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09.06.18

Links 6/9/2018: Mesa 18.2 RC6, GNOME 3.30, New Tails and Tor Browser 8.0

Posted in News Roundup at 3:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Is Linux the Best Developer Operating System?

      Collins says this very secure operating system “runs the world. It runs the Internet of Things (IoT), all of the smart devices in your house, and it can run on just about any computer hardware out there. For developers, Linux offers so many tools and emulates so many environments, it’s a chameleon,” says Collins. “It’s a no-brainer. For most apps and IoT, it’s the option to use.”

      Another reason to use Linux, says Collins, and it’s a big one: It’s free. He qualifies this by explaining you shouldn’t expect using Linux to cost nothing, however (Some tools are available for a fee. After all, you gotta eat.) He explains it’s better to think about Linux as a community, not a product: “It wouldn’t be what it is today without conscientious users who contribute to the projects and buy from the companies that embrace Linux.”

      Collins says that community is another entry in the “pro” column for Linux. Because of the way the Linux community is structured, help is always accessible. Through forums, like those hosted by the Linux Foundation, Collins says you can almost always find someone else that’s tried to do what you’re doing. “If they have the information, they’ll point you in the right direction,” he says.

      You can also learn by getting involved with projects. “I’ve interacted with Ubuntu’s Alan Pope, Martin Wimpress, and Will Cooke. They pay attention to what you say. If you get involved, you can move mountains.” Collins says.

    • [Review] Ubuntu Linux 18 Bionic Beaver
    • 5 Best Low Budget Linux Laptops and Computers to Buy Today

      Linux Operating Systems are undoubtedly the best choice of OS to run on old hardware while maintaining an efficient-enough workflow and productivity rank – look at the Raspberry Pi, for example.

      If you’re reading this article then you probably already know that if your budget is relatively low to purchase a high-end Windows or Mac laptop, below is our compilation of the best Linux computers that you can purchase without selling any hardware parts.

  • Server

    • 10 Reasons Why Your Business Is Better Off With A Linux Server

      When choosing a server for your business several considerations come into play especially cost and security. But the most important consideration of all, at least in my opinion, is your business. You should always bear in mind that there is no point cutting corners on getting a server when your business depends on it.

    • Microsoft suffers global outage to Azure and Office 365 services

      Disruption persists for more than 24 hours after a ‘severe weather event’ knocked a centre offline

      Users across the world have been unable to access critical Microsoft services, including Office 365 and Azure, for more than 24 hours after a “severe weather event” knocked one of its data centres offline.

      Power surges to one of Microsoft’s South Central US data centres, based in San Antonio, Texas, was caused by a bout of lightning strikes yesterday morning that forced it to power down from approximately 10am BST, according to the company.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Weather Forecast

      This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your “chief meteorologist” is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments below.

    • The second half of the 4.19 merge window

      By the time Linus Torvalds released 4.19-rc1 and closed the merge window for this development cycle, 12,317 non-merge changesets had found their way into the mainline; about 4,800 of those landed after last week’s summary was written. As tends to be the case late in the merge window, many of those changes were fixes for the bigger patches that went in early, but there were also a number of new features added.

    • Video: Linus Torvalds from Open Source Summit NA 2018

      I haven’t watched this yet but will ASAP. Who doesn’t want to see what Linus has to say? This video is from the 2018 North American Open Source Summit. Enjoy!

    • Linux Foundation

      • ​Hollywood goes open source

        Out of 200 of the most popular movies of all time, the top 137 were either visual-effects driven or animated. What did many of these blockbusters have in common? They were made with open-source software.

        That was the message David Morin, chairman of the Joint Technology Committee on Virtual Production, brought to The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit in Vancouver, Canada. To help movie makers bring rhyme and reason to open-source film-making, The Linux Foundation had joined forces with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to form the Academy Software Foundation.

        The academy is meant to be a neutral forum for open-source developers both in the motion picture and broader media industries to share resources and collaborate on technologies for image creation, visual effects, animation, and sound. The founding members include Blue Sky Studios, Cisco, DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, Google Cloud, Intel, Walt Disney Studios, and Weta Digital. It’s a true marriage of technology and media-driven businesses.

      • Linux Foundation Launches Training Course for Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain Technology

        The Linux Foundation offers blockchain focused education services including the ‘Blockchain for Business’ course. It saw over 100,000 students take its free introductory ‘Hyperledger’ course last year, and now it is eager to add to its blockchain courses.

        The organization has developed and, as of yesterday, opened enrollment for its new advanced training course in ‘Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology.’

      • Linux Foundation Launches New Hyperledger Blockchain Training Course

        The new course, ‘Hyperledger Fabric Fundamentals,’ is a further addition to the Foundation’s enterprise-oriented blockchain education efforts, which already include an online self-paced “Blockchain for Business” course via the nonprofit online learning platform edX.org.

        According to today’s press release, Linux will release Certified Hyperledger Sawtooth Administrator exams later this year, specific to the Hyperledger Sawtooth modular blockchain platform.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Vega 20 Supports XGMI Based on Linux Patches

        While it is true that currently our best knowledge on the Vega 20 GPU from AMD will be destined for compute applications, this first 7 nm GPU is still a source of some interesting news. Today it was spotted in Linux patches explicit support for XGMI for Vega 20. This technology is a high-speed, peer-to-peer interconnect, so it would allow multiple GPUs to work together and it is based on Infinity Fabric. Global Memory Interconnect, GMI, is already used for connecting the dies on Threadripper and EPYC CPUs from AMD with XGMI, inter-chip GMI, powering the connections between EPYC processors on multi-socket boards.

      • Radeon Vega 20 Will Have XGMI – Linux Patches Posted For This High-Speed Interface

        It has been expected that Vega 20 would feature XGMI as a high-speed GPU interconnect alternative to PCI Express and that was firmed up today thanks to a new set of AMDGPU Linux driver patches.

        XGMI is a peer-to-peer high-speed interconnect and is based on Infinity Fabric. XGMI is basically AMD’s alternative to NVIDIA’s NVLink for inter-connecting GPUs. Previously leaked slides indicated that XGMI would be supported on Vega 20 along with PCI Express 4.0. That appears accurate as becoming public today were a set of patches wiring in XGMI support to the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver and explicitly enabling the functionality for Vega 20. It’s also expected AMD’s upcoming Naples server CPU architecture will also support XGMI.

      • mesa 18.2.0-rc6

        Hello list,

        The sixth release candidate for the Mesa 18.2.0 is now available. This is the final planned RC.

      • Mesa 18.2-RC6 Released, Final Expected On Friday

        Mesa 18.2 as the third-quarter feature update for this collection of primarily Vulkan/OpenGL drivers is expected to make its official debut on Friday.

        After being delayed by a short time due to open blocker bugs, those bugs were addressed. A sixth and final release candidate is now out there for those wishing to engage in last minute testing of the driver stack.

      • AMD’s RadeonSI/Gallium3D Linux Graphics Driver Gets Optimized For Ryzen CPUs

        It’s arguably a bit late, but patches are now pending for optimizing the RadeonSI Gallium3D open-source Linux graphics driver for the AMD Ryzen CPU microarchitecture.

        What this set of patches do to the Mesa Gallium3D and RadeonSI driver code is optimize it for the AMD Zen architecture with its multiple core complexes (CCX). The new code allows for the pinning of the application thread and driver execution threads to the same CCX where they are able to share the same L3 cache.

      • NVIDIA Firmware Blobs Get Switched Up For Helping Pascal-Powered Laptops With Nouveau

        There was some NVIDIA signed firmware activity today in the linux-firmware.git tree for Pascal GPUs… Sadly, it’s not the long sought after PMU firmware or any breakthrough in allowing the open-source Nouveau driver to properly support re-clocking or other long missing functionality from this open-source NVIDIA driver. Rather, it’s just to help out newer laptops with Pascal discrete graphics.

      • AMDGPU & Nouveau Getting HDMI CEC Support For DisplayPort/USB-C To HDMI Adapters

        Another drm-misc-next pull request was sent in Wednesday with new feature material slated for the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel release by way of DRM-Next.

        This batch of miscellaneous changes does include an AMDGPU and Nouveau addition this time around. After the Linux 4.19 kernel added the infrastructure work for supporting HDMI CEC with DisplayPort / USB Type-C to HDMI adapters, that support is now wired through to the AMDGPU and Nouveau DRM drivers. HDMI CEC, of course, is the Consumer Electronics Control specification that allows for one remote/controller to send command and control signals over the HDMI link to connected devices. HDMI CEC is pretty nifty and its mainline kernel support in general has been brought up over the past number of kernel cycles. With Linux 4.20~5.0, AMDGPU and Radeon can now handle passing CEC commands when using these DP/USB-C to HDMI adapters thanks to these new “CEC-Tunneling-over-AUX” patches.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE’s onboarding initiative, one year later

        In 2017, the KDE community decided on three goals to concentrate on for the next few years. One of them was streamlining the onboarding of new contributors (the others were improving usability and privacy). During Akademy, the yearly KDE conference that was held in Vienna in August, Neofytos Kolokotronis shared the status of the onboarding goal, the work done during the last year, and further plans. While it is a complicated process in a project as big and diverse as KDE, numerous improvements have been already made.

        Two of the three KDE community goals were proposed by relative newcomers. Kolokotronis was one of those, having joined the KDE Promo team not long before proposing the focus on onboarding. He had previously been involved with Chakra Linux, a distribution based on KDE software. The fact that new members of the community proposed strategic goals was also noted in the Sunday keynote by Claudia Garad.

        Proper onboarding adds excitement to the contribution process and increases retention, he explained. When we look at the definition of onboarding, it is a process in which the new contributors acquire knowledge, skills, and behaviors so that they can contribute effectively. Kolokotronis proposed to see it also as socialization: integration into the project’s relationships, culture, structure, and procedures.

        The gains from proper onboarding are many. The project can grow by attracting new blood with new perspectives and solutions. The community maintains its health and stays vibrant. Another important advantage of efficient onboarding is that replacing current contributors becomes easier when they change interests, jobs, or leave the project for whatever reason. Finally, successful onboarding adds new advocates to the project.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.30 Released

        The latest version of GNOME 3 has been released today. Version 3.30 contains six months of work by the GNOME community and includes many improvements and new features.

        This release features some significant performance improvements. The entire desktop now uses fewer system resources, which means you can run more apps at once without encountering performance issues.

        Other highlights include a new content reader mode in the Web application, search enhancements in the Files application, and improvements to screen recording and screen sharing. The Settings application now has a Thunderbolt panel to manage devices and dynamically shows hardware-related panels only when relevant hardware is detected.

      • GNOME 3.30 released & coming to Fedora 29
      • GNOME 3.30 “Almeria” Desktop Environment Officially Released, Here’s What’s New
      • Linux Releases: GNOME 3.30 ‘Almeria’ Desktop & Tails 3.9 Anonymity Distro Are Here

        GNOME is one of the best options when it comes to choosing a desktop environment for Linux. Many popular distros like Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Fedora already ship with GNOME as the default option.

        Just recently, the GNOME Project shipped the latest version in the form of GNOME 3.30 ‘Almeria.’ The team calls it an exciting release for themselves as it’s the first one to have been produced and verified using the CI infrastructure in GitLab.

      • GNOME 3.30 ‘Almería’ Linux desktop environment is finally here

        There are two types of Linux users — those that think GNOME 3 is the overall best desktop environment, and those that are wrong. Yes, if you use Linux on the desktop, you should be embracing GNOME for optimal productivity. Sure, other DEs such as KDE Plasma, Xfce, and Cinnamon are good, but they simply pale in comparison.

        Today, the latest version of the desktop environment — GNOME 3.30 — sees release. It is has been dubbed “Almería,” which apparently is the Spanish city in which this year’s GUADEC conference was held. As you can expect, it is chock-full of new features, bug fixes, and improvements. In fact, there are an insane 24,845 changes! The GNOME developers claim it will use fewer system resources too — nice! There is even a new podcast app — the simply named “Podcasts.”

      • GNOME 3.30 Released With Performance Improvements, Flatpaks Ready To Roar

        GNOME 3.30 has been officially released as the latest major feature release for the GNOME Shell desktop and associated components.

        This morning we covered many of the prominent features for GNOME 3.30 while now the official release notes and screenshots have been posted. The GNOME Foundation is highlighting the desktop performance improvements, better screen sharing, updating of Flatpaks automatically, GNOME Web / Epiphany improvements, GNOME Boxes offers virtual machine handling improvements, GNOME Games continues getting better, and other milestones reached.

      • GNOME 3.30 released

        The GNOME Project is proud to announce the release of GNOME 3.30, “Almería”

        This release brings automatic updates in Software, more games, and a new
        Podcasts application.

        Improvements to core GNOME applications include a refined location and
        search
        bar in Files, a Thunderbold panel in Settings, support for remoting using
        RDP
        in Boxes, and many more.

        More information about the changes in GNOME 3.30 can be found in the
        release notes:

        https://help.gnome.org/misc/release-notes/3.30/

        For the release team, this release is particularly exciting because it is
        the
        first one that has been produced and verified with our new CI infrastructure
        in gitlab.gnome.org.

        GNOME 3.30 will be available shortly in many distributions. If you want to
        try it
        today, you can use the soon-to-be-released Fedora 29 or the openSUSE nightly
        live images which will both include GNOME 3.30 very soon.

        https://www.gnome.org/getting-gnome/

        http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/GNOME:/Medias/i…

        To try the very latest developments in GNOME, you can also use Fedora
        Silverblue,
        whose rawhide branch always includes the latest GNOME packages.

        https://kojipkgs.fedoraproject.org/compose/rawhide/latest…

        If you are interested in building applications for GNOME 3.30, look for the
        GNOME 3.30 Flatpak SDK, which will be available in the sdk.gnome.org
        repository
        soon.

        This six-month effort wouldn’t have been possible without the whole
        GNOME community, made of contributors and friends from all around the
        world: developers, designers, documentation writers, usability and
        accessibility specialists, translators, maintainers, students, system
        administrators, companies, artists, testers and last, but not least, our
        users.
        GNOME would not exist without all of you. Thank you to everyone!

        Our next release, GNOME 3.32, is planned for March 2019. Until then,
        enjoy GNOME 3.30!

        The GNOME Release Team

      • The GNOME 3.32 Release Date is Set

        No great shock, really; GNOME traditionally issues a new release every 6 months, one in March, one in September.

        Ahead of the final release there’s all the fun of the development cycle (which happends under the GNOME 3.31 version number). It’s during these first formative months that we learn more detail on the sort of features and improvements devs have planned for the desktop.

        The first of these development milestones (GNOME 3.31.1) will make its appearance on 10 October, and will be followed by a series of a successive development snapshot each month.

      • GIMP receives a $100K donation

        Earlier this month, GNOME Foundation announced that they receieved a $400,000 donation from Handshake.org, of which $100,000 they transferred to GIMP’s account.

        We thank both Handshake.org and GNOME Foundation for the generous donation and will use the money to do much overdue hardware upgrade for the core team members and organize the next hackfest to bring the team together, as well as sponsor the next instance of Libre Graphics Meeting.

        Handshake is a decentralized, permissionless naming protocol compatible with DNS where every peer is validating and in charge of managing the root zone with the goal of creating an alternative to existing Certificate Authorities. Its purpose is not to replace the DNS protocol, but to replace the root zone file and the root servers with a public commons.

      • GIMP Picks Up A $100k Donation, Part Of $400k To GNOME Foundation

        The GNOME Foundation received a $400k donation of which $100k is heading to the GIMP developers for helping to improve their open-source image manipulation program that for some can compete with Adobe’s Photoshop functionality.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Hands-on with MX Linux: A pleasant, easy-to-install Linux distribution

        When I first started blogging about Linux, MEPIS was one of the first distributions that I wrote about. I always liked it, and enjoyed using it, so I was disappointed when it quietly died a few years ago.

        When I first saw MX Linux, I was naturally anxious to try it — but there were some problems with UEFI firmware and GPT partition tables, and in the method of creating bootable USB sticks. I didn’t try it at that time.

        After some prodding here (thanks!), I recently went back and had a good look at the latest release notes, and I was pleased to see that there is no longer any problem with UEFI and GPT, and USB media can be created very simply with dd, so it is time to take a fresh look.

        First, what is MX Linux? It is a product of the combined efforts of a group of dedicated users from the MEPIS and antiX communities. The objective is to combine the best parts of both distributions, to produce a mid-weight easy-to-use Linux distribution.

    • New Releases

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 123 released

        This is the release announcement for IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 123 – a house-keeping release with a large number of fixes and some fixes for security vulnerabilities.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • My open source career

        My learning experience in the free software community went beyond technology. I also learned a lot about people, about how they work together, about organization, about leadership. I became a member of the board of KDE e.V., the foundation behind the KDE community, and this was the ideal place to learn about a lot of the non-technical aspects.
        I’m an engineering manager and distinguished engineer at SUSE today. My free software work was essential in developing the technical skills which make me a distinguished engineer and the leadership skills which make me a manager. I’m still contributing to free software. It’s part of my job. It still is a way to learn, and it keeps me grounded.

      • openSUSE.Asia Summit

        openSUSE.Asia Summit is an annual conference organized since 2014 every time in a different Asian city. Although it is a really successful event, which plays a really important role in spreading openSUSE all around the world, it is not an event everybody in openSUSE knows about. Because of that I would like to tell you about my experience attending the last openSUSE.Asia Summit, which took place on August 10-12 in Taipei, Taiwan.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • My Free Software Activities in August 2018

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.9 is out

          Tails 3.9 is the biggest update of Tails this year!

        • Cover up your privates: Linux distro Tails drops a new version

          The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) got a version bump to 3.9 this week and if you’re a user, grab it as soon as you can since it fixes a multitude of security issues as well as adding some handy features.

          Version 3.9 featured a slew of Linux fixes, including the all-important mitigations for flaws in Intel’s CPUs. Being Debian-based, Tails also got a raft of fixes for Debian advisories, such as issues in OpenSSH and Samba. Fixes from Mozilla also found their way into the Tor browser and the Thunderbird mail client.

          Tails itself modestly proclaimed it as the “biggest update of Tails this year” before going on to promise version 3.10 by the end of October.

          For today, however, there were a multitude of new features that made this a highly worthwhile upgrade, even without the all-important security fixes. So be careful out there, ok?

        • Privacy-focused Linux OS Tails 3.9 released

          Tails 3.9 is a new version of the privacy-focused live operating system that is based on GNU/Linux. The new version of Tails includes security updates and major changes such as native VeraCrypt integration or usability improvements when installing additional software.

          The best option to get started with Tails 3.9 is to head over to the Download page on the project’s website. There you find download links for the latest ISO image — with a size of 1.2 Gigabytes — and options to download it directly or by using Bittorrent instead.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Hidden Benefit of Giving Back to Open Source Software

    Companies that contribute to open source software and use it in their own IT systems and applications can gain a competitive advantage—even though they may be helping their competitors in the short run.

    Open source software is software whose code can be adopted, adapted and modified by anyone. As part of the open source ethos, it is expected that people or companies who use open source code will “give back” to the community in the form of code improvements and enhancements.

    And that presents an interesting dilemma for firms that rely heavily on open source. Should they allow employees on company time to make updates and edits to the software for community use that could be used by competitors? New research by Assistant Professor Frank Nagle, a member of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School, shows that paying employees to contribute to such software boosts the company’s productivity from using the software by as much as 100 percent, when compared with free-riding competitors.

  • A Major Push To Use Blockchain To Link Autonomous Vehicle Development On Open-Source Network
  • Two open source alternatives to Flash Player

    In July 2017, Adobe sounded the death knell for its Flash Media Player, announcing it would end support for the once-ubiquitous online video player in 2020. In truth, however, Flash has been on the decline for the past eight years following a rash of zero-day attacks that damaged its reputation. Its future dimmed after Apple announced in 2010 it would not support the technology, and its demise accelerated in 2016 after Google stopped enabling Flash by default (in favor of HTML5) in the Chrome browser.

    Even so, Adobe is still issuing monthly updates for the software, which has slipped from being used on 28.5% of all websites in 2011 to only 4.4.% as of August 2018. More evidence of Flash’s decline: Google director of engineering Parisa Tabriz said the number of Chrome users who access Flash content via the browser has declined from 80% in 2014 to under eight percent in 2018.

  • For eBay’s 3-year modernization, attention turns to developing, using open source infrastructure

    When C.H. Robinson shifted to open source technologies, more autonomy was given to development teams, changing traditional team structures. As a result, the speed of deployments rocketed 162% per week, at times moving the organization too quickly. With time and adjustment though, disruption was mitigated, bringing the company from the status quo to a digital culture and system that better fit its future needs.

  • 10 ways to learn more about open source software and trends

    When Forrester released its 2016 report “Open Source Powers Enterprise Digital Transformation,” some people in the open source community were surprised by the results. They weren’t surprised that 41 percent of enterprise decision makers called open source a high priority and planned to increase use of open source in their organizations. They were concerned that the other 59 percent didn’t seem to understand the role open source would play in the future of the enterprise.

    Paul Miller, one of the analysts behind the report, wrote, “The myth that open source software is exclusively written by and for lonely – rather odd – individual geeks remains remarkably prevalent. And yet it’s a myth that is almost entirely wrong. Again and again, we encounter executives who do not grasp how much their organization already depends on open source. More importantly, they do not see the key role that open source technologies and thinking will play in enabling their efforts to transform into a customer-obsessed business that really can win, serve, and retain customers.”

  • Events

    • Fedora Pune Meetup – June 2018

      Fedora Pune Meetup is a bimonthly community event where organizers/contributors speak and explain people about new things in Fedora and celebrate different Fedora releases.

    • [Older] Kubernetes Classes at Cloud Native, Docker, K8s Summit

      By now you have probably heard that the Cloud-Native, Docker & K8s Summit has been cancelled.

      However, Canonical will still be providing on-site training to learn how best to deploy and maintain K8s on Ubuntu on GPGPU-powered servers, along with operating Standard AI and machine learning tools on top of that cluster.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Wants to Kill the URL

        The focus right now, they say, is on identifying all the ways people use URLs to try to find an alternative that will enhance security and identity integrity on the web while also adding convenience for everyday tasks like sharing links on mobile devices.

      • Here’s What’s New in Google Chrome 69

        Chrome 69, which marks the browser’s 10-year anniversary, is a huge release. The slick new theme is the most visible change, but there are more new features. For example, you can now personalize Chrome’s New Tab page with background images and custom shortcuts.

        [...]

        While Chrome 69 offers a significant visual change, Google updates Chrome every six weeks with new features, security updates, and bug fixes. Previous versions of Chrome have had some big changes, too.

        The most important one you should know about is Chrome’s built-in adblocker. Chrome now automatically blocks ads on websites that use obnoxious ads like auto-playing videos with audio and huge banners that block your screen.

      • Chrome 70 Retrying For AV1 Decoding, Full Support For TLS 1.3 & Priority Hints

        With Chrome 69 out the door and that having marked Chrome’s 10th birthday, Google developers have Chrome 70 in their dev channel fresh out of the oven.

        Google has promoted the latest Chrome 70 build to their dev channel. There are new features, security updates, and the never ending stream of bug fixes.

    • Mozilla

      • Chris H-C: The End of Firefox Windows XP Support

        Firefox 62 has been released. Go give it a try!

        At the same time, on the Extended Support Release channel, we released Firefox ESR 60.2 and stopped supporting Firefox ESR 52: the final version of Firefox with Windows XP support.

        Now, we don’t publish all-channel user proportions grouped by operating system, but as part of the Firefox Public Data Report we do have data from the release channel back before we switched our XP users to the ESR channel. At the end of February 2016, XP users made up 12% of release Firefox. By the end of February 2017, XP users made up 8% of release Firefox.

      • Firefox 62.0 released

        Mozilla has released Firefox 62.0, with several new features. The Firefox Home (default New Tab) allows users to display up to 4 rows of top sites, Pocket stories, and highlights; for those using containers there is menu option to reopen a tab in a different container; Firefox 63 will remove all trust for Symantec-issued certificates, and it is optional in Firefox 62; FreeBSD support for WebAuthn was added; and more.

      • Keybase: “Our browser extension subverts our encryption, but why should we care?”

        Two days ago I decided to take a look at Keybase. Keybase does crypto, is open source and offers security bug bounties for relevant findings — just the perfect investigation subject for me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that their browser extension is deeply flawed, so I reported the issue to them via their bug bounty program. The response was rather… remarkable. It can be summed up as: “Yes, we know. But why should we care?”

      • Daniel Stenberg: DoH in curl

        DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) is being designed (it is not an RFC quite yet but very soon!) to allow internet clients to get increased privacy and security for their name resolves. I’ve previously explained the DNS-over-HTTPS functionality within Firefox that ships in Firefox 62 and I did a presentation about DoH and its future in curl at curl up 2018.

        We are now introducing DoH support in curl. I hope this will not only allow users to start getting better privacy and security for their curl based internet transfers, but ideally this will also provide an additional debugging tool for DoH in other clients and servers.

        Let’s take a look at how we plan to let applications enable this when using libcurl and how libcurl has to work with this internally to glue things together.

      • Firefox 63 Beta On Linux Finally Runs WebExtensions In Their Own Process

        With Firefox 62.0 having shipped, Mozilla promoted Firefox 63.0 to beta as part of their usual release cadence.

        With Firefox 63.0 there are several Windows 10 and macOS improvements including better multi-GPU handling on Macs, faster tab switching, and better Windows 10 integration. But for Linux users there is one notable platform-specific change and that is WebExtensions now running in their own process.

      • New Release: Tor Browser 8.0

        For the past year, we have been collecting feedback on how we can make Tor Browser work better for you.

        Tor Browser 8.0, our first stable release based on Firefox 60 ESR, is now available from the Tor Browser Project page and also from our distribution directory. This release is all about users first.

      • Tor Browser 8.0 Released: New Onboarding Experience & Optimized Bridge Fetching

        The Tor project has unveiled all new Tor Browser 8.0 with an updated language page, new onboarding experience for new users, additional language support and optimized bridge fetching technique.

        Tor browser is famous for establishing an anonymous connection by bundling data into encrypted packets before passing them through the network, thus hiding your internet footprint.

      • Privacy-Focused Tor Browser 8.0 Is Based On Firefox 60 ESR, Includes New Onboarding Experience

        The Tor Project released Tor Browser 8.0 yesterday, which includes a new user onboarding experience, a redesigned circuit display and improved bridge fetching. The new release is based on Firefox 60 ESR.

        Tor Browser is a modified Firefox ESR version that includes extensions like TorButton, NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere, together with Tor, to provide a web browser that addresses many privacy concerns.

        Tor Browser automatically starts the Tor background processes and routes traffic through the Tor network. When the browser is closed, privacy-sensitive data such as cookies and the browser history, are erased.

  • CMS

  • Healthcare

    • Open Source EHR Association to Launch International VistA System

      September 05, 2018 – The Open Source EHR Association (OSEHRA) is creating a new version of its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) EHR system designed for international implementation.

      VA established OSEHRA in 2010. VistA comprises more than 100 integrated applications and currently supports patient care delivery at 152 VA care sites and 928 ambulatory care and community-based outpatient clinics around the world.

      In 2017, VA announced its decision to replace VistA with a commercial Cerner EHR system similar to the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) MHS GENESIS system.

    • VA leadership woes: Readers nearly deadlocked on EHR project path

      What’s interesting is that despite those close responses, the majority (63 percent) said they were concerned with the project’s current trajectory. And a glimpse at the poll responses provided one clear result: No one can agree on what to do, what’s right for the VA or whether Cerner was the right choice.

      Those in favor of the project highlighted the need for the VA to work with Cerner, the Department of Defense and industry leaders to get the project right.

      “There is a culture of using VistA that will need to change. It would be helpful to have the same DoD transition team work directly with VA to assist in the switch over to Cerner,” said one respondent. “The VA needs to get their act together.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Intel Launches Open-Source Podcast Show [Ed: Corrupt Intel with its defective, back-doored (ME) chips is now (once again) openwashing itself]

      Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center is launching a new initiative… a podcast. Through their new show Open-Source Voices they will be focusing upon their many open-source software projects and other efforts they are engaged in through the OTC. On their premiere episode happens to be Kelly Hammond (Software Engineering Director) and your’s truly talking about the work Intel’s been doing on Linux distribution development via Clear Linux.

      Besides talking about their own open-source software work, they will be “[exploring] the broader implications of open source development, and highlights individuals behind the code.”

    • Eggplant Launches Open Source Communities Initiative
    • Windows 10 Enterprise customers will now get Linux-like support [Ed: “Windows 10 Enterprise customers will now get Linux-like support,” writes Microsoft’s Ad Bot today, Ed Bott. Anything to googlebomb “Linux” and actually push malware that can boot, Vista 10.]
    • What’s Driving Companies to Launch Open-Source Programs [Ed: Openwashing in many cases. They want to carry on doing their proprietary stuff while the public thinks they're "open" (just enough)]
  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Finally Defaulting To GCC 8 Compiler, Replacing The Old GCC 5

      With the last of the major GCC 8 build issues of the DragonFlyBSD code-base resolved, this BSD operating system has switched to using this latest stable release of the GNU Compiler Collection by default.

      This is a big default change for DragonFlyBSD as up to now its default compiler was using the several year old GCC 5. With the default move to GCC 8 comes many optimizations, particularly for newer Intel and AMD CPU microarchitectures. This is especially good news for AMD Zen “znver1″ CPU users. There is also support for newer C/C++ language features and many other enhancements as we’ve covered over the past few years.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Mark your calendars: LibrePlanet 2019 will take place March 23-24!

      The eleventh annual LibrePlanet free software conference will be held March 23-24, 2019, in the Boston area!

      The call for proposals is open now, until October 26, 2018. General registration and exhibitor and sponsor registration are also open, so submit your talk and workshop ideas, and register for the conference today!

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software users and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For more than 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.

    • LibreJS 7.16 released

      GNU LibreJS aims to address the JavaScript problem described in Richard Stallman’s article The JavaScript Trap*. LibreJS is a free add-on for GNU IceCat and other Mozilla-based browsers. It blocks nonfree nontrivial JavaScript while allowing JavaScript that is free and/or trivial. * https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.en.html

    • Andrej Shadura: GNU indent 2.2.12

      As the maintainer of GNU indent, I have just released version 2.2.12 (signature), the first release GNU indent saw in eight years.

    • GNU indent 2.2.12

      GNU indent version 2.2.12 (signature) has just been releases, the first release GNU indent saw in eight years.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Public Money, Public Code pushes for governments to switch to open-source software

      In recent years, local governments have increasingly turned to open-source software as a way of reducing costs and increasing transparency. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), a nonprofit behind the Public Money, Public Code project, advocates for making all publicly-financed software open source. The Public Money, Public Code open letter has gathered over 18,000 signatures from around the world. We spoke to the group’s program manager Max Mehl about what a transition to open source would entail and what the implications would be for cities.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Leading Biomedical Funders Call For Open Peer Review Of Academic Research

        Techdirt has written many posts about open access — the movement to make digital versions of academic research freely available to everyone. Open access is about how research is disseminated once it has been selected for publication. So far, there has been less emphasis on changing how academic work is selected in the first place, which is based on the time-honored approach of peer review. That is, papers submitted to journals are sent out to experts in the same or similar field, who are invited to comment on ways of improving the work, and on whether the research should be published. Traditionally, the process is shrouded in secrecy. The reviewers are generally anonymous, and the reports they make on the submissions are not made public. Now, however, the idea of making peer review more transparent as part of the general process of becoming more open is gaining increasing impetus.

        [...]

        Despite these and other concerns mentioned in the Nature commentary, an open letter published on the ASAPbio site lists dozens of major titles that have already instituted open reports, or promise to do so next year. As well as that indication that open reports are passing from concept to reality, it’s worth bearing in mind that the UK Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute are major funders of biomedical research. It would be a relatively straightforward step for them to make the adoption of open reports a condition of receiving their grants — something that would doubtless encourage uptake of the idea.

  • Programming/Development

    • Open Source Python Reaches New Heights in Popularity Ranking

      The new report from the TIOBE index of programming language popularity notes that for the first time, the open source Python has cracked the top three, displacing 33-year-old workhorse C++.

      Released in 1991, Python covers many bases, being known for its simple onramp and ease of use even though it’s a favorite among many demanding data scientists for cutting-edge analytics and artificial intelligence projects.

    • 3 top open source JavaScript chart libraries

      Charts and graphs are important for visualizing data and making websites appealing. Visual presentations make it easier to analyze big chunks of data and convey information. JavaScript chart libraries enable you to visualize data in a stunning, easy to comprehend, and interactive manner and improve your website’s design.

      In this article, learn about three top open source JavaScript chart libraries.

    • Google Announces The Tink Crypto Library

      It’s been open-source since its inception but is only being promoted now by Google: their Tink cryptography library that aims to be easy-to-use.

    • C considered dangerous

      At the North America edition of the 2018 Linux Security Summit (LSS NA), which was held in late August in Vancouver, Canada, Kees Cook gave a presentation on some of the dangers that come with programs written in C. In particular, of course, the Linux kernel is mostly written in C, which means that the security of our systems rests on a somewhat dangerous foundation. But there are things that can be done to help firm things up by “Making C Less Dangerous” as the title of his talk suggested.

      He began with a brief summary of the work that he and others are doing as part of the Kernel Self Protection Project (KSPP). The goal of the project is to get kernel protections merged into the mainline. These protections are not targeted at protecting user-space processes from other (possibly rogue) processes, but are, instead, focused on protecting the kernel from user-space code. There are around 12 organizations and ten individuals working on roughly 20 different technologies as part of the KSPP, he said. The progress has been “slow and steady”, he said, which is how he thinks it should go.

    • An introduction to the Julia language, part 1

      Julia is a young computer language aimed at serving the needs of scientists, engineers, and other practitioners of numerically intensive programming. It was first publicly released in 2012. After an intense period of language development, version 1.0 was released on August 8. The 1.0 release promises years of language stability; users can be confident that developments in the 1.x series will not break their code. This is the first part of a two-part article introducing the world of Julia. This part will introduce enough of the language syntax and constructs to allow you to begin to write simple programs. The following installment will acquaint you with the additional pieces needed to create real projects, and to make use of Julia’s ecosystem.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Study: Generic Drug Industry Embraces Faster, Cheaper Pathway For Challenging Patents

      A new study by researchers at the Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL) at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital reveals that generic drug companies have been successful about 50% of the time when challenging patents covering FDA-approved pharmaceutical products via a new, administrative review procedure of patent validity created by Congress called “inter partes review.”

      Most new brand-name drugs are protected by patents from generic competition, but these patents are occasionally granted in error. Invalidating such patents has traditionally been accomplished via court litigation by generic manufacturers, which is expensive and time-consuming. In 2011, Congress created inter partes review—an administrative alternative to court litigation of patents that was intended to be much faster and less expensive.

      PORTAL’s new study demonstrates that generic drug manufacturers have embraced the new process, challenging 198 patents covering 134 different drug products over the last 5 years. In 43% of the inter partes review cases since 2011, the challengers succeeded in overturning all challenged patent claims. In addition, inter partes review for drug patents has consistently been completed within 12 months, as required by statute—much faster than litigation. According to Dr. Darrow, “In the pharmaceutical market, the inter partes review process can meaningfully contribute to competition and lower drug prices by ensuring that invalid patents do not block timely availability of generic drugs and by resolving many patent disputes in a more efficient manner than was previously possible.”

    • Students, Activists, Swarm To Demand UCLA Drop Indian High Court Patent Claim

      Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) delivered 3,500 signatures this week to the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) President Janet Napolitano, urging the university to drop its patent claim filed in the Indian High Court for enzalutamide, a prostate cancer medicine, according to a UAEM press release [pdf].

      Enzalutamide is a “publicly-funded cancer drug discovered on the university campus,” but “the patent filed with the Indian High Court in Delhi by UCLA [was] on behalf of the pharmaceutical corporations,” according to the press release.

      The drug, marketed by Pfizer and Astellas as Xtandi, “is currently sold in the U.S. for as much as $150,000 per annual treatment,” according to the release. The patent claim “would prevent generic production of the drug in India, preventing access for millions given that the country is known for developing and exporting most of the world’s generic medications,” it said.

  • Security

    • Nord VPN v6.14.31 suffers from Local Vector DoS Vulnerability

      A denial of service vulnerability was found in the Nord VPN version 6.14.31 on the 30th of August, 2018. This vulnerability was discovered by LORD (borna nematzadeh) who also provided a proof of concept for the exploit. According to LORD’s experimentation with it, the exploit exists in version 6.14.31 of the Nord VPN and it is exploitable on the Windows 10 operating system.

      [...]

      Given the details of the vulnerability, I believe that the vulnerability falls at a base score of 4 approximately in terms of risk. It has a local attack vector and low attack complexity.

    • Rogue MEGA Chrome Extension Stole Passwords and Crypto Keys

      A rogue version of file-hosting platform MEGA’s Chrome extension has triggered a major security alert from the company. The variant was able to steal user credentials for sites including Amazon, Live.com, Github.com and Google’s webstore, in addition to private keys to cryptocurrency wallets. MEGA is investigating how its Chrome webstore account was compromised.

    • Kim DotCom’s Mega gets pwned, company blames Google, of course

      Anyone who used that version, available for five hours before it was intercepted, may well need to check their blockchain piggy bank and beyond, with MyEtherWallet, MyMonero, IDEX, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google accounts all ripe for the pwning by whoever is responsible. Github and HTTP POST requests are also affected.

    • MEGA Updates Chrome’s trojaned Extension with a cleaner Version 3.39.5

      MEGA Chrome’s trojaned extension was updated with a cleaner version 3.39.5 after an unknown attacker uploaded the trojaned version to the web store of Google Chrome on 4th of September. Upon autoupdate or installation, the Chrome extension would ask for elevated permissions that originally are not required by the real extension. In case permission was granted it exfiltrated credentials of websites such as live.com, amazon.com, github.com and google.com, mymonero.com, myetherwallet.com, idex.market and HTTP Post requests to other sites’ server which was located in Ukraine.

    • Security warning for MEGA Chrome extension users
    • Linux Kernel 4.20 to drop NSA-developed Speck Algorithm

      Linux kernel is one of the most common kernels found underlying operating systems. Its latest released version is 4.18.5 and its most recent preview is of the 4.19-rc2 version. With those two versions shining under the spotlight, news has emerged that in the kernel’s version 4.20, the developers are going to remove the Speck security algorithm designed by NSA which was employed in the kernel previously. This comes after news of the International Organization for Standardization rejecting the algorithm at a meeting

      When it comes to building bigger and better devices, especially ones designed to cater to all needs under a single hood, device security and encryption become of the utmost essence. In the context of operating systems, this means that the kernel cores need to be made impenetrable and unable to be compromised so that the everything built atop the kernel is kept safe and steady.

    • DoS & Memory Corruption Vulnerabilities found in Skype Empresarial v16.0.10730.20053

      A denial of service vulnerability has been found in the Skype Empresarial Office 365 version 16.0.10730.20053. It was first discovered by Samuel Cruz on the 20th of August, 2018. According to the information brought forward by Cruz, this particular vulnerability was only tested on version 16.0.10703.20053 of Skype Empresarial. Furthermore, it was tested on the Windows 10 Pro x64 spanish home operating system platform. It is not known yet whether this vulnerability affects other versions of Skype Empresesarial as well and whether other it acts on the determined affected versions on other operating systems / versions as well.

    • Do you really think crims would do that? Just go on the ‘net and exploit a Windows zero-day?
    • Shahid Kapoor’s Instagram & Twitter Accounts Hacked; Kriti Sanon Also Targeted

      All the major tech giants appear to be doing everything in their power to improve the user security and privacy; Google just launched their strong password suggestions to maximize sign-in credentials further. But at the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility to keep passwords safe lies in the users’ hands.

    • Open Source Security: Can Security Be Open? [Ed: Real security can only ever be assured by FOSS. Leaks and other revelations show that keeping code secret, i.e. proprietary, is a back-dooring facility.
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Nazis on the March in Germany

      Berlin.

      Ten eventful days in Germany set alarm signals clanging louder and louder – worst of all in the East German state of Saxony –– but in Berlin as well!

      In the first episode, in Saxony, the neo-Nazi PEGIDA movement, which has marched in Dresden on many Mondays since 2014, has faded with the growth of the more respectable-looking, more successful but equally racist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which now, with 25% in the polls in Saxony, is second strongest party, with a strong chance of winning next year’s state elections and forming or at least sharing the next government. In fact, it is close to edging out the Social Democrats as second strongest party in all of Germany.

      On August 16th the two closely-related far-right rivals, PEGIDA and AfD, joined in anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim togetherness for another protest meeting in Dresden, Saxony’s capital.

      At a PEGIDA rally six weeks earlier, at a time when a ship full of people rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean was desperately seeking a port, the crowd had chanted “Let it sink! Let it sink!” For the August 16th rally a TV channel sent out a team to film these or similar goings-on.

    • The Open Future Festival and Steve Bannon

      The future of open societies will not be secured by like-minded people speaking to each other in an echo chamber, but by subjecting ideas and individuals from all sides to rigorous questioning and debate. This will expose bigotry and prejudice, just as it will reaffirm and refresh liberalism. That is the premise The Economist was founded on. When James Wilson launched this newspaper in 1843, he said its mission was to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” Those words have guided us for 175 years. They will guide our debates at the Open Future festival on September 15th. That is why our invitation to Mr Bannon will stand.

    • Skripals – The Mystery Deepens

      The time that “Borishov and Petrov” were allegedly in Salisbury carrying out the attack is all entirely within the period the Skripals were universally reported to have left their home with their mobile phones switched off.

      A key hole in the British government’s account of the Salisbury poisonings has been plugged – the lack of any actual suspects. And it has been plugged in a way that appears broadly convincing – these two men do appear to have traveled to Salisbury at the right time to have been involved.

      But what has not been established is the men’s identity and that they are agents of the Russian state, or just what they did in Salisbury. If they are Russian agents, they are remarkably amateur assassins. Meanwhile the new evidence throws the previously reported timelines into confusion – and demolishes the theories put out by “experts” as to why the Novichok dose was not fatal.

      This BBC report gives a very useful timeline summary of events.

    • How the Army Corps’ Hesitation Nearly Destroyed a City

      When the worst flood in nearly a century hit Cairo, Illinois, in 2011, the Army Corps of Engineers waited for several critical days before following an emergency plan designed to save the impoverished, majority-black city of 2,800 people. A reconstruction by ProPublica and Reveal based on reports of how that week unfolded shows delays and indecision that cost millions in avoidable damage.

    • There Was a Plan to Save This City From Flooding. But When the Rains Came, So Did Hesitance.

      This story is part of an ongoing collaboration with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      In the last days of April 2011, the mayor of Cairo, Illinois, told residents to get out. A spring flood had grown out of control, and the low-lying city of 2,800 at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers was fighting for its life.

      Water poured from the sky and bubbled up from the ground like miniature geysers. It leaked through the levee system, giant earthen and concrete walls built to protect the city from flooding, as hundreds pushed their bodies against sandbags to shore it up, including inmates from a nearby prison, residents who chose to ignore the evacuation order and even children. Emergency managers passed out life vests. If the levees fell, there would be nowhere to run from the wall of water.

      The Army Corps of Engineers had a procedure, written into law, to spare Cairo this level of danger. But it kept delaying.

      The plan called for activating something called a floodway, a pocket of land across the river that the Corps could legally flood to relieve the pressure on Cairo’s levees. Once water on the river gauge at Cairo rose to 61 feet — or got close enough to threaten devastation — the Corps was supposed to blow up the levee that protected the floodway.

  • Finance

    • The Super Rich of Silicon Valley Have a Doomsday Escape Plan
    • The monopoly-busting case against Google, Amazon, Uber, and Facebook
    • Appeals Court: Criminalizing Homeless For Sleeping Outside Is Cruel

      A federal appeals court ruled the Eighth Amendment against cruel and inhuman punishment prohibits the city of Boise from prosecuting homeless individuals who sleep outside on public property when they have no home or bed in a shelter.

      Six current and former residents of Boise, Idaho, sued the city over two ordinances that were used to criminalize them between 2007 and 2009.

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized sitting, lying, or sleeping are all “universal and unavoidable consequences of being human.” The city is not permitted to criminalize sleeping on outside property, especially if there are no beds available at homeless shelters.

      According to the decision [PDF], “Boise has a significant and increasing homeless population.”

      The count conducted by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association put the number of homeless individuals in Ada County, where Boise is located, at 867 in 2016. At least 125 people were “living in places unsuited to human habitation such as parks or sidewalks.” (Note: The court acknowledges this likely underestimates the true extent of homelessness in the Boise area.)

    • ING to Pay $900 Million to End Dutch Money Laundering Probe

      ING Groep NV agreed to pay 775 million euros ($900 million) to settle an investigation by the Dutch prosecutor into issues including money laundering and corrupt practices in one of the biggest fines ever given to one of the country’s banks in a criminal case.

      The settlement consists of a 675 million-euro fine and a 100 million-euro “disgorgement” payment, with the total amount taken as a one-time charge in the bank’s third-quarter results. Executive Board members will give up their bonuses in 2018, according to a statement from the Amsterdam-based bank on Tuesday.

      Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers said “preventing the bank from being used for money laundering is a top priority for ING.” The size of the team that handles customer due diligence in the Netherlands has tripled to 450 full-time positions, and more measures are being taken, he said.

    • Opposition MPs call on PM to investigate former minister over hidden links to Tory ultra-Brexiteers

      Senior opposition MPs have called on the prime minister to launch “an immediate investigation” into a former Brexit minister for potential breaches of the ministerial code. They say Steve Baker should be investigated for using civil servants to organise secretive meetings with the European Research Group and for keeping a lead role with the influential group of hardline anti-EU Conservative MPs after becoming a minister.

      An investigation by openDemocracy revealed how Baker continued to meet with and influence the ERG after he was appointed as a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union in 2017. The ERG, a group of ultra-eurosceptic Tories said to include as many as 80 MPs, has consistently pressured Theresa May to adopt a hard Brexit.

      Now leading Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs responsible for Brexit policy have called on Number 10 to investigate Baker and the “dirty and secretive” games that are steering the UK towards a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

      A Cabinet Office investigation previously examined Baker’s regular attendance at ERG meetings throughout his time as a minister. The probe, prompted by an openDemocracy investigation, accepted Baker’s explanation that he was merely attending the gatherings in his personal capacity as a constituency MP.

    • Liam Fox spends tens of millions on firms warning of Brexit dangers

      Liam Fox is often seen as the most bullish Brexiter in Theresa May’s cabinet. For the Brexit trade minister ‘no deal’ is nothing to fear. But Fox’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has spent tens of millions on consultants who have warned of “chaos” and economic disruption after Brexit, an openDemocracy investigation has found.

      Firms that have won lucrative contracts from DIT have said that British politics is “so dysfunctional” that the government’s current Brexit strategy is “very unlikely” to survive “in its current form”. A DIT-funded trade body even complained that the Brexit trade ministry is “plagued” by indecision, with lateness “systemic in the organisation”.

      Fox has also given thousands of pounds of public money to a company run by a former Westminster insider, and hired a scandal-hit contractor that had been accused of making excessive profits from aid contracts.

      Anti-Brexit campaigners have accused Fox of the “height of hypocrisy” for saying that Britain would thrive outside the EU even without a Brexit deal while spending big with companies that have warned the opposite.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • No Let Up in Cyberattacks, Influence Campaigns Targeting US

      Part of the problem, according to Barnes and other officials, is the extent to which government and industry in the U.S. in connected to and dependent on cyberspace, creating what they describe as a large and vulnerable “attack surface.”

    • Trump takes on Watergate reporters

      “I was wondering who the ‘Woodward and Bernstein’ of the Trump presidency would be,” one Twitter user, bassist Marc Brownstein, wrote in a widely shared tweet on Tuesday, “and it turns out it actually may be Woodward and Bernstein!”

    • David “Remnick Is No Longer The Editor Of The New Yorker. Twitter Is”
    • Now Twitter Edits The New Yorker

      That’s an astonishing statement coming from any journalist who believes that the vocation should largely be about putting tough questions to influential people, particularly bad people. If speaking truth to power isn’t the ultimate task of publications such as The New Yorker, they’re on the road to their own left-wing version of “Fox & Friends.”

    • Social Media Is a Weapon of War. How We Use It Is Up to Us

      “What we click on, what we ‘like’ helps give attention to one side or another,” Singer added. “As we’ve seen in everything from elections to wars, attention can yield power.”

    • More people are taking Facebook breaks and deleting the app from their phones

      The movement away from Facebook really does seem to be generational: 44 percent of users between 18 and 29 told Pew they deleted Facebook’s app versus the 20 percent of people aged 50–64 who did so. For users over 65, that number dropped to 12 percent. At a minimum, over half of the respondents said they’ve adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, which Facebook has taken steps to make easier.

    • Half of Facebook users say they don’t understand how news feed works

      More than half (53 percent) of U.S. adults who use Facebook say they do not understand how the news feed – the site’s main feature – actually works, according to a new Pew Research Center survey out Tuesday.

      Older Facebook users are even less likely to understand the news feed. Only 38 percent of those 50 or older said they had a good understanding of why posts appear, according to Pew’s survey of 4,594 U.S. adults including 3,413 Facebook users, conducted May 29-June 11, 2018. Among younger users, ages 18 to 29, 59 percent said they do.

    • I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
    • We Are Being Played

      As you doubtless already know by now, the New York Times has made the wildly controversial decision to publish an anonymous op-ed reportedly authored by “a senior official in the Trump administration.” The op-ed’s author claims to be part of a secret coalition of patriots who dislike Trump and are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” These “worst inclinations” according to the author include trying to make peace with Moscow and Pyongyang, being rude to longtime US allies, saying mean things about the media, being “anti-trade”, and being “erratic”. The possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment is briefly mentioned but dismissed. The final paragraphs are spent gushing about John McCain for no apparent reason.

      I strongly encourage you to read the piece in its entirety, because for all the talk and drama it’s generating, it doesn’t actually make any sense. While you are reading it, I encourage you to keep the following question in mind: what could anyone possibly gain by authoring this and giving it to the New York Times?

      Seriously, what could be gained? The op-ed says essentially nothing, other than to tell readers to relax and trust in anonymous administration insiders who are working against the bad guys on behalf of the people (which is interestingly the exact same message of the right-wing 8chan conspiracy phenomenon QAnon, just with the white hats and black hats reversed). Why would any senior official risk everything to publish something so utterly pointless? Why risk getting fired (or risk losing all political currency in the party if NYTAnon is Mike Pence, as has been theorized) just to communicate something to the public that doesn’t change or accomplish anything? Why publicly announce your undercover conspiracy to undermine the president in a major news outlet at all?

    • The People v. Trump: Is There a Case for the 25th Amendment?

      So is there a case without the tweets? Not really. Lee adds while Trump has not committed violent acts against himself or others, his “verbal aggressiveness, history of boasting about sexual assault, history of inciting violence at his rallies, and history of endorsing violence in his key public speeches are the best predictors of future violence” and thus concludes he will destroy the world. Lee also weakly points to Trump “being drawn to violent videos.” Oh my.

      We might instead look at the actual decisions Trump has made, and those of his predecessors. One president used nuclear weapons to decimate two cities worth of innocents, and a set of presidents squandered hundreds of thousands of American lives watering Vietnam with blood. Ronald Reagan was famously caught over an open mic saying he was going to start bombing the Soviet Union in the next few minutes. Another president lied about WMDs to launch an invasion of Iraq in part to avenge his dad. The same guy mocked North Korea’s leader as a pygmy. Obama said he “will not hesitate to use our military might” against the North, knowing that meant Armageddon. Historical psychiatrists say half of our past presidents may have suffered some sort of mental illness. If Trump is dangerous as president, he seems to have company.

    • Microsoft Wants Confirmation That Helping Politicians Not Get Hacked Isn’t An Illegal Campaign Contribution

      We live in such ridiculous times. The ongoing silly narrative over supposed “political bias” by tech companies is causing all sorts of stupid follow on effects. For instance, Microsoft has now asked the Federal Election Commission for an advisory committee to state that offering its enhanced security features — known as AccountGuard — to any political campaign won’t be deemed an unfair campaign contribution.

      At first blush, this seems crazy that they would even need to do so, but it’s really a product of the era that we live in. As you may recall, part of the issue around the whole Stormy Daniels / Donald Trump fight is the question of whether or not Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paying her off to stay quiet was an illegal campaign contribution because it was money paid specifically with the intent to aid a particular candidate (in this case, Trump) in his election campaign. Indeed, John Edwards got caught up in something quite similar in the 2008 campaign in having someone pay off his mistress to keep her quiet. And some have argued that the case against Trump is significantly stronger than the one against Edwards (in which he was indicted, but after an acquittal on one charge and a hung jury on the rest, the DOJ decided to drop the case).

      But the key issue under election law is that they apply to payments (or in-kind contributions) “for the purpose of influencing an election.” And, in Microsoft’s case, it highlights in its letter that it is offering this security service to all candidates regardless of their party positions, and thus is not trying to influence elections one way or the other just to protect politicians from getting hacked.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Discussion: Social Media and Censorship
    • I&B Ministry’s Fiat on Use of ‘Dalit’: Ignorance or Hidden Agenda?

      The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s letter to television channels to refrain from using the word ‘Dalit’ (and use ‘Scheduled Caste’ instead) is silly and legally indefensible. The ostensible basis for this is the order of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court in Pankaj v Joint Secretary which is partially extracted in the letter.

    • Netflix, Amazon explore voluntary censorship

      Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar are exploring a voluntary censorship code in India to cover online content, according to three people familiar with the matter. Currently unregulated, online content is gaining in India as audiences move away from traditional television.

      Top players in the video-on-demand (VOD) industry met in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the possibility and what such a code would entail. VOD companies worry about regulatory uncertainty, censorship flipflops and court rulings that could impact their long-term business potential in India. The meeting was coordinated by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

      “A code could set out principles to ensure that content offered on these participating platforms are free from hate speech, hate crimes, child pornography and other forms of inappropriate content. The code could also express support towards redressing complaints from consumers,” said a senior executive at one the top VOD players globally. He did not want to be named as the discussions are confidential.

    • Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar contemplate creation of ‘voluntary censorship code’ for online content in India

      Platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hotstar are considering the creation of a “voluntary censorship code” for the online content they will carry in India, according to a report by Economic Times.

    • Netflix, Amazon, And Hotstar May Look To Self-Police Content In India

      Video streaming subscription services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hotstar are exploring voluntary censorship codes to regulate their content in India, according to a report. This is a move which may make Game of Thrones fanatics, fans of Sacred Games and dystopian thrill seekers of Westworld a little uneasy.

    • Twitter CEO to Call Bullshit on Claims of Anti-GOP Censorship Before Congress
    • Facebook, Twitter Executives To Face Congress On Fake News, Censorship
    • Congress to question Facebook, Twitter executives about Russia and censorship this week
    • Facebook and Twitter’s Biggest Problems Follow Them to Congress

      This patchwork of policies has opened the companies up to accusations of censorship, not just by the Jones and Johnson set but by government officials as well. Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee repeatedly accused Dorsey of “shadowbanning” conservatives in the afternoon session, by now a familiar refrain. Separately on Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that attorney general Jeff Sessions would meet with state attorneys general to discuss whether tech companies are suppressing free speech.

    • Justice Department warns tech companies as Facebook and Twitter defend themselves in Congress
    • Justice Department to examine social media censorship claims
    • Google Should Ground ‘Dragonfly’ Project If It Allows Chinese Censorship

      For years, Google’s unofficial slogan was “Don’t Be Evil.” Until recently, it even incorporated the phrase into its code of conduct for employees. There was evidence that Google meant it: the way it conducted itself in China when it operated its search engine there between 2006 and 2010, for example. Google accepted the Chinese government’s censorship requirements but insisted on telling users that their searches — say, for “Tiananmen Square protests” — were being censored, instead of just showing no results. Under China’s communist dictatorship, this in itself was revolutionary.

      “Google went to China hoping it would be a force for good,” as Wired magazine put it in 2010, “and that its decision to compromise its principles would be balanced out by the good that its search engine would bring to Chinese citizens.” But Beijing, not content with mere censorship, hacked Google’s system for Gmail accounts of Chinese human-rights activists. Google, being not evil, did the right thing in response and announced in 2010 it would no longer censor its Chinese platform. This was tantamount to inviting the government to completely block it, which it did.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 44% U.S. Users Aged 18-29 Deleted Facebook App Since Last Year: Study

      Facebook received the shock of its life after it was confirmed that the data of as many as 87 million users was leaked under the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      Since then, Facebook is under the constant scrutiny from the general public and law enforcement authorities alike. A recent study conducted by Pew Research Center has revealed that 44 percent of U.S. users aged between 18 and 29 have deleted the Facebook app from their smartphones in the last year.

    • Court Shuts Down Feds’ Attempt To Expand The ‘Border Search’ Exception To Cover Inland GPS Monitoring

      Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica has put together a hell of a read from a suppression order obtained by defendants in a drug case. It involves a truckload of cheese danishes, cocaine trafficking, and the US government’s attempt to apply the “border exception” everywhere in the United States.

      At the heart of it is a GPS tracking device. The government installed it on a truck driven by suspected drug smugglers when it crossed the Canadian border into the US. It then used that device to track the truck as it traveled down to California. The resulting bust only uncovered some bags of sugar, but a previous stop of the same truck had turned up 194 kilos of cocaine.

      The defendants in the case have had the evidence suppressed. The ruling [PDF] was handed down late last month. It points to the Supreme Court’s 2012 Jones decision, which held that placing GPS devices on vehicles was a search under the Fourth Amendment. Warrants are needed to place the devices. Long-term tracking is also out of the question if warrants aren’t obtained.

      The government argued it didn’t need a warrant because it placed the device on the truck at the Canadian border. This would be the “border exception” to the Fourth Amendment — one carved out by the courts which allows all kinds of warrantless searches to be performed in the name of border security.

      But the judge doesn’t buy this attempt to salvage ill-gotten evidence. The government cites a number of cases involving searches of vehicles performed at the border — some more invasive than others — where warrants weren’t needed. The court finds these citations unavailing because they don’t actually address what happened here: the placement of a GPS device at the border which was subsequently used to track a vehicle as it traveled far beyond the Canadian border.

    • The Cybersecurity 202: Privacy advocates are back in court fighting NSA surveillance. It’s an uphill battle.
    • DHS Continues Facial Recognition Deployment With An Eye On Expanding Program To All Domestic Travelers

      The DHS is moving forward with the deployment of facial recognition tech at ports of entry, including US airports hosting international flights. The tech is still in its infancy, more prone to ringing up bogus hits than removing criminals and terrorists from circulation. But the DHS — like many other government agencies — isn’t afraid to let a mere toddler do an adult’s job. Faces will be scanned, whether travelers like it or not.

      The DHS has issued an undated Privacy Impact Assessment [PDF] meant to unruffle the feathers of Americans it informed last year that not traveling internationally was the only way to opt out of this collection. The next phase of the facial rec tech deployment dials things back a bit, offering a bit more in the way of data collection/retention constraints.

    • The NSA Continues to Blame Technology for Breaking the Law

      In late June, the NSA announced a magic trick—hundreds of millions of collected call records would disappear. Its lovely assistant? Straight from the agency’s statement: “Technical irregularities.”

      These “technical irregularities” are part of a broad and troubling pattern within the NSA—it has repeatedly blamed its failure to comply with federal laws on technical problems purportedly beyond its control. EFF has a long history of criticizing Congress for giving the NSA broad authority for its surveillance programs, but allowing the NSA to flout what limits Congress has put on the programs because of vague “technical” issues is wholly unacceptable. If the NSA can’t get its technology in order, Congress should question whether the NSA should be conducting mass surveillance at all.

      For example, the NSA is currently required to report numbers called “unique identifiers” in a transparency report compiled annually by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). These numbers could help the public understand just how many Americans are burdened by NSA surveillance. But the NSA didn’t report the numbers this year, or the two years prior, because, according to the report, “the government does not have the technical ability.”

      And in May 2018, the agency discovered that its massive telephone metadata surveillance program was surveilling too massively. During call detail record collection authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, as amended by the USA Freedom Act of 2015, the NSA said it also collected records that it had no legal authority to obtain. Countless records were, in effect, illegally collected and stored for years. The NSA blamed this on “technical irregularities.”

    • Former NSA privacy expert: Here’s how likely it is that your Amazon Echo will be hacked

      As the popularity of smart speakers has risen — with Amazon Echo and Google Home leading the way and Apple’s Homepod following — so have concerns about privacy.

      To the horror of consumers, researchers and security experts in recent weeks have found ways to hack into and control these speakers’ voice assistants with methods including undetectable audio commands, eavesdropping software and targeting devices connected on a network.

      The companies say they have solved many of these vulnerabilities already, according to reports, but it’s hard not to wonder: How likely is it your smart speaker could be hacked by a bad guy?

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Congress, Don’t Throw More Money at Donald Trump’s Weaponized Department of Homeland Security

      A bigger DHS budget would reward the White House’s cruel immigration enforcement policies of detention and deportation.

      As summer ends, the country’s political eyes are focusing even more intently on midterm elections. Although a new Congress is not far away, there remain major budgetary issues to resolve. The most immediate deadline for people concerned about President Trump’s immigration policies is September 30, when fiscal year 2018 ends.

      For the Department of Homeland Security, reports suggest that both parties prefer to postpone debating a new budget until after the midterms, although President Trump has on occasion threatened a government shutdown if he doesn’t get billions of dollars for immigration enforcement including more of his border wall. The ACLU’s position is clear: Congress must not reward DHS’ grossly abusive immigration enforcement with more resources to tear more families apart and to keep building a harmful, wasteful monument to Trump’s xenophobia.

      After a year filled with DHS-inflicted trauma on separated children, continuing Border Patrol violence and racial profiling, plus rampant Immigration and Customs Enforcement cruelty and deportation excesses, the only discussion in Congress should be about how much spending to cut from these ill-performing, family-destroying DHS components.

    • Detroit Police Racially Harass and Retaliate Against One of Their Own

      A Black officer is suing the city of Detroit and its police department for racial harassment and retaliation he suffered.

      To America’s shame, there is nothing novel about police harassment and abuse of young Black men. Consequently, few should be surprised that during an early January morning in 2017, Johnny Strickland was harassed, humiliated, and abused by a group of white Detroit police officers. At least, there should be no surprise until it is learned that Strickland himself is an 11-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department.

      Officer Strickland’s nightmare began when he attempted to complete an errand for his mother. The off-duty officer in civilian clothing pulled into the parking lot of a gas station market unaware that it was the scene of an investigation of an abandoned suspected hand grenade. There was nothing to indicate the site was under investigation. No barrier tape, no flashing lights, no posted guards — nothing.

      As he exited his car, Strickland heard a disembodied voice shout directions to leave. He then saw a figure approaching him rapidly through the early morning fog. As the individual drew closer, Strickland recognized him as a fellow police officer.

    • At Hearing for Bronx Trash Hauler, More Questions About Safety and Oversight

      Given the exhausting nature of commercial driving, federal authorities have basic safety protocols to protect workers and the public. The law limits drivers’ hours and requires adequate time off between grueling shifts behind the wheel.

      Sanitation Salvage, a troubled Bronx trash hauler suspended last month by city authorities for posing an imminent danger to the public, appears not to have had much regard for those safety regulations.

      New York State Department of Transportation investigators found that on nearly 300 occasions between June and August of this year Sanitation Salvage drivers had been sent back out to work despite having been on duty for 70 or more hours over the prior eight days.

    • As Months Pass in Chicago Shelters, Immigrant Children Contemplate Escape, Even Suicide

      One 16-year-old from Guatemala said he wanted to “quitarme la vida,” or “take my life away,” as he waited to be released from a Chicago shelter for immigrant children. He was kept there for at least 584 days.

      A 17-year-old from Guinea went on a hunger strike, telling staff members he refused to eat until he saw evidence they were trying to find him a home. He was released nearly nine months after he entered a shelter.

      And a 10-month-old boy, forcibly separated from his father at the U.S.-Mexico border in March, was bitten repeatedly by an older child and later hospitalized after falling from a highchair. He was detained for five months.

      ProPublica Illinois has obtained thousands of confidential records about the nine federally funded shelters in the Chicago area for immigrant youth operated by the nonprofit Heartland Human Care Services — some dating back years, others from as recently as last week.

      The documents provide a sweeping overview of the inner workings and life inside one of the country’s largest shelter networks for unaccompanied minors, including children separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • With The Death Of Net Neutrality & NBC Merger Conditions, Comcast Is Free To Misbehave

      Comcast has been having some massive “success” on the lobbying and policy front of late. Its lobbyists have successfully dismantled both net neutrality and privacy rules at the FCC. They’ve killed efforts to bring competition to the cable box. They’ve also successfully convinced Ajit Pai’s FCC to effectively neuter its authority over lumbering telecom monopolies, kicking all remaining authority over to an FTC that’s ill-equipped to actually hold Comcast accountable. The company has also been pushing hard to prevent states from being able to protect broadband and TV consumers either.

      Given Comcast’s quickly growing monopoly over fixed-line broadband, combined with its growing international footprint in media, it shouldn’t be hard to see how we’re building a perfect vacuum of limited accountability for one of the more anti-competitive companies in America. With neither competition nor even modest regulatory oversight to constrain it, it’s not speculation to note that there’s every indication that the Comcast everybody loves to hate is poised to become notably more obnoxious with little constraining its less ethical tendencies.

      Comcast’s dream scenario of no competition, and paltry state and federal oversight will soon get another gift in the expiration of the merger conditions affixed to the company’s 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal. Conditions such as offering discounted broadband, promises to avoid hamstringing Hulu’s competitive potential (Comcast is a co-owner), and restrictions on Comcast’s treatment of smaller video programmers and distributors will all soon evaporate. Sure, the government let Comcast ignore many of these with no real punishment, but many of them still helped keep Comcast’s worst habits in check.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Creating an effective FinTech IP strategy

      AWA Asia’s IP strategy and patent team in Beijing looks at the China FinTech market, discusses available IP protection mechanisms and considers how revised guidelines could provide opportunities to protect technology in this rapidly developing sector

      What is FinTech? The term financial technology or FinTech refers to businesses that utilise technology to create financial services for both the consumer and the business. It includes companies that operate personal financial management, insurance, payment and asset management.

    • Magistrate judge rebukes Qualcomm for iPhone patent infringement allegations it originally chose not to bring

      The procedural context, which the order summarizes at the start, is that Apple’s original complaint involved, among other things, requests for declaratory judgment on invalidity and non-infringement of nine Qualcomm patents. With the first amended complaint, Apple tackled another nine Qualcomm patents. As an Apple filing noted (see the update paragraph at the end of this June 2017 post), Qualcomm–quite surprisingly!–elected not to bring compulsory infringement counterclaims, forever precluding Qualcomm from bringing such charges.

      With the trial approaching, Qualcomm may have had second thoughts regarding its choice. Its lawyers apparently preferred to have their experts opine on infringement with a view to everything the jury will have to decide.

      Apple didn’t accept that change of mind and brought a motion to strike. The motion succeeded with respect to certain passages of multiple expert reports, which Qualcomm (unless it successfully appeals this order to Judge Curiel) won’t be allowed to leverage at trial. The motion failed with respect to some others (the judge concluded that those expert opinions focused on standard-essentiality of certain patents and valuation; in a way, essentiality is often tantamount to infringement).

    • Trade War | Beijing points to other gains in hopes of easing US ire

      Washington says Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. American officials say Chinese plans for state-led development of global champions in robotics and other fields violate Beijing’s free-trade commitments and might erode American industrial leadership.

      The Cabinet press office said Shen couldn’t address those complaints because his office has no role in technology policy.

    • Trademarks

      • UK court doubles down in case transferred in error

        The UK High Court, which transferred the Massimo Osti case to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court on its own initiative at the triage stage, has now concluded that the IPEC is the right forum for the claim anyway

        Ruling on a transfer that was initially made in error, the UK High Court has decided that the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) was the appropriate forum for a trade mark infringement case.

    • Copyrights

      • The future is here today: you can’t play Bach on Youtube because Sony says they own his compositions

        James Rhodes, a pianist, performed a Bach composition for his Youtube channel, but it didn’t stay up — Youtube’s Content ID system pulled it down and accused him of copyright infringement because Sony Music Global had claimed that they owned 47 seconds’ worth of his personal performance of a song whose composer has been dead for 300 years.

      • Swedish Supreme Court to rule on damages relating to online copyright infringement

        In 2017 four Swedish men were sentenced by Linköping District Court [see here] to jail for their role in running and operating the following torrent websites: Dreamfilm, PirateHub, TFplay, and Tankafetast.

      • And Now Comes The Pushback As One ROMs Site Is Challenging Nintendo’s Takedown Of ROM Sites

        Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed Nintendo’s tortured relationship with fans of its retro offerings. As a starting point, after years of pretty much ignoring the demand for retro games offered for earlier versions of its consoles, Nintendo finally produced an offering for retro consoles loaded with some but not all of the games from the eight and sixteen bit eras. Before this official offering, Nintendo’s ignoring the market had for years produced a wide range of websites that allowed gamers to engage in their nostalgia by playing old games no longer available via emulators and ROMs of those games. Nintendo’s retro consoles successfully competed with these free games by producing a great product. Despite that success, Nintendo has since gone on a campaign against some of the highest profile ROM sites out there, suing some and allowing that lawsuit to serve as enough of a threat to simply get other sites to voluntarily take Nintendo ROMs down. These sites, which had essentially served to compile and record video game history that Nintendo refused to do itself, suddenly began disappearing.

        [...]

        Now, let’s be clear about a couple of things. First, Good Old Downloads is absolutely a site for pirating video games. It’s unambiguous in that. Nothing in this post is to suggest that what the site is doing is legal, or even morally okay. It isn’t. What should be clear is that the site’s move comes as the we’re still waiting for a settlement between Nintendo and the ROMs site and in the immediate wake of other sites taking their own ROMs down. In other words, this is the first but almost certainly not the last site to dig its heels in and challenge Nintendo’s takedown efforts.

      • Why the Whole World Should Be Up in Arms About the EU’s Looming Internet Catastrophe

        In exactly one week, the European Parliament will hold a crucial debate and vote on a proposal so terrible, it can only be called an extinction-level event for the Internet as we know it.

        At issue is the text of the new EU Copyright Directive, which updates the 17-year-old copyright regulations for the 28 member-states of the EU. It makes a vast array of technical changes to EU copyright law, each of which has stakeholders rooting for it, guaranteeing that whatever the final text says will become the law of the land across the EU.

        The Directive was pretty uncontroversial, right up to the day last May when the EU started enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a seismic event that eclipsed all other Internet news for weeks afterward. On that very day, a German MEP called Axl Voss quietly changed the text of the Directive to reintroduce two long-discarded proposals — “Article 11″ and “Article 13″ — proposals that had been evaluated by the EU’s own experts and dismissed as dangerous and unworkable.

        Under Article 11 — the “link tax” — online services are banned from allowing links to news services on their platforms unless they get a license to make links to the news; the rule does not define “news service” or “link,” leaving 28 member states to make up their own definitions and leaving it to everyone else to comply with 28 different rules.

        Under Article 13 — the “censorship machines” — anyone who allows users to communicate in public by posting audio, video, stills, code, or anything that might be copyrighted — must send those posts to a copyright enforcement algorithm. The algorithm will compare it to all the known copyrighted works (anyone can add anything to the algorithm’s database) and censor it if it seems to be a match.

      • Everyone — not just Europeans — needs to save the internet from the EU’s terrible copyright proposal

        We have just a week until the European Parliament debates and votes on the new Copyright Directive, including the dreaded censorship machines (every website has to censor anything that appears to be a copyrighted work and link tax (no linking to news articles unless the platform you’re using has negotiated a license with the site you’re linking to).

        This won’t just affect Europeans. US sites, uncertain of whether their users are in the EU or are EU citizens, will likely impose these restrictions on many of their users around the world.

‘Reformist’ Campinos Seems to be Accelerating EPO Layoffs by Removing Without Warning Staff That’s Perceived as Not Loyal Enough

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent (on the “professional incompetence” of António Campinos): ‘Efficiency’ in Action: António Campinos is Sending Jobs Abroad, Then Gagging Critics

Rule of Law and respect for staff: more of the same

Summary: The mask of Campinos is slipping only a couple of days after people return from their summer vacation (Campinos officially started his job in July, i.e. during this vacation)

THE WOLF in charge of the EPO has just howled. There’s a purge. It’s becoming rather clear that nothing really changed at the EPO except the layoffs [1, 2]. The following letter got ‘leaked’ to us by one of its recipients around lunchtime. It was sent out some time this morning and here’s what it said:

6 September 2018
su18016hp

Rule of Law and respect for staff: more of the same

Dear SUEPO Members, dear Colleagues,

We regret to inform you that on Tuesday, 4 September 2018, an examiner working in The Hague was dismissed following a procedure before the Joint Committee on Article 52 and 531.

Our colleague has been working at the EPO for more than 10 years. His daughter started at the European School of The Hague only last week. On Monday he was still working. On Tuesday he arrived at the office only to discover that his badge had been deactivated. He became aware of his immediate dismissal when he came to work and went to the reception desk to enquire about his badge problem.

We happened to bump into our colleague as he was being escorted out by two security guards in the evening after he had been given the opportunity to collect his personal items.

The (immediate) dismissal of our colleague raises many questions:

First, in our view at present any dismissal based on Article 52 ServRegs is fundamentally flawed. On 20 July 2018 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) sent a letter to the new President addressing exactly this problem. The CSC pointed out to Mr Campinos that the Office had not met its obligation to define procedures for the implementation of Art 52 ServRegs, contrary to the requirements of Article 52(1), and stated that an ad hoc procedure, defined on a case-by-case basis (if any) cannot be (seen to be) fair to the concerned colleagues.

The CSC also appealed to him to put all pending cases on ice until fair procedures are defined2. This clearly did not happen. So, was the President ill-advised when he took the decision to dismiss the colleague?

___
1 The “Joint Committee on Articles 52 and 53″ deals in particular with “professional incompetence” (Art. 52 ServRegs).


Second, the specific circumstances of this case raise additional questions.

According to the regulations in force the notice period for our dismissed colleague is 9 (nine) months. Why has management deemed necessary to give immediate effect to the dismissal?

Why did management choose dismissal instead of e.g. classification into a lower group or downgrading? Was our colleague offered another position in the organisation before considering such a drastic measure as dismissal?

Why did management wait until the very last possible moment to inform our colleague3 and made him go through the humiliating steps described above? Is the Office going to provide adequate financial compensation for the dismissal with immediate effect, including health insurance coverage, pension contributions, payment of school fees?

The President has invited The Hague staff to an inauguration party for New Main on Friday. It should be a time to celebrate. Instead, there is now a cloud of uncertainty and fear. The SUEPO Committee is scheduled4 to have a meeting with Mr Campinos on Friday afternoon – this case will definitely come to the table.

We will keep you posted of any further developments.

Your SUEPO Committee

___
2 In the absence of clear, fair and transparent procedures, the Joint Committee simply cannot do its work as it must according to the requirements of Art. 52 ServRegs.
3 According to Article 53b, paragraph (4), the President shall take a reasoned decision within two
months of the date of receipt of the Joint Committee’s opinion.
4 Since Monday 3 September, i.e. before the dismissal.

Quite an event for SUEPO to have its likely first meeting with the President (after more than two months on the job!) over…

With an attitude like this, Battistelli’s construction site, adjacent to the old building (and still with the cranes on top of it), might also see people voluntarily falling off. This is a ‘third-world’ employment and HR set of standards. Maybe this is what Bergot and Campinos can joke about (in French of course) up in his private pub in Munich.

This letter (above) was mentioned at around midday today because IPPro Patents wrote about this ugly dismissal and SUEPO then mentioned the situation by just linking to this. No further comment; no public comment…

From the IPPro Patents article, which repeats somewhat of a smear in the headline: (“controversial ‘incompetence’ provisions,” it says; “professional incompetence” is a widely misused (and insulting) term that we mentioned many times before; it’s totally meaningless and it has even been used as an excuse for dismissing staff for developing/suffering disabilities while on the job).

The European Patent Office (EPO) has dismissed another employee under new provisions in its service regulations that allow dismissals based on “professional incompetence”.

[...]

In a message to members of the SUEPO, the union explained that the employee had been working at the EPO for more than 10 years.

The message added: “His daughter started at the European School of The Hague only last week.”

“On Monday he was still working. On Tuesday he arrived at the office only to discover that his badge had been deactivated. He became aware of his immediate dismissal when he came to work and went to the reception desk to enquire about his badge problem.”

“We happened to bump into our colleague as he was being escorted out by two security guards in the evening after he had been given the opportunity to collect his personal items.”

SUEPO called article 52 “fundamentally flawed” and noted that the EPO’s Central Staff Committee (CSC) had sent a letter on 20 July to the Campinos addressing this problem.

According to SUEPO, the CSC had pointed out to Campinos that the office “had not met its obligation to define procedures for the implementation of article 52 of the service regulations, contrary to the requirements of article 52(1), and stated that an ad hoc procedure, defined on a case-by-case basis (if any) cannot be (seen to be) fair to the concerned colleagues”.

[...]

Finally, SUEPO asked why the management of the office waited until the “very last possible moment to inform our colleague” and made him go through the “humiliating steps” described in its message.

“Is the office going to provide adequate financial compensation for the dismissal with immediate effect, including health insurance coverage, pension contributions, payment of school fees?”

IPPro Patents also published (a very short while ago) this article about UPC’s failure in Poland — a subject which Team UPC doesn’t like to talk about. We wrote about a rare admission that UPC is rotting away (this morning) and now not there’s this:

Ewa Skrzydło-Tefelska, partner at Polish firm Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak, says that Poland’s IP system is compatible with all other European states bar one aspect—Poland has refused to join Europe’s Unitary Patent system.

She says that Poland declined after initially accepting the system because “participation in the Unified Patent Court (UPC) would be detrimental for Polish small- and medium-sized enterprises”.

[...]

Skrzydło-Tefelska highlights that both Polish IP specialists and authorities are of the view that the UPC “is not an accomplished legislation. Comparing it to the EU trademark, the UPC is an empty shell, because there is practically no material patent law in it.

This is correct. We don’t believe that UPC (in any form) will ever see the light of day and any illusions that Campinos will turn things around at the EPO have just been shattered by his own actions. He’s a wolf (or lobo) as insiders pointed out this week.

The Eastern District of Texas and Patent Courts Elsewhere Are Eating Huawei, But Huawei Also Uses These US Patent Courts to Prey on Its Competitors Outside China

Posted in America, Asia at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In China Huawei enjoys favourable treatment/courts because Huawei is connected to the government

Huawei

Summary: The flawed notion that US patent law would somehow guard the US from competition in Asia overlooks the simple fact that companies in the Far East, China included, can turn US courts against US companies

THE EPO has much to learn from the mistakes made in the US, resulting in many billions of dollars going down the drain (or into the pockets of lawyers and trolls who produce nothing). There’s no way to prevent oneself from being sued when the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants bogus patents whose validity would cost a fortune to not only dispute but also contest in court. “The resulting Intraspexion product lets enterprise legal departments prevent potential lawsuits before they even start,” says this new press release, marketing a product that almost certainly would not work. They sell a fantasy. There’s no way to track and properly understand millions of patents; moreover, once such patents are asserted in the form of a lawsuit, legal bills come flowing in. Even if one can predict such lawsuits, that cannot facilitate prevention.

The patent maximalists (who profit from excessive lawsuits/litigious culture) nowadays ‘name-drop’ China quite habitually. Like Donald Trump, they just use “China” as a dog-whistle by which to distract with an external bogeyman and push an agenda that has nothing to do with China. It has a lot more to do with Texas and the meta-industry of patent litigation in there. Here’s what a Dallas patent maximalism site published earlier this week. Media in eastern Texas is just celebrating what would likely get used by patent trolls around there — lots of bogus software patents that the USPTO should not have granted. We have meanwhile learned that PanOptis, which we covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4], sued Huawei successfully, owing to an Eastern District of Texas jury, i.e. a venue that markets itself as being patent trolls- or plaintiff-friendly and a jury that rarely understands technical matters. Appeal to the Federal Circuit would likely overturn this judgment.

A patent maximalists’ site wrote about it. Michael Loney said:

Eastern District of Texas jury awards $2.8m for infringement of four standard essential patents and $7.7m for infringement of one patent without a FRAND commitment

An Eastern District of Texas jury has awarded PanOptis $10.6 million in damages, finding that Huawei willfully infringed five PanOptis patents covering wireless communication technology. The case is Optis Wireless Technology v Huawei Technologies.

The term “FRAND” is nonsense; we’ll come to this again in a moment. It isn’t fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND); it’s the exact opposite.

Huawei isn’t really worthy of sympathy; Huawei fell for Microsoft's blackmail campaign and based on action in the Northern District of California — as covered as recently as yesterday — Huawei itself is a patent bully not only in Chinese courts but also American ones. Citing the example of InterDigital (it took 21,000 Technicolor patents some months ago) and Microsoft’s patent war on Android, this new post says:

As I mentioned a month ago, Samsung had a deadline last week for its response to Huawei’s Ninth Circuit appeal lodged with the Federal Circuit against the antisuit (actually, just anti-enforcement) injunction Judge William H. Orrick upheld in the Northern District of California in late June. The U.S. district court will hold a trial in December, and the purpose of the injunction is to bar Huawei from leveraging two Chinese patent injunctions (granted by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court) before Judge Orrick has the chance to adjudicate a related claim.

Like in the court below, Quinn Emanuel, as counsel for Samsung, is defending the Microsoft v. Motorola it once sought to prevent as Motorola’s counsel, while Sidley, then counsel for Microsoft, is trying hard (but not convincingly so far) to distinguish one case from the other.

[...]

I remember that a Chinese court had held that InterDigital was entitled to SEP royalties far below what InterDigital was seeking then and Huawei is seeking now. But that’s the problem when a company is licensor in some cases and licensee in others: once the shoe is on the other foot, the positions one used to take and sometimes even the victories one scored in a different context backfire. Just like Huawei’s U.S. counsel from the Sidley firm is now struggling to distinguish Huawei v. Samsung from what may have been by far the most important triumph of the firm in connection with patent enforcement.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s counsel is making a lot of effort to describe the anti-enforcement injunction as no big deal. That’s necessary because of the international comity considerations involved: it’s about a U.S. court having enjoined a Chinese company (that elected to file a case in San Francisco), not about a U.S. court putting itself above a Chinese court, or putting U.S. law above Chinese law. As Samsung’s brief puts it, the U.S. district court merely sought to “protect its own jurisdiction to decide the controversy now before it” and to “ensur[e] that the U.S. case can also proceed unimpeded.”

The same blog also wrote about Qualcomm a day earlier. Just like Intel in the more distant past, Qualcomm faces antitrust/abuses scrutiny in Korea, Europe and the US (maybe China too one day). There are some press reports on the (US) FTC’s Qualcomm-’busting’ action, which merely compelled Qualcomm to reduce the prices a little. FRAND too is an injustice, as it’s merely a euphemism for something that isn’t Z-RAND (zero cost). It’s a patent tax. One front group said this:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pressed ahead with its challenge of Qualcomm’s licensing practices on Thursday, August 30, asking a California federal court to find that the company is required to license its standard essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipmakers.

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

The Commission’s lawsuit, submitted in January last year, alleges that Qualcomm had unlawfully maintained a monopoly in the market for baseband processors.

Sadly, Qualcomm will continue to tax the entire market. So will Huawei, even in the United States. This is in no way beneficial to customers or valuable for innovation purposes. It’s for rich shareholders of very affluent companies whose goal is to undercut, undermine and undertake the competition worldwide. As we pointed out last year, Chinese companies have begun turning US patent courts (and US patent law) against American companies in their own back yard, notably in the Eastern District of Texas. In order to improve matters one needs to question patent maximalists and their agenda; China now patents vastly more things than the US does because China (SIPO more specifically) barely even pretends to value quality of patents.

BlackBerry/Facebook Patent Battles Will be Won by Patent Lawyers on Both Sides at the Expense of Technical Staff

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawyers want to make themselves relevant again, even if by totally frivolous litigation

Blue waves

Summary: Needless patent battles over abstract patents are fought between two companies whose legal departments look for action which is neither needed nor fruitful

SEVERAL months ago BlackBerry started suing again. It sued with software patents, not with anything-hardware related, and it did that in the US, which seems unwise after 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice. Facebook was one among several targets of these lawsuits.

Facebook’s history with software patents has been mentioned here over the years; it typically responds with patent lawsuits if threatened with lawsuits or ultimately sued.

“Only the lawyers (whose advice was taken when starting this mess) will make a fortune in the process. “The latest (as per this week’s news, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) isn’t surprising. Facebook is suing back. As BlackBerry and Facebook wrestle in courts over patents take it as a reminder that only lawyers will profit from this. Technical people will be able to do less, as their budget (salaries) may decline and only the “legal” departments will claim that it’s desirable. We saw the same thing in Apple’s battles against Samsung, which lasted many years and resulted in a feeble settlement, obviating the need for any lawsuits (none were necessary in the first place). As someone told me a few hours ago: “This whole notion of patent infringement by Facebook (and others) is a total nonsense. Companies hold large numbers of patents that overlap with those held by other companies. Lawsuits only come out to leverage the other company – either politically or for some trade gain.”

“The underlying patents are software patents which are toothless.”Media that is focused on patenting misses the point. To be fair to Facebook, BlackBerry started it. It’s reactionary/retaliatory for Facebook to sue BlackBerry. As WIPR put it:

Social media platform Facebook continued a patent war with BlackBerry yesterday, after it accused the Canadian company of infringing several inventions, including voice-messaging technology.

The complaint was filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Facebook alleged that BlackBerry has infringed six patents: US numbers 8,429,231; 7,567,575; 6,356,841; 7,228,432; 6,744,759; and 7,302,698.

The patents protect different technology developed by Facebook including instant voice messaging, telephone service configuration, computer security, personalised multimedia services, and a GPS management system.

Watch how these lawsuits go almost nowhere and likely result in some undisclosed (to the public) settlement that is beneficial (or desirable) to neither company. Only the lawyers (whose advice was taken when starting this mess) will make a fortune in the process. The underlying patents are software patents which are toothless.

Even Overzealous Patent Maximalists Nowadays Admit That Time is Running Out for the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Who’s next?” ~Insider tweet

EPO death angel

Summary: The UPC is next to ‘die’ (after ILO-AT, EPC, AMBA, SUEPO and examiners’ careers), being a casualty of very serious EPO abuses that impact a lot of people, including journalists whom the EPO kept threatening, never mind the growing danger of being sued using wrongly-granted European Patents

THE silence surrounding UPC is almost deafening. Bristows remained quiet for a very, very long time (like never before) and Team UPC in general isn’t even bringing up the subject anymore. To the EPO the subject virtually does not exist; António Campinos mentioned it once (a couple of days after joining the Office), but nothing has been uttered since. SUEPO hasn’t mentioned the words/terms for a number of months. We watch the relevant terms closely (monitoring the news) and it’s like a ghost town. UPC is almost never mentioned, not even inside the bodies of articles. Yesterday was a rare exception because very vocal boosters of software patents (we wrote about them about a dozen times before and recently they were rather strident about their biases) wrote about “The Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent”. Shelston IP’s Serena White and Charles Tansey now say that “time is running out” for the UPC (that’s their headline) and, in their words, “[a]lthough many [Team UPC and the litigation 'industry'] expect the challenge to fail, if it is successful, the UPC will certainly be in troubled waters because Article 89 of the Agreement requires ratification by the three EU member states with the largest number of patents in force. Although this criterion does not mention any states by name, in practical terms it requires Germany’s ratification because Germany is the EU member state with the largest number of patents. Amendment of the legislation would be required in order circumvent this problem, but the question is whether the appetite to continue with the UPC without Germany would still exist.”

Here are their concluding words (before the final paragraph that is just shameless self-promotion):

With still no decision on whether or not a legal challenge at the German Constitutional Court is admissible, it is becoming increasingly uncertain if the new legislation for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the unitary patent will come into force before the UK’s departure from the EU. This article briefly outlines what the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court are, summarises the current issues and explains the significance of the timing of German ratification in the context of “Brexit day”.

That does not perpetuate the two famous lies often repeated by Team UPC in the UK. What’s noteworthy about it is that it’s a rare admission from patent zealots that UPC does not have a future. The three Frenchmen below may never fulfill their dream of making European Patents (of rapidly-declining quality) an “EU” thing, no matter how hard they try to perturb constitutions and irrespective of Brexit referendum outcomes. I personally do not believe that Brexit will ever happen, but even if it falls through, the UPC will still be doomed as that may take years of further bickering.

The three Frenchmen

António Campinos: New Caricature by EPO Insiders

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Face quiz: can you recognize the famous wolf in sheep’s clothing?” ~Insider tweet

António Campinos as wolf
António Campinos in sheep clothing

Summary: The true colours of António Campinos are still shining through if one looks closely enough…

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