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09.17.18

Links 17/9/2018: Torvalds Takes a Break, SQLite 3.25.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache SpamAssassin 3.4.2 released

    On behalf of the Apache SpamAssassin Project Management Committee, I am
    very pleased to announce the release of Apache SpamAssassin v3.4.2.
    This release contains security bug fixes. A security announcement will
    follow within the next 24 hours.

    Apache SpamAssassin can be downloaded from
    https://spamassassin.apache.org/downloads.cgi and via cpan
    (Mail::SpamAssassin).

    Our project website is https://spamassassin.apache.org/

    Our DOAP is available at https://spamassassin.apache.org/doap.rdf

  • Valve Prepares Open-Source Moondust Repository

    Back in June, Valve announced “Moondust” as a new VR technical demo to showcase their hardware efforts (primarily with the Knuckles EV2 VR controllers) and consists of some mini games. It looks like this tech demo might be soon open-sourced.

    If you missed Valve’s original announcement of Moondust, you can find it on SteamCommunity.com granted this tech demo is primarily aimed at VR-enabling game developers.

  • Zinc Launches UK’s First Open Source Blockchain-Based Hiring Software

    London: Zinc, a UK based start-up, today launches its blockchain based hiring software, which promises to eliminate many of the inefficiencies associated with recruitment within the technology sector. Available to the public from today, Zinc has been successfully tested in beta with customers including GoCardless and Booking.com.

  • Lumina Networks Expands Engineering Management to Drive Product Innovation and Open Source Leadership

    Open source networking leader Lumina Networks today announced the addition of three industry leaders to their engineering team. Avinash Parwaney joins Lumina’s executive team as VP of Engineering. Parwaney is formerly from Cisco where he was Senior Director of Engineering. Prem Sankar Gopannan has joined Lumina as Director of Engineering and Iyappa Swaminathan has joined as Director of Technical Product Management.

    “I am pleased to welcome Avinash to lead the Lumina engineering team. He brings a wealth of real-world experience in large scale service provider networking,” said Andrew Coward, CEO of Lumina Networks. “Avinash will help Lumina accelerate our open source-based networking platforms and applications from proof of concept trials into production deployment. The addition of Prem and Iyappa to the team will further strengthen our ability to help lead the open source networking community, driving innovation and productization.”

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Initial Flatpak support arrives for Windows Subsystem for Linux
    • Aussie banks dragged into the ‘open source’ era via GitHub

      The open banking Data Standards Body, which is being run by the CSIRO’s Data61 unit, is using the online service to manage feedback and comments for the technical standards that will govern the movement of data in the new economy. All decision proposals and final decisions for the open banking standards will be published on GitHub.

    • eBay Replatforming to Kubernetes, Envoy and Kafka: Intending to Open Source Hardware and Software

      eBay have discussed how they are conducting a replatforming initiative across their entire technology stack, which includes building and releasing as open source both the new hardware and software created. Open source is “fueling the transformation” of eBay’s infrastructure, and they intend to use cloud native technologies like Kubernetes, Envoy, MongoDB, Docker and Apache Kafka.

      As part of a three-year effort to replatform and modernise their backend infrastructure, eBay has recently announced that they are building their own custom-designed servers “built by eBay, for eBay”. The plan also includes making eBay’s servers available to the public via open source in the fourth quarter of this year. Although many large scale technical organisations and cloud vendors custom build their own hardware, including Google, AWS and Azure, they do not typically release this as open source. eBay have stated that they “are using servers and hardware that we designed, reducing our dependence on third parties”.

    • EU antitrust ruling on Microsoft buy of GitHub due by October 19
  • BSD

    • [llvm-dev] [7.0.0 Release] The final tag is in

      The final version of 7.0.0 has been tagged from the branch at r342370. It is identical to rc3 modulo release notes and docs changes.

    • LLVM 7.0 Is Ready For Release

      The LLVM/Clang 7.0 release had been running a bit behind schedule and warranted a third release candidate, but this week LLVM 7.0.0 is now ready to ship.

      Release manager Hans Wennborg announced minutes ago on the mailing list that the 7.0.0 release has been tagged in their source tree. This ends up being the same as last week’s 7.0-RC3 except for release notes and documentation updates.

    • LLVM Developers Still Discussing SPIR-V Support Within Clang

      One of the features that didn’t materialize for LLVM / Clang 7.0 is the SPIR-V support within the compiler toolchain.

      While there has been a SPIR-V / LLVM translator out-of-tree and various developers at different vendors have been discussing for months the prospects of adding SPIR-V intermediate representation support to LLVM/Clang, it has yet to materialize.

      The latest developer discussion is to have a roundtable talk on the SPIR-V integration at the 2018 LLVM Developers’ Meeting. This year the LLVM Developers’ Meeting is happening at the San Jose Convention Center from 17 to 18 October.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Bulgaria prepares to build its own central code repository

      In November, Bulgaria’s state eGovernment agency SEGA (Държавната агенция „Електронно управление“ ДАЕУ) will award a contract for building the country’s open source code repository. SEGA began studying submitted proposals this Tuesday. The repository, to be based on Git, will be hosting source all software newly developed by or for Bulgaria’s public services.

      [...]

      Published under the European Union Public Licence (EUPL) the Data-Gov-BG provides custom code for Bulgaria’s open data portal, including documentation about access and reuse of public sector information. The portal uses CKAN – open source software for data repositories.

  • Programming/Development

    • An “obsessive,” “anti-imperialist” Turing Complete computer language with only one command

      Daniel writes, “An obsessive programmer, frustrated with not only the inefficiencies of mainstream OSes like Windows, but what he sees as their ‘imperialistic oppression,’ built an entire operating system using a subleq architecture. Subleq is a OISC, a language with only a single command. It lacks the most basic features of programming languages, and yet is Turing Complete.

    • PHP 7.3-RC1 Released, Benchmarks Looking Good For This Next PHP7 Update

      Released this week was the first RC milestone for the PHP 7.3 feature update due out before year’s end. This weekend I ran some fresh PHP benchmarks looking at its performance.

      The PHP 7.3 release candidate is made up of many fixes ranging from memory corruption and segmentation faults to undefined symbols and other problems. The list of changes can be found via the NEWS entry.

Leftovers

  • How traveling abroad with kids showed me how to fix U.S. transit

    Ridership is down on nearly every major public transit system in the country. The argument is that agencies have failed to invest in basic upgrades which would have improved service and frequency. But on the other hand, these agencies can’t be effective when governments continue to prioritize cars—both financially and physically.

    Sweden, for example, subsidizes infrastructure improvements meant to eliminate the need for cars as part of a nationwide strategy to eliminate traffic deaths. The U.S. subsidizes widening highways.

    But what most Americans don’t know is that, in most cases, riding public transit is the best way to get public transit back on track. Especially if it helps get a car off the road during rush hour.

  • Fortnite helped cause 5% of UK divorces this year

    The company did not specify how Fortnite contributed to the separations, though its highly addictive, time-consuming nature is a sure contender. Addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling are often cited as reasons for relationships ending, and as digital technology increasingly takes over our lives, many argue that social media is as addicting as drugs.

  • Fortnite Battle Royal Game Cited As Cause For Divorce

    I seriously feel games are going to take over this world real soon. Earlier, it was Fortnite coaching where parents paid up to $20 for their kids to get better in the game, now this!

    According to a recent report by U.K divorce resource site Divorce Online, over 200 couples have filed divorce citing Fortnite game addiction as the root of their split.

  • Is fortnite becoming a relationship wrecker?

    Fortnite is all over the news right now as one of the most addictive digital games ever played.

    It’s not only teenagers that are being affected by its drug like qualities.

  • Pornhub traffic took a beating during iPhone XS and Apple Watch reveals

    The iPhone reveal saw Pornhub traffic drop a staggering 11.3 per cent on Apple devices and 4.4 per cent on Android. The Apple Watch Series 4 was also briefly popular (down 9.9 per cent and 3.7 per cent) before talk moved onto the health benefits, at which point viewers were inspired to have a brief 20-minute workout back on Pornhub.

  • Science

  • Security

    • Cryptocurrency mining attacks using leaked NSA hacking tools are still highly active a year later

      Yet, more than a year since Microsoft released patches that slammed the backdoor shut, almost a million computers and networks are still unpatched and vulnerable to attack.

    • Leaked NSA exploits are still used to infect at least 919K servers with cryptojacking malware [Ed: Microsoft gave the NSA back doors. It was inevitable that crackers who do not work for the US government would get in too.]

      Although Microsoft indicated that they have closed the backdoor used by this ransomware, more computers globally are not fully secured to prevent the infection by the malware. Interestingly, the hackers have shifted their game from asking for ransom and are now infecting new computers with cryptojacking malware.

    • Cybersecurity Is Only 1 Part of Election Security

      The DEF CON 2018 Voting Machine Hacking Village aimed to raise awareness in voting security through a full day of speakers and panel discussions along with a challenge for attendees to hack more than 30 pieces of voting equipment. A partnership with rOOtz Asylum offered youths between 8 and 16 years old an opportunity to hack replicas of the websites of secretaries of state to demonstrate that even hackers with limited years of experience can easily compromise critical systems. The goal was to break as many voting machine pieces as possible in order to draw attention to the vulnerabilities that will be present in the upcoming 2018 elections.

      The focus on election equipment, however, ignores the greater danger caused by hacking into the diverse collection of sensitive information that flows through political campaigns and the electoral process, and using that to influence and sow distrust among voters. While changing a vote or voting results can be traced back to a particular stakeholder, changing people’s understanding of facts is far more insidious.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 114 – Review of “Click Here to Kill Everybody”

      Josh and Kurt review Bruce Schneier’s new book Click Here to Kill Everybody. It’s a book everyone could benefit from reading. It does a nice job explaining many existing security problems in a simple manner.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • PAM HaveIBeenPwned module
    • Remote code exec found in Alpine Linux

      Users of Alpine Linux are advised to update their installations – especially those used for Docker production environments – after a researcher found a remotely exploitable bug in the distribution’s package manager.

      Alpine Linux is popular with Docker users due to its small size and package repository.

      Crowdfunded bug bounty program BountyGraph co-founder Max Justicz managed to exploit Alpine .apk package files to create arbitrary files which could be turned into code execution.

    • What is Wireshark? What this essential troubleshooting tool does and how to use it

      Wireshark is the world’s leading network traffic analyzer, and an essential tool for any security professional or systems administrator. This free software lets you analyze network traffic in real time, and is often the best tool for troubleshooting issues on your network.

      Common problems that Wireshark can help troubleshoot include dropped packets, latency issues, and malicious activity on your network. It lets you put your network traffic under a microscope, and provides tools to filter and drill down into that traffic, zooming in on the root cause of the problem. Administrators use it to identify faulty network appliances that are dropping packets, latency issues caused by machines routing traffic halfway around the world, and data exfiltration or even hacking attempts against your organization.

      [...]

      While Wireshark supports more than two thousand network protocols, many of them esoteric, uncommon, or old, the modern security professional will find analyzing IP packets to be of most immediate usefulness. The majority of the packets on your network are likely to be TCP, UDP, and ICMP.

      Given the large volume of traffic that crosses a typical business network, Wireshark’s tools to help you filter that traffic are what make it especially useful. Capture filters will collect only the types of traffic you’re interested in, and display filters will help you zoom in on the traffic you want to inspect. The network protocol analyzer provides search tools, including regular expressions and colored highlighting, to make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Drone assassins are cheap, deadly and available in your local store

      Aug. 5, 2018. In the heart of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, Nicolás Maduro was delivering of a rousing speech. He stood high on a podium, speaking to a parade of military troops. The event was broadcast live on national TV. An hour in, the Venezuelan president flinched. His eyes widened. An unexpected object flew by.

      It was a drone, carrying explosives along the city’s historic Bolívar Avenue. Allegedly, this was an assassination attempt using a remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle — the kind of drone you can buy from any electronics store — fitted with explosives.

      Jai Galliott, a nonresident fellow of the Modern War Institute calls the event in Caracas a “modern form of assassination.”

    • CIA drone program expands across Africa

      The US Central Intelligence Agency’s drone program in Africa is expanding, the New York Times said on September 10.

      Just south of the Libyan border, a covert military base in Dirkou, Niger has been deploying fleets of drones on surveillance missions for several months, a Defense Department spokeswoman, Major Sheryll Klinkel told the NYT.

    • The US expand their drone base in Djibouti in spite of rising local ‘anti-American sentiment’.

      The United States have built another large hangar to house unmanned aircraft at Camp Chabelley in Djibouti, despite Defense Secretary James Mattis announcing in August that he would wind down special operations on the African continent a year after four US troops were killed in Niger.

    • U.S. Spies Rush to Protect Defectors After Skripal Poisoning

      When a suspected hit man for Russian intelligence arrived in Florida about four years ago, F.B.I. surveillance teams were alarmed.

      The man approached the home of one of the C.I.A.’s most important informants, a fellow Russian, who had been secretly resettled along the sunny coast. The suspected hit man also traveled to another city where one of the informant’s relatives lived, raising even more concerns that the Kremlin had authorized revenge on American soil.

      At F.B.I. headquarters, some agents voiced concern that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, himself a former intelligence officer known to reserve scorn for defectors from their ranks, had sent an assassin to kill one he viewed as a turncoat. Others said he would not be so brazen as to kill a former Russian spy on American soil.

  • Finance

    • Time Magazine Acquired by the Benioffs, Founders of Salesforce.com

      Salesforce.com Inc. founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne agreed to acquire Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million in cash, joining Jeff Bezos among tech billionaires buying venerable print publications.

      The move thrusts the brash 53-year-old entrepreneur, who helped lead the shift of software to an on-demand model, into a new role: media baron.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Former CIA officer blasts Devin Nunes for ‘enabling our indecent president’

      Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) campaign to retain his House seat took another blow Thursday, when former CIA officer Evan McMullin endorsed Democrat Andrew Janz — and slammed Nunes in the process.

      McMullin, who is also a former House Republican staffer, wrote on Twitter that “Andrew Janz is an honorable man who has made a career of upholding the law.”

      He added that Janz will “do a much better job” for the district than Nunes, whom McMullin said “ignores the district, while promoting himself and enabling our indecent president.”

    • From assassinations to CIA mind control: new show investigates how artists tackle conspiracy theories

      “When you don’t have all the information, you’re left to fill in the blanks, and so people come up with these crazy theories,” says Doug Eklund, the co-curator of possibly the first ever exhibition to tackle art and conspiracy theories. “The way that I look at the subject of conspiracy is, it’s about aspects of history that are hidden,” Eklund says. “I think of it as almost a political occult.”

      Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy at the Met Breuer includes around 70 works by 30 artists, made between 1969 and 2016 (up to, but not including, the last presidential election), looking at covert power and the ways governments and citizens interact.

    • Retired admiral resigned from Pentagon advisory committee after writing open letter to Trump

      Retired Adm. William McRaven, former head of Special Operations Command, resigned from the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board last month after asking President Trump to revoke his security clearance.

      Defense News first reported McRaven’s exit Thursday and the Pentagon confirmed to CNN that he resigned four days after publishing his op-ed.

      In his editorial for The Washington Post, McRaven tore into the president for revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, calling Brennan “one of the finest public servants I have ever known.”

    • Reports: Bill McRaven resigns from Pentagon board after op-ed criticizing Trump

      Bill McRaven, former chancellor of the University of Texas System and a current UT-Austin professor, resigned on Aug. 20 from the Pentagon’s technology advisory board, multiple news outlets reported Thursday.

      His resignation came four days after The Washington Post published an opinion piece he wrote that criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan.

      “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation,” McRaven wrote. “If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken.”

    • Curbing politicization, returning now to espionage

      Former CIA Director John Brennan recently lost his top secret security clearance, a move that will negatively impact his ability to make money in the lucrative world of U.S. government contracting.

      Mr. Brennan complained bitterly that his First Amendment free speech rights were violated by the action — a ridiculous argument since Mr. Brennan remains a paid commentator and speaks his mind freely on NBC and MSNBC national news networks seemingly at will. In fact, the lack of a clearance will enhance Mr. Brennan’s ability to speak out on issues he thinks are important.

      Not being read in to current intelligence means Mr. Brennan needs to worry less about mixing classified information with his on-air remarks or tweets and thus lowers the risk of breaking the law.

    • Enough Gossip. Where are the Trump Whistleblowers?

      I served 24 years in such a system, joining the State Department under Ronald Reagan and leaving during the Obama era. That splay of political ideologies had plenty of things in it to disagree with or even believe dangerous. Same for people in the military and the intelligence agencies, who, for example, were sent to train Afghan mujaheddin under one president and then kill them under another, more significant than wonky disagreement over a trade deal. An amoral president, in Anonymous’ words? How about one who set Americans to torturing prisoners to death?

      In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, some inside government were privy to information about the non-presence of weapons of mass destruction, and understood the president was exaggerating the case for war if not lying about it. Three senior officials resigned from the State Department and left a clear marker in the history books the policy was wrong. Another State Department official, a former Marine, resigned in protest over the war in Afghanistan. He stated in the New York Times (a signed letter, not an anonymous Op-Ed) “[I] tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside.” More than a decade earlier, four State Department officials quit over the Bosnian conflict, also via public letters of resignation.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Bozell Warns Rep. Jordan: Social Media Perpetrating ‘Greatest Worldwide Censorship’ in ‘History of Man’ [Ed: Social Control Media was always about policing speech online; it is wrong to allege, however, that the censorship there only muzzles so-called 'Conservatives' as it's far broader than this.]

      In a conversation with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Facebook Live on Wednesday, Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell declared the recent censorship of conservatives “the greatest worldwide censorship” of free speech in “the history of man.”

      “In recent months, there has been a debate that has now exploded on the national scene dealing with the subject of censorship and the power of a handful of tech companies,” Bozell said. “When you consider that Twitter and Facebook have over a billion of an audience – NBC News has four million, Twitter and Facebook have a billion – it’s worldwide.”

    • Illinois Prisons ban Pulitzer Prize-Winning Book on Attica
    • Pulitzer Prize-Winning Book Censored In Illinois Prisons

      Attorneys filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of historian Heather Thompson, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy was censored by Illinois prison officials.

      Attorneys from Uptown People’s Law Center and Sidley Austin filed the lawsuit. It alleges that this censorship is “arbitrarily applied,” as the book was sent to three different prisons and censored only at Pontiac and Logan Correctional Centers. It argues this censorship is a violation of Thompson’s First Amendment right to communicate with incarcerated people, as such communication should only be restricted when there is a legitimate penological interest. The lawsuit also claims that Thompson’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process was violated because she did not receive notice of this restriction, and as such was not provided an opportunity to challenge it.

    • Lawsuit Challenges Censorship of Book on Attica Prison Uprising

      Two Illinois prisons have censored Blood in the Water, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by historian Heather Ann Thompson about the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Today, the Chicago-based Uptown People’s Law Center where I work is filing a lawsuit to challenge this unconstitutional and unethical censorship.

      Communication with prisoners is vital to ensure they know what is occurring on the outside — as well as to ensure that those on the outside know what is happening inside prisons. If injustices inside prisons are not brought to light, they won’t be corrected.

      By their very nature, prisons isolate those they lock up. It is difficult for the press, let alone the general public, to learn what is going on inside prisons, and it is equally hard for people in prison to learn what is happening beyond the prison walls. This was most recently made apparent by the difficulty reporters had covering the recent nationwide prison strike, timed by prisoners to commemorate the 1971 uprising by prisoners at Attica prison, which lasted from September 9 to 13.

    • Don’t Miss: ‘Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret’

      The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) in partnership with PEN America will present the third annual Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret in 13 cities as a part of Banned Books Week (September 23-29), the annual celebration of the freedom to read.

    • Literature and the prison system: art for change and justice

      “The Section of Disapproved Books” grapples with prison system censorship through collaborative processes

    • Lisa Loomis & Justin Silverman: High School Censorship
    • Did BHS break the law by censoring student newspaper?

      The student newspaper at Burlington High School, the BHS Register, broke a story Monday about school guidance director Mario Macias being charged with unprofessional conduct by the Agency of Education.

      But Tuesday, school administrators censored the article, according to paper staff.

      “The BHS Register is like very, very accessible to the students. So I think it, like, shouldn’t be taken down. It makes sense that they would report it and the students would hear about it first,” said McKenna Weston, a BHS student.

    • Student journalists slam censorship, call for administration to respect the law

      Burlington School Board members heard from livid student journalists, former employees and parents on Thursday, who took the district to task for keeping a director of guidance on staff after the Agency of Education filed misconduct charges with the state’s licensing board.

      Three student editors of the high school’s paper, the Register, which on Monday night broke the story regarding the Agency’s charges against Mario Macias, were first to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.

    • VT school to adopt new policy after accused of censorship
    • School to Adopt New Policy After Accused of Censorship

      A Vermont school district says it will adopt a new policy in line with a state law aimed at protecting student journalists after students accused the Burlington High School of censoring a recent school newspaper article.

      Last week the principal asked the students to take down a story they broke on the student newspaper website about a school employee facing unprofessional conduct charges.

      They took the story down on Tuesday and later vowed to fight the school’s action based on the new law. The principal said Thursday that the students could repost the story since the story had appeared in other media.

    • Eminem’s Most Ruthless Lines on Machine Gun Kelly Diss “Killshot”

      The devil is back, my God! Nothing fully charges the battery in Slim Shady’s back quite like a good ol’-fashioned street fight. Eminem courts more smoke than a firefighter. He likes his beef red, rare, and bloody, and anyone who dares get in the kitchen with him better not bring too many napkins. Machine Gun Kelly did just that last week, when he dropped “Rap Devil,” a song and accompanying video made in response to a shot Em fired at MGK on his new album.

      MGK ran right in with a fully loaded clip and a song that was honestly better than anyone who hasn’t paid money for an MGK show expected it to be. But Eminem isn’t Drake—there was never any question of whether he’d respond. It was just a matter of when, and how viciously, on a scale from “The Warning” to one of those Benzino drone strikes.

    • Calls for protest in Kuwait as banned book list reveals extent of censorship

      Kuwaiti liberals are calling for demonstrations on Saturday against what they describe as staggering levels of book censorship which has blocked an estimated 4,400 titles from reaching the state’s bookshops and libraries during the past five years.

      #Banned_In_Kuwait and #Don’t_Decide_For_Me have trended on Twitter as authors and followers of literature protested against the authorities’ decision to ban works including One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez as well as books by Palestinian Mourid AlBarghouti and Egypt’s Radwa Ashour.

    • ‘FREADom’ banned book distribution celebrates free speech

      As part of its 23rd annual celebration of reading, free speech, and artistic expression, the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU of Pennsylvania will distribute banned and challenged books around the city Sept. 23-29.

      The ACLU has teamed with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Book Fairies for “F READ om,” a series of free events in honor of national Banned Books Week.

      “Self-expression is an essential part of the human condition and an essential part of the American experiment. We as Americans honor freedom of speech and encourage it in the broadest possible terms. It serves our political, artistic, religious souls. Any attempt by government to curtail speech is a denial of human dignity,” Marshall Dayan, ACLU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter president, says in a release.

    • Banned Book Read-Out: CCBC event focuses on right to read
    • Casting a spell on censorship
    • China Makes Significant Censorship Decision on Hip-Hop Culture

      While Justin Bieber might be a worldwide sensation, there’s at least one country where he is no longer welcome: the People’s Republic of China, whose government recently released a shocking set of standards regarding what media is morally fit for public consumption. As part of an overreaching crackdown on “low taste content,” the country has recently banned most references to hip-hop culture as well as musicians, celebrities, actors, and other performers with tattoos, or whose lifestyle is considered to be out of line with the ruling party’s standards of morality.

      According to Gao Changli, the publicity department director at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), there are four major”absolutes” (or rules) that outline the Chinese state-run media’s standards for decency as stated to The Independent: “Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble. Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and obscene. Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class. Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity.” Furthermore, in an interview, the Chinese state-run news media outlet Sina reported that the regulator now “specifically requires that programs should not feature actors with tattoos [or depict] hip hop culture, sub-culture and dispirited culture.”

    • Decline in violence coincides with unprecedented censorship: CPJ report

      The media in Pakistan is not showing an accurate picture of critical issues facing the country. The reason, according to a special report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists, is increasing instances of self censorship by journalists.

      The report, released earlier this week, also finds that the number of red lines that ought not to be crossed is higher than expected. These include not just the usual suspects: national security policies, civil-military ties, enforced disappearances, insurgency in Balochistan, Pashtun activism for basic rights and civil liberties and religious extremism, etc, but also issues with no apparent bearing on the high politics of state institutions. In this latter category, the CPJ report includes reporting on labour rights and peasants’ struggle for land ownership. It refers to the threats received by a Karachi-based journalist for covering labour-related malpractices of foreign brands. The journalist was told that reporting on labour rights is anti-state, the report says. Similarly, it documents the case of an Okara-based correspondent who was wrongly implicated in multiple terrorism cases for covering peasant protests in support of their claim over vast tracts of agrarian land held by the armed forces.

      While the report finds a drop in instances of violence against journalists, including murders, it correlates the finding to i) security agencies’ crackdown on terrorist outfits in western provinces and on militant wings of parties like the Muttahhida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and, ii) an unprecedented suppression of editorial autonomy across newspapers and private TV channels allegedly by elements within the security establishment.

    • ‘Impotent silence’, a Chinese priest and censorship of Catholic sites

      Vatican News sites, Ucan, AsiaNews.it all blocked. Yet the Chinese constitution defends religious freedom. The considerations of a priest, whose personal blog has been taken down.

    • Help release the FBI’s files on its wartime “Postal Censorship” program

      Back in August, MuckRock user Paul Galante requested the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s files on its wartime “Postal Censorship” program. This week, the Bureau responded, having located approximately 83,000 pages. Despite the fact that the files will be released electronically through the FBI’s supposedly cost-saving portal, the Bureau is insisting Galante pay $2,485 in duplication fees.

    • Student editors: BHS administration to restore article review policy

      The editors of the Burlington High School student newspaper say that Principal Noel Green is reinstating a student media policy which requires administrative review of stories they plan to publish.

      But the editors and press advocates say the policy, which was in place for the student newspaper before the passage of so-called “New Voices” legislation in 2017, violates the Vermont law.

      Green has not responded to a request for comment. Nor has Burlington Superintendent Yaw Obeng.

    • Our Opinion: Censorship in Burlington

      On Monday, four student journalists at The Register, the Burlington High School student newspaper, broke the news that the Vermont Agency of Education had filed six counts of unprofessional misconduct charges against BHS guidance director Mario Macias.

    • Chinese Star Fan Bingbing Has Disappeared

      The latest clue emerged Tuesday after a state-affiliated think tank and Beijing university ranked Fan dead last in their annual “Social Responsibility Report,” citing her “negative social impact.”

    • Has China’s most famous actress been disappeared by the Communist Party?

      Imagine if one day Jennifer Lawrence was walking the red carpet in Los Angeles and the next she vanished completely with no word about where she was.

      It might sound ludicrous, or terrifying, but it’s the reality in China, where one of the country’s most famous actresses has disappeared without a trace amid an uproar over tax evasion by celebrities.

      Fan Bingbing, one of China’s highest-paid and most bankable stars, has appeared in both Chinese and Western films, including the multimillion-dollar X-Men franchise.

    • Censorship? Chinese movie star disappears
    • Chinese Actress Fan Bingbing Has Gone Missing
    • Chinese actress vanished following tax evasion rumors
    • Actress vanishes amid China culture crackdown
    • Google queried by House members over reentering Chinese market, complying with censorship regime
    • Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship
    • Google Under Fire: Centralization, Censorship, Crypto Startup Complaint and Resignations
    • Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers
    • Google’s prototype Chinese search engine connects users’ activity to their phone numbers, report claims
    • US Congress Grill Google On China Censorship Plans
    • Google employees quit over controversial China search engine project, report says
    • Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over “Forfeiture of Our Values” in China
    • Google Cloud’s new AI head comes with his own ties to the Pentagon’s Project Maven
    • Google Scientist Resigns Over Censored Search App for China
    • Frank Vernuccio, Substituting Censorship and Lies for Debate
    • Let’s Be Very Clear About What Breitbart’s Leaked Google Video Shows
    • The Real Google Censorship Scandal

      This week on the right-wing site Breitbart News, a video surfaced of one of Google’s weekly “T.G.I.F.” meetings, where employees and the leadership engage in heated debates over everything from healthier snack stations to the election of Donald Trump.

      Breitbart News described the 2016 video as a “smoking gun” because it showed Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, telling everyone how he felt about the new leader of the free world.

      Spoiler: Not good.

      “Myself, as an immigrant, as a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive, and I know many of you do, too,” he said in his flat, nasal voice. He was obviously rattled, as were the other top Google executives on stage with him. “I think it’s a very stressful time, and it conflicts with many of our values.”

    • Leaked Google video adds fuel to censorship fire

      Some of Google‘s top executives made critical remarks of President Donald Trump shortly after his election in 2016, according to a leaked video published by Breitbart.

      In the video, which was the company’s first all-hands staff meeting following Trump’s election, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he found Trump’s victory “deeply offensive” and added that the election “conflicts with many of our values.”

      “There are two dominant reasons to be upset,” Brin says in the video. “One is because so many people apparently don’t share many of the values that we have. I guess we’ve known that for many months now… and secondly confronting the reality of an administration that’s now forming and, look, we have no idea what it’s going to do.”

      [...]

      In response to Breitbart leaking the video, a Google spokesperson said people were expressing personal views, and that nothing in the video suggested “any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products,” according to Bloomberg.

    • Google Denies Bias After Video Shows Sergey Brin ‘Upset’ Over Trump’s Election

      A right-wing news site published an internal video from 2016 showing top Alphabet Inc. executives expressing disappointment about the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, potentially giving conservative lawmakers and activists new fuel for their allegations that the internet-search giant is politically biased.

      Website Breitbart published a more than hour-long video of an all-hands meeting at Alphabet’s Google that happened soon after the election. Google co-founder Sergey Brin says “most people here are pretty upset,” and “myself as an immigrant and refugee I certainly find this election deeply offensive.”

    • On internet censorship, China can tell the US: told you so

      Maybe China’s authoritarian leaders were on to something after all.

      In 2011 and 2012, the Chinese government began imposing a series of tough new restrictions designed to rein in what was then the country’s most popular and freewheeling social media platform, Sina Weibo.

      It began with new rules making all weibo (microblogging) account users register with their real names and identity numbers, aiming to end one of microblogging’s most popular features – its anonymity. It made internet companies liable for content spread on its platforms. Individuals and groups were prohibited from using the internet to spread rumours, disrupt social stability, subvert state power or to organise or incite illegal gatherings. Scores of websites were shut, weibo accounts closed and microbloggers jailed.

    • Bebe Neuwirth, Noma Dumezweni, And More Join BANNED TOGETHER: A CENSORSHIP CABARET

      Banned Together is a celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America’s stages, created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in the theater. The performances will feature selections from Cabaret, Chicago, Almost, Maine, Rent and Angels in America, among other notable works, with a libretto by John Weidman (Assassins, Pacific Overtures) and JT Rogers (Oslo, Blood and Gifts) directed by Ari Edelson (Building The Wall, 24 Hour Plays) Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret will be performed in thirteen cities across the U.S. as a part of Banned Books Week (September 23rd-29th), the annual celebration of the freedom to read.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Lenovo CEO: ‘We’re not a Chinese company’

      We took the opportunity to ask the global CEO of the company, Yang Yuanqing, affectionately known around the office as ‘YY’ a question that has been bugging us for a while.

      After ZTE was brought to its knees recently by accusations of privacy violations and with Huawei facing bans from supplying sensitive areas in the US, Lenovo, the other really big Chinese player in the space, has had a fraction of the flack from certain quarters.

      Why? They’re all Chinese companies, aren’t they?

    • Here come connected vehicles and urban analytics: what do they mean for privacy?

      As sensors on connected cars become more sophisticated, and the data they provide more fine-grained, so the usefulness of that information will increase, and with it applications in everyday life. For example, insurance companies are already offering reduced premiums for those willing to install so-called “black box” systems in their vehicles. These are essentially specialized versions of the connected vehicle tracking devices discussed above, and contain similarly personal data. The danger is that what are undoubtedly useful systems that can improve our cities and save us money could also become yet another way to undermine our privacy.

    • UK spy agency that violated human rights to launch startup accelerator in Manchester

      Britain’s spy agency GCHQ is found to have violated human rights just three days after announcing an open call for startups to join its accelerator in the Greater Manchester area in 2019.

    • Top Euro court: UK’s former snooping regime breached human rights

      The UK government breached human rights rules by failing to ensure proper oversight of its mass surveillance programmes, according to the European Court of Human Rights.

      In a judgment handed down today, the court said the safeguards within the government’s system for bulk interception of communication were not robust enough to provide guarantees against abuse.

      The court said this violated the right to privacy under the European convention – as did the way in which GCHQ obtained communications data from service providers.

    • UK guilty of human rights abuse, ECHR finds in groundbreaking surveillance case

      GCHQ, the British government’s intelligence and security organisation, has breached human rights in its mass surveillance programme, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said in a landmark ruling on Thursday (13 September).

      The ECHR found that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the respect for one’s private and family life, was violated as the UK did not take out the necessary measures to ensure that only individuals relevant to the government’s security operation were watched.

      The court also observed that of the data under surveillance, no safeguards were put in place to ensure the protection of confidential material that was obtained, breaching Article 10, freedom of expression. The judges found that the data retrieved by GCHQ’s surveillance program “could reveal a great deal about a person’s habit and contacts.”

    • Big Win: Britain’s GCHQ Spygrid Violates Right to Privacy, ECHR Rules

      A major court ruling on Thursday said that the UK had violated European law, serving as a victory to privacy advocates worldwide. The news comes days after five nations charged with global surveillance released a memo urging tech companies to use workarounds to internet encryption.

      The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday that Britain’s Cheltenham-based surveillance bureau, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had violated personal privacy laws.

      The Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom case concerned complaints lodged against GCHQ on the bulk interception of communications, intelligence sharing with foreign governments, and obtaining communications data from communications service providers, a press statement said.

    • “Bulk interception” by GCHQ (and NSA) violated human rights structure, European court docket suggestions

      The swimsuit change into brought by Gargantuan Brother Survey, Amnesty Worldwide, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a quantity of different civil liberties organizations from Europe and North The United States, as successfully because the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others. “The resolution sends a transparent message that the same surveillance packages, equivalent to those performed by the NSA, are also incompatible with human rights,” claimed ACLU legal educated Patrick Toomey. “Governments in Europe and the United States alike have to seize steps to rein in mass spying and undertake prolonged-past due reforms that the truth is safeguard our privacy.”

    • UK mass surveillance violates right to privacy, rules European court
    • UK GCHQ violated human rights

      GCHQ’s methods in carrying out bulk interception of online communications violated privacy and failed to provide enough surveillance safeguards, the European court of human rights (ECHR) has ruled in a test case judgment.

      But the Strasbourg court found that GCHQ’s regime for sharing sensitive digital intelligence with foreign governments was not illegal. It is the first major challenge to the legality of UK intelligence agencies intercepting private communications in bulk, following Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations.

      The long awaited ruling is one of the most comprehensive assessments by the ECHR of the legality of the interception operations operated by UK intelligence agencies.

    • GCHQ Found To Be In Breach Of Privacy Rules

      “If these invasions of privacy go unchecked, we risk setting the path for a tomorrow that apes China, a country where the government is using cyber-surveillance to remove all privacy from an individual’s life.”

    • Man charged with fraudulently billing NSA for contract work
    • Orlando man accused of fraudulently billing NSA for at least $250,000

      A Florida man who worked for a National Security Agency contractor in Maryland has been charged with submitting fraudulent timesheets that billed the federal government at least $250,000 for work he didn’t perform.

      U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office on Thursday charged Todd Andrew Leasure with making false statements.

      A court filing says Leasure submitted false timesheets in which he claimed to have worked on a services contract more than 1,500 hours more than he actually did between 2014 and 2017.

    • Police: Florida Man Fraudulently Billed NSA For Contract Work

      A Florida man who worked for a National Security Agency contractor in Maryland has been charged with submitting fraudulent timesheets that billed the federal government at least $250,000 for work he didn’t perform.

      U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office on Thursday charged Todd Andrew Leasure with making false statements.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Reader addresses issue of security clearance for former CIA officials
    • US Sanctions Against Venezuela Force Abby Martin’s “Empire Files” to Shut Down

      Recent sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the Trump administration have forced the Empire Files program, hosted by American investigative journalist Abby Martin, to shut down. The decision to officially announce the show’s end came after blocks on wire transfers originating in Venezuela and sent to the U.S. were recently imposed, thereby cutting off the show’s primary source of funding. Issues with funding caused by the U.S.’ Venezuela policy had, however, been a problem for some time, leading Martin and her staff to halt production in late May. While Martin and her team had hoped conditions would improve, the recent sanctions make that such a distant possibility that the decision to shut down the show was made on Wednesday.

    • Qualified Immunity Contradicts Congressional Intent. It’s Time To Kill It Off.

      The doctrine of qualified immunity was conjured up by the US Supreme Court in 1982 and victims of rights violations have been paying the price for more than three decades. The doctrine was created by the Court, not by Congress. This is an important distinction, especially since qualified immunity directly contradicts the liability Congress created as an avenue of redress for citizens.

      Congress specifically said anyone who uses governmental power to deprive others of rights can be sued.

      [...]

      The arguments for keeping the qualified immunity intact are weak. Holes have been poked in these by multiple lawyers and law profs, but the doctrine lives on, propped up by the parade of litigation that would certainly result if government employees were held directly responsible for their actions.

      One of the weakest of the arguments is that the removal of qualified immunity would result in long stream of impoverished cops. As this amicus brief submitted for a QI-centric Supreme Court case points out, government employees are rarely, if ever, held directly accountable for their actions. It’s almost always taxpayers paying other taxpayers for rights the government violated.

    • Is there a myth of free speech on social media?

      Apple, Facebook, Spotify and Youtube banded together this week in a decision to stop hosting audio and video content from Alex Jones, a controversial conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars.

      Denounced by some as censorship and supported by others as a reasonable enforcement of company policies, the move has again raised questions about the control a small handful of social media companies have over what constitutes acceptable speech online.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Nation’s Second Biggest Cable Company Probably Won’t Get Kicked Out Of New York State After All

      Back in July, New York State took the historically-unprecedented step of voting to kick Charter Communications (aka Spectrum) out of New York State. Regulators say the company misled them about why the company repeatedly failed to adhere to merger conditions affixed to the company’s $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, going so far as to falsify (according to the NY PUC) the number of homes the company expanded service to. The state has also sued the company for failing to deliver advertised broadband speeds, for its shoddy service, and for its terrible customer support.

      But the threat to kick Charter out of the state appears largely to have been a negotiation tactic, as the two sides are now purportedly making progress and engaging in “productive dialogue” as they attempt to hash out their differences.

  • DRM

    • International Day Against DRM takes action for a Day Without DRM on September 18th

      DRM is the practice of imposing technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media. DRM creates a damaged good: it prevents you from doing what would be possible without it. This concentrates control over production and distribution of media, giving DRM peddlers the power to carry out massive digital book-burnings and conduct large-scale surveillance over people’s media viewing habits.

      Organized by the Defective by Design team, IDAD has occurred annually since 2006. Each year, participants take action through protests, rallies, and the sharing of DRM-free media and materials. Participating nonprofits, activist groups, and companies from around the world include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Open Rights Group, Public Knowledge, the Document Foundation, and others (for a complete list, see: https://dayagainstdrm.org). These groups will share the message by writing about why DRM is harmful, organizing events, and offering discounts on DRM-free media.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Guest Professor: Arguing the Scandalous Clause

        The arguments against the scandalous clause are several. Trademark law, it is argued, should concern itself with consumer efficiencies and commercial goodwill—not the psychological protection of children or the majoritarian morality. Consumers choose whether they will view a mark; so by trademarking a scandalous image, no one is forcing anything on anyone. Besides, it’s inevitable that children will hear and see much worse in schools and on the internet. Furthermore, given the diverse moral views in society, a moral-based criterion seems very subjective to enforce. Trademark eligibility, it is argued, should not reflect the moral code of the PTO, a judge, or anyone else for that matter. It should reflect laissez-faire ideals: if there is demand, let the market supply it. So go the arguments.

        [...]

        As already stated, these reasons do not necessarily imply that Congress should have enacted the scandalous clause. Indeed, the clause may be criticized for various reasons. The clause certainly calls for subjectivity in its enforcement—as much subjectivity as enforcing the distinction between descriptive and suggestive marks; assessing the presence of secondary meaning; or determining that a mark has become generic. The clause certainly does not represent a laissez-faire approach—much like the regulation of public television and airwaves (restricting pornographic and vulgar content), or the very trademark system itself (creating an artificial monopoly). The clause certainly does not further source identification—just like the clauses that prevent registration of government flags or insignia, portrayals of deceased presidents, portrayals of living individuals, and surnames. The clause may even result in market inefficiency—although not as much inefficiency as results from trademark’s dilution rights. All these problems with the scandalous clause may be lamented and bemoaned, but they do not suggest that Congress has abused its discretion by abridging the freedom of speech. These problems are relevant to a much different discussion—a discussion about whether we—through Congress—should change this law. They do not inform the discussion about whether the Constitution gives courts power to reject our will.

    • Copyrights

      • South Africa: Copyright Amendment Bill Could Be Finished Next Month

        The committee is still deliberating on the public submissions received after it published specific clauses of the Copyright Amendment Bill for comment, committee secretary Andre Hermans told Intellectual Property Watch in a recent phone interview.

        “Our intention is to finalise in the month of October,” Hermans said.

        The Copyright Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament in May 2017.

        The Portfolio Committee of Trade and Industry has met several times since last month, sifting through and debating the merits and practicalities of the submissions it has received. During this process, the committee again identified clauses of the Copyright Amendment Bill to be re-advertised and as a result, specific clauses dealing with the accreditation of collecting societies have been published for comment.

      • U.S. Wants Prison Sentence for Facebook User Who Pirated ‘Deadpool’

        The US Government is recommending a six-month prison sentence for a California man who uploaded a pirated version of the movie Deadpool to Facebook. In just a few days the copy was viewed 6,386,456 times. A strong sentence is needed to deter the defendant, other Facebook users, and the public at large, the US argues.

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