EPO Insider/Märpel Says President Campinos Already Acts Like Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: It Wasn’t Judges With Weapons in Their Office, It Was Benoît Battistelli Who Brought Firearms to the European Patent Office (EPO)


Summary: Unitary Patent (UPC) is a step towards making the EPO an EU institution like the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO); but it’s not making any progress and constitutional judges must realise that Campinos, chosen by Battistelli to succeed him, is just an empty mask

AS WE have just noted, software patents in Europe are being granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), but European courts will reject many of them. This is why lawyers hope to replace the courts themselves. The UPC is how they hope to accomplish this and rumours say that Benoît Battistelli wishes to become the UPC’s chief. Never mind his notorious reputation as judge, jury and executioner.

“This is why lawyers hope to replace the courts themselves. The UPC is how they hope to accomplish this and rumours say that Benoît Battistelli wishes to become the UPC’s chief. Never mind his notorious reputation as judge, jury and executioner.”There’s an article titled “An abundance of great jobs for Intellectual Property graduates” and it is dated “October 12, 2018″ (i.e. yesterday).

“The first accounts of intellectual property (IP) protection date back to ancient Greece. As such, the concept of inventiveness and investment in research,” the summary of this new article says. It mentions António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli in an effort to attract people to this suicide office which does not even hire anyway (there’s a hiring freeze). To quote:

“IP rights-intensive industries generate more than a quarter of employment and more than a third of economic activity in the European Union,” wrote António Campinos (then President of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)) and Benoît Battistelli (then President of the European Patent Office (EPO)) in a 2013 report titled, Intellectual property rights intensive industries: contribution to economic performance and employment in the European Union.

The employment of what? Lawyers? Europe needs science and technology, not more lawsuits. But lawyers view Europe’s needs differently…

Twice before the weekend Colm Murphy and Joe Ridout (Cooley LLP) published this ridiculous self-promotional piece [1, 2]. “Following Brexit,” it says, “European Patent Attorneys will be able to represent you in the Unitary Patent Court (UPC)…”

Putting aside uncertainty surrounding Brexit itself, that statement makes no sense because UPC is dead. Repeating lies again? Team UPC has clearly not grown tired (yet) of its famous two lies. From the relevant paragraph:

The UK Government plans to explore whether it is possible to participate in the proposed Unitary Patent System following Brexit. Following Brexit, European Patent Attorneys will be able to represent you in the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) [sic] irrespective of whether the UK signs up to the UPC or not.

They wrote “Unitary Patent Court (UPC),” but it’s Unified actually; so they’re clueless on what they write about, maybe just reusing what they saw written elsewhere. Can we trust a bunch of law firms that don’t even know the name of the court they lobby for? Ones who intentionally lie about various things in one single paragraph? Of course not. They used to also tell us that UPC was “for SMEs” — those standing to lose the most from UPC.

Imagine a liar like Battistelli in charge of such a system of ‘show trials’ (in a language the defendant does not even understand).

Let’s face it; nothing has really changed except the face. Campinos is just another Battistelli and not even the manners are better. As Märpel noted just before the weekend:

Märpel learned that President Campinos cancelled all travels yesterday, even travels already booked with applicants waiting at the other end. People were called back yesterday morning on their way to the airport.

The reasons behind that decision are not entirely clear. What is entirely clear, however, is that cancelling appointments at such short notice screams of lack of professionalism. When travels are arranged, the other end normally has invested time and efforts in arranging a meeting. Expenses need to be charged, authorizations need to be organized. Not coming at the latest moment is simply not done.

But President Campinos apparently does not care about manners. Reportedly, he had a fit about the budget and required everything to be re-authorized by him personally.

It appears that the Office managed to elect ANOTHER President capable of throwing a tantrum for the smalest [sic] of reasons.

Welcome the new boss; same as the old boss…

Quality of Patents Granted by the EPO is Still Low and Nobody Will Benefit Except Lawyers, Jubilant Over Growing Lenience on Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Get your money ready, there’s tax to be paid through law firms

100 bucks

Summary: Deterioration of patent quality at the EPO — a serious problem which examiners themselves are complaining about — is becoming rather evident as new guidelines are very lenient on software patenting

THE EPO under António Campinos — like the USPTO under Director Iancu — seems to have no concept or understanding of patent quality. Maybe they just fail to appreciate the importance of patent quality, instead assuming that the goal is to grant as many patents as possible, i.e. generate as many monopolies as possible, then — in turn — generating as many patent lawsuits as possible.

The issues associated with software patents in Europe have been covered here for a dozen years. We covered various court cases that dealt with such patents in Europe, including in the UK (Symbian was a famous case). Sara Moran at Kluwer Patent Blog has just highlighted what happens when some European patents or patents granted in Europe (not necessarily European Patents) turn out to be bogus, fake patents. “The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal filed by Cubist against the Patents Court decision that one of its patents relating to antibiotic daptomycin was invalid for obviousness,” she wrote. So nobody benefited from this case other than lawyers. It was a total waste of time.

European Patents (EPs) of Qualcomm were mentioned in this blog post just before the weekend: [via]

Munich I Regional Court throws out Qualcomm patent infringement lawsuit against Apple: no infringement


The Munich I Regional Court (“Landgericht München I” in German) just announced the first final judgment on a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement complaint anywhere in the world. Apple (and, by extension, Intel) fended off one of various Qualcomm patent infringement lawsuits.The court agreed with Apple’s claim construction.

A few months after the Federal Trade Commission of the United States and, in a separate case, Apple sued Qualcomm over antitrust and contract-related matters in January 2017, the San Diego-based company that dominates the market for cellular baseband chips started a patent infringement lawsuit campaign against the iPhone maker in the U.S., Germany, and China. Qualcomm wanted to kick off the German “rulings season” with a Mannheim injunction–and got a Munich rejection.

A three-judge panel–composed of Judge Dr. Schoen (“Schön” in German), who filled in for Presiding Judge Dr. Zigann at last week’s trial, and Judges Klein and Schmitz–held that Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do not infringe Qualcomm’s European patent EP1199750 on a “post[-]passivation interconnection scheme on top of [an] IC chip.”

In a follow-up related to this (Qualcomm, albeit in the US with Nokia‘s support) the same blog said: [via]

While Qualcomm’s patent infringement lawsuits against Apple (and, by extension Intel) are merely a sideshow to the antitrust matters pending on three continents, let’s start with a brief follow-up to yesterday’s Munich judgment. The court has meanwhile, thankfully, provided a redacted copy of the decision. I’ve read it, and the most interesting part is that Qualcomm had submitted two expert reports in support of its claim construction, while Apple had provided only one, but the deficiencies of Qualcomm’s reports were massive while Apple’s expert provided instructive, helpful information. I’ll publish a translation of the relevant passages soon.

Meanwhile, Judge Lucy H. Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted the Federal Trade Commission of the United States permission to file a reply to Nokia’s recent amicus curiae brief in support of Qualcomm with respect to the FTC’s motion for partial summary judgment regarding Qualcomm’s obligation to extend FRAND licenses to its cellular standard-essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipset makers. In its reply brief in support of its motion (that post also contained a link to Nokia’s brief), the FTC had already reserved the right to request leave to file such a reply since Nokia’s brief was filed just on the eve of the FTC’s reply to Qualcomm’s opposition.

FRAND and standard-essential patents (SEPs) are highly detrimental in the domain of software as they’re inherently not compatible with Free/libre Open Source software (FOSS/FLOSS). The EPO doesn’t care however. Under the leadership of Campinos the EPO promotes software patents more often than ever before. It’s rather disturbing to watch their Twitter account. From yesterday alone we have two different tweets (if not more) that implicitly advocate software patents in Europe. First we have Battistelli’s French “economist” (i.e. pseudo-’scientist’) promoting software patents using familiar buzzwords. “For the patent system,” it says, “the Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened up a new era. For more from our Chief Economist’s recent speech on the topic, click here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

This, in turn, links to the “AI” nonsense (buzzwords that can refer to just about any algorithm). Once again, on the same day, the EPO promoted such patents under the guise of “AI”. To quote the tweet: “What are the main challenges in drafting patent applications for AI-related inventions? Our panel of experts discussed: http://bit.ly/AIconf”

Suffice to say, this is against the rules of the EPO (or the EPC), but they bypass the rules and break the laws without any implications. European politicians don’t seem to care.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s Jonathan Turnbull, Krishna Kakkaiyadi and Julie Chiu published this piece titled “EPO publishes 2018 revision of Guidelines for Examination directed to computer-implemented inventions” (what the EPO calls software patents). To quote:

The EPO has recently published the 2018 revision to its Guidelines for Examination, which are generally updated annually to take into account developments in patent law and practice. For a complete list of sections that have been amended this year, please see the EPO’s website here. These new Guidelines will come into effect on 1 November 2018.

Notably, some of the key updates this year concern Part G, Chapter II, 3.3-3.7: these provisions outline the exceptions to patentability under Article 52 of the European Patent Convention (“EPC“), including mathematical methods, business methods and programs for computers. Claims directed to such subject matter would normally not be patentable, but the updated Guidelines elaborate on the types of claims which still might be eligible for patenting, and provide concrete examples of such eligible claims.


Nevertheless, these developments have to be seen alongside the other efforts being taken by the EPO in ensuring that European patent law remains suitable and robust to tackle computer-implemented inventions. In May 2018, the EPO held (for the first time) a conference on patenting Artificial Intelligence and soon after, in June 2018, the heads of the five largest patent offices (USPTO, EPO, JPO, the Korean patent Office and the State Intellectual Property office in China) re-emphasised the impact of AI on the patent system as one of their “main strategic priorities“. In December 2018, the EPO will host a conference on the patenting of blockchain-based inventions.

These recent developments are indicative of the EPO’s proactive response towards the changing technological landscape, and a willingness to engage with and potentially grant patents for computer-implemented inventions such as AI- or blockchain-enabled technologies if they meet the applicable criteria.

So the EPO lost all legitimacy on patent scope. Quite flagrantly it ignores the European Patent Convention and disregards a European directive. The EPO is just above the law. They openly tell candidates for examination (of which there are none; there’s a permanent hiring freeze) or current examiners (while they last or manage to survive) to grant such patents and they just say to applicants that it they include terms like “AI” or “blockchain” or some other nonsense, then they’ll be granted a patent on algorithms.

This isn’t even a legacy of Battistelli alone; had Campinos shown interest in genuine patent quality (never mind actually obeying the rules and the law), he would stop this, not accelerate it as he does.

In the interests of ‘production’ (low quality of patents as priority) the EPO further limits access to facts, to oppositions, to appeals etc.

Joanna Rowley (Haseltine Lake LLP) has just published this article:

New EPO Guidelines On The Issuance Of A Summons To Oral Proceedings As The First Action In Examination

A summons to oral proceedings before the Examining Division is usually only issued after at least one examination report – if not several – has been issued. However, last year the EPO revised the Guidelines for Examination to state that the Division may issue a summons to oral proceedings as the first action in examination after issuance of the extended European search report, albeit only in exceptional cases.

So they cut some more corners, except “in exceptional cases.”

Great resurgence of patent quality or just further deterioration (which also makes more staff redundant)? Remember that examiners’ contracts are now time-limited, so not even layoffs per se are needed; Campinos can just patiently wait for their work contract to expire (unless they leave earlier or get fired under strange circumstances, as some do).

Not only software patents are the problem; the EPO also continues to double down on patents on nature. Want beer? Sorry, that’s patented. The beer and the seeds it’s made from. Under Campinos this disturbing policy was recently reaffirmed and there’s this new article about a ‘compromise’:

A second patent granted to Carlsberg and Heineken related to conventionally-bred barley has been reduced in scope by the European Patent Office (EPO).

The patent, which covered conventionally-bred barley, its usage in brewing and the resulting beer, and is now restricted to plants with a specific mutation which can influence the content of these flavours.

This is the second patent of this type that has been reduced in scope by the EPO following pressure from lobbying groups.

So they still allow patents on life and nature; as if people invent nature by manipulating it a little.

100 Days Into the Term of Campinos There is Already an EPO Suicide

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Water cistern

Summary: A seventh known suicide at the EPO since the so-called ‘reforms’ began; the EPO continues to pretend that everything is changing for the better, but in reality it’s yet more nepotism and despotism

IT was with sadness, albeit not shock, that yesterday we learned that the seventh EPO suicide (in recent years) had happened days ago. It’s one among many, albeit the first under the new President. Remember what Bergot said about such suicides. She is still the EPO‘s head of HR, even under António Campinos.

The first report came from Märpel, who yesterday wrote:

Märpel learned that a staff member committed suicide in The Hague earlier this week. That person worked in formalities.


Management simply wants to get rid of formalities, expecting computers to replace them, while we have several incompatible procedures (EPC, PCT…) and any mistake bears legal consequences. It is a disaster in the making.

High salaries do not mean happiness and don’t guarantee safety. Money does not buy happiness. Many at the EPO aren’t desperate for money either (they’re well educated), they just want respect and dignity. The EPO cannot offer that anymore.

“The managers don’t like to discuss such matters, definitely not with the German media, whom they threatened for bringing it up.”Suffice to say, the EPO won’t say a word about the above (except perhaps internally). The managers don’t like to discuss such matters, definitely not with the German media, whom they threatened for bringing it up.

The EPO has meanwhile issued yet another press release (warning: epo.org link), binding together the three announcements of appointments and tweeting about it. To quote:

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has appointed Stephen Rowan (UK), Christoph Ernst (Germany) and Nellie Simon (Austria) as the next vice-presidents of the European Patent Office (EPO). The appointments were made at a meeting of the Administrative Council chaired by its Deputy Chairman, Josef Kratochvíl. The three new vice-presidents will take up their positions on 1 January 2019 for a period of five years.

This means that Christoph Ernst, who ‘bosses’ Campinos even in the next meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, will a fortnight later become his deputy. Christoph Ernst was never much of a ‘boss’ to Battistelli and under Campinos it couldn’t be any more obvious that the Office now runs the Administrative Council (it should have been the other way around).

Press coverage has thus far been as shallow as expected (the above conflict among others isn’t brought up all).

UKIPO is proud to have sent someone to the EPO — proud enough to have issued this puff piece. Intellectual Property Watch copy-pasted the press release. It was posted by William New, who did a selfie with Campinos last month. He has published this introduction:

The new vice-presidents are: Stephen Rowan (UK), Christoph Ernst (Germany) and Nellie Simon (Austria). They will take office on 1 January for five years. The selection was made at a meeting of the EPO Administrative Council.

EPO President Antonio Campinos was in Geneva during the recent World Intellectual Property Organization annual General Assemblies, and was seen with representatives of the UK delegation, as he was said to support the candidacy of Rowan.

Simon takes over for the embattled Željko Topić of Croatia, who faced accusations from his home country throughout his EPO tenure.

Another site focused on Ernst:

The European Patent Office (EPO) Administrative Council has appointed Christoph Ernst as vice president of the office’s Directorate General legal and international affairs.

Ernst, who is currently head of Directorate at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection succeeds Raimund Lutz and will begin his role on 1 January 2019.

Why not mention the absurdity of one’s boss becoming one’s assistant? Was he just a phantom boss all along? JUVE’s Amy Sandys and Konstanze Richte also wrote about Ernst, but it’s all in German. World Intellectual Property Review said:

UK-based Stephen Rowan, Christoph Ernst from Germany and Austria-based Nellie Simon were all appointed as vice presidents at an Administrative Council (AC) meeting.

Rowan, Ernst and Simon will take up their new positions on January 1, 2019 for a five-year tenure.

The news comes after António Campinos took up the reins as president of the EPO in July.

No investigation whatsoever. It’s like an edit job (of the press releases). And nobody other than Märpel has yet mentioned the suicide, which is actually relevant and worth reporting on (while preserving privacy) because of the history associated with EPO suicides.

Links 13/10/2018: Ubuntu Touch OTA-5, MidnightBSD 1.0 Ready

Posted in News Roundup at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Windows 10 Version 1809 Cumulative Update KB4464330 Causes BSODs

      Windows 10 cumulative update KB4464330 for version 1809, as well as cumulative update KB4462919 for the April Update (version 1803), are both pushing a number of HP systems into a BSOD loop, with no easy method to go back to a functional desktop.

    • Pixelbook vs. Pixel Slate: Which Chrome OS Device is the Better Choice?

      As expected, Google announced its first house-branded Chrome OS tablet, the Pixel Slate, a few days ago. It looks like a great device, but how does it compare to the Pixelbook when it comes to a high-end Chrome OS machine?

      Before we get into the comparison, it’s probably worth talking about what this means for current Pixelbook owners. To put it plainly, if you already have a Pixelbook there’s very little reason to consider getting a Slate—it isn’t even an upgrade, but more of a lateral movement from the Pixelbook. It’s an incredibly similar device in a slightly different package.

    • Samsung’s Updated Chromebook Plus V2 Adds LTE Connectivity to an Already-Great Device

      The premium Chromebook market has exploded over the last couple of years, and Samsung helped push that charge with the Chromebook Pro and Plus. It recently revamped the Plus model with updated internals, and now it’s adding LTE to that platform.

      If you’re not familiar with the Chromebook Plus, here’s a bit of backstory for you. The original Chromebook Plus was launched at CES in 2017 alongside the Chromebook Pro. Samsung has since revamped the Plus hardware with an updated processor for improved performance, calling this new version the Chromebook Plus V2. Super original.

  • Server

    • [Older] Cockpit 180

      Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 180.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Destination Linux EP91 – CoC A Doodle Do

      On this special episode of Destination Linux, we are joined by a friend of the show, Liam from GamingonLinux.com to discuss the hottest topics in Linux Gaming! We also cover some interesting discussion topics about Security, Linus’s response to the community reactions, big mistakes we’ve made as Linux users, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s new project Solid. Then we’ll end the show with our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks. All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.14 LTSI Kernel Released For Longer-Term Support

      The Linux Foundation LTSI initiative has finished baking its first Linux 4.14-based kernel for longer-term support.

      LTSI is the Long-Term Support Initiative hosted by the Linux Foundation that’s focused on longer-term kernel support for the likes of consumer electronics. LTSI is apart from the long-term kernels maintained as well by Greg KH and other stakeholders.

      Previously LTSI had been tracking the Linux 4.9 kernel and before that Linux 4.1, Linux 3.14, 3.10, 3.4, and 3.0.

    • LTSI-4.14 is now released
    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • Ubuntu’s Bring-Up Of NVIDIA’s Driver With Mir Continues

        The Ubuntu developers continuing to work on the Mir display server stack have made headway in their NVIDIA driver enablement effort.

        The code isn’t yet merged nor even ready to be merged, but they at least have got the NVIDIA proprietary driver working with Mir to the extent that EGL clients are working, rendering is working without major issues, it doesn’t regress the stack for the non-NVIDIA drivers, etc.

      • XDC2019 X.Org / Mesa / Wayland Conference To Be Hosted In Montreal

        The X.Org Foundation Board of Directors decided today that their next annual X.Org/Mesa/Wayland conference will be held in Montreal, Canada.

        X.Org decided to head up to Quebec, Canada for next year’s X.Org conference after the successful XDC2018 held last month in Spain. Those bidding to be the XDC2019 host city were between Montreal and Hutchinson in Minnesota.

      • AMD Posts Latest Open-Source Linux Patches For FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / VRR

        One of the few features not yet provided by the mainline open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver will soon be crossed off the list… FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / HDMI Variable Refresh Rate support.

        It’s been a heck of a long time coming to say the least, but last month AMD began posting new patches for VRR / Adaptive-Sync / FreeSync for their open-source Linux graphics driver. Part of the reason why it’s taken so long getting to this point was reaching a consensus with the Intel Linux graphics driver developers and other Linux DRM stakeholders over the design/properties to use in exposing this functionality to user-space so eventually other Linux graphics drivers can choose to implement this support similarly.

      • NVIDIA Accelerates Server Workloads with RAPIDS GPU Software

        GPUs, or Graphics Process Units, are somewhat of a misnomer in the modern age for many of the applications where there are deployed. While GPUs are an important component for graphics, high-end gaming and design, they are also being widely used to accelerate High Performance Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) workloads.

        This week, NVIDIA announced its RAPIDS open source software for GPUs, alongside multiple partners, including Oracle, HPE and IBM.

      • Open Source RAPIDS GPU Platform to Accelerate Predictive Data Analytics

        Today NVIDIA announced a GPU-acceleration platform for data science and machine learning, with broad adoption from industry leaders, that enables even the largest companies to analyze massive amounts of data and make accurate business predictions at unprecedented speed.

      • NVIDIA Makes Big Push Into GPU-Powered Analytics with Open-Source Software

        Known as RAPIDS, the suite was developed over the past two years by NVIDIA, along with a handful of other open source contributors. It encompasses GPU support for not just conventional analytics, but also machine learning (including deep learning), graph analytics, stream processing, and eventually visualization. RAPIDS is aimed at the data science crowd, that is, researchers, engineers, and other developers looking to make the most out of their datasets – both literally and figuratively.

        The aim is to draw businesses and other organizations away from their dependency on CPUs for their analytics and machine learning workloads. These encompass such mission-critical applications as credit card fraud detection, retail inventory forecasts, and customer purchasing prediction, each one of these represents billions of dollars to the economy. Credit card fraud alone cost companies over $20 billion globally in 2015.

      • BlazingDB announces BlazingSQL , a GPU SQL Engine for NVIDIA’s open source RAPIDS

        The BlazingDB team announced a new and free version of BlazingDB’s query execution engine for RAPIDS open-source software by NVIDIA, called BlazingSQL, yesterday.

        BlazingSQL provides query datasets from enterprise Data Lakes directly into GPU memory as a GPU DataFrame (GDF). GPU DataFrame (GDF) is a project that offers support for interoperability between GPU applications. It also defines a common GPU in-memory data layer.

      • Shooting The Machine Learning Rapids With Open Source

        There are a lot of different kinds of machine learning, and some of them are not based exclusively on deep neural networks that learn from tagged text, audio, image, and video data to analyze and sometimes transpose that data into a different form. In the business world, companies have to work with numbers, culled from interactions with millions or billions of customers, and providing GPU acceleration for this style of machine learning is just as vital as the types mentioned above.

      • Machine learning gets more open source wins from Microsoft and Nvidia
      • Intel Whiskey Lake Support Formally Added To Mesa 18.3

        The recently posted patch for Intel Whiskey Lake support in Mesa has now been merged for Mesa 18.3.

        Intel announced Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake in late August. While Intel is usually many months or even years ahead of schedule with their open-source driver enablement for new graphics generations, Whiskey Lake basically comes down to re-branded Coffeelake UHD Graphics… Some of the PCI IDs in fact have already been present in the Intel Linux driver as reserved Coffeelake PCI IDs.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At The Windows 10 October 2018 Update Performance With WSL

        As the first of our Linux vs. Windows benchmarks coming around Microsoft’s Windows 10 October 2018 Update, today we are exploring the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) performance to see if they have finally managed to improve the I/O performance for this Linux binary compatibility layer and how the WSL performs compared to Ubuntu and Clear Linux.

        For those that have missed my previous rounds of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) benchmarking, this Linux binary compatibility layer for Windows is surprisingly performant for most workloads… Microsoft all around has done a surprisingly good job on WSL with its support and performance. The big exception to the strong WSL performance though has been for I/O workloads struggling a great deal due to WSL needing to track the various meta-data separately, backing the I/O by their long-standing NTFS file-system, and other complications between Linux/Windows I/O handling. But they continue to express they are working on improving the I/O performance and as such I was anxious to see if there are any improvements with this October 2018 Update.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Happy birthday, KDE: 11 applications you never knew existed

        The Linux desktop environment KDE celebrates its 22nd anniversary on October 14 this year. There are a gazillion* applications created by the KDE community of users, many of which provide fun and quirky services. We perused the list and picked out 11 applications you might like to know exist.

      • LaKademy 2018 – First Day (October 11th)

        LaKademy 2018 has started!

        It is happening in the city of Florianópolis in Brazil. It is being a nice opportunity for me to meet some other KDE contributors from Latin America. We are discussing ideas for KDE in Latin America and everybody is working on something related to the community.

      • Kdenlive 18.08.2 released

        Kdenlive 18.08.2 is out bringing usability improvements and a crash fix. The Windows version is also becoming more stable with every release and this version brings fixes to the translation installation and the introduction of a crash report.

        In other news, the Refactoring is moving steadily ahead and we will release a wider test beta version soon, stay tuned. Also the refactoring branch is now building automatically on KDE’s automated integration system (CI), and all the regressions tests pass. This means that after each change to the source code, the CI will run the tests to check that no regression happens. On the sysadmin front we are cleaning up our bug tracker in preparation for the 18.12 release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.32 Desktop Environment Development Kicks Off, First Milestone Is Out Now

        Work on the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment begun a few weeks ago after the launch of the GNOME 3.30 “Almeria” desktop environment last month, which is currently hitting the stable software repositories of some of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions. GNOME 3.32 will be developed under the GNOME 3.31.x umbrella for the next six months, until its March 13, 2019, launch.

        GNOME 3.31.1 is now available as the first development milestone towards the final GNOME 3.32 desktop environment. Being the first development snapshot, GNOME 3.31.1 brings only a few updated core components and apps, without any notable changes, except for the removal of the application menus feature, as we reported earlier this week.

      • GNOME 3.31.1 Released As The First Step Towards GNOME 3.32
      • GNOME’s Nautilus Gets Better Google Drive Support, Warns About Security Risks

        The GNOME 3.30 desktop environment is about to get its last scheduled point release, version 3.30.2, which should hit the streets later this month on October 24, and it looks like the Nautilus app was already updated to version 3.30.2, a bugfix release that adds quite a few improvements to the popular file manager.

        According to the internal changelog, Nautilus 3.30.2 improves support for opening files stored on Google Drive accounts, improves searching by addressing various crashes, fixes the triple mouse click gesture in the pathbar to minimize the main window, as well as the “/” and “~” characters not opening the location bar.

      • The future of AlternateTab, and why you need not worry

        Any time someone publishes a “The top n GNOME Shell extensions” article, there’s a fair chance that it will include the AlternateTab extension.

        That is a bit sad to be honest. Not because it would be wrong for users to prefer a more traditional switcher, mind you, but because the actual functionality has been built-in for years — all the extension does is intercept one keyboard shortcut and pretend that it was a different keyboard shortcut.

      • GDA 6.0 progress

        GDA project has released 5.2.5 and tagged 5.2.6, with some improvements, but the real work is on master.

        Master is targeting 6.0, a new ABI/API release, providing better GObject Introspection support and code modernization.

        A new Meson build system is on the way to replace Autotools. Meson helped to implement, fix and test all changes in less time. Like on multi-threading, where is more easy to produce multiple parallel tests, helping to expose issues to fix. Master have big improvement on that matter.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • MakuluLinux LinDoz New Build is Live

        The Latest ISO of Makulu Lindoz is now available for download, This build mainly addresses issues some users had with installing Lindoz onto a Virtual machine. Previously we had Squashfs problems when booting live mode on Virtual machines, this bug has now been fixed.

    • Arch Family

      • 10 Reasons to Use Manjaro Linux

        Manjaro Linux has been trending in Linux communities and even beyond for over a year now. One, for its beauty, and two, for its success at simplifying many of the overly-technical aspects in Arch Linux e.g. installation.

        If you are among those on the fence and aren’t sure of why you should switch to using Manjaro Linux then here are 10 reasons to convince you.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • binb 0.0.3: Now with Monash

          The third release of the binb package just arrived on CRAN, and it comes with a new (and very crispy) theme: Monash. With that we are also thrilled to welcome Rob Hyndman as a co-author.

        • Google Summer of code at Debian Final Report

          Virtual LTSP server project automates installation and configuration of LTSP server with vagrant. It is the easiest way to create LTSP setup. We have developed the project to do the same for Linux mint 19 and Debian 9. We also created several scripts for testing, create ltsp client, manage accounts, etc. Also created packer scripts to create vagrant boxes that we will use in the project.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) Is Now in Final Freeze, Launches October 18

            With just one week left until the final release, Ubuntu 18.10, dubbed Cosmic Cuttlefish, has reached the final step in its development cycle, Final Freeze. This means that from this point until the final release only critical bugs that affect the ISO images or installers are admitted in the archives.

            Of course, the Ubuntu engineers would need community’s help to test the ISO images before they hit the stable channels, so they are working on releasing the Release Candidate (RC) images in the coming days on the official ISO tracker for Ubuntu and probably all other official flavors.

          • Firefox ESR 60 availability on Ubuntu

            Mozilla Release Engineering created a special customised packaging of the Ubuntu version of Firefox intended for our enterprise partners of Canonical. This is particularly useful if partners decide they need to apply policies to Firefox for an install base they administer. This Extended Support Release (ESR) is similar in concept to the Ubuntu LTS releases. This nominated version of Firefox, released to a specific cadence, will be given additional maintenance over and above the regular more frequent releases. The ESR release will get support for approximately one year. It will have an overlap period with the next ESR of 12 weeks, which gives users a window to upgrade to the latest ESR and ensures they are always on a supported version. Like Ubuntu LTS releases, Mozilla is selective about what patches/fixes/updates get backported to the ESR version.

          • Firefox ESR 60 availability on Ubuntu

            Mozilla Release Engineering created a special customised packaging of the Ubuntu version of Firefox intended for our enterprise partners of Canonical. This is particularly useful if partners decide they need to apply policies to Firefox for an install base they administer. This Extended Support Release (ESR) is similar in concept to the Ubuntu LTS releases. This nominated version of Firefox, released to a specific cadence, will be given additional maintenance over and above the regular more frequent releases. The ESR release will get support for approximately one year. It will have an overlap period with the next ESR of 12 weeks, which gives users a window to upgrade to the latest ESR and ensures they are always on a supported version. Like Ubuntu LTS releases, Mozilla is selective about what patches/fixes/updates get backported to the ESR version.

          • Firefox ESR 60 availability on Ubuntu

            Mozilla Release Engineering created a special customised packaging of the Ubuntu version of Firefox intended for our enterprise partners of Canonical. This is particularly useful if partners decide they need to apply policies to Firefox for an install base they administer. This Extended Support Release (ESR) is similar in concept to the Ubuntu LTS releases. This nominated version of Firefox, released to a specific cadence, will be given additional maintenance over and above the regular more frequent releases. The ESR release will get support for approximately one year. It will have an overlap period with the next ESR of 12 weeks, which gives users a window to upgrade to the latest ESR and ensures they are always on a supported version. Like Ubuntu LTS releases, Mozilla is selective about what patches/fixes/updates get backported to the ESR version.

          • Firefox ESR 60 Is Now Available on Ubuntu as a Snap, Here’s How to Install It

            Every six weeks, a new major Firefox release hits the streets, and it’s soon available in the Ubuntu repositories, but thanks to Canonical’s Snappy technologies, users now have access to the latest ESR versions of Firefox too, which are mostly intended for the company’s enterprise partners who want long-term supported Firefox release.

            “The ESR version of Firefox is aimed at corporations who want to have more control over the version of Firefox their employees have installed,” said Canonical in a blog post. “Mozilla recommends that users stay on the Rapid Release version if they wish the newest product features offered by Firefox.”

          • Plex arrives in Canonical’s Snap Store

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, today announces Plex as a Snap, bringing the over-the-top (OTT) media service to millions of Linux users via the ever-expanding Snap Store. Plex is a top-rated streaming media company with apps and content customised to fit users’ personal preferences and needs.

          • Fresh Snaps from September 2018

            Another month passes, and we’ve got a collection of interesting applications that came to our attention (Twitter feed) during September 2018. We have a mix of developer tools, languages, password management, productivity tools and some fun too. Take a look down the list, and discover something new today.

          • Canonical Announces Plex as a Snap, DuckDuck Go Reaches 30 Million Direct Searches a Day, Purism’s Librem 5 Phone to Ship with GNOME 3.32 Desktop, Libre Computer Project Launches the La Frite SBC and Google Releases Oboe

            Canonical yesterday announced that Plex has arrived in its Snap Store. You now can download the multimedia platform as a snap for Ubuntu, KDE Neon, Debian, Fedora, Manjaro, OpenSUSE and Zorin. For more details, see the Ubuntu Blog.

          • Plex virtualises its way on to Linux as a Canonical Snap

            STREAMING YOUR favourite shows with Linux just got a lot easier after Canonical announced Plex as a Snap.

            The popular platform allows users to combine their own files with streamed ones from a series of channels has been available in a variety of formats, but the arrival of a universal (almost) Linux version will open up a system that goes beyond their desktop, thanks to the server aspect, which will make media accessible from anywhere.

            Additionally, with the right hardware, it can be turned into a DVR.

            “When it comes to media, today’s consumers want instant access and choice without the fuss. Plex is the ideal platform to cater to their needs, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the Snaps ecosystem”, said Jamie Bennett, VP of Engineering, Devices & IoT at Canonical.

          • Plex media streaming platform is now available as a snap on Linux

            Canonical has announced that Plex, the media streaming platform, is now available as a snap package which means that it is easy to install and update on most Linux distributions which support snap packages including Ubuntu. By bundling Plex as a snap, the developers of the software can bundle any dependencies and push updates automatically ensuring users are always on the latest version.

          • Plex for Linux now available as a Snap

            Microsoft is having a terrible time lately. Sometimes it feels like the company wants to sabotage itself. The most recent debacle is its flagship product — Windows 10 — deleting user files. Even worse, the company ignored user feedback that it was happening! Quite frankly, after such a scary thing, I am not sure how people can trust Microsoft’s operating system with important data.

            Thankfully, you do not have to use Windows. These days, it is easier than ever to use Linux instead. There are plenty of great apps available for operating systems like Ubuntu, Fedora, and more. Canonical’s containerized Snap packaging makes it even simpler to both install Linux apps and keep them updated. Today, a very popular app, Plex Media Server, gets the Snap treatment. In other words, you can install the media server program without any headaches — right from the Snap store!

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-5

            Right on the heels of UBport’s OTA-4 release comes the official 16.04 version of Ubuntu Touch for mobile devices. This will be the fifth Over The Air update (OTA-5), and it will also be the first of many updates that now adhere to a regular release roadmap.

            While many have already joined the community on 16.04 with OTA-4, in addition to the long-term support of upstream Ubuntu development, OTA-5 will include a more stable experience, new tweaks, and new features to show off this next stage of Ubuntu Touch development.

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-5 Is Being Prepped With New Browser, Qt Auto Scaling

            The UBports community that continues to maintain Ubuntu Touch for a range of mobile devices will soon be rolling out Ubuntu Touch OTA-5.

            Ubuntu Touch OTA-5 is bringing its new “Morph” web-browser powered by Qt WebEngine to replace the old Oxide-based browser application, support for Qt automatic scaling, Kirigami 2 support, and new community artwork.

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-5 Is Out for Ubuntu Phones with New Morph Browser, Improvements

            The UBports community announced today that they begin work on the next OTA (Over-the-Air) update for the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system for Ubuntu Phone devices.

            With the Ubuntu Touch OTA-4 finally rebasing the mobile OS on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series, the UBports team can now concentrate their efforts on bringing more new features and improvements, which will land in the upcoming Ubuntu Touch OTA-5 release.

            “While many have already joined the community on 16.04 with OTA-4, in addition to the long-term support of upstream Ubuntu development, OTA-5 will include a more stable experience, new tweaks, and new features to show off this next stage of Ubuntu Touch,” reads today’s announcement.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Brings Cosmic Cuttlefish to the Linux Desktop
          • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E31 – Thirty-One Dates in Thirty-One Days

            This week Ubuntu Podcast debuts on Spotify and re-embraces Mastodon. We’ve been unboxing the GPD Pocket 2 and building a Clockwork Pi. We discuss Plex releasing as a Snap, Microsoft joining the OIN, Minecraft open-sourcing some libraries, Google axing Google+, Etcher (allegedly) not honouring privacy settings, plus we also round up community news and events.

          • OpenStack Summit Berlin 2018

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, is excited to reveal that it will be a headline sponsor at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin.

            The OpenStack Summit has proven itself to be the leading event in open infrastructure, bringing together the builders and operators for sessions and workshops on containers, CI/CD, telecom & NFV, public cloud, multi-cloud and much more.

            Ubuntu is at the heart of the world’s largest OpenStack clouds, in key sectors such as finance, media, retail and telecoms. With Ubuntu the number one platform for OpenStack and public clouds, Canonical is a leader in building and operating multi-clouds.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Dropping commercial open source lowers PaaS costs at Fidelity [Ed: Cliff Saran still cannot tell the difference between "commercial" and "proprietary"]

    Fidelity International has made considerable savings by switching from a commercially supported distribution of Cloud Foundry to the free open source version.

  • Guarda makes available 15 open-source mobile crypto wallets

    Guarda, a custody free blockchain asset security and technology company today announced that it has made available now on GitHub 15 open-source cryptocurrency mobile Android SPV wallets for your disposal.

  • source{d} Engine: A Simple, Elegant Way to Analyze your Code

    From minute one, using source{d} Engine was an easy, efficient process. I ran source{d} Engine chiefly on a virtual machine running Ubuntu 14.04 but also installed it on MacOS and Ubuntu 16.04 for comparison purposes. On all three, install was completely painless, although the Ubuntu versions seemed to run slightly faster. The source{d} Engine documentation is accurate and thorough. It correctly warned me that the first time initializing the engine would take a fair amount of time so I was prepared for the wait. I did have to debug a few errors, all relating to my having a previous SQL instance running so some more thorough troubleshooting documentation might be warranted.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Slimmer and simpler static atoms

        In Firefox’s code we use the term atom rather than intern, and atom table rather than string intern pool. I don’t know why; those names have been used for a long time.

        Furthermore, Firefox distinguishes between static atoms, which are those that are chosen at compile time and can be directly referred to via an identifier, and dynamic atoms, which are added on-demand at runtime. This post is about the former.

      • Home Monitoring with Things Gateway 0.6

        When it comes to smart home devices, protecting the safety and security of your home when you aren’t there is a popular area of adoption. Traditional home security systems are either completely offline (an alarm sounds in the house, but nobody is notified) or professionally monitored (with costly subscription services). Self monitoring of your connected home therefore makes sense, but many current smart home solutions still require ongoing service fees and send your private data to a centralised cloud service.

      • WebRender newsletter #25

        As usual, WebRender is making rapid progress. The team is working hard on nailing the remaining few blockers for enabling WebRender in Beta, after which focus will shift to the Release blockers. It’s hard to single out a particular highlight this week as the majority of bugs resolved were very impactful.

      • DevEdition 63 Beta 14 Testday, October 12th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, October 12th, we are organizing Firefox 63 Beta 14 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Flash Compatibility and Block Autoplay V2.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day (last friday)
      • Firefox removes core product support for RSS/Atom feeds

        from Firefox 64 onwards, RSS/Atom feed support will be handled via add-ons, rather than in-product.


        By virtue of being baked into the core of Firefox, these features have long had outsized maintenance and security costs relative to their usage. Making sure these features are as well-tested, modern and secure as the rest of Firefox would take a surprising amount of engineering work, and unfortunately the usage of these features does not justify such an investment: feed previews and live bookmarks are both used in around 0.01% of sessions.

        As one example of those costs, “live bookmarks” use a very old, very slow way to access the bookmarks database, and it would take a lot of time and effort to bring it up to the performance standards we expect from Quantum. Likewise, the feed viewer has its own “special” XML parser, distinct from the main Firefox one, and has not had a significant update in styling or functionality in the last seven years. The engineering work we’d need to bring these features, in their current states, up to modern standards is complicated by how few automated tests there are for anything in this corner of the codebase.

      • Firefox Reality 1.0.1 – with recline mode

        Firefox Reality 1.0.1 is now available for download in the Viveport, Oculus, and Daydream app stores. This is a minor point release, focused on fixing several performance issues and adding crash reporting UI and (thanks to popular request!) a reclined viewing mode.

      • Pocket’s Updated Listening Feature Effectively Turns Web Pages into Podcasts

        The read-it-later service has been focused on convenience and entertainment since Mozilla acquired it last year. Previous updates to the app introduced sponsored and recommended content based on a user’s interest. The new “listen” feature mimics the button layout and usability of podcast and music apps, encouraging users to treat Pocket like a source of entertainment, rather than a glorified bookmark app.

      • Announcing Rust 1.29.2

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.29.2. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • Payments, accessibility, and dead macros: MDN Changelog for September 2018

        We’ve been thinking about the direction and growth of MDN. We’d like a more direct connection with developers, and to provide them with valuable features and benefits they need to be successful in their web projects. We’ve researched several promising ideas, and decided that direct payments would be the first experiment. Logged-in users and 1% of anonymous visitors see the banner that asks them to directly support MDN. See Ali Spivak’s and Kadir Topal’s post, A New Way to Support MDN, for more information.

      • The Things Gateway – It’s All About The Timing

        In my last posting, I talked about creating an External Rule System for the Things Gateway from Mozilla. This is a key component of the Automation part of a Smart Home system. Of course, the Things Gateway already has a rule system of its own. However, because it is GUI based, it has a complexity ceiling that is rather low by the standards of programmers.

        My External Rule System provides an alternative for more sophisticated rules that leverage the full power and readability of the Python programming language. However, I must ensure the capabilities are a proper superset of the built in Thing Gateway capabilities. The built in GUI Rule System has a special object called the “Clock” that can trigger a rule every day at a specific time. This is for the classic “turn the porch light on in the evening” home automation idea. My External Rule System needs the same capabilities, but as you’ll see, it is easy to extend beyond basic time of day idea.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How OpenStack Barbican deployment options secure your cloud

      your internal information security policy or trying to meet regulatory requirements such as GDPR, ANSSI, PCI DSS, HIPAA, or NIST, you are likely looking for ways to protect the privacy and integrity of your data and software. That solution can be found in encryption. OpenStack provides all the ingredients necessary to deploy privacy and integrity solutions, but it is up to the operator to deploy them securely. This requires a key-management solution (KMS) to manage and protect the encryption keys.

      Barbican is the OpenStack service that allows operators and users to manage and store secrets securely. It consists of an OpenStack API that provides keystone authentication, oslo.policy and quotas, and backends where the secret is stored. But secrets are only as secure as the storage backend deployed behind Barbican. This article will discuss Barbican deployment options and explore how each affects the security of your cloud.

    • From hype to action: Next steps for edge computing

      Edge computing has gradually climbed the hype curve over the last couple of years, and it now stands at the center of why we do new things and launch new technologies. Why is it so important, what does it mean, where is the money behind the movement, and what does it mean to you? These are all good questions, and there is no simple answer to any of them.

      Edge is what happens when we start to look at how we take advantage of all the computing capacity across networks and enterprises—the same way cloud has done in a data center—as a real problem to be solved.

  • Databases

    • Tips for DBAs Managing Open Source Databases

      Companies are now managing a variety of open source and non-relational databases alongside relational databases like SQL Server and Oracle.

      While managing these systems involve the same set of challenges most DBAs are used to: ensuring availability, diagnosing performance problems and managing capacity, just to name a few, each database platform has its own set of processes and workflows for collecting and analyzing information.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Michael W. Lucas talks FreeBSD (and whatever else he wants)
    • Tor part 1: how-to use Tor

      Installing tor is really easy on OpenBSD. We need to install it, and start its daemon. The daemon will listen by default on localhost on port 9050. On others systems, it may be quite similar, install the tor package and enable the daemon if not enabled by default.

    • Tor part 2: hidden service

      In this second Tor article, I will present an interesting Tor feature named hidden service. The principle of this hidden service is to make available a network service from anywhere, with only prerequisites that the computer must be powered on, tor not blocked and it has network access.

    • Call for testing: OpenSSH 7.9

      OpenSSH 7.9p1 is almost ready for release, so we would appreciate testing on as many platforms and systems as possible. This is a bugfix release.

    • MidnightBSD 1.0 Is Ready To Shine With ZFS Support, Ryzen Compatibility

      MidnightBSD 1.0 also brings improvements to its Mport package manager, Bhyve virtualization support is now available, ZFS file-system support (including for root file-system), OpenBSD’s doas replacing sudo, and various other software updates and improvements.

      The 1.0 release ISOs and more information on MidnightBSD is available from the project site at MidnightBSD.org.


    • Microsoft’s patent move: Giant leap forward or business as usual?

      So, while there are a few people who think Microsoft is up to no good, the experts agree that this is a laudable move by Microsoft to show its open-source bona fides. That’s not to say some still want to see more proof of Microsoft’s intentions, but overall, people agree this is a major step forward for Microsoft, Linux, and open-source intellectual property law regulation.

    • GCC 6.5 Status Report (2018-10-12)

      It is now time to release GCC 6.5 and close the 6.x branch. If you have regression bugfixes or documentation fixes that should be still backported to the branch, please test them and check them in before Friday, October 19th, when I’d like to create a Release Candidate of 6.5.

    • GCC 6.5 Is Being Prepared As The Last GCC6 Compiler Release

      Version 6.5 of the GNU Compiler Collection will soon be released to end out the GCC6 series.

      GCC8 remains the latest stable series and GCC9 is in development for release in early 2019. For those still relying upon the two-year-old GCC6 stable series, GCC 6.5 is being prepared with a last serving of bug/regression fixes before closing off that branch.

    • Microsoft and OIN: Legal Commitments vs. the Power of the Taboo

      On the surface, the significance of Microsoft’s joining OIN lies with its agreeing to the terms of the OIN license. But in joining OIN, Microsoft may in fact be acknowledging the power of a far older social force: the community taboo.

      Yesterday’s announcement is just the latest in a years-long series of Microsoft actions recognizing the realities of today’s IT environment. There’s simply no denying the fundamental role now of open source and, as importantly, the vital importance of being seen as a leader in OSS development.


      But the benefits of joining OIN go further than this. By officially joining the OIN club, Microsoft gains a stronger right to claim the broader protection of the taboo that covers all open source software, whether or not it utilizes the Linux kernel.

      Perhaps the greatest significance of Microsoft’s OIN announcement is therefore that it realized that under today’s marketplace realities, it was already bound by the same terms, and more.

    • Microsoft Pledges to Protect Linux and Open Source With Its Patents

      Yet even after joining the Linux Foundation and becoming an active contributor to multiple open-source efforts, the issue of the 235 patents has remained. Despite repeatedly saying that it “loves Linux,” Microsoft had never formally renounced its patent claims. The patent move to the OIN appears to be a step in that direction.

      When asked by eWEEK if the OIN patent agreement involved the 235 patents that Microsoft alleges that open-source software infringes on, Microsoft provided a nuanced statement.

      “We’re licensing all patents we own that read on the ‘Linux system’ for free to other OIN licensees,” a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an email to eWEEK.

    • The completion of Sonali’s Outreachy internship work on the Free Software Directory

      I spent the last several weeks of my internship completing the upgrade and improvements to the directory.

      For context, see the previous blog post, Sonali’s Internship work on the Free Software Directory, part 2

      After much work, I finally completed the upgrade of the Directory from the previous long term support version of MediaWiki, 1.27, to the current one, 1.31, which was released shortly after my internship started. I also made some general improvements.

    • Illinois Tech School of Applied Technology to Host Richard Stallman

      Illinois Tech’s School of Applied Technology will host Richard Stallman, activist and founder of the Free Software Foundation, on Monday, October 15 at 7 p.m. in Hermann Hall Auditorium. He will discuss the topic of freedom and privacy from computing. This event is open to the public at no charge.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open source pharma: How to stop the rot in drug discovery

      Here’s the case for a more caring, sharing pharmaceutical industry — one that works with academia, and other public bodies, in the public interest to discover the medicinal drugs and vaccines our global society urgently needs. And not just for the interests of shareholders.

      It’s a model for open source pharma — an alternative way of funding and working in drug discovery.

      For some it’s a naive idea, for others it’s the only way forward, and has been for some time.

      “Thinking in particular about neglected diseases, or poverty-related diseases, we have long accepted that there is a need for alternative models,” says Els Torreele, executive director of Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Access Campaign. “And in fact for the last 20 years there have been several successful experiments in piloting different ways of doing research and development to ensure drugs are developed even where there’s no market incentive.”

      That includes ensuring the drugs are affordable and available to those that need them.

      “We’ve shown it’s possible in a not-for-profit way, with public and philanthropic resources, so there’s no reason not to do it for ‘profitable’ disease, or any diseases,” says Torreele.

      But that’s still not how we do business today.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The Oasis 3DP Brings Open Source Binder Jetting to Makers

        The 2018 Hackaday Prize will soon be wrapping up, and as always, the contest has yielded some wonderfully innovative and promising ideas. One entry, submitted by Yvo de Haas, aims to make binder jetting accessible to everyone. Binder jetting, in which a liquid binding agent is deposited to bind powder particles together, is an effective method of 3D printing whose benefits include not requiring supports. It’s not a technology, however, that is typically accessible to the average maker. De Haas decided to change that with the development of the Oasis 3DP, an open source binder jetting 3D printer that he built himself.

      • An Open Source Toy Synth

        If you thought the future of electronic musical instruments was massive Emerson-class modular synths, giant MPCs with pads the size of Dance Dance Revolution machines, or hilariously expensive polysynths, you couldn’t be more wrong. The future is, effectively, toys. Those tiny little Korgs you can stuff in your pocket are selling like hot cakes, and Pocket Operators are king of the hill. One of the more interesting musical toys is the Organelle, an aluminum enclosure with maple buttons laid out in a keyboard configuration. It’s a synth, it’s a sound engine, and it does produce some interesting noises. All the software is Open Source, but the hardware isn’t. That leaves it up to someone else to make the hardware for the rest of us. That’s exactly what [mitchell] is doing for his Hackaday Prize entry.

  • Programming/Development


  • Archived a part of my CD collection

    After about three days of work, I’ve finished archiving a part of my old CD collection. There were about 200 CDs in a cardboard box that were gathering dust.

  • Science

    • World’s fastest camera freezes time at 10 trillion frames per second

      In recent years, the junction between innovations in non-linear optics and imaging has opened the door for new and highly efficient methods for microscopic analysis of dynamic phenomena in biology and physics. But to harness the potential of these methods, there needs to be a way to record images in real time at a very short temporal resolution—in a single exposure.

      Using current imaging techniques, measurements taken with ultrashort laser pulses must be repeated many times, which is appropriate for some types of inert samples, but impossible for other more fragile ones. For example, laser-engraved glass can tolerate only a single laser pulse, leaving less than a picosecond to capture the results. In such a case, the imaging technique must be able to capture the entire process in real time.

      Compressed ultrafast photography (CUP) was a good starting point them. At 100 billion frames per second, this method approached, but did not meet, the specifications required to integrate femtosecond lasers. To improve on the concept, the new T-CUP system was developed based on a femtosecond streak camera that also incorporates a data acquisition type used in applications such as tomography.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • “They’ve Got to Execute You”: St. Luke’s Doctor Faces Discipline After Raising Patient Care Concerns

      Dr. Tomas Rios was upset. He believed that some of his patients at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center had received unnecessary medical treatments in intensive care units at the Houston hospital, and one day in September 2015, he fired off three emails to colleagues expressing his frustration.

      A month later, Rios was summoned to a meeting with his boss, but the purpose was not to discuss his concerns about patient care. Instead, he got a warning.

      Dr. Victor Narcisse, a private-practice physician and member of the hospital’s medical executive committee, said that senior hospital officials had been in touch with him about Rios’ conduct, and they had made clear that they intended to “develop the evidence” to take punitive action against him. Narcisse compared the hospital’s plans for him to “an assassination,” according to a recording of the conversation. A transcript of the discussion was filed with Harris County District Court this week as part of a lawsuit by Rios against St. Luke’s.

      “It’s like, forgive me, forgive the analogy, but when you have a conspiracy for an assassination, the No. 1 rule is you’ve got to get the guy that you were going after. And then none of the people who were involved get implicated,” Narcisse said.

      “They’ve got to execute you,” he said a moment later. “Because if you stick around, they know that you’re going to, all these concerns that you have, you’re going to bring them to some regulatory person.”

    • Sloan Kettering Cancer Researchers Correct the Record by Revealing Company Ties

      Top researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have filed at least seven corrections with medical journals recently, divulging financial relationships with health care companies that they did not previously disclose.

      The hospital’s chief executive, Dr. Craig B. Thompson, disclosed his relationship with companies including the drugmaker Merck, and Dr. Jedd Wolchok, a noted pioneer in cancer immunotherapy, listed his affiliations with 31 companies.

      The corrections followed the resignation in September of Dr. José Baselga, the cancer center’s chief medical officer, who had failed to disclose his company ties in dozens of articles in medical journals, including prominent publications like the New England Journal of Medicine. Baselga’s omissions, including payments totaling millions of dollars, were first reported last month by ProPublica and The New York Times.

  • Security

    • Supermicro boards were so bug ridden, why would hackers ever need implants?
    • New U.S. Weapons Systems Are a Hackers’ [sic] Bonanza, Investigators Find

      The report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many of the weapons, or the systems that control them, could be neutralized within hours. In many cases, the military teams developing or testing the systems were oblivious to the hackingi [sic].

    • Cool Cool Cool Oversight Office Says It’s Incredibly Easy To Hack The Defense Dept.’s Weapons Systems

      The GAO points out the DOD has spent more time locking down its accounting systems than its weapons systems, even as the latter has increasingly relied on computer hardware and software to operate. The systems used by the DOD are a melange of commercial and open-source software, which relies on vendors to provide regular updates and patch vulnerabilities. (Unfortunately for the DOD, some vulnerabilities may not have been disclosed to software/hardware vendors by other government agencies like the NSA.) But the DOD gives itself a 21-day window to apply patches and some remote weapons systems may go months without patching because they often need to return from deployment to be patched properly.

      The end result is a network of defense systems riddled with security holes. The GAO says it doesn’t take much to commandeer weapons of mass destruction.

    • Hackers [sic] Are Using Stolen Apple IDs to Swipe Cash in China

      Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd. warned that cyber-attackers employed stolen Apple IDs to break into customers’ accounts and made off with an unknown amount of cash, in a rare security breach for China’s top digital payments providers.

    • Hackers [sic] loot digital wallets using stolen Apple IDs

      Two Chinese companies are warning customers that [crackers] used stolen Apple IDs to get into their digital payment accounts and steal money.

    • Microsoft October 2018 Patch Slightly Flawed and Unable To fully Rectify Jet Database Engine Vulnerability

      On the 20th of September, Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) went public with the information of a remove code execution vulnerability that would allow attackers to use the flawed Jet Database Engine to run macros through Microsoft Office programs and cause malicious activities in the targets computer. We covered this previously, you can read it here.

      Regarding this issue, ZDI released a micro-patch on the 21st September which fixed the vulnerability and urged Microsoft to correct this in the following patch. ZDI then did a review of the October 2018 update by Microsoft and found out that the security flaw while addressed has only limited the vulnerability rather than eliminating it.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Inside the Lawless New World of Electric-Scooter Hacking

      If major corporations and voting infrastructure can be hacked, then it stands to reason that one could also, and much more easily, hack a $400 electric scooter. And in their rush to make dockless, app-enabled two-wheelers a way of life across every urban neighborhood worldwide — while throttling the competition — startups Bird, Lime, Scoot, Skip and Spin have caused localized backlashes while putting their tech at risk of both clever and stupid exploits.

      What’s funny is that the companies tend to dismiss these vulnerabilities as insignificant. Lime’s director of government relations and strategic development, Sam Sadle, told the Dallas Observer this summer that theft and vandalism of scooters is rare because they’re so often in use. Reacting to complaints that hacking has become common, he added: “It hasn’t in any way limited our ability to operate in the markets in which we do operate.”

    • How to Find Out if You Were Affected by the Recent Facebook Hack [Ed: Facebook is almost certainly lying/lowballing the number and far more people got cracked]

      Facebook has now confirmed that hackers stole access tokens for “only” 30 million people, not 50 million. For 15 million of those people, the hackers were able to get phone number, email address, or both. And for 14 million more people, the hackers were able to get a lot more information, like username, gender, relationship status, religious, birthday, and a ton of other information including things you’ve searched for.

    • Facebook Revises Data Breach Impact Downward, Provides New Details
    • Google Fuchsia: Here’s what the NSA knows about it

      A while back, Google told us Fuchsia is not Linux. There have also been endless rumors, with little hard proof, it will eventually replace Android. Other than that, we don’t know much. But the National Security Agency (NSA), of all groups, has been checking into Fuchsia and revealed its findings at the recent North American Linux Security Summit in Vancouver, B.C.

    • Course Review: Adversarial Attacks and Hunt Teaming

      At DerbyCon 8, I had the opportunity to take the “Adversarial Attacks and Hunt Teaming” presented by Ben Ten and Larry Spohn from TrustedSec. I went into the course hoping to get a refresher on the latest techniques for Windows domains (I do mostly Linux, IoT & Web Apps at work) as well as to get a better understanding of how hunt teaming is done. (As a Red Teamer, I feel understanding the work done by the blue team is critical to better success and reducing detection.)

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Metropolitan Police on “Chepiga” and “Mishkin”.

      I have just received confirmation from the Metropolitan Police Press Bureau that both the European Arrest Warrant and Interpol Red Notice remain in the names of Boshirov and Petrov, with the caveat that both are probably aliases. Nothing has been issued in the name of Chepiga or Mishkin.

      As for Bellingcat’s “conclusive and definitive evidence”, Scotland Yard repeated to me this afternoon that their earlier statement on Bellingcat’s allegations remains in force: “we are not going to comment on speculation about their identities.”

      It is now a near certainty that Boshirov and Petrov are indeed fake identities. If the two were real people, it is inconceivable that by now their identities would not have been fully established with details of their history, lives, family and milieu. I do not apologise for exercising all due caution, rather than enthusiasm, about a narrative promoted to increase international tension with Russia, but am now convinced Petrov and Boshirov were not who they claimed.

    • US Says Venezuela Involved in Opposition Politician’s Death

      The White House on Oct. 10 condemned the death of an opposition politician in Venezuela and accused President Nicolas Maduro’s government of involvement in the death.

      “The United States condemns the Maduro regime’s involvement in the death of Venezuelan opposition councilman Fernando Alban,” it said in a statement.

      The statement also called for the release of all Venezuelan political prisoners and for Maduro’s government to “to re-establish democracy in Venezuela and to prevent further suffering and bloodshed,” adding that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to increase pressure over the issue.

    • ‘Maduro attack plotter killed himself’

      Venezuela’s government said on Monday an Opposition member accused of taking part in a failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro killed himself while in custody, but the Opposition claimed he had been murdered.

      Attorney General Tarek William Saab told State television VTV that Fernando Alban, who was in pretrial detention at the headquarters of the intelligence service, asked to go to the restroom and threw himself from a tenth-floor window.

    • UN urges probe into politician’s death in custody

      The UN on Tuesday called for a “transparent investigation” into the death of Venezuelan opposition member Fernando Alban after Caracas said he killed himself in custody.

      Alban had been jailed over accusations that he took part in an alleged failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro on August 4.

      Venezuela’s attorney-general William Saab told state television VTV that Alban threw himself from a 10th-floor window on Monday at the headquarters of the intelligence service, where he had been in pretrial detention.

      A spokesperson for the UN rights office, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters the Caracas government had “an obligation to ensure the safety, personal integrity and dignity” of Alban. “We are concerned about news of his death …

    • UN calls for probe into death of Venezuela opposition member
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • UN Official Praises Moreno While Assange Remains Gagged

      Ecuadorean President applauded by United Nations for promoting “Freedom of Speech,” yet Whistleblower Julian Assange has had his rights taken away from him by the same man.

      Julian Assange last March had his right to free speech taken away from him by Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, who cited, “breach of a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.”

    • Ecuador gets UN praise for ‘freedom of expression’ as Assange remains gagged in embassy limbo

      A UN official praised Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno for his treatment of journalists despite the fact that the leader is said to be preparing to hand over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to the governments persecuting him.

      UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye commended Ecuador and Moreno for supposedly promoting freedom of speech – the same Moreno that recently cut off communications to fugitive whistleblower Julian Assange and has been mulling handing him over to the UK and the US to be tried as a spy.

    • Assange’s Lawyer Plans to Take Legal Action Against Ecuador’s Foreign Minister

      On Friday, Ecuador’s top diplomat, Jose Valencia Amores, reiterated the country’s decision to grant asylum to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange.

      Julian Assange’s legal team is planning to take legal action against the Ecuadorian foreign minister, Jose Valencia Amores, for having publicized confidential information about the whistleblower’s asylum process, Assange’s lawyer Carlos Poveda told Sputnik on Thursday.

    • WikiLeaks Publishes Alleged Secret Files on Amazon’s Data Centers

      The release stated that Amazon is “notoriously secretive” about mapping its vast numbers of data centers.
      Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks said Thursday it had obtained and published “a highly confidential document” on the technology giant Amazon. In the so-called “Amazon Atlas,” the transparency proponent said that the document, allegedly from 2015, provided a uniquely deep insight into where Amazon’s data centers are located, as well as shed light on the company’s apparent ties with the US intelligence services.

    • WikiLeaks Publishes What It Says Is a List of Amazon Data Centers

      If the information in the document is real, it would be the most detail about AWS data centers ever released to the public. Unless they’re data center providers, companies are usually extremely secretive about their data center locations, and AWS is more secretive than most others.

      The world’s biggest cloud provider only makes public geographic regions where its server farms are located, but never the specific cities, let alone street addresses. Its biggest competitors, the likes of Microsoft Azure, IBM, and Google Cloud, practice the same.

      It’s unclear what WikiLeaks is trying to accomplish by making the information public. Its press release announcing the leak mentions AWS’s work for US intelligence agencies and its leading position in the race to secure a $10 billion cloud services contract the Department of Defense is currently shopping around.

      In 2010, AWS pulled the plug on hosting services it had been providing to WikiLeaks, causing the organization to switch providers. The move was viewed as a reaction to US government pressure on Amazon to stop providing services to WikiLeaks because it published classified documents, which the company denied.

    • WikiLeaks outs Amazon’s alleged data center locations

      Leaked file repository WikiLeaks on Thursday released a purported internal document from Amazon showing the secret locations of its data centers.

      Why it matters: Amazon’s data centers host some of the world’s largest cloud storage facilities, used by businesses, including sensitive ones.

    • Amazon uses a fake name from the TV show ‘Seinfeld’ to hide a secret data center in Virginia, according to WikiLeaks

      WikiLeaks on Thursday published a document it said showed the exact locations of over 100 Amazon data centers. Previously, for security reasons, only the general areas of these data centers were known.

      WikiLeaks said that to keep these locations secretive, Amazon uses various pseudonyms for facilities.

      Most notably, according to the document, at Amazon’s IAD77 data center in Manassas, Virginia, Amazon is known as “Vandelay Industries” — a nod to George Costanza and his shenanigans at the unemployment office in season three of the TV show “Seinfeld.”

    • WikiLeaks’s fresh revelations shed light on ties between Amazon, US intelligence services

      A whistle-blowing platform, WikiLeaks, has published what it claimed as a “highly confidential” document pilfered from the cloud computing provider Amazon.

      Naming the document “Amazon Atlas“, the anti-secrecy organization claimed on Thursday: “The document from late 2015 lists the addresses and some operational details of over one hundred data centers spread across fifteen cities in nine countries”. It also highlighted the company’s ongoing links with the US intelligence community.

    • Pacifica Radio Network Stands with Wikileaks and Julian Assange

      Pacifica passed a resolution to defend Julian Assange who is the founder of Wikileaks. “The mainstream media has basically been silent about the harassment of Julian Assange and the attempt to imprison him. And even some so-called progressive outlets have been silent. I think that if Pacifica makes a statement, it will be very important and will serve to educate many people in this country and beyond.”

    • WikiLeaks publishes list of AWS data center locations, colo providers
    • WikiLeaks Publishes the Location of Amazon’s Data Centers

      The controversial publisher WikiLeaks has released what it calls a “highly confidential internal document” from the cloud computing provider Amazon Web Services (AWS). The document is from late 2015, and lists the addresses and some operational details of more than 100 AWS data centers spread across 15 cities in nine countries.

      According to the “Amazon Atlas” document, Amazon operates in 38 facilities in Northern Virginia, eight in San Francisco, eight in Seattle, and seven in Oregon. In Europe it has seven data centers in Dublin, Ireland, four in Germany, and three in Luxembourg. In the Asia-Pacific region it has 12 data centers in Japan, nine in China, six in Singapore, and eight in Australia. It also has six sites in Brazil.

      WikiLeaks also created a map showing the general locations of these Amazon data centers.

    • Wikileaks dumps Amazon data center locations for all to see
    • WikiLeaks goes public with alleged list of AWS datacentre locations and code names
    • WikiLeaks puts Amazon data centres under spotlight amid Defense contract battle
    • WikiLeaks reveals Amazon data centres ahead of DoD bid closure

      A day ahead of the closing of bids for a massive US Department of Defence cloud contract, WikiLeaks has published the locations of Amazon’s data centres which, it claims, have been a closely held secret until now. Amazon is a frontrunner to win the US$10 billion contract.

      The whistleblower website said the information was contained in an internal document from the cloud provider dating back to late 2015.

      The DoD contract, known by its acronym JEDI — Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure — is meant to unite all Defence services under one cloud vendor as the CIA did in 2013 with Amazon at a cost of US$600 million

      In August, a report in the American magazine Vanity Fair said that the conditions laid down for the contract appeared to be sharply skewed to favour Amazon.

    • Can Kristinn Hrafnsson end the war inside WikiLeaks?

      The fight to free Julian Assange is still on. But for the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, who remains isolated and in “arbitrary detention” at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, help comes from a sprawling multi-channel server on the private chat app Discord.

      Across 80-plus channels, volunteer campaigners craft messages, create graphics, organize events, monitor social media, and even plan public rebuttals to breaking news. The vast #Unity4J operation is moderated by several high-profile Assange loyalists and started when Suzie Dawson, leader of the New Zealand Internet Party, organized livestreamed vigils to protest Assange’s plight.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • October 2018: Hurricane Michael

      On October 11, 2018, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) began collecting damage assessment imagery in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Weather permitting, aerial imagery will be collected in specific areas identified by NOAA in coordination with FEMA and other state and federal partners. During the mission, NGS will fly two missions a day. Images will be updated every 12 hours, which includes flight and processing time. Collected images are available to view online via the NGS aerial imagery viewer. View tips on how to use the imagery viewer.

      A team of NOAA aviators and sensor operators are capturing the images using specialized remote-sensing cameras aboard NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations’ King Air aircraft flying above the area at an altitude between 500 – 1,500 meters.

      NOAA’s aerial imagery aids safe navigation and captures damage to coastal areas caused by a storm. Aerial imagery is a crucial tool to determine the extent of the damage inflicted by flooding, and to compare baseline coastal areas to assess the damage to major ports and waterways, coastlines, critical infrastructure, and coastal communities. This imagery provides a cost-effective way to better understand the damage sustained to both property and the environment.

  • Finance

    • Teresa Basilio on Puerto Rico Communication Failure, Amrah Salomon on Indigenous Peoples Day

      This week on CounterSpin: Adding to the ravages brought to Puerto Rico by hurricanes Irma and Maria was the failure of the island’s communications systems; with virtually all cell sites down, many people were unable to call for help or to check on others. A year later, the system is not fully restored. What’s more, the US government shows little interest in finding out what went wrong, or how to prevent it happening again. (Reporter Kieran McCarthy at The Register notes that the FCC only seems to show interest in Puerto Rico when agency chair Ajit “Pai’s team feel the chairman himself will be personally impacted by criticism”—as when they hurriedly announced a public comment period days after learning that the GAO was releasing a critical report.) For media activists, the storm and the official response only underscored the need for the creation of communications systems grounded in community. We’ll talk to someone working on just that, Teresa Basilio, director of Resilient Just Technologies.

    • Immigration and the impact of a no-preference post-Brexit deal

      A shadow of the unknown has been cast over Britain since the announcement of Brexit in 2016. On the lead up to Britain’s exit in March 2019, Theresa May has been tirelessly invoking what the future will hold in terms of immigration, the free movement and trade.

      Immigration has been at the forefront of the debate since the announcement of Brexit; and with no clear resolution, business owners, international students, non-UK residents have all been in the dark regarding the matter.

      Whatever the government decide, will shape the future of the country in terms of trade, industry, overseas relations and how other countries will, in turn, choose to treat UK nationals. After extensive delays and disagreements, the cabinet have unanimously decided that the UK should have a skill-based immigration system and that EU residents will not be accorded preferential treatment in terms of immigration.

      May has stated that this works in the best interests of the United Kingdom, as this will help to boost productivity and shape the future of the nation.

      In theory, a skill-based immigration system could work to reduce the skill shortages in industry sectors such as the NHS, engineering and IT. Ho

    • Film: Albion’s Call: Brexit, democracy and England

      Brexit has ignited a fire under Britain. It is altering forever the way we see ourselves. This has to be confronted boldly and in an open-minded way

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook removes hundreds of US political pages for ‘inauthentic activity’

      With less than one month left before the midterm elections, Facebook has announced it has removed 559 politically oriented pages and 251 accounts, all of American origin, for consistently breaking its rules against “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior”.

    • ‘It’s raining facts!’ Metahaven, the YouTube addicts fighting post-truth bots

      “Propaganda techniques now no longer work from the idea that they are promoting a centralised perspective,” Van der Velden says. “They are trying to create doubt, trying to intervene in cognitive space where we don’t have the facts but we can create stories.”

    • Boeing Accused Of Covert, Coordinated Op-Ed Smear Campaign Against Space X

      For years we’ve noted how the American press has an absolutely horrible tendency to run guest Op-Eds without disclosing the author’s financial conflicts of interest(s). Jesse Jackson, for example, can sometimes be found comparing efforts to bring competition to the cable box to racism in the 60s, without disclosing the cable industry’s underlying influence. Similarly, former Representative and fair use champion Rick Boucher can often be found praising CISPA, denying a lack of competition in broadband or attacking net neutrality in Op-Ed pages nationwide on behalf of AT&T with zero disclosure of his real financial motivations.

      The act of republishing these missives without clearly disclosing financial conflicts of interests isn’t just unethical, it pollutes the national discourse, undermines already shaky trust in media, and contributes to a sound wall of disinformation as giant companies try to sell their latest megamerger, pass anti-consumer regulations and legislation, undermine a competitor, or justify terrible behavior.

      One more recent example of this phenomenon comes courtesy of Boeing, which is being accused of running a covert smear campaign against Space X via media outlets that fail to adequately disclose ulterior financial motives of Op-Ed authors.

      Back in August, just around the time that Boeing was hyping the company’s Starliner spacecraft program, a series of Op-Eds began showing up in newspapers nationwide attacking Space X and its allegedly unsafe fueling practices. The articles, which appeared everywhere from the Houston Chronicle to the Washington Times, all purported to simply be worried about astronaut safety. All were penned by Richard Hagar, who worked for NASA during the Apollo program, but now resides in Tennessee. All implied repeatedly that Space X was ignoring safety standards and putting astronauts at risk.

    • WaPo Picks a Side in Maryland Race—the Side That’s Offering Billions to Amazon

      Ben Jealous, the Democratic candidate to be Maryland’s governor, is hoping to pull off a big upset in the November midterm elections against Republican incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan. If he wins, Jealous will be the state’s first African-American governor, and just the third elected African-American governor in the country. (Other 2018 gubernatorial candidates with the same potential to break that racial barrier include Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia, who would be the first-ever black female governor if she wins.)

      Those who believe in the myth of the “liberal media” might assume that the Washington Post would support a progressive who backs policies such as Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and legalization of marijuana. In fact, the paper—the most influential news outlet in much of Maryland—seems to have an axe to grind with Jealous, and has instead chosen to support Hogan for the governor’s race. As Pete Tucker at CounterPunch (8/31/18, 9/18/18, 10/8/18) has explained, the Post has opposed Jealous at every turn.

      Most of the paper’s criticisms relate to what it depicts as Jealous’s spendthrift economic policies. Last year, the Post editorial board (10/29/17) called Jealous’s education policy a “gigantic giveaway,” a promise of “free lunches” that would “blow a Chesapeake Bay-sized hole in the state budget.” In July (7/19/18), it defined the race between Hogan and Jealous as a “stark contrast” between “centrist or liberal,” questioning whether the latter’s “soak the rich” agenda was “implementable, wise or remotely bipartisan.” Jealous’s policies in support of raising teacher wages and advancing universal pre-K were called “pricey,” because they would raise taxes on the One Percent in Montgomery County, the state’s largest and richest county.
      WaPo: The stark contrast of the Maryland governor’s race: Centrist or liberal?

    • ‘Nobody Should Be Trusted With That Level of Power’

      That sort of maneuver is one of the things that rubs many people wrong about Amazon, now one of the country’s largest employers, along with responding to charges of abusive conditions by having select staffers maintain Twitter accounts in which they explain, Stepford-like, how glorious it is to work there. But maybe most galling is the disjuncture between nickel-and-dimed employees, some of who report peeing in trash cans because bathroom breaks are recorded as “time off task,” while Jeff Bezos is rich as Croesus. And how is it that a company with paid employees who rely on food stamps, and that demands tremendous subsidies from communities just to locate there, can be held up by media as an exemplar of “success”?

      It matters whether we label Amazon as “a success” without asterisks, and whether we’re OK with the extent of its power. One with questions on that is journalist Neil deMause. His latest book is The Brooklyn Wars, and he joins us now by phone from Brooklyn. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Neil deMause.

    • Arrest throws Waller County voter registration dispute into further confusion

      A field director for Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel was arrested at the Waller County Courthouse Wednesday after he delivered a letter demanding the county update the status of students at a nearby college whose registrations were thrown into question the day before.

      Jacob Aronowitz, Siegel’s field director, was released after about two hours, according to Lisa Seger, the Democratic nominee for Texas House District 3, who arrived at the courthouse after the arrest.

    • It’s OK to Criticize the Fed—Even for Presidents


      There is a popular line in elite DC circles that political figures are not supposed to talk about the Federal Reserve Board’s monetary policy. This was the theme of Catherine Rampell’s latest Washington Post column (10/11/18). The piece complained about Donald Trump’s criticisms of the Fed’s interest rate hikes and said that countries where monetary policy is controlled by politicians end up with hyperinflation.

      While there is a list of countries where political control of the central bank has led to hyperinflation, there are also many examples of countries where political control did not lead to hyperinflation, starting with the United Kingdom. The Bank of England had been under the control of the finance minister until Tony Blair “set it free” in May 1997. The United Kingdom did not have any bouts of hyperinflation that I can recall.


      It is questionable whether Trump has adopted the most effective route in pressing this sort of criticism. Rather than saying he does not like the policy that the Fed chair he picked is following, it might have been more useful to have his Council of Economic Advisers produce evidence that the economy does not face a serious risk of inflation right now.

      He might also choose to withdraw the nomination of Marvin Goodfriend for one of the open governor positions. Goodfriend has long been an inflation hawk who has argued for higher interest rates for many years. If Trump really doesn’t want the Fed to raise interest rates, it doesn’t make sense to appoint someone to the Board of Governors who is very committed to raising rates.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Epic Games Likely DMCA’d Its Own Fortnite Trailer, Showing The Problems With YouTube’s DMCA Process Yet Again

      The internet then spent the next day or so poking fun at Epic in the form of memes and in-game references, but this really isn’t much of a laughing matter. And, whatever actually happened here, it serves to show the flaws in the DMCA process relating to YouTube videos. The most likely explanation is that Epic has an automated system to flag and DMCA videos that contain game content from Fortnite. The problem here is that this was a trailer for an upcoming release, meaning that it would be odd for the algorithm to already be set to pick up on that content. Perhaps it’s simply recognizing the general game or characters and flagging it, but we don’t know for sure. And, given the vast amounts of let’s plays and other content on YouTube featuring Fortnite, it’s hard to square just why this trailer would have been flagged when other videos are not. Regardless, the end result of this would be Epic Games DMCAing its own advertisement, the very last thing it would want to do. If that doesn’t show the flaw in how the DMCA process is handled on all sides right now, it’s hard to imagine what would.


      The DMCA isn’t perfect. What it really lacks is legislated teeth to punish abuse and fraud. Until that happens, abuse will run rampant, as will automated systems that DMCA perfectly legitimate content, such as a company’s own advertising.

    • Another Critic Of Egypt’s Government Gets Hit With ‘Fake News’ Charges

      Fake news is a handy term deployed by authoritarians to criticize speech they don’t like. Since it’s such a malleable term, it’s been co-opted by a handful of foreign governments as the basis for new laws. We don’t have a fake news law here, fortunately, but it’s Trump’s frequent use of the term that has given it worldwide traction.

      Egypt’s “fake news” laws comes bundled with lots of other speech-censoring add-ons. Earlier this year, an Egyptian journalist was charged with “spreading false news” and “misuse of a social media account”[!] for exposing state police brutality. The government’s evidence against the journalist included account suspensions by US social media companies quite possibly triggered by takedown requests the government had issued.

      Egyptian human rights activist Amal Fathy is the latest victim of the “fake news” law, which was tacked onto a sweeping “cybercrime” bill that gives the Egyptian government more direct control of citizens’ access to internet services.

    • Egypt sentences activist for ‘spreading fake news’

      A court in Egypt has given human rights activist Amal Fathy a two-year-suspended sentence and a fine for “spreading fake news”.

      She has been in detention since May after posting a video criticising the government over the extent of sexual harassment in the country.

      Amnesty International said this was “an outrageous case of injustice”.

      Egypt has recently passed a law that tightens controls over the internet – a move condemned by rights activists.

    • Washington Post Gives ‘Three Pinocchios’ To Rep. Ann Wagner For Falsely Claiming FOSTA Stopped 90% Of Sex Trafficking Ads

      Back in July we were flabbergasted to see a stunningly misleading and dishonest video put out by the the House Judiciary Committee trying to claim that FOSTA had been a huge success in stopping sex trafficking. There is literally no evidence to suggest this, while there’s plenty of evidence to show the harm that has been created by FOSTA. One of the claims in the video came from Rep. Ann Wagner, who was the original sponsor of FOSTA and has been a leading voice in stoking the exaggerated and misleading moral panic around sex trafficking (which is a real problem, but very, very limited compared to what many — including Wagner — have said about it). Wagner’s latest trick has been to try to massively expand the PATRIOT Act for spying on Americans by again freaking everyone out about sex trafficking.

      As we noted back in July, in the video, Wagner tries to imply that FOSTA helped kill off 90% of sex trafficking. She worded it awkwardly so that it clearly implies 90% of sex trafficking went away due to FOSTA, but it could also be read to just say that 90% of sex trafficking ads went away. As we pointed out at the time, this was clearly not true either way. While Backpage contained many ads, it stopped with those ads a year and a half before FOSTA was law, and was taken down by the feds before FOSTA was signed. So there was literally no way that FOSTA could be in any way credited for a drop in ads coming from Backpage.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Microsoft Can’t Use EU Privacy Regime to Escape Document Request

      Microsoft Corp. failed to convince a federal magistrate judge that the EU’s privacy regime, the General Data Protection Regulation, limits the type of data it must keep in preparation for trial.

      The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant must retain and produce data related to its Live Preview feature, which is under a patent infringement review, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill Parrish ruled Oct. 5, denying Microsoft’s protective order. The data is relevant to the case, and its benefits outweigh any burden on Microsoft, Parrish, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, wrote.

    • NY Legislators Introduce Bill That Would Seriously Curb Law Enforcement’s Surveillance Collections

      It’s an anti-haystack bill. And law enforcement loves its haystacks. The NYPD — believing itself to be a globetrotting intelligence agency — loves them more than most. Law enforcement agencies have obtained massive boosts in collection power over the years, thanks to omnipresent surveillance cameras, automatic license plate readers, and cheap digital storage. Biometric data has recently been added to the mix, promising to turn dumb cameras into suspect-spotting field agents.

      The tech has advanced ahead of best practices or privacy impact assessments. The new hardware is presumed legal until proven otherwise and is often obtained and deployed with minimal oversight and zero public input.

      This bill doesn’t outlaw the continued hoovering of data points/camera footage but it does ensure the massive amount collected will have to be quickly sorted into hay and needles by restricting stored collections to stuff pertinent to ongoing investigations.

      The immediate local impact would be immense. But expect the feds to start inserting themselves into local legislating. This bill would make it impossible for federal agencies to accomplish their dream of connected, nationwide databases of license plate photos and biometric data.

    • Oops — Did Police Accidentally Reveal Unconstitutional Surveillance When They Tweeted a Screenshot?

      We’re demanding Mass. state police release their browser history and bookmarks to see if they’re targeting progressive protesters for surveillance.

      On September 13, dozens of natural gas explosions hit three towns north of Boston, killing one person and impacting thousands more. In the first few hectic hours after the blasts, the Massachusetts State Police official Twitter account posted a tweet reading…


      Surveillance of activist groups in Massachusetts is not new. In early 2018, the ACLU of Massachusetts released a report showing that between 2014 and 2016, the Boston Police Department used a social media surveillance system called Geofeedia to monitor individuals expressing constitutionally protected free speech on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The records we disclosed revealed the police were monitoring hashtags such as “#MuslimLivesMatter” and “#BlackLivesMatter.” The cops’ social media surveillance software even caught a Thanksgiving Day Facebook post from former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson. Back in 2015, reporting revealed that the State Police were monitoring social media accounts associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

    • New Witness Panel Tells Congress How to Protect Consumer Data Privacy

      Last time, the panel of industry witnesses (Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Charter, Google, and Twitter) all testified in favor of a federal law to preempt state data privacy laws, such as California’s new Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

      Today was different. Chairman Thune kicked off the hearing by reminding the Committee of the importance of hearing from independent stakeholders and experts. We were also glad to hear Chairman Thune say that industry self-regulation is not enough to protect consumer privacy, and that new standards are needed.

      A single weak federal privacy law will be worse for consumers than a patchwork of robust state laws.

      The first witness forcefully argued that strong consumer privacy laws do not hurt business. Alastair Mactaggart, who helped pass the CCPA, reminded the Committee that he is a businessman with several successful companies operating in the Bay Area alongside the tech giants. He argued that the CCPA is not anti-business. Indeed, the fact that no major tech companies have made plans to pull out of Europe after the watershed GDPR went into effect earlier this year is proof that business can co-exist with robust privacy protections. The CCPA empowers the California Attorney General to enact—and change—regulations to address evolving tech and other issues. Mactaggart argued that this flexibility is designed to ensure that future innovators can enter the market and compete with the existing giants, while also ensuring that the giants cannot exploit an overlooked loophole in the law. While we have concerns about the CCPA that the California legislature must fix in 2019, we also look forward to participating in the Attorney General’s process to help make new rules as strong as possible.

    • Telecom firms moot e-KYC in place of Aadhaar

      With the Supreme Court denying private entities access to Aadhaar data, telecom operators have mooted to the Department of Telecom (DoT) e-KYC data as an alternative to unique identity number-based verification.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • As election looms, Mormon church tells women to leave social media for 10 days
    • Bulgarian Journalist, Host of Anticorruption TV Show, Is Raped and Killed

      Although there was some disagreement about the extent of Ms. Marinova’s role in investigating corruption, the questions surrounding her death reflected the tense atmosphere for journalists in the region: Two reporters in the European Union — Jan Kuciak in Slovakia and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta — have been killed in the past year because of the work they were doing to expose graft at the highest levels of government.

    • Pulp Fiction in Istanbul, or, the Looming Turkey-Saudi Cold War

      What is increasingly looking like the gruesome murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as described by Turkish police, has dominated the headlines in Turkey this week. If the Turkish government builds what it views as an airtight case for this mob-style hit on Turkish soil—which many Turks are convinced was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself—relations between the two countries are likely to crater. This Turkey-Saudi face-off has been building throughout this decade and may be about to reach a crescendo. Given the US entanglements in the Middle East, these developments will affect Washington as well.

    • The price of a journalist’s criticism in Saudi Arabia

      It was a wise move, but evidently not good enough. Khashoggi, over the years, inclined more and more towards secularism and democratisation, albeit without advocating the overthrow of the monarchy. In his regular columns for the Washington Post, he was frequently scathing about MBS’ repressive tendencies, as well as the war in Yemen and growing Saudi/ UAE affinity towards Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel and Donald Trump’s US. He confided to friends that he was worried about his safety, but there were mixed signals, including, apparently, an invitation from MBS to return to Riyadh as an adviser. Khashoggi turned it down. When he visited the consulate in Istanbul the week before his disappearance, the staff were very exceptionally courteous and friendly. That’s what he told concerned friends in London while attending a conference on the Middle East in the interim. But he seemed less certain about his prospects when he headed into the consulate a second time. His Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was left to wait outside the facility, was given a number to call if he didn’t re-emerge.

    • What it means if Saudi Arabia murdered a journalist in Turkey

      It has been over a week since Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and government critic (pictured), walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork for a marriage. No one has seen him since. Turkish officials say that he was killed by a team of Saudi assassins, who dismembered his body, on orders from the top of the royal court (see article). The Saudis retort that Mr Khashoggi left the building of his own accord. If so, when? Are there witnesses or written records? Why is there no security-camera footage? And why did 15 Saudis fly in on private jets just before he disappeared, and leave shortly after? The Saudis must provide answers, or the world will assume the worst.

    • Washington Supreme Court Abolishes the Death Penalty

      Washington is now the 20th state to abolish capital punishment as the public continues to sour on the barbaric practice.

      On Oct. 11, 2018, the state of Washington’s supreme court unanimously struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional, ruling the “death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased matter” and because it fails to serve any legitimate penological goal.” The death penalty is a punishment that is as flawed as it is final, and as the Washington high court acknowledges, one plagued by racial bias and arbitrariness.

      The ruling came in response to an appeal in Allen Gregory’s case. Gregory argued that the entire death penalty scheme in Washington was unconstitutionally discriminatory, relying in large part on a rigorous and sophisticated statistical study by researchers at the University of Washington. The study ultimately showed that Washington juries were more than four times as likely to sentence a Black defendant to death as a non-Black defendant.

      Gregory’s case led a broad group of advocates, researchers, and criminal justice attorneys to file amicus briefs arguing Washington’s death penalty scheme was a demonstrated failure, infected by racial bias and arbitrariness. Seventy-five retired or former judges in Washington state joined the ACLU’s amicus brief asking the Washington court to strike the death penalty. They did so because they had the grim benefit of front row seats to its unjust application.

      Today’s decision is a blow to racial injustice, yet nationwide the racism inherent in the procession and decisions in capital cases too often is unaddressed. In fact, the Washington Supreme Court joins just a small number of state courts, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, that have struck down the death penalty after recognizing the intolerable taint of racial discrimination.

    • Reality Winner Finally Transferred To Federal Prison Where She’ll Serve Sentence

      Former NSA contractor Reality Winner was transferred to Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she will be incarcerated for her sentence.

      Winner was charged with violating the Espionage Act after she mailed a copy of a classified report from the NSA on alleged Russian hacking of voter registration systems to the Intercept. She accepted a plea deal on June 26 and was sentenced to five years and three months in prison on August 23. She is serving the longest sentence ever for a person accused of an unauthorized disclosure.

      As of October 9, Winner prepared herself for another week at Grady County Jail in Chickasha, Oklahoma, an overflow facility used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

      She shared, “I had a real tough time last night kind of accepting that we weren’t going to Carswell today, which means at least one more week here in this environment. ”

      Winner stayed up until 3 am, hoping a guard would tell her the transport vehicle for Carswell arrived. A guard earlier claimed nobody was leaving because of weather. “I just went to the darkest place.” The next set of guards suggested the weather was not so bad. There would be prisoners shipping out. No names were called.

      “It should not be a privilege to be able to go to prison, but it really is. It’s not fair,” Winner declared.

      But prison authorities called her number in the morning on October 10, and she was finally moved to Carswell.

    • Beyond Prisons — Episode 29: Kempis ‘Ghani’ Songster (Part 2)

      MOVE’s Philadelphia home was bombed by a police helicopter in 1985. The attack killed eleven people—including five children—and resulted in the destruction of 65 houses in the neighborhood. There were only two survivors.

      Ghani and Kim also talk about plans to rename Osage Avenue (the street where police attacked MOVE) for Mayor Wilson Goode—Philadelphia’s first black mayor, who designated the organization as a terrorist group and who pushed for the police attack.

    • I’m Dying. Here Is What I Refuse to Accept With Serenity.

      Voting is not nearly enough. We need to become organizers.

    • Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women

      The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants’ resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent, five people familiar with the effort told Reuters.

      Automation has been key to Amazon’s e-commerce dominance, be it inside warehouses or driving pricing decisions. The company’s experimental hiring tool used artificial intelligence to give job candidates scores ranging from one to five stars – much like shoppers rate products on Amazon, some of the people said.

    • Amazon Scraps Its AI Hiring Software After Biased Results Against Women

      In 2015, Amazon discovered that the software is malfunctioning and not showing accurate results. It was noticed that the software was failing to evaluate results in a gender-neutral way.

    • Police Brutality Against Black Kansas City Man Caught on Video

      Police encounters too often turn violent or deadly for people of color across the nation.

      Black people in Missouri are disproportionately stopped or harassed by police. Twenty years of collected data shows Black drivers are stopped at a rate 85 percent higher than white drivers. And too many police departments across the state regularly use disproportionate force in dealing with minority individuals.

      Missouri offers yet another example. Josh Bills, a Black man living in Kansas City, found himself on the receiving end of just this kind of police misconduct.

      In December 2013, walking blocks from his home, Bills was approached by five officers who surrounded him. He greeted the officers calmly. He stood with his hands down to his sides at a 45-degree angle. He did not act aggressively.

      The police stopped him because of a call about a “Black man, black clothing.” Then the encounter went south — a scene emblematic of racialized policing that is all too familiar. Despite being cooperative with the officers, Officer Jordan Nelson, without warning, grabbed one of Bills’ arms and violently kicked his legs out from under him, smashing his face into the concrete.

    • Supreme Court Enables Mass Disenfranchisement of North Dakota’s Native Americans

      A restrictive law will make it hard to vote for people who live on reservations in rural areas and don’t have street addresses.

      On Tuesday, the Supreme Court chose to stand by and allow the war against voting to continue. Just a little less than a month before midterm elections that will determine control of Congress, the court decided not to block North Dakota’s restrictive voter ID law, which will make it harder for people in that state to cast their ballots.

      Republicans in the state legislature insist that the law is needed to prevent voter fraud — despite there being virtually no evidence that such fraud is a problem. Instead, the real effect of their law will be to prevent voters whom they fear from going to the polls and having their say in who represents them.

      The voter ID law was introduced just months after Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, eked out a narrow upset victory in 2012, winning by less than 3,000 votes. Republican lawmakers responded by passing restrictive voter ID legislation that all but guaranteed that large numbers of Native Americans — who tend to vote Democratic — wouldn’t be able to participate in the political process. Specifically, the law requires voters to bring to the polls an ID that displays a “current residential street address” or other supplemental documentation that provides proof of such an address.

    • Report Shows LA Sheriff’s Deputies Engaging In Biased Policing, Performing Tons Of Questionable Traffic Stops

      The LA Times has put together a blockbuster piece showing local law enforcement engaging in some arguably biased policing. Analyzing over 9,000 traffic stops recorded by the LA Sheriff’s Department over the last five years, the LA Times noticed some alarming statistics. Latino drivers comprised 69% of the stops and had their vehicles searched two-thirds of the time. Other drivers — the remaining 31% — were subjected to searches less than half the time.

      Also alarming: most searches were consented to by drivers, suggesting drivers are either unaware of their rights or simply felt pressured into allowing deputies to do what they wanted. It also suggests most stops are fishing expeditions, rather than truly traffic-related, which may put more recent stops on the wrong side of legality, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Rodriguez decision. This decision said traffic stops are over when the objective of the stop has been fulfilled — i.e., the delivery of a citation or warning. Killing time to wait for drug dogs or backup units is no longer permissible if reasonable suspicion has failed to materialize.

      The LA County Sheriff’s Department likes to brag about the hundreds of kilos of drugs it has seized over the years. But it doesn’t have much to say about its apparent targeting of Latino drivers or the fact that these drivers were no more likely to be carrying contraband than races/ethnicities stopped/searched far less frequently.

      The whole thing is worth reading, but a couple of details pop out. First, the author of the paper was riding shotgun during what appears to be an illegal traffic stop. Deputies stopped a Mexican man for driving too slow and searched his entire vehicle, including removing part of the dashboard to look for hidden drugs. Nothing appears to have risen to the level of probable cause and the paper’s documentation of the stop doesn’t include the driver giving his consent to be searched.

    • European court rejects appeal by Lithuania, Romania on CIA prisons

      The European Court of Human Rights said Tuesday that it had rejected appeals lodged by Lithuania and Romania over its ruling they were complicit in a controversial programme of secret CIA detention centres on their territories.

      In May the court found that both countries knew two suspects caught after the September 11, 2001, attacks would risk torture while held at the “black sites” from 2004 to 2006.

      Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri claimed he was illegally held and tortured at an undisclosed site in Romania, while suspected Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah alleged the same while in Lithuania.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New Bill Tries To Ban Obnoxious Hidden Fees On Broadband, TV

      For years we’ve talked about how the broadband and cable industry has perfected the use of utterly bogus fees to jack up subscriber bills, a dash of financial creativity it adopted from the banking and airline industries. Countless cable and broadband companies tack on a myriad of completely bogus fees below the line, letting them advertise one rate — then sock you with a higher rate once your bill actually arrives. These companies will then brag repeatedly about how they haven’t raised rates yet this year, when that’s almost never actually the case.

      Despite this gamesmanship occurring for the better part of two decades, nobody ever seems particularly interested in doing much about it. The government tends to see this as little more than creative financing, and when efforts to rein in this bad behavior (which is really false advertising) do pop up, they tend to go nowhere, given this industry’s immense lobbying power.

    • Netflix Reminds Everyone That The Internet Isn’t A Broadcast Medium With New Choose Your Own Adventure Shows

      For over a decade, we have been making the point that the internet is a communications platform, not a broadcast medium. This seemingly obvious statement of fact has long been the subject of legacy content provider objections, which is part of what has led to much of the ongoing conflicts centering around intellectual property and digital business models. With big content players feeling control over their content slipping away in the internet, they have attempted to wrestle back that control by pretending the internet is something it isn’t. For that reason, it’s always a useful thing to point out to examples that remind people that the internet simply isn’t a movie theater or television.

    • Washington State Laughs At Federal Attack On State Net Neutrality Laws

      In the wake of the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, nearly half of the states in the union are now in the process of passing new net neutrality rules. Some states are pushing for legislation that mirrors the discarded FCC rules, while others (including Montana) have signed executive orders banning states from doing business with ISPs that engage in anti-competitive net neutrality violations.

      Of course incumbent ISPs saw this coming, which is why giant ISPs like Verizon and Comcast successfully lobbied the FCC to include language in its repeal that tries to preempt state authority over ISPs entirely. But this effort to ban states from protecting consumers (not just from net neutrality violations) rests on untested legal ground, which is why some ISPs are also pushing for fake net neutrality laws they hope will preempt these state efforts.

    • DNSLink and IPNS availability survey

      I’ve examined the top one million websites (according to Alexa Internet) to find out how many of them announce availability on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) through DNSLink.

      IPFS and InterPlanetary Name System (IPNS) reference content on the distributed web using cryptographic hashes, which isn’t very human friendly. DNSLink is a method for mapping a domain name to an IPFS or IPNS address using the Domain Name System (DNS).

      I used DNSLink to discover which websites from Alexa Internet’s Top 1 Million websites list have attempted to setup an IPFS presence for themselves.

    • Global Internet Outage Over Next 48 Hours Could Affect Some Users, According To ICANN

      A draft plan was announced on February 1, 2018, after receiving input from the community; October 11, 2018, was the date put forward to initiate the procedure. According to ICANN, the rollover is necessary to curb the rising number of cyber attacks.

      In an official statement, Communications Regulatory Authority said: “To further clarify, some internet users might be affected if their network operators or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have not prepared for this change. However, this impact can be avoided by enabling the appropriate system security extensions.”

      Due to the ongoing maintenance work, some internet users could face issues in accessing web pages or making transactions over the next 48 hours.

    • Oh Look, The FCC Is Lying Again In Its Latest Court Filings On Net Neutrality

      As the FCC gears up for legal battle against the numerous net neutrality lawsuits headed its way, its latest filing with the courts acts as a sort of a greatest hits of the agency’s biggest fallacies to date. 23 State AGs have sued the FCC, stating last fall’s repeal of net neutrality ignored the law, ignored standard FCC procedure, and ignored the public interest. The FCC’s new filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals (pdf) for the District of Columbia Circuit declares these concerns “meritless,” despite indisputible evidence that the FCC effectively based its repeal largely on lobbyist nonsense.

      At the heart of the matter sits the Administrative Procedures Act, which mandates that a regulator can’t just make a severe, abrupt reversal in policy without documenting solid reasons why. The FCC has some legal leeway to change its mind on policy, but as we’ve long noted, the FCC’s justification for its repeal (that net neutrality was somehow stifling broadband investment) has been proven false. Not just by SEC filings and earnings reports, but by the CEOs themselves, publicly, to investors (who by law, unlike you, they can’t lie to).

      Unsurprisingly then, the FCC’s brief leans heavily on the Supreme Court’s 2005 Brand X ruling, which states the FCC has some leeway to shift policy course at its discretion if it has the data to back it up. Also unsurprisingly, the brief goes well out of its way to pretend that ignoring the experts, ignoring the public, and demolishing consumer protections purely at Comcast, Verizon and AT&T’s behest is reasonable, adult policy making.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Mike Andrews on Historical Patent Data

      Mike Andrews is a postdoc at NBER, and I recently came across his PhD dissertation, Fuel of Interest and Fire of Genius: Essays on the Economic History of Innovation. He presents some interesting new results from historical patent records:

      I already described the work in chapter 1 in my post on the NBER Summer Institute; in short, he compares U.S. counties that received new colleges in the period 1839-1954 with finalist sites that were not chosen for plausibly exogenous reasons. He finds that counties that received a college had 33% more patents per year, mostly due to increases in population rather than the colleges’ graduates and faculty.

    • Germany: Fensterrollo, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 80/16, 05 June 2018

      …to be considered obvious, an incentive for the skilled person to particularly choose this feature rather than an alternative would need to be proven or at least plausible.

    • United Kingdom: Hospira UK Limited v Cubist Pharmaceuticals LLC, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Civil Division, [2018] EWCA Civ 12, 18 January 2018

      The Court of Appeal was satisfied that the first instance Judge had an ample evidential basis to find the claimed invention obvious, his finding was properly reasoned and he had made no error of principle.

    • Berkeley Law Federalist Society: A Libertarian’s Case Against Intellectual Property

      I spoke today on “A Libertarian’s Case Against Intellectual Property,” at the Federalist Society, University of Berkeley-California. It was well-organized and there was a perceptive and interesting critical commentary by Professor Talha Syed.

      This is the audio I recorded on my iPhone; higher quality audio and video to be posted later.

    • Trademarks

      • The American Idol People Bullied A Local County Fair Out Of Its ‘Yolo Idol’ Event For Some Reason

        Customer confusion, actual use in commerce, and why after all these years this is suddenly infringement are all open questions that will remain unresolved as Yolo County is capitulating. And, while it’s understandable that the county doesn’t want to go through the time and expense to push back against Fremantle for all of this, that reality obviously still sucks. It would be much better if bullies like Fremantle would receive the pushback they deserve.

      • Yolo County Fair’s ‘Idol’ succumbs to copyright rule

        It appears as though “Yolo Idol” contest at the Yolo County Fair has had its day … or at least its name.

        Here’s hoping that the residents of Yolo County can help the event come up with a new name for the popular talent contest after a “Cease and Desist” order was received from the attorneys for American Idol.

        On Sept. 17, according to Marty DeAnda, Yolo County Fair Entertainment Director, was reached by Michael J. Salvatore of the law firm Holmes Weinberg PC and FremantleMedia, which owns the trademark rights to American Idol and “those marks in connection with entertainment services and related products and services.”

      • Warner Media Opposes Trademark Filed By Actual ‘Wicked Witch’ Over Its Wizard Of Oz Trademarks

        Thanks to the convoluted nonsense that is copyright law, readers here will likely be familiar with the insanity that is intellectual property rights revolving around The Wizard of Oz. Thanks to some of the works being in the public domain, some of them being under copyright, and the courts mostly treating all of this on a case by case basis, it’s fairly clear at this point that basically nobody knows who is allowed to do what with anything associated with The Wizard of Oz. Usually, issues relating to the work revolve around this axis of confusion.

        But that’s less the case when it comes to trademark issues. For all of its flaws, trademark law is blessedly limited to public confusion and true competition within a specific market. That’s what makes it bewildering that Warner would bother to oppose the trademark application filed by a pagan priestess for her “Wicked Witch Mojo” brand.

      • Argos trade mark appeal ruling raises online infringement potential

        In a ruling that should make businesses wary of accidental infringement through targeted advertising, the UK Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from a well-known catalogue retailer against a US company of the same name.

    • Copyrights

      • Trade Agreements Making Rules In New Technologies, Territoriality An Issue For IP In Digital Age

        As new technologies have pervaded society, with more to come, policymaking has become a difficult exercise. Rules established before those game-changing technologies might be outdated. A session at the World Trade Organization Public Forum last week looked at how intellectual property rules are faring in the time of digital technologies. Speakers remarked on the role of regional trade agreements in norm-setting, and the growing issue of the territoriality of rights for copyright.


        At the end of 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report calling on investors to invest in emerging technologies, he said, adding that the World Trade Report released during the Public Forum found that trade in information technology has tripled in the last two decades and reached US$1.6 trillion in 2016.

        Awad cited a 2017 Guardian article about the Press Association winning a Google grant to use artificial intelligence for creating up to 30,000 local stories a month. Initiatives such as this one are raising questions about the ownership of IP, he said.

      • Politicians Start To Push For Autonomous Vehicle Data To Be Protected By Copyright Or Database Rights

        Autonomous vehicles are much in the news these days, and seem poised to enter the mainstream soon. One of their key aspects is that they are digital systems — essentially, computers with wheels. As such they gather and generate huge amounts of data as they move around and interact with their surroundings. This kind of data is increasingly valuable, so an important question poses itself: what should happen to all that information from autonomous vehicles?

        The issue came up recently in a meeting of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee, which was drawing up a document to summarize its views on autonomous driving in the EU (pdf). It’s an area now being explored by the EU with a view to bringing in relevant regulations where they are needed.

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