Scary numbers.”

      The article revealed the results of a survey that showed almost a third of Americans believe that substantially fewer than six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

    • Facebook took down a post by the Anne Frank Center for showing nude Holocaust victims
    • Facebook still has trouble figuring out when nudity is newsworthy
    • Facebook pulls post by Anne Frank Center after seeing only nudity in a photo of the Holocaust
    • The Great Firewall of censorship: China cuts access to Australia’s ABC News website without giving any reason
    • China blocks access to Australian state broadcaster ABC
    • China blocks access to Australian Broadcasting Corp sites
    • China blocks Australian public broadcaster’s website in latest censorship move

      ABC’s website was blocked on Aug. 22, according to an official statement by ABC — the same day the Australian government banned Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE from building Australia’s 5G network due to national security concerns.

      ABC now joins the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, whose websites are also blocked in China.

    • ‘China’s a sovereign country’: PM unfazed by ABC censoring
    • China bans ABC website but says its internet is ‘fully open’
    • China blocks top Australian broadcaster’s website
    • ABC blocked by China’s ‘great firewall’, accused of breaching internet laws
    • China blocks Australian state broadcaster’s website: ABC
    • China blocks Australian state broadcaster’s website: ABC
    • Australian state broadcaster ABC says website blocked in China
    • William D. Balgord: YouTube trips over censorship of climate scientist
    • Bitcoin.com CEO Argues That Bitcoin Subreddit Moderators Should Stop Forum Censorship
    • Google urged not to censor China searches

      More than a dozen human rights groups are urging Google not to offer censored internet search in China, amid reports it is planning to again provide the service in the giant market.

      A joint letter Tuesday calls on chief executive officer Sundar Pichai to explain what Google is doing to safeguard users from the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance.

      It describes the company’s secretive plan to build a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship as representing “an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights.”

    • UK attacks Google over China censorship and failure to remove child abuse content
    • Hunt condemns Google hypocrisy over China censorship
    • Drive to stop censor-capable search engine
    • Swedish Right-Wing Party Claims YouTube ‘on Offensive’ Amid Mass ‘Censorship’

      As both the Alternative for Sweden (AfS) and the Sweden Democrats (SD)are expected to punch above their weight in the upcoming elections, the deliberate removal of their content has been seen as tampering with its outcome.

      The mass removal of video content by two of Sweden’s most right-wing parties by Google-owned YouTube has prompted politicians and ordinary Swedes alike into accusations of censorship and election meddling.

      The newly-founded Alternative for Sweden (AfS) party, who’s had its channel deleted and restored by YouTube, has had numerous videos of election meetings with voters made unavailable for viewing in Sweden.

    • Save the internet from corporate censorship

      The debate over social media playing the censor is not new. Often, the debate stems from a superficial understanding of social media, which is the offshoot of an information technology breakthrough. Most forms of information and communication technologies are dual use, which can be used to protect human rights and empower citizens. But they can also be used to undermine human rights and democracy. The last five years has seen an inversion of the initial trend.

      During the early days of the internet, everybody was convinced that the internet would have only positive consequences. Now, we have a reality to check and see a lot of its negative effects.

      Social media companies have always had community standards for terms of use and were more limited than the constitutionally protected right to free speech. So even if our country allowed us, for instance, to engage in harassing behaviour and there was no law against that, some social media companies made that unacceptable on their platforms. What we need to see now is the second generation of tightening of those norms because it is very clear that some actors of social media are taking it too far.

    • Google: Sorry professor, old Beethoven recordings on YouTube are copyrighted

      Under German law, the copyright term for recordings which were made prior to January 1, 1963 has expired, meaning they have entered the public domain. Recordings taken after that date were given extended protection in 2013 and thus cannot be digitized. Aware of this rule, I only undertook to upload recordings which were taken before the 1963 date in order to fully comply with the law. Despite that precaution, the process that followed presented a number of unexpected challenges.

    • UN expert to Facebook: Narrow ‘sweeping’ definition of terrorism

      Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, U.N. special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, reportedly told Zuckerberg that Facebook incorrectly defines all nonstate groups that use violence as terrorists.

    • Facebook definition of terrorism helps states mute dissent: U.N. expert

      Facebook and other social media firms are increasingly involved in regulation that used to be done by states, and are under pressure from governments to police content disseminated by users, Ní Aoláin said.

    • There’s A Reason That Misleading Claims Of Bias In Search And Social Media Enjoy Such Traction

      President Trump’s tweets charging that Google search results are biased, against him and against conservatives, are the loudest and latest version of a growing attack on search engines and social media platforms. It is potent, and it’s almost certainly wrong. But it comes at an unfortunate time, just as a more thoughtful and substantive challenge to the impact of Silicon Valley tech companies has finally begun to emerge. If someone were truly concerned about free speech, news, and how platforms subtly reshape public participation, they would be engaging these deeper questions. But these simplistic and ill-informed claims of deliberate political bias are the wrong questions, and they risk undermining and crowding out the right ones. Trump’s charges against Google, Twitter, and Facebook reveal a basic misunderstanding of how search and social media work, and they continue to confuse “fake news” with bad news, all in the service of scoring political points. However, even if these companies are not responsible for silencing conservative speech, they may be partly responsible for allowing this charge to gain purchase, by being so secretive for so long about how their algorithms and moderation policies work.

      So what do search engines actually do when users access them for information or news? Search engines deliver relevant results, nothing more. That judgment of relevance is based on hundreds of factors: including popularity, topic relevance, and timeliness. Results are fluid and personalized. There’s plenty of room in this complex process for overemphasis and oversight, and these are important questions to examine. But serious researchers who actually already study this are careful to take into account the effects of personalization, changes over time, and the powerful feedback effects of users. This is a far cry from looking at your own search results and being troubled by what you see. (Even the author of the report Trump was likely reacting to acknowledges that it was unscientific and disagrees with the suggestion that regulation of search should follow.)

    • We Shouldn’t Want Internet Giants Deciding Who To Silence; But They Should Let Users Decide Who To Hear

      A few weeks back I wrote a big piece on internet platforms and their controversial content moderation efforts. As I’ve pointed out more recently, part of the reason why what they do is so bad is it is literally impossible to do this well at the scale they do things at. That is, even if they can reach 99% accuracy, given the amount of content on these sites, it’s still going to take down a ton of legitimate stuff, while leaving up an awful lot of awful stuff. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do anything — but my own proposal is for them to shift the way they think about this issue entirely, and move the moderation out from the center to the ends. Let third parties create their own filters/rules and allow anyone else to not just use them, but to adjust and modify and reshare them as well. Then allow the users to not just “opt-in” to the kind of experience they want, but allow them to further tweak it to their own liking as well.

      I’ve seen some pushback on this idea, but it seems much more viable than the alternatives of “do nothing at all” (which just leads to platforms overwhelmed with spam, trolls and hatred), and continue to focus on a centralized moderation system. There have been a number of articles recently that have done a nice job highlighting the problems of having Silicon Valley companies decide who shall speak and who shall not. EFF’s Jilian York highlights the problems that occur when there’s no accountability, even if platforms have every legal right to kick people off their platforms.

    • The DNA of censorship: war on drugs hinders research

      This week Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte is visiting Israel. He has killed many thousands of drug users and has vowed to kill millions. What makes no sense is that he himself is reportedly addicted to the opiate fentanyl following a motorcycle accident more than four years ago. However it is doubtful whether he will be arrested or have himself killed.

    • Is India on its way to become a censorship state?

      It is worse than the Emergency because everyday life and discourse is being twisted by reading draconian emergency powers without an Emergency.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Is the Government Planning to Surveil Keystone XL Protesters?

      Memories of the government’s use of force at Standing Rock, coupled with evidence of its plans for the Keystone protests, raise immense concerns.

      In the aftermath of Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, leaked documents revealed that law enforcement agencies had collaborated with private security contractors to employ counterterrorism tactics against “pipeline insurgencies” and to manufacture a conspiracy lawsuit against indigenous and environmental protesters.

      Now, with the State Department greenlighting the new Keystone XL pipeline route (pending a new review ordered by a federal judge), indigenous and environmental activists are wondering: Will the government treat environmental protesters with the same wrath as last time?

      Rather than waiting for the first concussion grenades and tear gas canisters to fly, we’re demanding answers now. On Tuesday, we sued the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and several other federal agencies to find out the government’s plans for cooperating with state law enforcement actors and private security contractors around anticipated Keystone XL protests. From these records, we hope to determine what plans the government has for thwarting, surveilling, and otherwise engaging with indigenous and environmental activists who oppose the construction of another oil pipeline. We also hope to determine whether and how the federal government is targeting indigenous communities to preempt political protest.

      At Standing Rock, we witnessed law enforcement flying planes, helicopters, and drones over protest encampments to record their activities at all hours. We heard accounts of local sheriff departments teaming up with federal law enforcement authorities to deploy tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, mace, and water cannons on peaceful protesters near the Oceti Sakowin Camp. We learned of law enforcement officers forcing women protesting the pipeline to undergo strip searches in front of male officers.

    • Teemo, Fidzup: French privacy watchdog bans rogue geolocation, EU considers legalising it

      On 20 July 2018, France’s data protection authority the CNIL declared (FR) that the activities of two French start-ups, Teemo et Fidzup, are illegal. They geolocate millions of people for advertising purposes and without their consent. The companies have three months to cease these activities. Unfortunately, in the long run their model could become legal. That is what the European Union is debating in an upcoming ePrivacy regulation.

    • US, UK and others push for mandatory access to encrypted data

      Western intelligence allies are presenting a united front in their fight against encryption. The “Five Eyes” countries (US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) have issued a Statement of Principles indicating that they will push for “lawful access” to private data as often as possible. While the governments acknowledged that encryption was valuable, they argued that encrypted data use “should be rare.” They hoped companies would voluntarily offer legal solutions, but vowed “technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures” to force access if the tech industry didn’t cooperate.

    • Five Eyes Surveillance Agencies Say Encryption Is Good, Except When It Keeps Them From Looking At Stuff

      The Five Eyes nations — UK, US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — still think there’s a way to create encryption backdoors (that they studiously avoid calling backdoors) that will let the good people in and the bad people out.

      The backlash against government calls for backdoors has made these demands a bit more subdued in most Five Eyes countries. The UK government really doesn’t seem to care and uses every terrorist attack as another reason to prevent law-abiding citizens from using secure encryption for their communications. Others members have taken a more measured approach, talking around the subject while legislative inroads continue unabated.

      In the US, the periodic “going dark” discussions have taken on a (no pun intended) darkly comical tone as FBI and DOJ officials continue to claim harder nerding with solve the “problem” it has misrepresented for years.

      The countries may be taking different approaches to undermining encryption, but they’re all still looking to do this in the future if they can just find a way to sell it to the public without the actual nerds speaking up and ruining all their plans. The Register notes the Five Eyes surveillance partnership has delivered another ultimatum (that it won’t call an ultimatum) about encrypted communications following a meeting in Australia. But it is taking care to couch its wants and desires in pretty words about the safety and security of the general public.

    • Five Eyes Talk Tough on Encryption Backdoors

      The Five Eyes allies have threatened to introduce legislation if technology providers don’t help them to break end-to-end encryption in specific cases where private info is sought on suspects.

      The five-country partnership of the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand met in Australia last week with homeland security, public safety and immigration ministers and attorneys-general in attendance.

      The joint statements released following its conclusion ratcheted up the hyperbole on a subject where law enforcers and intelligence agencies on one side and technologists on the other are in deadlock.

      “The increasing gap between the ability of law enforcement to lawfully access data and their ability to acquire and use the content of that data is a pressing international concern that requires urgent, sustained attention and informed discussion on the complexity of the issues and interests at stake,” it said. “Otherwise, court decisions about legitimate access to data are increasingly rendered meaningless, threatening to undermine the systems of justice established in our democratic nations.”

    • Alaska mom charged with killing infants searched for ‘ways to kill human with no proof’

      According to the statement, in the hour before she called police to report her 13-month-old was unresponsive, her searches included: [...]

    • Exclusive: U.S. accuses China of ‘super aggressive’ spy campaign on LinkedIn

      The United States’ top spy catcher said Chinese espionage agencies are using fake LinkedIn accounts to try to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets, and the company should shut them down.

    • Google using Mastercard data to track ad effectiveness: report

      Mastercard holders, some two billion globally, were unaware of this because neither of the companies have made it public, the report said.

    • Google has reportedly bought Mastercard data to snoop on your purchases

      In other words, if an anonymous Google account clicks an advert, and then goes on to buy the product offline within 30 days, the company will include the information in a summary to the advertiser in question.

    • Google will not patch flaw that can be used to track Android devices

      Google has refused to patch a vulnerability in older versions of Android that allows malicious attackers to track and locate smartphones, unless users upgrade to the latest version, or Android Pie.

    • Facebook whistleblower: Social media giant should face new laws for ‘failing to safeguard children’

      Sandy Parakilas, who was responsible for privacy and compliance at Facebook for two years, said the company flagrantly disregarded his warnings over other companies’ misuse of children’s data.

      He said content and product design was driven by algorithms that maximised the number of users, irrespective of the harm to people’s well-being through addiction or the promotion of inflammatory disturbing or threatening material.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Young Russians posting memes face jail for ‘extremism’

      Motuznaya initially stayed quiet after being charged with extremism and offending religious sensibilities. But one day in July, she read a story about torture in prisons, and decided to go public: “Hi everyone, my name is Masha, I’m 23 and I’m an extremist,” she wrote on Twitter, kicking off a viral sensation and a major discussion over extremism laws.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Now Or Never’ By Yoko Ono

      The following protest song was initially featured at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

      “Thirty years ago, the world did not need too much from me in terms of activism. Now we need all the activists in the world to do something, and still it may not be enough.”

      The above was posted on Yoko Ono’s Twitter account. The statement is an apt description of why, at 85 years of age, Ono continues her five-decade long career of using her art to promote social change.

      She recently announced a new album “Warzone” that will be released on October 19, 2018. The album re-imagines tunes that were previously released between 1970–2009.

    • UK media giants call for independent oversight of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter

      The UK’s leading broadcasters and ISPs have called for the government to introduce independent regulatory oversight of social media content.

      The group of media and broadband operators in the tightly regulated industries spans both the state-funded and commercial sector — with the letter to the Sunday Telegraph being inked with signatures from the leaders of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk.

      They argue there’s an “urgent” need for independent oversight of social media, and counter suggestions that such a move would amount to censorship by pointing out that tech companies are already making choices about what to allow (or not) on their platforms.

    • Louisiana Police Appear To Be Using A Hoax Antifa List Created By 8Chan To Open Criminal Investigations

      A public records request sent to the Louisiana State Police has uncovered something disturbing. Although the LSP continues to refuse to release the document in question, it appears this law enforcement agency has been using a bogus list of supposed Antifa members compiled by 8chan users to keep tabs on Americans opposed to Trump.

      The public records lawsuit [PDF] filed by Harvard lecturer (and former staff attorney for Orleans Public Defenders) Thomas Frampton on behalf of records requester William Most, alleges law enforcement’s refusal to hand over the “antifa.docx” file referenced in obtained emails is an indication the state police actually believe this bogus “Antifa” list — compiled from a list of signatories to an anti-Trump petition — is credible enough to be used in ongoing investigations and litigation.

      Here’s Frampton’s summation of the situation, as gleaned from the state police’s responses to Most’s repeated requests for a copy of the Antifa doc.


      But it’s the Antifa doc that’s making headlines. Alone it could mean nothing more than something passed around by law enforcement officers and officials before being discarded. Coupled with the LSP’s insistence that release of the document would compromise both an investigation and its confidential informant, the refusal to release the docx file suggests the agency has opened investigations predicated on a hoax. However strongly one may feel about the criminality of Antifa’s actions, there’s nothing in this document justifying investigations and surveillance of people who did nothing more than sign an online petition. If the LSP fell for a hoax and opened investigations based on protected speech (the signing of online petitions), it’s going to be facing a lot more litigation in the future.

    • The Imam’s Widow

      As the wife of a Muslim religious leader, she came to America with uncertainty and hope. A suspected hate crime snuffed out the hope.


      A gunman had shot Alauddin dead in the streets of Queens. His friend, Thara Miah, had been slain as well. The gunman had fled, and his reason for killing the two men, the authorities said at the time, was a mystery: There had been no dispute; the men’s valuables had not been stolen.

      Minara found her husband laid out on the sidewalk, his white robes stained with blood. He’d been shot in the back of the head, and his face was marked by multiple exit wounds. For Minara, there was no question about the gunman’s motive: Alauddin had been targeted because of his faith.

    • Sex and the Sugar Daddy

      In Kenya, more and more young women are using sugar daddies to fund a lifestyle worth posting on social media. Transactional sex was once driven by poverty, says film-maker Nyasha Kadandara. But now, increasingly, it’s driven by vanity.


      The sample size was small and the study was not fully randomised, so the results only give an indication of the possible numbers, they cannot be taken as definitive. Also, only a small percentage openly admitted to having a sugar daddy; the researchers were able to infer that a number were hiding the truth from answers they gave to other questions, using a technique called list randomisation. But interestingly, when talking about others, not about themselves, the young women estimated on average that 24% of their peers had engaged in a transactional sexual relationship with an older man – a figure very close to that reached by the researchers.

    • Four Tinder plaintiffs drop out of lawsuit because Match might have quietly changed their contracts

      Instead, they have to settle them privately with their employer. It’s unclear why these plaintiffs would voluntarily sign an arbitration agreement, especially if they had been planning a lawsuit. Most likely, the plaintiffs didn’t read their new contract closely or even realize what it said.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California Shakes Off ISP Lobbyists, Embraces Real Net Neutrality

      Like most protections, the rules simply prevent ISPs from using their broadband monopolies to unfairly throttle, block, or censor competing content and services. Unlike weaker bills (like those being proposed by ISPs), the bill also takes aim at all of the creative anti-competitive efforts ISPs have been engaged in in recent years, from anti-competitive abuse of usage caps and overage fees (zero rating), to the anti-competitive abuse of interconnection points with transit operators and content companies.

      With SB822′s passage, the entire west coast is now covered with net neutrality rules thanks to laws passed in Oregon and Washington State; certainly not the end game most ISPs envisioned after spending millions to lobby the federal government.

      You’ll likely now hear ISPs, ISP lobbyists, and their literal armies of think tankers, payrolled academics, consultants and others whine incessantly for weeks about the unfairness of having to deal with numerous, discordant state-level protections. Of course none of these folks will acknowledge that’s the telecom industry’s fault, since this wouldn’t be happening if they hadn’t waged endless war on modest (by international standards), popular, and cohesive federal rules. Whatever your thoughts on net neutrality, this move was a reflection of what the public wanted (aka, Democracy).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Portal Updates: September 2018

      Unified’s OPAL (Objective PAtent Landscape) and ASSURE (A Standard SUbmission REpository) reports were designed to address asymmetries in the licensing of standard essential patents and to create a more fair and transparent patent licensing process around some of the core patents supporting these next waves of consumer technology growth.

      Unified has published OPAL and ASSURE reports for the new Video Codec Zone which provides a comprehensive analysis of standard essential patents and technical specifications for the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) standard developed by the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC).

    • WIPO Traditional Knowledge, Folklore Committee Closes In Consensus; Experts To Help

      The World Intellectual Property Organization committee charged to find effective ways to protect traditional knowledge and folklore closed a weeklong meeting in consensus on several items, among which are two revised texts to be discussed further at the next session.

    • Why is it so hard to register shape marks in the EU? [Ed: A monopoly on shapes!]
    • Intellectual property: Brexit plans are a positive sign for rights owners

      Uncertainty surrounding Brexit and what form it will take has been felt strongly by all UK businesses, and not least those with intellectual property rights protected at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). However, recent statements during a House of Commons debate and in the Government’s Brexit White Paper have gone some way towards assuaging their fears.

      While these recent developments bode well for rights owners, as Britain’s negotiations with the EU enter a critical phase, further clarifications will be needed to ensure that there is a smooth and problem-free transition.

      In a House of Commons debate on July 19, Robin Walker, under secretary of state at the Department for Exiting the European Union, made assurances that any EU trade marks, registered community designs (RCDs) and unregistered designs owned by businesses in the UK will be replaced with new UK trade marks “automatically and for free”, even in the event of a hard Brexit.

    • What does a no deal Brexit mean for trade marks and designs?

      We know what the EU27 and UK would like to see in terms of IP and Brexit but as the prospect of a deal being reached before 29 March 2019 looks increasingly unlikely, it’s time to ask: what will happen if there is no deal?

      Under a deal, EU designs and trade marks would be automatically converted to UK rights, apparently at no cost. This does not look to be available if there is no deal. Instead, it is likely that the EU trade mark and Community registered and unregistered designs would cease to apply in the UK and until legislation is put in place which offers protection on similar terms, there will be no equivalent protection in the UK.

      The UK government is rolling out various technical notices on a UK no deal scenario throughout September. The first collection of these notices is available here. While there is some consideration of the impact of importing and exporting as well as product labelling, the current tranche of notices do not consider intellectual property rights including what will happen to the Trade Mark Regulation ((EU) 2017/1001) or the Community Designs Regulation ((EC) No 6/2002). This will follow in one of the next tranches of technical notices.

    • Germany: Vorverzahnte Werkstücke (Pre-machined toothed workpieces), Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 57/14, 10 January 2017

      The choice of the starting point for evaluation of inventive step requires a justification which is not in itself provided by the fact that a certain citation proves ex post to be the “closest state of the art”.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • We need copyright reform that does not threaten free expression

        The controversial Copyright Directive is fast approaching another pivotal vote on 12 September. For the third time in half a year MEPs will decide whether Article 13 – or something even worse – will usher in a new era, where all content is approved or rejected by automated gatekeepers.

        Seen through an economic lens the Directive’s journey is viewed as a battle between rights holders and tech giants. Yet a growing chorus of ordinary citizens, Internet luminaries, human rights organisations and creatives have rightly expanded the debate to encompass the missing human dimension.

        Open Rights Group opposes Article 13 – or any new amendments proposing similar ideas – because it poses a real threat to the fundamental right to free speech online.

      • MEP Voss’ Turn To Go Beyond Maximalist on ©

        Just before the summer holidays, on 5 July, the European Parliament (EP) Plenary decided to reject the EP’s Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee’s negotiation mandate with the Council on the copyright reform. This decision implies that now all 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) get to have their say on this important issue. MEPs are now scheduled to vote on this file during the 12 September Plenary session, and the deadline for Amendments was set to 5 September (13h CET).

        With this deadline around the corner, MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany), the JURI Committee Rapporteur, circulated end of last week a set of compromise proposals for Articles 11 (ancillary copyright) and 13 (the #CensorshipMachine). His ambitions are two-fold: (1) he’s trying to find a majority in order to limit the attempts from other MEPs to push their own alternative amendments on these Articles, and as such hijack the process, and (2) by giving a ‘piece-offering’ on these Articles, he’s trying to convince colleagues to keep the lid closed on other Articles and to only focus on these two core issues. However, MEP Voss is actually continuing the strategy he used during the JURI negotiations (and for which the Estonian and Bulgarian Council Presidencies also became renowned): making things worse with every version.

      • Epic Failure: Hollywood Studios Flagging Their Own IMDb Pages For “Pirate” Links

        Since the internet is saturated with pirated content, therefore, Hollywood studios have to deploy automated bots through reporting agencies for identifying the URLs that are violating the copyrights. These infringing URLs are then reported to various service providers such as Google for taking the appropriate action against them.

        However, these bots are far from perfect, and there are several bugs that are causing problems lately. In an earlier incident, Topple Track, an anti-piracy and content monitoring service had to take down its bots after a series of faulty takedown notices were submitted.

      • Hollywood Studios Flag Their IMDb Listings as “Pirate” Links

        A rather persistent bug in the takedown code of a major reporting agency has caused an embarrassing situation for several Hollywood studios. For quite some time now, companies including Sony Pictures Television and Columbia Pictures have been inadvertently asking Google to remove the IMDb listings of their own work.

      • ISP: Piracy Extortion Letters Are Easy to Thwart Without Logs

        Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof is a fierce opponent of so-called copyright trolling efforts. Where other ISPs have shared the personal details of allegedly pirating subscribers, Bahnhof hasn’t, simply because it keeps limited logs. The company’s CEO wants to know why other ISPs aren’t following suit.

      • Supreme Court to Rule Whether Pirate Streaming Damages Are Fair

        Four Swedish men sentenced in 2017 for their part in running the pirate sites Dreamfilm, TFplay, Tankafetast, and PirateHub, were initially given jail sentences. Following a 2018 appeal, those immediate jail sentences were removed but their significant fines were increased four-fold. Two of the men have taken their appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court.

Marking One’s ‘Territory’ Using Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Puzzle missing

Summary: A maze or a complex puzzle of patents helps large companies guard their monopolies from competitors; it doesn’t seem to matter if all or at least the vast majority of these patents are bogus (it’s expensive to prove this and have these patents invalidated)

“Banks Hate Cryptocurrency, But Are Filing Patents Anyway,” Knobbe Martens (patent lawyers) wrote in a new headline. We recently wrote about how the USPTO had actively promoted such nonsensical, abstract patents. Such patents oughtn’t even exist!

A common hypothesis is that they try to destroy cryptocurrency firms (or the concept/movement as a whole) by threatening them with software patent lawsuits. We wrote about that several times in the past. It’s still more of a theory, but we’re already seeing notorious patent trolls (notably Erich Spangenberg) amassing these patents from filers. They basically use patents to ‘barbwire’ their ‘turf’ and scare anyone who ‘dares’ to compete/participate/grow.

“They basically use patents to ‘barbwire’ their ‘turf’ and scare anyone who ‘dares’ to compete/participate/grow.”Thugs and Mafiosos from Microsoft — i.e. those who constantly use patents for blackmail purposes — carry on pursuing a monopoly by targeting an Android-dominated sector with patent lawsuits (or threats thereof). Patently Apple again seems happy to celebrate these patents (it has been doing that a lot lately), perhaps knowing that Apple too sues OEMs in this Android- or Linux-led sector (using highly dubious patents on things like shapes).

Does Android and by extension Google deserve sympathy? Not really. Google has already gone rogue when it comes to software patents; Yesterday MyBroadband (South Africa) ended up reposting the EFF’s post from last week and IPPro Patents then wrote an article about it as well:

EFF to Google: stop trying to patent ANS

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has called on Google to abandon its attempts to patent a data compression algorithm for video compression.

A recent patent filed by for a data compression algorithm called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) for video compression was rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The examiner rejected all of the claims for lack of clarity and for claiming functions that are not described with sufficient detail.

The examiner also rejected the patent due to a third-party submission by Jarek Duda, who had been developing ANS for seven years and believed that Google’s patent application merely applied ANS to a standard video compression pipeline.

Why does Google even feel like it needs such a ridiculous patent? Prior art aside, it’s void as per Section 101/Alice. Does Google deliberately try to make itself look evil as well as dishonest? Does it want to challenge Microsoft to this title?

The António Campinos-Led EPO is Over-Relying on Bogus and Abstract Software Patents to Fill the Gaps

Posted in America, Europe, Law, Patents at 10:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Creating more paths (mostly buzzwords) for dodging well-understood restrictions

Mind the gap

Summary: In an effort to bypass courts (while lobbying for dubious courts like the UPC) the EPO continues to issue a lot of software patents, typically calling these something like “artificial intelligence” (almost any algorithm can be called that with sufficient verbal creativity)

THE EPO‘s management certainly knows the restrictions on software patents in Europe, which is why this management keeps coming up with workarounds, notably lingual wizardry. We wrote a lot of articles about it (several dozens) when Battistelli was still in charge; prior to him, back in the Brimelow days, “as such” was the only notorious term being brought up. Sacrificing patent quality for the sake of something else is never ever a good idea. Ever! It’s a compromise on justice itself.

“The EPO relies on some truly esoteric patent applications; as usual, at least twice per day, they nowadays promote software patents.”
The brainwash machine of the EPO isn’t doing too well. IAM has in fact just ‘gone dark’ (no access to articles, RSS feeds deleted) and greenwashing by the EPO is far too shallow. Here’s an example from yesterday to which I responded with: “Granting a monopoly on a solution to climate issues isn’t helping. It’s arguably making things worse…”

The EPO relies on some truly esoteric patent applications; as usual, at least twice per day, they nowadays promote software patents. They have already done that twice by midday today. It has gotten a lot more frequent since António Campinos took over. It’s a sharp difference (we tracked these things closely under several years of Battistelli as well). They did that at least three times on Monday (yesterday), with examples including this tweet: “Takeaways from the EPO’s event on patenting #ArtificialIntelligence provided by Grant Philpott, Chief Operating Office ICT at the European Patent Office…”

Grant Philpott is pushing/promoting software patents again; they’re linking to an old YouTube video with barely any views after 3 weeks online (about 5 views per day after the video was promoted, totaling 90 views when we last checked). Then there’s this tweet: “Patenting #artificialintelligence: how do EPO and industry experts view this fast-growing phenomenon? Find out here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

Those are just software patents. The EPO’s official account and Web site are pushing/boosting such patents yet again and people see past the stupid buzzwords. Here’s one response to it: “TL;DR : 🤑🤑🤑🤑. ( I didn’t actually read it but it’s an easy guess :) ) How should normal people view « Patenting #artificialintelligence » ? : 😱😱🤬😱😱”

Watch what the EPO retweeted only a few hours ago (in French).

Then (also yesterday) the EPO together with patent zealots from the US (Intellectual Property Owners Association) carried on pushing “CII and AI” (acronyms that mean computer-implemented inventions, a.k.a. software patents, and artificial intelligence).

“If you work in patents and have stakeholders who do business in Europe, then this event is for you,” they said. The EPO promoted this again a few hours ago. They help American companies pursue software patents in Europe (to then potentially sue software companies in Europe). The Intellectual Property Owners Association was mentioned by Patent Docs yesterday in relation to this upcoming webinar on dodging quality control at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), where inter partes reviews (IPRs) often intercept software patents. “The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO),” it said, “will offer a one-hour webinar entitled “From BRI to Phillips at the PTAB: Consequences for Practice” on September 6, 2018 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (ET). Eric Cohen of Brinks Gilson & Lione, Kevin Greenleaf of Dentons US LLP, and Shaun Zang of Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP examined dozens of litigations in recent years where both district courts and the PTAB construed the same patents, and will provide useful insights as the PTAB is expected to switch from BRI to Phillips in post-grant proceedings this fall.”

They will be looking for new ways to work around PTAB, that’s for sure.

Another patent maximalists’ site, Managing Intellectual Property, has meanwhile published: “Dmitry Andreev discusses issues in patenting blockchain-related technologies, and explains how to avoid the most common grounds of rejection” (this too is behind paywall, albeit nowhere as a extreme a paywall as IAM’s new one).

This patent maximalists’ site is pushing software patents again, but it suggests disguising these using buzz like "blockchain" and "AI" (same thing EPO exploits to rebrand algorithms these days). Then came another article, this one a puff piece of Patrick Wingrove in the form of an interview.

“AI plays a bigger role in making them,” this patent maximalists’ site says, using the buzzword “AI” to promote patents on medicine that’s not necessarily even novel. This is so typical yet still nauseating.

If that’s not bad enough, watch what Managing Intellectual Property has just published regarding Alice: “Section 101’s power wanes after Berkheimer” (we’ve already published several rebuttals to it based on numbers from the patent microcosm itself [1, 2, 3]).

Ellie Mertens and Michael Loney from the patent maximalists’ site have just pushed semi-truth or a lie about Berkheimer. If often seems like not only patent lawyers are liars but also people who write about patent lawyers and “engage” with them. Perhaps lying is an art form and this is what people pay $200/hour for. Hire a liar. From their summary (outside the paywall):

New data reveals that findings of invalidity have dropped since Berkheimer, the most important US subject matter eligibility case of 2018. Ellie Mertens and Michael Loney investigate

The negligible decline they cite has nothing to do with this case (Berkheimer), but “alternative facts” seem popular among patent law firms with an agenda. Or propaganda sites like IAM, which unfortunately went completely dark and are thus impossible to track and correct (face-check) anymore. They just want to write exclusively to those who pay them to write a bunch of nonsense; they cannot afford outside scrutiny. Maybe Managing Intellectual Property is the next site to go completely dark (they added the partial paywall about a year ago, but we still get the gist of their slant).

A Retreat From Patent Quality Means a Retreat of Patent Applicants

Posted in Australia, Europe, Patents at 7:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They would not spend a fortune pursuing patents that courts would likely invalidate/reject for the same reason students would not apply for colleges and universities whose degrees aren’t respected by employers

Walking feet

Summary: Walking away from patent offices that grant patents too easily (even patents that have no legal standing) is an existential threat to these offices; by tarnishing a reputation of patents which they grant patent offices can soon thereafter perish, as the EPO demonstrates (ongoing ‘shadow’ layoffs)

EARLIER THIS WEEK Romania Insider published “Only five out of a million Romanians own European patents,” referring to European Patents (EPs) granted by the EPO. It’s not so crazy to argue that EPs just aren’t worth the money anymore because the EPO got corrupted by a bunch of self-serving crooks and as a result examination cannot be properly and thoroughly performed (as it ought to). There’s not enough time to do the work, as insiders keep telling us, and veteran examiners are quietly being laid off. They’re not even being replaced as there’s a longterm hiring freeze and those with greater experience are being pushed out. This is a major scandal like nothing we’ve ever seen at the USPTO (the EPO actually makes the USPTO look very, very good and ethical in comparison).

Jakob Pade Frederiksen’s new guest post at Managing Intellectual Property deals with “checking [of] patent text” by applicants. A poorly quality-controlled examination meant that a lot of work (such as researching prior art) had been offloaded to applicants; examination by the Office was killed by Battistelli anyway; he doesn’t seem to have had an interest in anything other than speed or pace (or P.A.C.E.) because it’s just ‘printing’ patents as fast as possible that counts as “success” based on his yardstick (so-called ‘productivity’). The article in question cites the European Patent Convention (EPC) — a fundamental document (like a Constitution) that long ago lost its relevance because the EPO stubbornly deviated and violated it ever so routinely. Battistelli treated it like toilet paper — something which never bothered Jesper Kongstad, who actively participated in violating the EPC until his government (based on rumours we heard) effectively fired him. To quote:

Pursuant to Rule 71(3) of the European Patent Convention (EPC), towards the termination of the examination proceedings, the Examining Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) shall inform the applicant of the text in which it intends to grant the European patent. Following Rule 71(5) EPC, if the applicant subsequently pays the grant and publishing fees and files the required translations of the claims, he shall be deemed to have approved the text intended for grant.


The applicant’s attempt to reinstate the missing parts of the claims did not thus succeed, despite the fact that it was the EPO’s Examining Division that included an incomplete set of claims in the text intended for grant.

Examiners barely have time to deal with underlying texts; they read the texts and some are experienced/qualified enough do more and go further (it gets worse over time due to brain drain).

“The European Patent Organization (EPO) has issued an “Intention to Grant” for Europharma’s SuperSmolt FeedOnly,” The Fish Site said yesterday. “EPO has reached its conclusion after an extremely thorough assessment process,” but we doubt that! Based on what insiders have told us and based on leaked material, there’s simply no time for an “extremely thorough assessment process” because one risks losing one’s job for doing the job properly (i.e. proper examination, which can take time and effort). From the article:

The European Patent Organization (EPO) has issued an “Intention to Grant” for Europharma’s SuperSmolt FeedOnly, which offers feed-based smoltification of salmon, eliminating the need for the growth-inhibiting winter photo period associated with traditional hatchery smoltification.


“The decision will not change much in terms of our daily work and focus but we are pleased to have achieved the recognition from the EPO for our innovation. We have worked on smoltification over many years and put significant resources into developing SuperSmolt FeedOnly. The EPO has reached its conclusion after an extremely thorough assessment process and its decision is an acknowledgment of the innovative qualities of this product.

They would be deeply disappointed if they took someone to court only to discover that this patent is void and thus worthless (e.g. due to prior art or the fact that they arguably patent nature — probably an impermissible thing in Europe).

Beata Khaidurova (FB Rice, i.e. the patent microcosm in Australia) is meanwhile whining and crying because it has gotten harder to get patents on life in Australia. Managing Intellectual Property gave her the platform to say that the “Change to Patent Examiners Manual creates uncertainty” (as readers may recall, Australia recently narrowed patent scope):

It is a long-standing principle of Australian patent law that determining whether or not a patent application is directed towards patentable subject matter should be done separately to determining issues of novelty and inventive step. However, amendments to the Australian Patent Examiners Manual late last year introduced a new practice, encouraging consideration of prior art when assessing subject matter eligibility, which in Australia includes the requirement that the invention be a manner of manufacture. A year on, it seems that this supposed clarification to the Manual has only resulted in confusion and uncertainty about what role prior art plays in determining the existence of patentable subject matter.


While the recommendation remains in place, it seems that the issue of patentable subject matter for software-related inventions in Australia has become more problematic than ever for patent applicants. There is a glimmer of hope, however, in the form of a number of appeals currently afoot in the Australian courts, which seek to overturn some recent Patent Office decisions regarding patentable subject matter, and hopefully steer the law in a more reasonable direction. With many members of the Australian patent attorney profession being in agreement as to the lack of legal support for the Manual’s recommendation, the outcomes of the appeals are eagerly awaited.

What Khaidurova calls a “reasonable direction” is actually lawyers’ direction. They want more and more patents; it is, after all, their bread and butter. They’d probably want bread and butter patented as well! Patent Docs, another site of patent maximalists, has meanwhile published another “Life Sciences Court Report” (the term "Life Sciences" is misleading for reasons we've named before). Bryan Helwig reiterated: “We will periodically report on recently filed biotech and pharma litigation.”

They typically just promote patents on life and nature — something which Australia grapples with. How can life and nature be considered "inventions"?

Paul Janicke, Paul Morinville and Gene Quinn Romanticise a World of Patent Trolls and Frivolous Litigation

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

Because they profit from that (patent fights, wherein they’re the hired participants)


Summary: The reform/reorg of the US patent system (restricting the scope of patents and litigation) is being constantly blasted not by people who practice technology but by those who practice law (i.e. lawsuits, threatening letters and so on)

Professor Paul M. Janicke, who comes from University of Houston Law Center (i.e. Texas, as the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), has just published this long guest post in a blog of patent maximalists. “I have now been a registered patent attorney for 50 years,” he discloses, and “I feel it is time to consider some major surgery on the patent statute…”

OK then, we’re all ears. Is the USPTO in need of improving patent quality at long last? No, of course not! The patent maximalists with their lunacy (greed rather) would have us believe that the system is too tough and strict. Or that it needs to be loosened and made more lenient…

“The patent maximalists with their lunacy (greed rather) would have us believe that the system is too tough and strict. Or that it needs to be loosened and made more lenient…”In Janicke’s own words: “You usually have to fight [sic] off multiple IPRs in the Patent & Trademark Office, during which time any infringement suits you have filed are likely stayed. If your client’s patents survive [sic] the PTO proceedings, you then have to battle [sic] against the much wider field of prior art established by the America Invents Act. For example, foreign patents used to be effective as prior art as of their grant or publication dates; now they are secret prior art as of their foreign filing dates. Time bars of public use and on sale, formerly limited to U.S. activities, are now expanded to world-wide events. And some kinds of prior art were removable by showing an earlier invention date, but that option is now gone. Meanwhile the remedies section, §271, has not changed in any meaningful way. No wonder patent infringement suits filings have dropped 30% as of June 30 of this year, compared to two years earlier.”

So what? Who suffers from that? Patent law firms, obviously. Like those that paid perhaps million dollars in salaries to Janicke over the years (decades). We’ve put “sic” in the above in order to highlight Janicke’s gross inversion of narratives, wherein the aggressor (plaintiff) is somehow under “attack”, merely “fighting” a “battle” to “survive”. Guess who started the fight. These people often equate patent judges with “death squads” like they’re the “gestapo” or the “SS”. It’s an abhorrent distortion of reality, but that’s just how extreme these people have become. They don’t seem to care about justice, about due process, about the facts etc. If prior art exists somewhere to invalidate or refute claims of novelty, how is that a bad thing? We should welcome facts, we should strive for justice. With patents, as with anything else, the burden of proof should be wholly on the accuser.

“We’ve put “sic” above on order to highlight Janicke’s gross inversion of narratives, wherein the aggressor (plaintiff) is somehow under “attack”, merely “fighting” a “battle” to “survive”.”“A Decade Of US Patent Reform Must Be Undone,” says Watchtroll’s (Paul Morinville and Gene Quinn) latest headline. That’s how they started this week or weekend because it’s Labor Day in the US. Guess what they profit from… what a bunch of bullies. We don’t even wish to bother refuting this nonsense because we’ve done it many times before. Watchtroll is like a broken telephone, constantly complaining about SCOTUS, the Federal Circuit, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and inter partes reviews (IPRs), not to mention 35 U.S.C. § 101 which voids a lot of software patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and outside it.

Steve Brachmann, a hired writer of Quinn (neither of them can be considered a practicing technologist), constantly blasts politicians who side with technology companies. “Tang and Van Slyke Inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame for Development of OLED Display Technology,” says Brachmann in yesterday’s headline. Coming from a site that keeps bashing science and attacking technology companies (Watchtroll does this every week; here’s a recent example), that’s just rather amusing to say the least.

ResMed Cannot Compete, So It is Pursuing an Embargo of the Competition Using Patents on Masks

Posted in Patents at 4:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Published two days ago: Qualcomm and AMD Want ‘Innovation’ by Embargo


Summary: As ResMed resorts to patent litigation against Fisher & Paykel it turns out that what it’s really pursuing is market monopoly — to the point of reaching out to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), not just a District Court

AT the very end of last week ResMed spoke of patent litigation against a rival, Fisher & Paykel. It is reaching out to the ITC with USPTO-granted patents (i.e. of very questionable quality, probably still worse than those granted by the EPO). ResMed's patent lawsuit was covered here on Sunday. It was announced in a press release posted simultaneously in several different Web domains (i.e. money spent to spread the message and maybe control/warp the narrative). Yesterday (a Monday, first day after/during a long weekend) some media caught up, with headlines such as “ResMed lodges patent infringement petition against Fisher & Paykel” and “Fisher and Paykel Healthcare patent battle resurfaces”. They mostly amplify the accuser while largely ignoring the defendant/accused. To quote from the first article:

ResMed, a tech-driven medical device firm, has lodged a patent infringement petition against New Zealand-based medical device manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.


“We will defend our intellectual property wherever necessary to ensure that patients worldwide continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve, and are confident that when the ITC and the District Court hear all the evidence, ResMed will prevail in these cases.”

ResMed is engaged in the development of medical devices and cloud-based software applications to better diagnose, treat and manage sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic diseases.

To quote from the second article:

The US company has filed complaints in the International Trade Commission and the US District Court in relation to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s masks used in the treatment of sleep disorders.

It’s asking the court to ban the import of the masks into the US as well as seeking damages.

ResMed made and then withdrew similar claims against Fisher and Paykel in 2017, but always said it would refile.

Companies that so quickly resort to embargo attempts are bullies; there’s no excuse for this unless life is at risk/in danger and this is in no way representative of “free market” ideals. It’s antithetical to many values supposedly cherished by modern capitalism.

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