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09.05.18

Links 5/9/2018: New Releases of GNOME, Firefox and Chrome

Posted in News Roundup at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Build a secure Docker host environment on Linux systems

    Run the latest stable OS release and patches on container hosts. Unlike VMs, containers share host OS resources and files, so a security issue could affect the entire Docker estate. OS management isn’t difficult for enterprise IT teams, but approach with caution — review all documentation prior to committing an update for Docker hosting systems. Virtual snapshots are a useful tool for this process, providing a log of changes and a rollback target if needed.

    Application security is only as good as what’s on the stack below it. Assess the security settings on the host in question. Anyone with administrator-level access to the OS can manipulate the containers in the default configuration. Administrators should use keys for remote login to increase the environment’s security level. In addition, implement a firewall, and restrict access to only trusted networks. Keep the attack surface to a minimum.

  • Server

    • Kubernetes is the new operating environment (Part 1)

      This is the first in a series of articles that consider the role of Kubernetes and application servers. Do application servers need to exist? Where does the current situation leave developers trying to choose the right path forward for their applications?

      Why Kubernetes is the new application server

      By now you’ve likely read “Why Kubernetes is The New Application Server” and you might be wondering what that means for you. How does it impact Java EE or Jakarta EE and Eclipse MicroProfile? What about application servers or fat JARs? Is it the end as we’ve known it for nearly two decades?

      In reality, it doesn’t impact the worldview for most. It’s in line with the efforts of a majority of vendors around Docker and Kubernetes deployments over the last few years. In addition, there’s greater interest in service mesh infrastructures, such as Istio, and how they can further assist with managing Kubernetes deployments.

      All these factors are drivers for the current trends within development—pushing more concerns traditionally associated with development down into the lower layers of the entire stack, with concerns moving into infrastructure or the operating environment an application runs on.

      Throughout the series, we will see that there is no need for doom and gloom. Although the mechanisms might change, there’s still a place for application servers and fat JARs when developing applications.

    • Understanding the State of Container Networking

      Container networking is a fast moving space with lots of different pieces. In a session at the Open Source Summit, Frederick Kautz, principal software engineer at Red Hat outlined the state of container networking today and where it is headed in the future.

      Containers have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly the use of Docker containers, but what exactly are containers?

      Kautz explained the containers make use of the Linux kernel’s ability to allow for multiple isolated user space areas. The isolation features are enabled by two core elements cGroups and Namespaces. Control Groups (cGroups) limit and isolate the resource usage of process groups, while namespaces partition key kernel structures for process, hostname, users and network functions.

    • Lightning strikes put Microsoft Azure data centre offline

      Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform has suffered a massive outage that affected customers in various parts of the world, with cooling problems being identified at about 2.30am Pacific Time on Tuesday (7.30pm AEST Tuesday).

  • Kernel Space

    • Even Linus Torvalds doesn’t completely understand the Linux kernel

      With over 20 million lines of code in the latest Linux kernel, there’s a lot to get your mind around. Dirk Hohndel, VMware VP and chief open source officer, asked Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator, at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, if he understood it at all. Torvalds replied: “No.”

      But, that’s not as big as it seems. Torvalds explained, “No one knows the whole kernel. But, having looked at patches for many many years. I know the big picture. I can look at a patch and know if it’s right or wrong.”

    • Laura Abbott: Kernel community management

      I was at Open Source Summit last week (full trip report forthcoming) and like always one of the keynotes was Linus being interviewed by Dirk Hohndel. The topic of the kernel community and community management came up and whether Linus thought the kernel needed to do anything more to grow. Paraphrasing, his response was the success of the kernel community shows that it’s generally doing fine. I disagree with some aspects of this and have actually thought a lot about what community management would mean for the kernel.

      [...]

      The role of the TAB in community management is an interesting one. If you look at the description on that page, “The Technical Advisory Board provides the Linux kernel community a direct voice into The Linux Foundation’s activities and fosters bi-directional interaction with application developers, end users, and Linux companies.” I know there are some unfavorable opinions (and conspiracy theories) out there about the Linux Foundation. What the Linux Foundation does well is help guide corporations in doing open source which is very different from grassroots free software. There’s a large number of companies who have become very active members of the kernel community thanks to guidance and support from developers like those who are on the TAB. Enabling companies to contribute successfully is a form of community building as a practicality; companies have different needs and requirements than individuals. I do believe the members of the TAB deeply care about the kernel community, including those who aren’t part of any corporate entity. Figuring out how to set that direction may be less obvious though.

    • Systemd Now Can Unlock Encrypted Boot Drives Using An External Password File

      Merged today into systemd is basic keydev support for cryptsetup-generator to allow unlocking an encrypted drive by using a key file that is stored on an external drive.

      The Dracut initramfs framework has already supported unlocking encrypted drives by relying upon a key file stored on an external HDD/SSD. But until now systemd hasn’t supported key files being on external block devices (keydev).

      The newly-added support to systemd allows specifying a keydev block device based upon its UUID and a path to the key, using the added luks.uuid boot parameter.

    • Linux 4.18.6
    • Linux 4.14.68
    • Linux 4.9.125
    • Linux 4.4.154
    • Linux 3.18.121
    • Linux 4.18.6 Rolls Out With L1TF Foreshadow Fixes, Threadripper 2 Temperature Reporting

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has rolled out a batch of stable kernel updates today including Linux 3.8.121, 4.4.154, 4.9.125, 4.14.68, and 4.18.6.

      Linux 4.18.6 is notable in that the Threadripper 2 CPU temperature reporting is in place for those using 4.18 stable rather than 4.19 Git. That should be all good for the now-shipping AMD 2950X and 2990WX processors.

    • It’s Official: Linux Kernel 4.19 Will Be the Next LTS (Long-Term Support) Series

      The next long-term supported Linux kernel series was revealed recently as Linux 4.19 by the long-time Linux kernel developer and maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman.

      Now that Linux kernel 4.17 has reached end of life and the recently released Linux 4.18 kernel doesn’t look to have what it needs to become an LTS (Long Term Support) branch, the LTSI (Long-Term Support Initiative) community reached out to Greg Kroah-Hartman to know what the next LTS Linux kernel series will be.

      And the answer is yes, the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel will be an LTS (Long Term Support) series, supported for at least a couple of years after its initial release. At the moment, there are five long-term support Linux kernel branches, namely Linux 4.14, Linux 4.9, Linux 4.4, as well as Linux 3.16 and Linux 3.18.

    • Bug Hunting Inlined Code

      Changbin Du from Intel recently posted some code to increase the range of the function tracer by increasing the number of function calls that were actually compiled into the kernel. Not all function calls are ever actually compiled—some are “inlined”, a C feature that allows the function code to be copied to the location that calls it, thus letting it run faster. The downside is that the compiled binary grows by the number of copies of that function it has to store.

      But, not all inlined functions are specifically intended by the developers. The GNU C Compiler (GCC) also will use its own algorithms to decide to inline a wide array of functions. Whenever it does this in the Linux kernel, the function tracer has nothing to trace.

    • Linus Torvalds: Changes in hardware change Linux development

      In Linux Version 4.19, Linux’s developers had to deal with a hardware security bug, an issue that was particuarly frustrating becasue it was someone else’s bug. But Linux creator Linus Torvalds hopes that such incidents will be less common in the future.

      In the Linux development process, there is a two-week merge window for new code, then developers spend six to seven weeks looking for bugs. Usually, this process is not a big deal, Torvalds says. Most often, by the middle of the second week, bug-fixing ensues.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Survey: Open Source Programs Are a Best Practice Among Large Companies

        Open source software programs play an important role in how DevOps and open source best practices are adopted by organizations, according to a survey conducted by The New Stack and The Linux Foundation (via the TODO Group). By implementing open source best practices, organizations are helping developers become both more productive and more structured in how they manage the often abundant open source software their businesses rely on.

    • Graphics Stack

      • MoltenVK 1.0.20 Released To Continue Advancing Vulkan On macOS

        MoltenVK continues getting better for offering Vulkan graphics/compute support on macOS by leveraging it on top of Apple’s Metal drivers.

        MoltenVK 1.0.20 is out as the latest feature update to this Vulkan-over-Metal layer. MoltenVK is notably used by Valve’s Dota 2 on macOS, is becoming used by Wine, presumably will also be picked up for Windows Steam Play on macOS in the future, and so far also seems to being used by at least a few different indie game studios on macOS or iOS. This is good news for Linux users with ensuring Vulkan is a common denominator across platforms, avoiding fragmentation if VKD3D/DXVK had to be rewritten for Mac, etc.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Rolling Battle: Antergos vs. Clear Linux vs. openSUSE On Four Systems

        With the start of a new month comes fresh benchmarks of some of the leading rolling-release Linux distributions. For kicking off September are benchmarks of the Arch-based Antergos, Intel’s Clear Linux, and openSUSE Tumbleweed when testing on four distinctly different systems.

        This article today is to serve as some fresh reference benchmarks for these continuously evolving distributions. As of a few days ago when the testing began, the three tested distributions were comprised of…

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE neon on Ubuntu 18.04 “bionic” Upgrade Open for Testing

        Our upgrader has been working for some time and many people have used it successfully, but as ever we wanted to prove it was correct and QA. It uses the same upgrader as Ubuntu which was written over a decade ago and has seen not much attention since. We wrote our own notifier and got translations for it. Added to the upgrader is stopping Packagekit so you don’t get notified of updates while you are already updating. We added translations to the upgrader. A test was added to make sure version numbers in bionic are greater than in xenial which turns out not to be the case for a few things so we had to add rules to deal with them and then make sure those rules got used by the upgrader. The release notes that get shown before an upgrade strangely have no translations but we edited them a bit so in English it is relevanto to neon. Stopping the screen locker during an upgrade is important too but surpringly faffy since the upgrader runs as root and the screen locker as user.

      • Krita’s 2018 Google Summer of Code

        This year, we participated in Google Summer of Code with three students: Ivan, Andrey and Michael. Some of the code these awesome students produced is already in Krita 4.1.1, and most of the rest has been merged already, so you can give it a whirl in the latest nightly builds for Windows or Linux. So, let’s go through what’s been achieved this year!

        Ivan’s project was all about making brushes faster using vectorization. If that sounds technical, it’s because it is! Basically, your CPU is powerful enough to do a lot of calculations at the same time, as long as it’s the same calculation, but with different numbers. You could feed more than 200 numbers to the CPU, tell it to multiply them all, and it would do that just as fast as multiplying one number. And it just happens that calculating the way a brush looks is more or less just that sort of thing. Of course, there are complications, and Ivan is still busy figuring out how to apply the same logic to the predefined brushes. But here’s a nice image from his blog:

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • The Best New Features in GNOME 3.30

        With GNOME 3.30 released later today we look at the best new features the GNOME 3.30 upgrade has to offer.

        The 35th stable release of the free, open-source GNOME desktop environment, GNOME 3.30 arrives six months after GNOME 3.28 was released.

        With an approximate 24,845 changes in all, GNOME 3.30 offers both major new features and smaller improvements that are well worth looking out for.

        Available to download from today, and due to ship in Ubuntu 18.10 this October, GNOME 3.30 boasts new features, new apps, and new improvements, all of which are designed to help improve the way we use the desktop.

      • GNOME 3.30 Ready For Release Today With Many New Features & Improvements

        GNOME 3.30 is releasing today as the newest feature release for this open-source desktop environment on its usual six-month release cadence.

      • Nitrux 1.0.15 Released, Speck Code to Be Dropped from 4.19 Kernel, Wireshark Security Vulnerabilities, Fedora 29 Test Week and GUADEC Videos Now Available

        All the videos from GNOME’s GUADEC Conference 2018—which brought together free software enthusiasts from around the world and was held in Almería Spain this past July—are now available at http://videos.guadec.org/2018.

      • GNOME 3.32 Release Schedule Published – 3.32.0 Due Out On 13 March

        With GNOME 3.30 releasing today, the GNOME release team has already finalized the release schedule for the next development cycle.

        GNOME 3.32 is the next update and with the usual six-month release cadence that obviously means another March release. The ratified schedule for GNOME 3.32 puts its release date as 13 March. For making that happen, the GNOME 3.32 betas begin on 6 February, which marks the UI/feature/API/ABI freezes and the hard code freeze with the first release candidate on 6 March. The first development milestone is GNOME 3.31.1 that is set to come out on 10 October.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Nitrux 1.0.15 Available!

        We are pleased to announce the launch of Nitrux 1.0.15. This new version brings together the latest software updates, bug fixes, performance improvements and ready-to-use hardware support.

        Nitrux 1.0.15 presents an updated hardware stack, among other things. The recently included Linux kernel 4.18.5, as well as an updated graphics stack, adds support for newer computers and hardware in Nitrux.

        In addition, new patches for system vulnerabilities are included in this release, so you can rest assured that you are using the most secure version of Nitrux.

        After installing Nitrux 1.0.15, you will have the latest versions of many pre-installed software packages. That means that you will need fewer software updates after installing Nitrux on your computer.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Recent Cachix downtime

        On the 22nd there was no action from my side; the service recovered itself. I did have monitoring configured and I received email alerts, but I have not noticed them.

        [...]

        On 23rd I have immediately seen the service was down and I’ve rebooted the machine.

        I have spent a significant amount of time trying to determine if a specific request caused this, but it seems likely that it was just an overload, although I have not proved this theory.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • wiki.debian.org: The Java Packaging Guide

        Good things come to those who wait. I always wanted to improve our Java Packaging documentation a little. When I started to contribute to Debian Java in 2012, I often struggled to find the right information and examples that would explain how I could package my own libraries or applications for Debian. After six years of trial and error and helpful advice on the debian-java mailing list, I figured it would be time to document this journey.

        At DebConf 2018 in Hsinchu I began to work on updating the wiki documentation. The current status of this work will always be visible at:

        [...]

        Despite the fact that some upstream projects come without a proper build system, they are often very simple to compile. Instead of one or two source files, you just have to compile dozens in one single directory. We have a Java helper tool called….Javahelper that does exactly that for you. A good start is to read the docs at /usr/share/doc/javahelper/tutorial.txt.gz also replicated here.

        Of course the Java world has invented the most powerful build systems in existence that are even able to bend light and can throw galaxies around. Let’s welcome Ant, Maven and Gradle. Everything else is irrelevant but don’t trust me.

      • August 2018 report: LTS, Debian, Upgrades
      • Derivatives

        • Linux Mint Releases LMDE 3 ‘Cindy’ Cinnamon with Security and Bug Fixes

          So far, Linux Mint is basically built on Ubuntu as a base and binds its own Linux distribution with various window managers around it. The acronym LMDE stands for Linux Mint Debian Edition. It’s a Linux Mint development program, which is not built on Ubuntu but on Debian. The developers have expressed their opinions about the project goal in their blog:

          Its main goal is for the Linux Mint team to see how viable our distribution would be and how much work would be necessary if Ubuntu was ever to disappear. LMDE aims to be as similar as possible to Linux Mint, but without using Ubuntu. The package base is provided by Debian instead.

          [...]

          As of now there are no point releases in this LMDE distribution. Other than bug fixes and security fixes, the Debian base packages stay the same as the previous one. But Mint and the desktop components are constantly being updated. When they are completed, the freshly advanced features will be incorporated directly into LMDE as they are deployed for the next Linux Mint release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Needs Your Help to Test Nvidia GPU Support for Ubuntu 18.10 and 18.04

            Canonical is looking for committed volunteers that own a computer with a dedicated Nvidia graphics card to test drive both the Nvidia proprietary graphics drivers and the open-source Nouveau graphics driver on both the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) and the upcoming Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) releases and report any issues they might encounter.

            “We are looking for committed volunteers to test Nvidia with proprietary and open source drivers. The goal of this testing is to catch regressions early in the cycle, and fix bugs before they reach a major audience. It is for Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic) or Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic), in laptop or PC machines,” said Will Cooke, Ubuntu Desktop Director at Canonical.

          • 11 Best Web Browsers for Ubuntu

            Web Browsers are one of the most widely used application software by millions of users worldwide. Ubuntu comes pre-loaded with Mozilla Firefox web browser which is one of the best and popular browsers alongside Google’s Chrome web browser. Both have their own set of features which make them different from each other.

            There are many web browsers available in the market according to the taste of internet users. Some users prefer fast web browsers while some prefer secure ones. Ubuntu users don’t need to worry as we have got you covered. In this article we are covering the 11 best web browsers which can be used on Ubuntu and other Linux distros. If you are looking for fastest browser, browser for web development or a secure web browser where you can block ads then you are at right place.

          • 10 Best Icon Themes for Ubuntu

            Tired of same look and design of your Ubuntu desktop over the years? And looking to give a fresh look to your Ubuntu desktop? Then you’re at the right place. Because today we’re going to cover 10 best icon themes which will give your Ubuntu desktop a new look. Changing icon theme is the best and most easy way to give a new fresh look to Ubuntu desktop.

          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 04 September 2018

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 7 open source tools for rugged DevOps

    “We can’t just stop at Dev and Ops. We have got to have security.” -Ernest Mueller, the agile admin

    In 2010, Ernest Mueller and James Wickett began applying “rugged” principles to the rapidly evolving DevOps paradigm. At the time, their core concern was, as stated above: “We can’t just stop at Dev and Ops. We have got to have security.”

    Rugged DevOps as a technique was borne out of the views expressed in Josh Corman’s RuggedSoftware. The rugged DevOps vision is an approach to software engineering that ensures that code is secure at all stages of the engineering lifecycle.

  • Hasura debuts open source event system to simplify serverless development

    Hasura, a company that creates tools for developers on top of the popular Postgres database, is introducing a new product in public Alpha today aimed at helping programmers build serverless apps more quickly and efficiently.

    The idea is to simplify function writing by offering an open source event system on top of Postgres to trigger events when certain conditions are met in the underlying database. This should help reduce the amount of coding needed to make something work, while also driving a more scalable system.

    Typically, programmers string together a series of API calls to services to take care of different parts of an app such as calling a payment or communications gateway. This saves the programmer from having to create the various pieces from scratch. The problem is that if anything goes wrong in the middle of a string of calls, the system can break down and typically has to start over.

  • Storj Labs Offers Unique Model for Cloud Storage

    Storj Labs launched an open source partner program that will divert revenues from its unique decentralized cloud storage platform to companies and individuals willing to house data on their computing systems.

    Storj Labs Executive Chairman and Interim CEO Ben Golub told attendees during a keynote address at the recent Open Source Summit event that this model will help drive economic growth and innovation in the open source space. It’s also an aggressive step toward monetizing and diversifying the cloud storage space.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 62.0 Now Available For Download With Some Wayland Fixes, CSS Variable Fonts

        While Mozilla isn’t expected to officially announce Firefox 62.0 until tomorrow, as usual the binaries are available for wanting this web browser update right now.

        Firefox 62.0 delivers support for CSS Variable Fonts, easier clearing of site data/cookies, text-to-speech on Firefox for Android via the Speech Synthesis API, several bug fixes pertaining to Wayland support although the Wayland support doesn’t appear complete yet, WebExtensions API additions, easier toggling of tracking protection items, and various other minor improvements.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Firefox to Recommend Extensions Related to Sites You Visit

        In future versions of Firefox, the browser will display recommended browser extensions that are related to the site that a user is visiting. These extension will provide extra functionality to the site such as enhancing search functions, protecting a user’s privacy, or performing some other behavior.

        This new feature is called Contextual Feature Recommender, or CFR, and will recommend extensions that Mozilla feels would be beneficial to users of various sites. Currently this feature is only available in the Firefox Nightly builds, but is expected to be rolled out in Firefox 63.

      • Firefox Plans To Recommend Extensions as You Browse. Is That a Good Idea?

        An upcoming Firefox feature will highlight extensions as you browse the web, pointing out tools that might protect your privacy or otherwise enhance the site.

        The feature, called Contextual Feature Recommender, is currently only available in Nightly builds, but will roll out with Firefox 63 in October. The idea is that Firefox can point out potentially helpful extensions that are relevant to the site you’re currently browsing.

      • Latest Firefox Releases Available Today

        The latest versions of Firefox for desktop, Android and iOS launched today. Since our last release update, we’ve been working on a couple improvements and laying the foundation for upcoming future releases. To get the details on what’s new with today’s release, check out the release notes.

        In the coming months, we’ll unveil and share new features that help people feel safe while on the web, and worry less about who’s collecting their personal data. You can read more about it in our blog post where we talked about our approach to Anti-tracking.

      • This Week in Rust 250

        This week’s crate is cgroups, a native Rust library for managing control groups under Linux.

      • Conservative web development

        The text of the article is a total of 9037 bytes, including the title, author, and date. I downloaded the images relevant to the article, including the 1477×10821 title image. Before I ran them through an optimizer, they weighed 260 KB; after, 236 KB (using only lossless optimizations). 8% of the total download was dedicated to the content. 5 discrete external companies were informed of my visit to the page and given the opportunity to run artibrary JavaScript on it.

        If these are the symptoms, what is the cure? [...]

      • On Firefox moving DNS to a third party

        It has been argued that users are not sophisticated enough to reason about this subject and that the DNS move should happen by default, with an opt-out for those that care. Another idea that has been raised is a startup dialogue that proposes a more secure [I]nternet experience and a ‘Got it!’ button. This clearly does not go far enough in educating users about the change they will be authorizing.

      • Why we need better tracking protection

        Mozilla has recently announced a change in our approach to protecting users against tracking. This announcement came as a result of extensive research, both internally and externally, that shows that users are not in control of how their data is used online. In this post, I describe why we’ve chosen to pursue an approach that blocks tracking by default.

        People are uncomfortable with the data collection that happens on the web. The actions we take on the web are deeply personal, and yet we have few options to understand and control the data collection that happens on the web. In fact, research has repeatedly shown that the majority of people dislike the collection of personal data for targeted advertising. They report that they find the data collection invasive, creepy, and scary.

      • Make your web layouts bust out of the rectangle with the Firefox Shape Path Editor

        The web doesn’t have to be boxy. Historically, every element in a page is rendered as a rectangle of some kind, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With CSS Shapes you can create web layouts every bit as stylish as print magazines, but with all of the advantages of the web.

        CSS Shapes let your web designs break out of the rectangular grid. All of those classic magazine design elements like non-rectangular text flow and shaped images can be yours, for the low low price of using a new CSS standard. Text can flow, images can be rounded, even just a few non-parallel lines can make your site stand out and make your brand distinctive. Standing out is the biggest challenge most sites face today. Shapes can help!

  • Databases

    • Crunchy Data Expands Commitment To Open Source Geospatial Data Management And Analytics

      Crunchy Data — the leading provider of trusted open source PostgreSQL technology, support, and training — announces its expanded commitment to providing open source geospatial data management and analytics engineering and support by welcoming Paul Ramsey, Chair of the PostGIS Project Steering Committee and PostgreSQL Major Contributor, to its team of open source contributors.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Gitpod git-bolts git-IDE onto GitHub for in-browser code git-editing

      Developers who use GitHub – 28 million at last count – now have the option to edit code with the click of a button using Gitpod, an integrated development environment (IDE) that can be launched directly from the social code hosting site.

      Based on Theia, an open source cloud-and-desktop IDE developed by Ericsson, IBM, TypeFox and RedHat, Gitpod can be invoked by prefixing a GitHub URL with “https://gitpod.io#” or using a Chrome browser extension.

    • ACT’s Latest Act: Investing in an Open-Source Assessment Startup

      The company offers a suite of tools used to create, deliver and generate reports from digital assessments. Its main offering is TAO, an open-source platform that anyone can download for free to create and deliver tests. For a fee, the company will also offer custom content development services, cloud-based hosting and delivery and support and maintenance.

      [...]

      In the past three years, ACT has also acquired OpenEd, Pacific Metrics Corporation, ProExam and the National Research Center for College and University Admissions.

      The breadth of these investments, Roorda says, is a sign that ACT should no longer be viewed as just a college-admissions test (or, specifically, the SAT alternative). The nonprofit’s bets across a range of digital technologies, from adaptive learning to formative assessments, means that it is also closely watching other markets and companies including Knewton and Renaissance Learning.

      Roorda and Oswald both say open-source technologies will play an integral role in the future of education. “A closed market doesn’t grow,” says Oswald. “You need open standards for everyone to benefit.”

    • The New Rocket Science

      Open-source farming could challenge Big Ag and take crop production to a new heights.

      [...]

      Harper’s big idea, a project he called the Open Agriculture Initiative, was to unleash the innovative power of the internet on agriculture by means of wetware — tech that merges edible plants with silicon chips. Empowered with free, open-source software and food computer designs, he argued, we could all soon be experimenting with crops, sharing our discoveries, and fixing environmental problems. Imagine reducing our dependence on centralized Big Agriculture and growing more food more sustainably by bringing the farm into the home — or at least into the city limits — and building a distributed network of a billion nerd farmers.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Libre Computer’s Renegade Elite Offers USB-C With DP, PCI-E x4, 4GB LPDDR4, 6 Cores

      While yesterday we looked at the Renegade ROK-RK3328-CC Libre Computer Board, they already have the successor well in the works. The Renegade was interesting as for just dollars more than the Raspberry Pi it offers better performance, Gigabit Ethernet makes the networking potential a lot more than the slow Ethernet on the Pi, there is USB 3.0 connectivity, and its using DDR4 memory, among other technical advantages. But the new Renegade Elite even puts that to shame.

    • Code Sourcery Posts New AMD Radeon GCN Port, Hoping To Mainline For GCC 9 Compiler

      There’s been AMD Radeon code in the works for the GCC compiler as a new back-end going back years but never really seems to takeoff in comparison to the AMD support on LLVM. SUSE formerly worked on a lot of Radeon + GCC code for GPU offloading while more recent Code Sourcery has been working on a new AMD GCN back-end. The newest AMD GCN code was posted today for the GNU Compiler Collection.

    • GNU GDB 8.2 Debugger Adds RISC-V ELF Target, Improves Python API

      GDB 8.2 is out today as the latest feature update for this GNU source-level debugger for many languages, architectures, and operating systems.

      Notable to GDB 8.2 is that it adds a RISC-V ELF target for this open-source processor ISA. Meanwhile, GDB 8.2 drops support for m68k on OpenBSD and SH-5/SH64 support across various operating systems.

    • Eleventh annual LibrePlanet conference set for March 23-24, 2019

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software users and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For a decade, LibrePlanet has brought together thousands of diverse voices and knowledge bases, including free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who have just begun to learn about free software.

      LibrePlanet 2019 will feature sessions for all ages and experience levels, including newcomers. Sharon Woods, general counsel for the Defense Digital Service (US Department of Defense) said, “Last year was my first LibrePlanet… I walked away a complete believer in free software.” In just the last three years, over a thousand people from around the world have attended LibrePlanet, with many more participating online by watching the free software-powered livestream, joining the conversation on IRC, or viewing nearly 40 hours of archived video on the FSF’s GNU MediaGoblin instance.

      LibrePlanet 2019′s theme is “Trailblazing Free Software.” In 1983, the free software movement was born with the announcement of the GNU Project. FSF founder Richard Stallman saw the dangers of proprietary code from the beginning: when code was kept secret from users, they would be controlled by the technology they used, instead of vice versa. In contrast, free software emphasized a community-oriented philosophy of sharing code freely, enabling people to understand how the programs they used worked, to build off of each other’s code, to pay it forward by sharing their own code, and to create useful software that treated users fairly.

  • Public Services/Government

    • How the Department of Defense Is Using Open Source

      The U.S. Department of Department of Defense has been incrementally adopting open-source software and methodologies to improve efficiency and reduce costs. In a session at the Open Source Summit on Aug. 31, Jordan Kasper of the Defense Digital Service (DDS) outlined the steps the DoD has taken thus far and some of the lessons learned.

      The DDS is part of the U.S. Digital Service (USDS), which embeds developers inside of U.S. government agencies as part of an effort to advance the state of technology development and usage. The USDS got started in the waning months of the Obama administration in late 2016 and has been continuing its work ever since.

      “The U.S. Digital Service is a SWAT team of nerds,” Kasper said.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • B.C. Federation of Students presses province on open-source textbooks

        On the first day of class, Simon Fraser University student Joey Mitchell spent about $200 on textbooks — and that’s just for one course.

        As Mitchell and other post-secondary students across B.C. head back to class this week, the British Columbia Federation of Students is calling on the province to invest an extra $5 million in a program that is trying to make prohibitively expensive textbooks a thing of the past.

      • Open-Access Plan in Europe Bans Publishing in Paywalled Journals

        Eleven European funding organizations announced today (September 4) an open-access initiative that requires grantees to make resulting research articles free to read as soon as they are published. The initiative is slated to begin in 2020.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • This Is Your Solution For Open Source Motion Tracking

        The HTC Vive Tracker adds real-world objects to your virtual world. While these real-world objects in virtual environments are now mostly limited to a Nintendo Zapper for a Duck Hunt clone and a tennis racket, the future is clear: we’re going to be playing Duck Hunt and Wii Sports while wearing headsets. The future is so bright, it burns.

        Of course, with any piece of neat computing hardware, there’s an opportunity for building an Open Source clone. That’s what [Drix] is doing with his Hackaday Prize entry. He’s created an Open Source Vive Tracker. It’s called the HiveTracker, and it is right now the best solution for tracking objects in a 3D space.

        After a few missteps with ultrasonic and magnetic approaches, the team decided to piggyback on the HTC Vive lighthouses. These two base stations scan a laser beam across the room, first vertically, then horizontally. It’s an incredible piece of technology that [Alan Yates] talked about at the 2016 Hackaday Superconference.

  • Programming/Development

    • Open Source Community Releases Babel 7 JavaScript Compiler

      The popular open source Babel compiler that makes modern JavaScript compatible with older environments has shipped in version 7 with a bevy of new features.

      Coming some three years after the release of Babel 6, the update is said to be faster, allow for easier upgrades, boost configuration functionality and add support for technologies such as JSX Fragments and TypeScript, among many other things.

      Babel, a compiler toolchain, is used by millions of JavaScript developers to convert ECMAScript 2015 and later code into backwards-compatible JavaScript versions to make it work in older Web browsers, runtimes or other environments.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Google at 20: How a search engine became a literal extension of our mind

      Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?

      This was the question posed in 1998 (coincidentally the same year Google was launched) by two philosophers and cognitive scientists, Andy Clark and David Chalmers, in a now famous journal article, The Extended Mind. Before their work, the standard answer among scientists was to say that the mind stopped at the boundaries of skin and skull (roughly, the boundaries of the brain and nervous system).

      But Clark and Chalmers proposed a more radical answer. They argued that when we integrate things from the external environment into our thinking processes, those external things play the same cognitive role as our brains do. As a result, they are just as much a part of our minds as neurons and synapses. Clark and Chalmers’ argument produced debate, but many other experts on the mind have since agreed.

    • Theranos is shutting its doors for good
    • Theranos is finally dead, company to wind down

      The company’s dissolution comes months after its top two executives, ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes, and former president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, were federally prosecuted for criminal wire fraud.`

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Confidential Text Shows Draft Deal On UN TB Declaration

      A newly agreed draft text of the United Nations political declaration on tuberculosis was released to governments today, affirming the use of flexibilities in international trade rules on intellectual property, but excluding actionable language on those rules.

    • New Health Ministry Of Chile Reaffirms Path To Compulsory Licence For Hepatitis C Drugs

      Resolution 399/2018 was granted taking into account the thousands of Chileans infected by hepatitis C and the barrier to treating them all with the required drugs that is marketed in Chile at an unaffordable price by Gilead.

      The hepatitis C treatment with sofosbuvir, because of the price, until last year was excluded from the publicly funded drugs provided by the Ministry of Health. And after a big campaign from patients, it was included, but only for 350 patients, excluding the thousands of others in need.

      After President Piñera took office, and with the swinging from a left-oriented government to one on the right, Gilead and Pharma displayed a number of lobbying efforts, ranging from expensive law firms in Chile to calls to foreign governments, to invalidate the declaration of public health need for a compulsory licence.

      Among these efforts, Gilead lawyers presented a reconsideration request to the Ministry of Health arguing it did not meet legal grounds, particularly because it was taking into account the price of the drugs as part of the justification.

      Innovarte Ngo, who started the process in Chile for the declaration of public health need at the Ministry of Health, and Giorgio Jackson, member of the Chilean Congress who has led the support for it from Congress, rebutted Gilead’s allegations. They raised the freedoms granted in World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as well as in the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, and asked the ministry to upheld the declaration.

  • Security

    • A look a the Linux/CoinMiner.BC malware

      I recently had the “pleasure” of helping a friend with his GNU/Linux box which was acting up. Random system processes like initctl, dbus-daemon,ssh-agent, ibus-x11, icc-daemon or even a simple sleep would suddenly consume all the CPU resources in the background, often the graphical user interface would also lag. But he couldn’t find out why – every time he tried to debug the issue, e.g. by running top, the processes at fault suddenly disappeared.

      Turns out he had infected his machine with the Linux/CoinMiner.BC malware, probably by installing an unofficial Kodi plugin. Luckily all the malware seems to do is to mine some cryptocurrency in the background (hence the name “CoinMiner”). But it takes quite a few steps to avoid detection and ensure it isn’t easily removed.

      [...]

      In theory you could log out of all user sessions, log in as root (NOT via sudo!), kill all remaining user processes and then clean/remove the listed files. Creating a new user profile, migrating all the data you actually need and then deleting the old profile is theoretically much better.

      In practice your machine was compromised and you don’t know if the attackers did more than just infect it with a cryptominer. They could have used any number of security exploits to install a rootkit or something like that. Just backup your data and reinstall the whole machine.

    • Making C less dangerous

      The C language is very powerful, widely used—particularly in the Linux kernel—and very dangerous. One of the Linux engineers outlines how developers can cope with the programming language’s security weaknesses.

      You can do almost anything with C, but that doesn’t mean you should. C code runs quickly, but it has no safety belt. Even if you’re a C expert, as are most of the Linux kernel developers, you can still make killer blunders.

      Besides the pitfalls of, say, misusing pointer aliasing, the C language itself has fundamental, unfixed bugs that await the unwary. It’s those weaknesses that Kees “Case” Cook, Google Linux kernel security engineer, addressed in a seminar at the Linux Security Summit in Vancouver, Canada.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Android Vulnerability Leaks Sensitive Data through WiFi Broadcast

      A vulnerability has been found in the Android operating system which broadcasts sensitive system data through WiFi broadcasting signals. This vulnerability is found to send out this data to all applications on the device to use as desired. This means that your WiFi network name, BSSID, local IP addresses, DNS server information, and MAC address are all revealed to applications on the device to use, information which would other wise require the penetration of a few layers of security before coming out plain.

      [...]

      It seems that Google has updated its latest operating system versions Android P and 9 to mitigate this security vulnerability but there is no news yet on whether the company intends to resolve the issue in older versions of the operating system as well, and if so, when. Researchers are still looking into this vulnerability to discover whether any other operating systems are affected or whether the concept is being used to exploit random devices remotely as well.

    • NSA researchers present security improvements for Zephyr and Fucshia at Linux Security Summit 2018

      Last week, James Carter and Stephen Smalley presented the architecture and security mechanisms of two operating systems, Zephyr and Fuchsia at the Linux Security Summit 2018. James and Stephen are computer security researchers in the Information Assurance Research organization of the US National Security Agency (NSA).

      They discussed the current concerns in the operating systems and their contribution and others to further advance security of these emerging open source operating systems. They also compared the security features of Zephyr and Fucshia to Linux and Linux-based systems such as Android.

    • 2018 marked the “The Twenty Fifth International Obfuscated C Code Contest”

      The source code for the winners of the 25th IOCCC has been released.

    • Alleged ‘Satori’ IoT Botnet Operator Sought Media Spotlight, Got Indicted

      A 20-year-old from Vancouver, Washington was indicted last week on federal hacking charges and for allegedly operating the “Satori” botnet, a malware strain unleashed last year that infected hundreds of thousands of wireless routers and other “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices. This outcome is hardly surprising given that the accused’s alleged alter ego has been relentless in seeking media attention for this global crime machine.

    • Newbie Hacker [sic] Fingered for Monster Botnet

      Federal prosecutors quietly indicted this 20-year-old, and rival hackers say he’s behind a king-sized botnet. But did he really have the skills to pull it off?

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Psychic Nikki Haley: If There Is A Future Chemical Weapons Attack, Assad Did It

      UN Ambassador and Clairvoyant Prognosticator of the Transmundane Nikki Haley has foreseen that, if there are any future chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian province of Idlib, it will most definitely be the Syrian government that is responsible and not the multiple terrorist factions in the area.

      “If they want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that,” said Nikki Haley at a UN press conference today, without explaining how a nation’s only recognized government can ‘take over’ the country it governs. “But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people. And we’re not gonna fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s gonna use them.”

    • Lana Del Rey: the latest casualty of BDS censorship

      ana Del Rey has pulled out of the headline slot of the Meteor Festival in Tel Aviv, a week before she was due to perform. Del Rey is the highest profile act to have withdrawn from the festival, following pressure from Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners.

    • Lana Del Rey, 14 Artists Boycott Israel’s Meteor Festival

      Concert cancellations grow by the day, as one by one, artists align in solidarity with the Palestinian movement.

      A total of 15 performers have joined the international campaign to boycott Israel’s Meteor Festival, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) confirmed Monday just a few days after U.S. pop singer Lana Del Rey, the festival’s main guest, announced she was not attending the concert in a big victory for pro-Palestinian activists.

    • Lapid to Lana Del Rey: You were lied to

      “You’re sitting in New York after canceling your performance in Israel because of pressure from Roger Waters and other vocal BDS activists,” the MK wrote. “It’s a shame, because you were lied to. You became another one in a series of people being used by Palestinian terrorist organizations without knowing the facts.”

    • Lana Del Rey cancels Israel performance amid pressure from BDS movement

      Singer Lana Del Rey canceled her performance in Israel under pressure from an anti-Israeli group two weeks after she publicly defended the concert as a way to “bring us together” with a “w[ith] a thematic emphasis on peace.”

      This is the second time the “Summertime Sadness” songstress canceled a scheduled show in the Holy Land due to pressure from the BDS movement, which calls for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” against the Jewish State.

      The pop star blamed the fact that she couldn’t book a venue in “Palestine” for the cancellation.

    • The Impossible Photo

      These CCTV images released by Scotland yard today allegedly show Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov both occupying exactly the same space at Gatwick airport at precisely the same second. 16.22.43 on 2 March 2018. Note neither photo shows the other following less than a second behind.

      [...]

      The only possible explanations are:

      1) One of the two is travelling faster than Usain Bolt can sprint
      2) Scotland Yard has issued doctored CCTV images/timeline.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The CIA college tour: Crowdsourcing contest winners

      For back-to-school week, we tasked MuckRock readers with combing through the Central Intelligence Agency archives to find the strangest tie between your alma mater and the intelligence community. Here’s what you found!

    • [Older] Judge Koeltl Allows DNC to Serve Wikileaks by Twitter

      Last week, via a memo endorsement, Judge Koeltl granted the Democratic National Committee’s motion to serve Wikileaks by Twitter in the DNC’s case over the 2016 election hacks (see our coverage here).

      The DNC argued that “[w]hile WikiLeaks’ physical presence is difficult to discern, it has a robust online presence, including an active presence on Twitter, using the handle @WikiLeaks.” From that account, Wikileaks in fact had acknowledged reading the DNC’s complaint. As the DNC argued in its motion, “From April 20 to April 22, WikiLeaks tweeted about the lawsuit at least six times, in one instance including a screenshot of part of the complaint, and in three instances directing followers to analyses of the complaint.”

    • Assange’s Missing Associate Was Person of Interest for Spies – Commentator

      WikiLeaks has raised the alarm over the sudden disappearance of Arjen Kamphuis, a cybersecurity expert who helped journalists evade state surveillance. Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Peter Tatchell, an independent Wikileaks commentator and human rights campaigner, shared his views on the Kamphuis case and Julian Assange’s embassy saga.

      Sputnik: WikiLeaks has been raising concern over the disappearance of Arjen Kamphuis. In your opinion, how justified are these concerns?

    • Railtown Brewing Sues Railbird Taphouse Over Trademark Concerns

      Another day, another questionable trademark dispute in the craft brewing industry. As we’ve discussed previously, the craft beer industry is undergoing an insane growth-spurt these past few years, with new breweries popping up all across the country. At the same time, the tradition of creatively naming breweries and brews is coming up against an erosion of the fraternal nature of the industry. Where once there was a sense of community among brewers that kept all but the most clear-cut trademark concerns at bay, the industry has since been inundated with trademark disputes between breweries.

      The trend has continued to the present, with Railtown Brewing deciding to sue a soon-to-be-opened restaurant and brewery to be called Railbird Taphouse and Brewery.

    • Railtown Brewing sues planned Byron Center brewpub, alleging confusingly similar name

      An established Grand Rapids-area craft brewery is suing a nearby Byron Center-based brewpub in planning, alleging that the startup’s name is confusingly similar.

      Railtown Brewing Co. alleges in the case that Railbird Taphouse and Brewery’s name has already led to confusion in the marketplace, and “is likely to continue to confuse, mislead and deceive consumers,” according to documents filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

    • WikiLeaks revelations propel Name Dispute issue back to center stage

      The Prespes Agreement – the latest attempt to end the quarter-century-long Name Dispute between Greece and its neighbour FYROM/Macedonia by renaming the latter ‘the Republic of North Macedonia’ – is back in the international headlines only three months after being signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his counterpart in Skopje, Zoran Zaev.

      The issue over the ratification of the Agreement had, through most of the summer, temporarily fallen from the top tier of public debate after Greece was deeply preoccupied with the tragic deadly fires that struck near Athens in late July, a mini-government reshuffle, and the country’s emergence in late August from the eight-year financial bailout programme.

      This changed on September 3 with the curiously-timed Wikileaks release of an American diplomatic cable sourced from the US Embassy in Skopje in 2008 asserting the then-hardline Macedonian/FYROM government could accept a name switching deal that is remarkably similar to what was agreed earlier this year, which served to deeply undercut what Tsipras has up-to-now portrayed as a major success. Rumblings over the cable’s significance continued in a series of tense exchanges between the main opposition party, New Democracy, and the ruling Syriza-Independent Greeks coalition.

    • Arjen Kamphuis, WikiLeaks Consultant Missing: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

      Arjen Kamphuis, a WikiLeaks associate and Dutch cybersecurity expert, has been missing for two weeks. The news of his disappearance was first made public when a friend, Ancilla van de Leest, posted on Twitter that he was missing and friends and colleagues were very worried about him, Huffington Post reported. Here is what you need to know about Kamphuis, his background, and everything we know so far about his disappearance.

    • Norwegian police investigate missing WikiLeaks associate Arjen Kamphuis

      Norwegian police are investigating the sudden disappearance of Dutch citizen Arjen Kamphuis, a respected security expert and known associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      Kamphuis has been missing since since Aug. 20 and was last seen when he checked out of the Scandic Havet hotel in Bodø, Norway.

      Police confirmed on Sunday that an investigation involving the National Criminal Investigation Service, known as Kripos, had been opened into the disappearance by Tuesday. Kripos are Norway’s law enforcement agency specializing in technical and forensic level investigations, both finding missing persons and fighting organized crime.

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s 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.

    • Norway police probe disappearance of WikiLeaks associate
    • Norway Police Probe Disappearance of WikiLeaks Associate
    • In Norway began a search colleague of Julian Assange

      It is noted that he was last seen on 20 August in the Norwegian city of Bodø, from where he probably went to Trondheim.

      “We started the investigation,” − said the Agency in the police, but refused to speculate about what could happen to a man.

    • Arjen Kamphuis Wikileaks Associate Missing In Norway Since 22nd August

      With all that is going on with Wikileaks and Julian Assange people are getting worried that maybe Arjen Kamphuis Wikileaks Associate has been victim to ‘foul play’.

      Alternatively has Arjen Kamphuis gone undercover as he is going on a secret assignment for Wikileaks and wants to be undercover to avoid people and media tracking his movements…

    • Dutch man, 47, missing in Norway

      The Norwegian police launched an investigation into the disappearance 47-year-old Arjen Kamphuis. The Dutch man was on holiday in Norway and went missing on August 20th. He was last seen in the town of Bodø, RTL Nieuws reports.

      Kamphuis spent two weeks on holiday in Norway, a friend said to the broadcaster. “He would’ve returned to the Netherlands on 22 August, booked a return ticket for that day. But now he has missed several work and private appointments.” According to her, it is known that Kamphuis checked out of his hotel in Bodø on the day of his disappearance. “Other than that, we can only guess what happened.”

    • Ellsberg Says Assange, as a Journalist, Can’t Be Tried Under Espionage Act

      In an interview with Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says the Espionage Act, under which he was indicted, cannot apply to Julian Assange because he is a journalist.

      Speaking during an online vigil for Assange organized by Unity4J.com, Ellsberg told Lauria that the motive for U.S. leaders to protect their secrets and go after Assange has nothing to do with their mantra of “national security.”

      “The purpose is not to protect national security, but to protect the asses of the people who wrote the directives” of classified material, most of which should never have been classified, Ellsberg said.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Being reminded of your political bubble can stop you from breaking out

      The other two groups didn’t fare quite as well. Telling participants whether their neighbors were conservative or liberal kept the party gap alive—conservatives now did only slightly better than their counterparts in the control group. But surprisingly, the simple act of slapping donkey and elephant logos on the screen had the most detrimental impact. The results from both conservatives and liberals were indistinguishable from the control group. Comparing notes didn’t do a thing.

    • It’s time to break up Facebook

      There are two problems with the consumer welfare standard in 2018: first, after years of dancing around it, giant corporations and their lawyers have learned to make their arguments about price increases ridiculously technical. This leads to comical misdirection. For example, the judge in the AT&T-Time Warner merger case devoted hundreds of pages to the technical discussion of price increases and paid zero attention to the anticompetitive effects of AT&T prioritizing its own video services over others.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Press freedom foundation accuses Colombia of ‘collective censorship’ of foreign journalists

      Colombia’s Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP) and Reporters Without Borders accused Colombia’s migration authority “collective censorship” on foreign journalists in Colombia by failing to expedite migrant visas.

      According to an investigation by Colombia Reports and The Bogota Post, at least 12 foreign journalists have been unable to obtain or renew the migrant visas that allow them to work in Colombia and could be forced to leave the country.

      Three other journalists said they had given up and already left the country.

      The accusations appears to be a consequence of the country’s “simplified” migration laws that took effect in December last year.

    • The Internet Doesn’t Need a Fairness Doctrine

      Another day, another call for government intervention in free speech on the Internet. President Trump recently took to Twitter to decry supposed censorship of conservatives. He suggested that Google and “others” were censoring conservative voices and burying good news about him in search results. Furthermore, he warned that “this is a very serious situation” that will be “addressed” — perhaps with government action.

      The genesis of these tweets is an article from PJ Media. The story reports that 96 percent of Google search results for the word “Trump” returned results from left-leaning news sites. Even though the article admits the results are “not scientific,” the story confirmed the biases of many on the right and instantly gained traction. (In fairness, the author of that article has since expressed opposition to any efforts by government to regulate speech online.)

    • Censorship of the web is already a worldwide norm, not the exception

      When Facebook and Twitter face US congressmen’s questions today about policing online content, the tech giants won’t be able to prove they work to the Goldilocks principle. Is what they serve up like our heroine’s porridge – not too hot, not too cold, but just right?

      Are the tech titans doing too little to police content? Do they do too much, as Donald Trump alleges, with his complaints that conservative views are censored? Or, do they do just the right amount?

      And what is the right amount anyway? Other than outright incitement to violence or child abuse, no one can seem to agree on the faultlines. Should objective information and far-right disinformation be given equal weight? Should anarchist left-wing opinion be given a hearing?

      Are basic principles which are enshrined in philosophy as far back as Plato – those of justice, virtue and equality – to be a matter of opinion now?

    • A Federal Anti-SLAPP Law Would Make CDA 230 More Effective

      Lawsuits against institutions that transmit speech, such as newspapers and blogs, impose costs that those institutions act to avoid—if necessary, by preemptively censoring any third-party speech that increases their exposure to legal liability. The purpose of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is to prevent this collateral chilling effect, specifically on internet users’ speech. CDA 230 enables the dismissal before trial of suits seeking to hold websites of the user-driven content model, such as Twitter and YouTube, liable for the unlawful speech or conduct of their users. This law is based on a policy judgment that, if held liable for all illegal content within millions of online posts, websites would reduce the amount of speech they transmit and, erring on the side of avoiding legal costs, would censor some lawful speech.

      But even unsuccessful suits impose costs—after all, defendants who dismiss a suit before trial on CDA 230 grounds still must hire a team of expensive lawyers to secure dismissal. An empirical study in 2012 by Professor David Ardia at the University of North Carolina determined that the average CDA 230 case terminated on a motion to dismiss takes almost a year to reach dismissal. Ardia noted, plausibly, that litigating for this length of time entails substantial defense-side costs. In order to mitigate the collateral chilling effect of these pre-trial costs, defendants in CDA 230 cases need a fee-shifting mechanism that allows them to impose their costs on plaintiffs whose cases have faltered at the motion to dismiss stage. Given likely political obstacles to adding a fee-shifting provision to CDA 230 itself, a good way to supply this mechanism is through federal anti-SLAPP legislation.

    • Use SC, not Dalit: I&B Ministry to TV channels Cong equates it to censorship

      The I&B advisory urges channels that they may refrain from using the term ‘Dalit’ while referring to people belonging to Scheduled Castes.

      New Delhi : The Congress on Tuesday dubbed as “censorship” the advisory of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry asking TV channels to refrain from using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ for people belonging to Scheduled Castes.

      Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also hit out at some television channels supporting the government’s move, and asked them to introspect.

    • I&B Ministry advisory on Dalit word is censorship: Congress

      The Congress on Tuesday termed “censorship” the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s advisory to the media to avoid use of word “Dalit”.

      Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari said such terms are commonly used in public discourse.

      “If the government ordains or the Ministry ordains that the language which you use in your reportage should also be one that is pre-cleared by them.

      “How else will you characterise this advisory except to call it censorship? And my request to all those media outlets, who have been supporting the spectre of censorship, that they should introspect. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind,” he added.

    • Facebook, Twitter execs defend non-censorship of WikiLeaks

      The world’s largest social media companies defended their decisions not to censor primary-source document publisher WikiLeaks, telling senators Wednesday the organization has done nothing that would justify being muzzled.

      Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., extracted corporate explanations after calling WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” at an open hearing of the Senate intelligence committee.

    • Sandberg and Dorsey Grilled by Senate About Russian Meddling, WikiLeaks

      Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey, high-profile executives at Facebook and Twitter, agreed during a Senate intelligence committee appearance on Wednesday that the abuse of personal information on their platforms had become a national security priority.

      Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, and Dorsey, the founder and chief executive of Twitter, were both called to provide expert testimony to the committee over alleged foreign influence operations and the impact of social media platforms on the U.S. political system.

      Responding to a question by Senator Ron Wyden, both social media executives agreed that personal data had become the “weapon of choice” for political influence campaigns. “From this point on, beefing up protections and controls on personal privacy must be a national security priority,” Wyden posited firmly. “Yes,” said Sandberg. “Yes,” replied Dorsey.

    • Facebook Says WikiLeaks Breaks No Terms Of Service, Allowed To Keep Account – CEO

      Facebook has determined that the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks does not violate the platform’s terms of service and it is allowed to keep its social media account, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

      “I am not going to defend WikiLeaks and I’m not going to defend the actions of any page or actor on our platform,” Sandberg told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “As it does not violate our terms of service, it remains on our website.”

      Senator Tom Cotton, who inquired about WikiLeaks’ account, noted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has characterized the organization as a hostile foreign intelligence service and the Committee agreed with this determination.

    • ‘Facebook definition of terrorism is overly broad’: UN rights expert warns against censorship, discrimination

      Facebook’s definition of what constitutes “terrorism” is “overly broad” and risks leading to censorship and the arbitrary denial of access to its services, a UN rights expert warned on Monday.

      The UN Special Rapporteur on promoting and protecting human rights while countering terrorism has written to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to express concern about the company’s efforts to block “terrorists” from using its platform, according to a statement.

      [...]

      She also voiced concern over a lack of clarity about the methods Facebook uses to determine if a person belongs to a particular group, and if that person has “the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such determination.”

      “The absence of any independent processes of review, oversight and monitoring of Facebook’s actions is also highly problematic,” she added.

    • Facebook’s ‘terrorism’ definition may lead to censorship, warns UN expert
    • UN expert warns Facebook ‘terrorism’ definition ‘overly broad’
    • Facebook Confessed PragerU Hit by Ideological Censorship
    • Bozell to Congress: ‘The American People Deserve Answers’ on Social Media Censorship
    • Twitter shares down as much as 6% during CEO Jack Dorsey’s Senate testimony
    • ‘Privacy Is a Fundamental Human Right,’ Says Twitter CEO: LIVE ANALYSIS
    • How to Watch Twitter and Facebook Testify Before Congress Wednesday

      Wednesday will actually see two hearings. The morning session before the Senate Intelligence Committee kicks off at 9:30 am ET, featuring both Dorsey and Sandberg. Google CEO Larry Page was invited, but declined to attend; Google offered global affairs executive Kent Walker instead. Walker will provide written testimony, but won’t appear in person. You can watch that session live right here when it starts:Wednesday will actually see two hearings. The morning session before the Senate Intelligence Committee kicks off at 9:30 am ET, featuring both Dorsey and Sandberg. Google CEO Larry Page was invited, but declined to attend; Google offered global affairs executive Kent Walker instead. Walker will provide written testimony, but won’t appear in person. You can watch that session live right here when it starts: [...]

    • Report: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Intervened to Save Alex Jones, Richard Spencer
    • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy raises subpoena option in standoff over Google testimony
    • Inside Twitter’s Long, Slow Struggle to Police Bad Actors
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chelsea Manning Continues Fight Against Unfair Hacking Charge

      Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was released from prison more than a year ago, after former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence for releasing military and diplomatic records to WikiLeaks. But her case still continues, as Manning wants to appeal her original conviction—including one charge under a controversial a federal anti-hacking law.

      The Criminal Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is intended to punish people for breaking into computer systems. Yet Manning didn’t break into anything. Instead, she was found guilty of violating the CFAA for using a common software utility called Wget to access a State Department database—a database she was generally authorized to access—in violation of a computer use policy. The policy prohibited the use of unauthorized software, even though the prohibition, which covers everything from computer games to simple automated Web browsing tools like Wget, is rarely enforce by the chain of command. Prosecutors have argued that Manning’s use of the Wget software violates the law’s provision again intentionally exceeding “authorized access” to a computer connected to the Internet.

      [...]

      We can’t have ordinary online behavior—such as the use of simple, common tools for making it easier to collect publicly available information—become a federal criminal offense. Four other circuit courts have agreed. We hope the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces takes Manning’s case and helps bring some fairness to the CFAA.

    • The EMPOWER Care Act Would Give People With Disabilities the Freedom They Deserve

      On Wednesday, the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee will consider the EMPOWER Care Act, bipartisan legislation to re-authorize the Money Follows the Person program, which helps people with disabilities move from institutions into the community.

      MFP is little known outside of the disability community, but it has been an extremely successful Medicaid program that has helped over 75,000 people with disabilities from 47 states leave institutions and move back into their own homes. It was enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support.

      MFP was designed to help states transition people with disabilities from institutions into the community as well as to increase access to home- and community-based services. As executive director of the New York Association on Independent Living, which administers the state’s MFP program, I’ve seen the program do wonders for people. Unfortunately, the program expired September 30, 2016, and states are running out of funding despite the work left to be done. Congress must provide funding for this important work to continue.

    • Drones Are Revolutionizing Journalism, But Congress Could Curb This New Tool

      At a time when journalists face unprecedented attacks, Congress is now considering legislation that may make it even harder for them to do their jobs.

      Earlier this year, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced legislation that would grant the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice enormous power to intercept, surveil, seize, and even destroy privately owned drones in a wide array of circumstances without ever once requiring approval from a judge. That alone is reason enough to oppose the bill. However, the bill may also impinge on the First Amendment by allowing the government to prohibit drones from being flown in a wide range of areas, including those where individuals may have a legitimate First Amendment interest.

      Since 2015, when drones were first commissioned for press use by the federal government, media organizations have found new and innovative ways of incorporating drones into their reporting. This new style of journalism, or drone journalism, has enabled media outlets to gather information in often inaccessible locations and obtain groundbreaking reporting. However, under this bill, journalists and others could be prohibited from flying drones where there is a legitimate public interest in gathering information.

    • Help Shadowproof Cover Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s Trial For Killing Laquan McDonald

      Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with several crimes, including first-degree murder and aggravated battery, for killing a black teenager named Laquan McDonald in 2014.

      Van Dyke, a white officer, finally goes on trial this week, with jury selection scheduled to begin September 5. The trial will likely unfold over several weeks.

    • Appeals Court Judge: Qualified Immunity Is A Rigged Game The Government Almost Always Wins

      We’ve long cast a skeptical eye on the judicial theory of qualified immunity. Conjured out of thin air by the Supreme Court, qualified immunity cannot be found among the thousands of laws and statutes our legislature has created over the past couple of centuries.

      Qualified immunity raises an almost-insurmountable bar for plaintiffs to hurdle when alleging Constitutional violations. It’s not enough to provide evidence of violated rights. Previous court decisions on point must exist, and the court must have previously established [insert rights violation here] as a Constitutional violation for the plaintiff’s lawsuit to advance. This summation of the QI standard from Scott Greenfield may seem outlandish, but it’s actually not that far from the truth.

    • Lithuania Appeals European Court Ruling Over CIA’s Secret Prison Case

      The complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with the case of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah comes two weeks after Lithuania’s representative at the ECHR said that the Baltic country would not appeal the court’s ruling since it was unlikely to be changed.

      The Lithuanian government has submitted a complaint to the ECHR over its May decision regarding the case of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah, who claimed that the Baltic country hosted a secret CIA prison where he was violently tortured, the Lithuanian Justice Ministry told Sputnik on Monday.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ‘The FCC Chair Is Outright Lying to Reporters and Congress’
    • Ajit Pai Coddles Big Telecom, Demonizes Silicon Valley

      To be very clear there’s no shortage of legitimate criticism aimed at giants like Facebook and Google for their inconsistent policies, repeated privacy snafus, and incessantly-incompetent public relations skills.

      That said, a large chunk of the push to “do something” about Google, Facebook and Twitter’s supposed assault on free speech is also little more than wet nonsense driven by people who don’t understand how the internet or First Amendment work. And a lot of the recent breathless hyperventilation in DC and vilification of “big tech” is being driven by the telecom sector, which has spent years demanding that their broken and uncompetitive monopoly market be mindlessly deregulated, while the healthier, more competitive online content and ad space face onerous new regulations.

      We’ve discussed at length how the telecom industry has grown bored with the slow, steady profit made from upgrading and running broadband networks, and has shifted its focus toward the sexier realm of online advertising. Granted, when large ISPs try to directly compete in that space they tend to fall flat on their faces, since running government-pampered monopolies has dulled their innovative and competitive edge. As a result, the Comcast/AT&T/Verizon version of “competition” usually involves two things they’re actually good at: cheating by distorting the playing field (aka net neutrality violations) and lobbying.

    • YouTube & Netflix Being Slowed By Telecom Carriers In The US — Here’s Why

      A new research conducted by the researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has revealed that wireless carriers are throttling the speed for popular video streaming sites such as Netflix, Youtube, and Amazon Prime.

      In one of its kind study, reported by Bloomberg, the researchers have used an application named Wehe which is downloaded by as many as 1,00,000 consumers. The app works by keeping track of the carriers throttling internet speed and for what services are speed throttled.

    • YouTube, Netflix Videos Found to Be Slowed by Wireless Carriers

      The largest U.S. telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from popular apps like YouTube and Netflix, according to new research from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

      The researchers used a smartphone app called Wehe, downloaded by about 100,000 consumers, to monitor which mobile services are being throttled when and by whom, in what likely is the single largest running study of its kind.

      Among U.S. wireless carriers, YouTube is the No. 1 target of throttling, where data speeds are slowed, according to the data. Netflix Inc.’s video streaming service, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video and the NBC Sports app have been degraded in similar ways, according to David Choffnes, one of the study’s authors who developed the Wehe app.

    • AT&T’s Top Anti-Net Neutrality Lobbyist In California Doesn’t Register As A Lobbyist

      We’ve noted for years how U.S. lobbying laws and restrictions are essentially hot garbage, and are routinely laughed at by some of the country’s largest corporations. The legal DC definition of a lobbyist was beefed up slightly back in 2007, when the Lobbyist Disclosure Act was notably amended by the Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. Those changes required that if an employee spends more than 20% of their time lobbying, they have to register with the government as a lobbyist, detail their travel with lawmakers, and more fully outline their contributions to politicians and their myriad foundations.

      But many lobbyists responded to those changes by just changing their title or calling their lobbying… something else. We’ve examined, for example, how Comcast’s top lobbyist David Cohen shifted his title to “Chief Diversity Officer” in order to skirt around that 20% restriction. Cohen often can frequently be seen holding press junkets heralding Comcast’s altruism because it offered some discounted broadband connections to the poor to get its NBC Universal merger approved. But the lion’s share of Cohen’s time is spent lobbying local lawmakers during these junkets.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Qualcomm must license SEPs on FRAND terms, FTC tells court

      The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked District Judge Lucy Koh to rule that semiconductor company Qualcomm must license its wireless standard-essential patents (SEP) to competitors.

      The FTC filed its motion for partial summary judgment at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, on Thursday, August 30.

      Qualcomm’s competition dispute with the FTC is due to be heard at trial in January 2019.

      However, four months before the trial is due to commence, the FTC has asked the court for partial summary judgment that, under the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations Qualcomm committed to when it participated in setting wireless standards, Qualcomm must license its SEPs to rival chip makers.

    • Brexit and the Pharmaceuticals Sector: The Key Issues

      The future of the Unitary Patent and the Unitary Patents Court. In April 2018, the UK government ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement, an EU initiative aimed at developing a single European patent that would be enforceable across the different EU jurisdictions and subject to the jurisdiction of one EU led entity. In a white paper published last month, the government confirmed its intention to explore implementing the unitary patent system after its leaves the EU;

    • Copyrights

      • Wikimedia Warns: EU Copyright Directive Could Drastically Change The Internet We Know And Love

        We’re getting mighty close to the EU Parliament again voting on the proposed EU Copyright Directive we spent so much time discussing a few months ago. As we’ve discussed there are many, many problems with the proposal, with two of the biggest ones being in the link tax of Article 11 and the mandatory upload filters of Article 13. Incredibly, when Wikimedia correctly pointed out the problems of mandatory filters on a site like Wikipedia back in the summer of 2017, rather than fix the overall Directive, the EU merely tried to carve out a special exception for “online encyclopedias.”

      • Ninth Circuit Stops Monkeying Around And Denies En Banc Review Of The Monkey Selfie Case

        Whatever will we do without the Monkey Selfie case rearing its not-actually-copyrighted head every few months? We might finally get to find out, now that the Ninth Circuit has declined to rehear the appeal en banc. This denial now makes clear that monkeys lack standing to sue for copyright, at least within the Ninth Circuit. Someday (hopefully not soon) we may find out what other Circuits have to say about primate copyrights, but for now we can finally be confident that they lack standing to sue over them here.

      • EU copyright reform will spell disaster for sports fans

        A lot has been written about the danger the planned EU copyright reform poses for freedom of speech online, for memes and remixes, for software developers and startups. Below, my colleague Dan Dalton and I draw attention to another group that would be badly affected by the planned law: Sports fans across Europe.

      • Movie Outfits Are ‘Quietly’ Targeting Canadian File-Sharers in Court

        Over the past several years, hundreds of thousands of piracy warnings have been sent out to Canadian pirates under the ‘notice-and-notice’ scheme. While these warnings are generally without consequence, several movie companies have also taken thousands of alleged “John Doe” pirates to court, demanding hefty settlement payments.

      • YouTube’s Content-ID Flags Music Prof’s Public Domain Beethoven and Wagner Uploads (Updated)

        YouTube’s Content ID system aims to protect copyright holders but in some cases works against the public interest. After German music professor Dr. Ulrich Kaiser had one of his educational videos flagged, he ran a test which shows that public domain performances of Beethoven, Wagner, and other long deceased composers, are not safe from YouTube’s upload filters.

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