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10.18.18

Links 18/10/2018: New Ubuntu and Postgres

Posted in News Roundup at 1:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • New Details On System76′s Open-Source Hardware Plans Come To Light

      Longtime Ubuntu/Linux PC vendor System76 has been teasing their efforts around an “open-source computer” and other open-source hardware efforts now that they are in the home stretch of setting up their own US-based manufacturing facility. Some new details on their initial aspirations are now out there.

      The “open-source computer” speculations have fueled speculation quite wide ranging from some thinking system76 is working on RISC-V or ARM designs to others thinking they may be doing a Coreboot effort for Intel x86 CPUs… Harris Kenny of system76 shed some light on their open-source hardware journey a few days back on Twitter. System76 founder Carl Richell also chimed in with some additional details.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.18.15
    • Linux 4.14.77
    • Linux 4.9.134
    • What’s a CPU to do when it has nothing to do?

      It would be reasonable to expect doing nothing to be an easy, simple task for a kernel, but it isn’t. At Kernel Recipes 2018, Rafael Wysocki discussed what CPUs do when they don’t have anything to do, how the kernel handles this, problems inherent in the current strategy, and how his recent rework of the kernel’s idle loop has improved power consumption on systems that aren’t doing anything.

      The idle loop, one of the kernel subsystems that Wysocki maintains, controls what a CPU does when it has no processes to run. Precise to a fault, Wysocki defined his terms: for the purposes of this discussion, a CPU is an entity that can take instructions from memory and execute them at the same time as any other entities in the same system are doing likewise. On a simple, single-core single-processor system, that core is the CPU. If the processor has multiple cores, each of those cores is a CPU. If each of those cores exposes multiple interfaces for simultaneous instruction execution, which Intel calls “hyperthreading”, then each of those threads is a CPU.

    • New AT_ flags for restricting pathname lookup

      System calls like openat() have access to the entire filesystem — or, at least, that part of the filesystem that exists in the current mount namespace and which the caller has the permission to access. There are times, though, when it is desirable to reduce that access, usually for reasons of security; that has proved to be especially true in many container use cases. A new patch set from Aleksa Sarai has revived an old idea: provide a set of AT_ flags that can be used to control the scope of a given pathname lookup operation.

      There have been previous attempts at restricting pathname lookup, but none of them have been merged thus far. David Drysdale posted an O_BENEATH option to openat() in 2014 that would require the eventual target to be underneath the starting directory (as provided to openat()) in the filesystem hierarchy. More recently, Al Viro suggested AT_NO_JUMPS as a way of preventing lookups from venturing outside of the current directory hierarchy or the starting directory’s mount point. Both ideas have attracted interest, but neither has yet been pushed long or hard enough to make it into the mainline.

    • Some numbers from the 4.19 development cycle

      The release of 4.19-rc6 on September 30 is an indication that the 4.19 development cycle is heading toward its conclusion. Naturally, that means it’s time to have a look at where the contributions for this cycle came from. The upheavals currently playing out in the kernel community do not show at this level, but there are some new faces to be seen in the top contributors this time around.

      As of this writing, 13,657 non-merge changesets have found their way into the mainline for 4.19.

    • The modernization of PCIe hotplug in Linux

      PCI Express hotplug has been supported in Linux for fourteen years. The code, which is aging, is currently undergoing a transformation to fit the needs of contemporary applications such as hot-swappable flash drives in data centers and power-manageable Thunderbolt controllers in laptops. Time for a roundup.

      The initial PCI specification from 1992 had no provisions for the addition or removal of cards at runtime. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, various proprietary hotplug controllers, as well as the vendor-neutral standard hotplug controller, were conceived and became supported by Linux through drivers living in drivers/pci/hotplug. PCI Express (PCIe), instead, supported hotplug from the get-go in 2002, but its embodiments have changed over time. Originally intended to hot-swap PCIe cards in servers or ExpressCards in laptops, today it is commonly used in data centers (where NVMe flash drives need to be swapped at runtime) and by Thunderbolt (which tunnels PCIe through a hotpluggable chain of converged I/O switches, together with other protocols such as DisplayPort).

    • PCI Peer-To-Peer Memory Support Queued Ahead Of Linux 4.20~5.0

      With the upcoming Linux 4.20 kernel cycle (that given past comments by Linus Torvalds might be renamed to Linux 5.0), a new PCI feature queued ahead of the upcoming merge window is peer-to-peer memory support.

      This peer-to-peer (P2P) PCI memory support has been in the works for a while now. What this functionality is fundamentally about is supporting PCI (Express) devices that have memory mapped within their BAR space (Base Address Register) for peer-to-peer transactions. The new kernel code provides the necessary interface so other kernel subsystems can find/allocate portions of this memory as for peer-to-peer memory via P2P DMA. Peer-to-peer memory can help reduce pressure on the system RAM as memory is exchanged directly between PCIe devices.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Coreboot’s Flashrom Working On Radeon GPU Flashing Support

        Former RadeonHD driver developer Luc Verhaegen is back at the AMD Radeon GPU reverse-engineering game. He’s now pursuing Radeon firmware flashing with the Coreboot Flashrom utility.

      • Mesa VCN JPEG Decode Patches Posted For AMD Raven Ridge

        With the imminent Linux 4.19 kernel release there is VCN JPEG decode support within the AMDGPU DRM driver for use with Raven Ridge APUs. The accompanying user-space patches for the Radeon Gallium3D code have now been posted for making this functionality work on the Linux desktop with these Zen+Vega APUs.

        Now that the kernel-side bits for accelerated JPEG decoding using the “Video Core Next” block are in place, the Mesa/Gallium3D patches were posted today for getting this functionality enabled and working for Raven Ridge. VCN as a reminder is the new unified video encode/decode block with Raven that succeeds the UVD video decoding and VCE video encoding blocks on the GPU.

      • Open-Source Qualcomm Graphics Support Continues Flourishing With Freedreno

        When it comes to open-source ARM graphics drivers, the Raspberry Pi / VC4 effort and Freedreno continue to be the two best examples of fully open-source graphics driver coverage including 3D support. Freedreno has been attracting contributions from Qualcomm / CodeAurora in what started out as solely a community reverse-engineered effort and with the latest-generation Adreno 600 series hardware the open-source support is in great shape.

      • Advances in Mesa continuous integration

        Continuous integration (CI) has become increasingly prevalent in open-source projects over the last few years. Intel has been active in building CI systems for graphics, both for the kernel side and for the Mesa-based user-space side of the equation. Mark Janes and Clayton Craft gave a presentation on Intel’s Mesa CI system at the 2018 X.Org Developers Conference (XDC), which was held in A Coruña, Spain in late September. The Mesa CI system is one of the earliest successful CI initiatives in open source that he knows of, Janes said. It is a core component of Mesa development, especially at Intel.

        Like many companies, Intel is a large organization with an “old school development model”. He likened it to a Roman army, where there are legions that are made up of smaller groups, each of which has procedures for all of its activities; tents are set up and arranged the same way each time. When Intel first encountered Mesa development, it was something of a shock. There were no architects in the group, but the Mesa developers were simply running right through the Intel army.

      • A status update for virgl

        At the 2018 X.Org Developers Conference, Elie Tournier gave an update on the state of the Virgil (or virgl) virtual 3D GPU for QEMU. He looked at the project’s history along with what has happened with it over the last year or so. As is usual in a status update talk, he finished with some thoughts about future plans for virgl. For the last year, Tournier has been working on virgl for Collabora.

        Virgil began as a Dave Airlie side project four or five years ago. Tournier recommended a YouTube video of a 2014 linux.conf.au talk that Airlie gave as a good starting point. It is meant to be a way for guests running in a virtual machine (VM) to access the host GPU using OpenGL and other APIs. It is based on Gallium3D, because Airlie was familiar with that architecture, Tournier said. It has reached the stage where it is ready for use in products. A company is currently building a project using it; in addition, QEMU is using virgl to allow Windows guests to access the GPU. Overall, virgl is in pretty good shape, he said.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE neon 16.04 EOL on Monday

        Upgrades to 18.04 are working well but maintaining twice as many builds as normal is taking its toll on our time and team of guinea pig packagers. Neon on 16.04 (xenial) base will reach End of Life on Monday. Please update to 18.04 base to continue receiving updates.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A pango update

        Pango development has been slow in the last few years, while most of the work on the text rendering stack has moved to harfbuzz. But recently, Behdad and I got together for a pango work day, and made some plans, which we want to share. The underlying goal of these changes is to ensure that GTK+ and GNOME continue to have a competitive text rendering stack, and to avoid pango becoming a roadblock for this.

      • GNOME Developers Are Looking At Sprucing Up Pango

        GNOME developers want to make sure they have a competitive text rendering stack with other platforms and as such are looking to make some modernization improvements to Pango.

        Pango as a refresher is the text layout library used by GTK+ as well as other applications and works in hand with the HarfBuzz shaping engine for the display/placement of text.

      • Stylish Gtk Themes Makes Your Linux Desktop Look Stylish

        There are plenty of nice themes available for Gnome desktop and many of them are in active development. Stylish theme pack is one of the great looking pack around since 2014 and constantly evolving. It offers stylish clean and flat design themes for Gtk-3 and Gtk-2, including Gnome shell themes. Stylish theme pack is based Materia theme and support almost every desktop environment such as Gnome, Cinnamon, Mate, Xfce, Mate, Budgie, Panteon, etc.
        We are offering Stylish themes via our PPA for Ubuntu/Linux Mint. If you are using distribution other than Ubuntu/Linux Mint then download this pack directly from its page and install it in this location “~/.themes” or “/usr/share/themes”. Since Stylish theme pack is in active development that means if you encounter any kind of bug or issue with it then report it to get fixed in the next update.

      • Delft: Another Great Icon Pack In Town Forked From Faenza Icons

        In past, you may have used Faenza icon theme or you still have it set on your desktop. Delft icons are revived version of Faenza and forked from Faenza icon theme, maybe it is not right to say ‘revived’ because it looks little different from Faenza theme and at the same time it stays close to the original Faenza icons, it is released under license GNU General Public License V3. The theme was named after a dutch city, which is known for its history, its beauty, and Faenza in Italy. The author who is maintaining Delft icons saw that Faenza icons haven’t been updated from some years and thought to carry this project. There are some icons adopted from the Obsidian icon theme.
        Delft icon pack offer many variants (Delft, Delft-Amber, Delft-Aqua, Delft-Blue, Delft-Dark, Delft-Gray, Delft-Green, Delft-Mint, Delft-Purple, Delft-Red, Delft-Teal) including light and dark versions for light/dark themes, you can choose appropriate one according to your desktop theme. These icons are compatible with most of the Linux desktop environments such as Gnome, Unity, Cinnamon, Mate, Lxde, Xfce and others. Many application icons available in this icons pack and if you find any missing icon or want to include something in this icon pack or face any kind of bug then report it to creator.

      • Give Your Desktop A Sweet Outlook With Sweet Themes Give Your Desktop A Sweet Outlook With Sweet Themes

        It is feels bit difficult to describe this theme we are going to introduce here today. Sweet theme pack looks and feel very different on the desktop but at the same time make the Linux desktop elegant and eye catching. Maybe these are not perfect looking themes available but it lineup in the perfect theme queue. You may say, I don’t like it in screenshots, let me tell you that you should install it on your system and if you don’t like then you already have option to remove it. So there is no harm to try a new thing, maybe this is next best theme pack for your Linux desktop.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • 2nd New MakuluLinux Release Offers Flash and Substance

        The MakuluLinux Flash distro is splashy and fast with a spiffy new look and new features.

        MakuluLinux developer Jacque Montague Raymer on Thursday announced the second of this year’s three major releases in the Series 15 distro family. The Flash edition follows last month’s LinDoz edition release. The much-awaited innovative Core edition will debut between the end of November and mid-December.

        MakuluLinux is a relatively new Linux OS. Its positive reputation has been developing since 2015. The three-year growth spurt involved a variety of desktop environments.

        Its small developer team has delivered a surprisingly efficient and productive desktop distribution in a relatively short time period. It is unusual to see a startup rise so quickly to offer an innovative and highly competitive computing platform.

        Series 15 is not an update of last year’s editions. This latest release introduces some radical changes that were under development for the last two years. The Series 15 releases of LinDoz and Flash include a complete rip-and-replace rebuild on top of an in-house developed computing base. LinDoz and Flash have been reworked completely from the ground up.

      • A Bright Spotlight on elementary OS 5.0

        It’s really bright. elementary OS 5.0 is the best release so far by mainly it’s AppCenter uniqueness and richest of desktop features ever among the prior releases. The thing I love the most is the fact that elementary OS developers contribute greatly to our community which we didn’t see anything like that before: they created a new software distribution platform similar to what we previously saw on Apple macOS, except it’s for free/libre open source software, by allowing app developers to get paid directly by the users (with the so-called “pay-what-you-want” system). elementary OS is popular, as you may see on Distrowatch, so we can expect bright future for the health of its apps market (and hope more developers getting attracted to join).

        The desktop is really usable, the shortcut keys are visible (by pressing Super key) and customizable, its enhanced with parental control as well as Night Light, the apps are plenty and still growing in numbers, plus it’s compatible with Ubuntu 18.04 so you can install thousands of packages if you wish right now.

        I can run it really smooth on an Intel 967 CPU with 4GB RAM (Intel Graphics). I hope it will be smoother on your systems. I wish this quick review of mine helps you a lot to get attracted to elementary OS and soon be a happy user.

    • New Releases

      • Elementary OS Juno Released! Here’s What’s New

        Elementary OS team delivers again with a shiny and powerful OS.

        After a two year long development and testing elementary team announced the release of elementary OS version 5.0 code named “Juno”. This release brings some of the iconic changes as well as it has bumped the version number from previous release which was 0.4 “Loki”.

      • elementary OS 5.0 Juno Review: A New Polished Experience

        elementary OS is a Linux distribution which aims to be a modern, fast & beautiful replacement for Windows and macOS. It also tries to mimic a lot of design decisions from the latter, it’s very similar to macOS in terms of UI and usability, and is used by millions of beauty lovers around the world.

        Yesterday, the elementary OS team released version 5.0 codenamed “Juno” of its operating system. Bringing tons of updates and improvements to both its core software and shape.

        Here’s our review for the latest release and what you can expect from it. You may grab the release from the elementary’s official website while reading our review, TL;DR: It’s worth it.

      • 30 Things to do After Fresh Installation of Elementary 5 Juno

        Here comes Elementary OS 5 Juno which is built with ultimate care for better user experience. This time it comes with Linux 4.15 (based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS) which brings improved hardware support and performance. Read the official release announcement and know about the added features in details.

        If you already downloaded & installed elementary Juno then I will show things to do after installing elementary OS Juno for better user experience.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • KDE and openSUSE: Plasma 5.14, Qt 5.12 and more

        Plasma 5.14 was released with many improvements.

        It was planned to have it in a released in a Tumbleweed snapshot on the same day, but openQA issues prevented snapshot 20181008 from getting published. Instead, Tumbleweed users got it with snapshot 20181009 on Thursday morning. Currently, 5.14.1 is staged to be accepted in Tumbleweed.

        To get it on Leap 15 (and even 42.3 with restrictions), you can add https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:KDE_repositories#KDE_Frameworks_5.2C_Plasma_5_and_Applications. Note that those are not part of the official distribution and therefore not as well supported.

      • OpenSUSE Begins Preparing For Leap 15.1 (15 Service Pack 1)

        As part of some brief openSUSE news today, some early details concerning Leap 15 Service Pack 1 (Leap 15.1) were shared.

        The main user-facing changes of the forthcoming openSUSE Leap 15.1 is that with this first service pack release Qt WebKit is being removed from the default installation. On the desktop side it will be shipping KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS in its latest point release at the time. It will also be shipping with the very latest KDE Applications and KDE Frameworks packages.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.10: What’s New? [Video]

            But how do you follow up the brilliant Bionic Beaver?

            It’s far from being an easy task and, alas, the collected changes you’ll find accrued in the ‘Cosmic Cuttlefish’ are of the “down-to-earth” variety rather than the “out-of-this-world” ones you might’ve been hoping for.

            But don’t take our word for it; find out yourself by watching our Ubuntu 18.10 video (and it’s best watched with headphones because, ahem, I can level sound properly).

            In 3 minute and 18 seconds we whizz you through everything that’s new, neat and noticeable in Ubuntu 18.10.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Set For Release Today With Some Nice Improvements

            It’s Cosmic Cuttlefish day! Assuming no last minute delays, Ubuntu 18.10 and its downstream flavors will be out today with their newest six-month non-LTS releases to be supported through July of 2019.

            With Ubuntu 18.10 on the desktop the most user-facing change is the revised default theme for the GNOME Shell experience. The theme formerly known as “Communitheme” and now known as “Yaru” turned out fairly nice for Ubuntu 18.10 as the default appearance. While on the topic of GNOME Shell, Ubuntu 18.10 is defaulting to the X.Org Server based session like Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and they are not yet back to riding the Wayland session — but it can be easily still toggled at log-in time for those wishing to help vet the GNOME Wayland stack.

          • How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 18.10 from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            But although it’s easy to upgrade to Ubuntu 18.10 from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS there are a number of reasons why you might not want to.

            As a Long Term Support (LTS) release 18.04 boasts 5 years of ongoing support, critical fixes and updates. Regular releases, including the latest one? Yeah, not so much; updates for 9 months.

            But if, for you, the benefits of upgrading, like fresher software, updated packages, and a newer Linux kernel, are too tempting to resist, here’s what you need to do.

          • Updating firmware on Dell XPS 13 With Pop!_OS 18.04
          • Ubuntu Plans To Make Updating Graphics Drivers Much Easier For Gamers

            The state of installing newer graphics drivers for AMD and Nvidia cards on Ubuntu is a mixed bag. While it’s undeniably faster than Windows, it’s not intuitive for new users who need bleeding edge beta drivers to play the newest games. Or for those of us who want to enjoy Windows games on Linux courtesy of Steam Play. Fortunately, Canonical plans to make this process much easier in the next version of Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) Is Now Available to Download

            After six months in development, Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) is now finally here, and you can download the ISO images right now for all official flavors, including Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, and Ubuntu Studio, for 64-bit and 32-bit architectures (only Lubuntu and Xubuntu).

            The Ubuntu Server edition is also out and it’s supported on more hardware architectures than Ubuntu Desktop, including 64-bit (amd64), ARM64 (AArch64), IBM System z (s390x), PPC64el (Power PC 64-bit Little Endian), and Raspberry Pi 2/ARMhf. A live Ubuntu Server flavor is also available only for 64-bit computers.

          • Ubuntu Linux 18.10 arrives
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Financial Services Embracing Open Source to Gain Edge in Innovation

    By now, it’s pretty much a cliché to say that all companies should be technology companies. But in the case of banks and financial services these days, it’s true.

    Many finance companies are early adopters of new technologies such as blockchain, AI and Kubernetes as well as leaders in open source development. And as they seek an edge to retain customers and win new ones, they are not afraid to try new things.

    At the Linux Foundation’s inaugural Open FinTech Forum here last week, attendees got a chance to discuss the latest state of open source adoption and the extent that open source strategies are changing financial service businesses.

    The fact is, banks really do have tech businesses inside of them. Capital One’s DevExchange boasts several products that it has developed for internal use and also made available as open source, including the Cloud Custodian DevOps engine and the Hydrograph big data ETL tool.

  • Why the Open Source Enterprise Search Trend Will Only Accelerate

    Enterprise search has been going through a dramatic shift as of late. We’ve watched as some of the leaders in search, those platforms usually found in the upper right quadrant on Gartner reports, have fallen off through acquisition or from simply not keeping up with the market.

    But behind the scenes an even bigger shift is taking place: from proprietary kernels to core technologies based on open source projects.

    Some, like Lucidworks, have always been based on the open source Apache Solr project. Others, like Coveo, have joined the open source movement by offering the choice of using its traditional proprietary kernel or licensing the Coveo user experience built on top of the Elastic kernel.

  • Bentley Systems Releases Open-Source Library: iModel.js
  • Bentley Releases iModel.js Open-Source Library

    Bentley Systems, Inc., the leading global provider of comprehensive software solutions for advancing the design, construction, and operations of infrastructure, today announced the initial release of its iModel.js library, an open-source initiative to improve the accessibility, for both visualization and analytical visibility, of infrastructure digital twins. iModel.js can be used by developers and IT professionals to quickly and easily create immersive applications that connect their infrastructure digital twins with the rest of their digital world. iModel.js is the cornerstone of Bentley’s just-announced iTwin Services that combine iModelHub, reality modeling, and web-enabling software technologies within a Connected Data Environment (CDE) for infrastructure engineering.

  • Software Heritage Foundation Update

    I first wrote about the Software Heritage Foundation two years ago. It is four months since their Archive officially went live. Now Roberto di Cosmo and his collaborators have an article, and a video, entitled Building the Universal Archive of Source Code in Communications of the ACM describing their three challenges, of collection, preservation and sharing, and setting out their current status: [...]

  • 4 open source alternatives to Microsoft Access

    When small businesses, community organizations, and similar-sized groups realize they need software to manage their data, they think first of Microsoft Access. That may be the right choice if you’re already paying for a Microsoft Office subscription or don’t care that it’s proprietary. But it’s far from your only option—whether you prefer to use open source alternatives from a philosophical standpoint or you don’t have the big budget for a Microsoft Office subscription—there are several open source database applications that are worthy alternatives to proprietary software like Microsoft Access or Apple FileMaker.

    If that sounds like you, here are four open source database tools for your consideration.

  • The case for open source classifiers in AI algorithms

    Dr. Carol Reiley’s achievements are too long to list. She co-founded Drive.ai, a self-driving car startup that raised $50 million in its second round of funding last year. Forbes magazine named her one of “20 Incredible Women in AI,” and she built intelligent robot systems as a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University.

    But when she built a voice-activated human-robot interface, her own creation couldn’t recognize her voice.

    Dr. Reiley used Microsoft’s speech recognition API to build her interface. But since the API was built mostly by young men, it hadn’t been exposed to enough voice variations. After some failed attempts to lower her voice so the system would recognize her, Dr. Reiley enlisted a male graduate to lead demonstrations of her work.

  • How an affordable open source eye tracker is helping thousands communicate

    In 2015, while sat in a meeting at his full-time job, Julius Sweetland posted to Reddit about a project he had quietly been working on for years, that would help people with motor neurone disease communicate using just their eyes and an application. He forgot about the post for a couple of hours before friends messaged him to say he’d made the front page.

    Now three years on Optikey, the open source eye-tracking communication tool, is being used by thousands of people, largely through word of mouth recommendations. Sweetland was speaking at GitHub Universe at the Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco, and he took some time to speak with Techworld about the project.

    [...]

    Originally, Sweetland’s exposure to open source had largely been through the consumption of tools such as the GIMP.

    “I knew of the concept, I didn’t really know how the nuts and bolts worked, I was always a little blase about how do you make money from something like that… but flipping it around again I’m still coming from the point of view that there’s no money in my product, so I still don’t understand how people make money in open source…

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Searchfox in Phabricator extension

        Being able to search code while reviewing can be really useful, but unfortunately it’s not so straightforward. Many people resort to loading the patch under review in an IDE in order to be able to search code.

        Being able to do it directly in the browser can make the workflow much smoother.

        To support this use case, I’ve built an extension for Phabricator that integrates Searchfox code search functionality directly in Phabricator differentials. This way reviewers can benefit from hovers, go-to-definition and find-references without having to resort to the IDE or without having to manually navigate to the code on searchfox.org or dxr.mozilla.org. Moreover, compared to searchfox.org or dxr.mozilla.org, the extension highlights both the pre-patch view and the post-patch view, so reviewers can see how pre-existing variables/functions are being used after the patch.

      • Searching Made Faster, the Latest Firefox Exploration

        earch is one of the most common activities that people do whenever they go online. At Mozilla, we are always looking for ways to streamline that experience to make it fast, easy and convenient for our users.

        Our Firefox browser provides a variety of options for people to search the things and information they seek when they’re on the web, so we want to make search even easier. For instance, there are two search boxes on every home or new tab page – one is what we call the “awesome bar” also known as the URL bar, and the other is the search box in the home/new tab pages.

        In the awesome bar, users can use a shortcut to their queries by simply entering a predefined keyword (like @google) and typing the actual search term they are seeking, whether it’s the nearest movie theater location and times for the latest blockbuster movie or finding a sushi restaurant close to their current location. These Search Keywords have been part of the browser experience for years, yet it’s not commonly known. Here’s a hint to enable it: Go to “Preferences,” then “Search” and check “ One-Click Search Engines”.

      • Dweb: Decentralised, Real-Time, Interoperable Communication with Matrix

        Matrix is an open standard for interoperable, decentralised, real-time communication over the Internet. It provides a standard HTTP API for publishing and subscribing to real-time data in specified channels, which means it can be used to power Instant Messaging, VoIP/WebRTC signalling, Internet of Things communication, and anything else that can be expressed as JSON and needs to be transmitted in real-time over HTTP. The most common use of Matrix today is as an Instant Messaging platform.

      • This Week in Rust 256
  • SaaS/Back End

    • Fission open source serverless framework gets updated

      Platform9 just released updates to Fission.io – the open source, Kubernetes-native Serverless framework, with new features enabling developers and IT Operations to improve the quality and reliability of serverless applications.

      Other new features include Automated Canary Deployments to reduce the risk of failed releases, Prometheus integration for automated monitoring and alerts, and fine-grained cost and performance optimization capabilities. With this latest release, Fission offers the most complete set of features to allow Dev and Ops teams to safely adopt Serverless and benefit from the speed, cost savings and scalability of this cloud native development pattern on any environment – either in the public cloud or on-premises.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 11 released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group today announced the release of
      PostgreSQL 11, the latest version of the world’s most advanced open
      source database.

      PostgreSQL 11 provides users with improvements to overall performance of
      the database system, with specific enhancements associated with very
      large databases and high computational workloads. Further, PostgreSQL 11
      makes significant improvements to the table partitioning system, adds
      support for stored procedures capable of transaction management,
      improves query parallelism and adds parallelized data definition
      capabilities, and introduces just-in-time (JIT) compilation for
      accelerating the execution of expressions in queries.

    • PostgreSQL 11.0 Released With Better Robustness, Performance Improvements
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 9 Feature Development Is Ending Next Month

      There is just three weeks left for GNU toolchain developers to finish landing new feature material in GCC 9.0 ahead of next year’s GCC 9.1 stable release.

      Richard Biener of SUSE announced today that GCC’s “stage 1″ development will shift to “stage 3″ on 11 November. This marks the point at which open feature development is over and will then focus on bug-fixing… No new features are generally allowed in during this stage. On 6 January 2019 is when they intend to begin their final period of only working on regression fixes and documentation updates.

    • GCC’s Test Suite To Begin Testing C++17 By Default

      GCC’s test suite will soon begin testing the C++17 standard as part of its C++98/11/14 standard tests by default… This doesn’t affect the default C++ standard used by the GCC G++ compiler at this point, but at least will help eliminate any lingering C++17 bugs as well as helping to stop regressions in the future.

      With the GCC test suite’s test cases having cleared through the last of the C++17 issues, Marek Polacek of Red Hat sent out the patch today to begin testing C++17 by default when running its test suite. C++17 is tested in addition to the earlier C++98, C++11, and C++14 standards.

    • GCC 9 Compiler Adds -std=c2x And -std=gnu2x For Future C Language Update

      With GCC 9 feature development ending in a few weeks, it’s now a mad dash by developers to land their last minute additions into this annual open-source compiler update — including a look ahead for what is coming down the pipe in the compiler space.

      Joseph Myers of CodeSourcery landed on Wednesday the initial C language standard compiler switches for the upcoming C2X standard. This update that for now is just dubbed C2X is currently in a draft standard with feature development still happening for this next C programming language update. In preparing for that, to GCC 9 he has added support for the -std=c2x and -std=gnu2x (for the GNU C dialect of C2X) switches so developers can specify using this newer version of C.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-source hardware could defend against the next generation of hacking

        Imagine you had a secret document you had to store away from prying eyes. And you have a choice: You could buy a safe made by a company that kept the workings of its locks secret. Or you could buy a safe whose manufacturer openly published the designs, letting everyone – including thieves – see how they’re made. Which would you choose?

        It might seem unexpected, but as an engineering professor, I’d pick the second option. The first one might be safe – but I simply don’t know. I’d have to take the company’s word for it. Maybe it’s a reputable company with a longstanding pedigree of quality, but I’d be betting my information’s security on the company upholding its traditions. By contrast, I can judge the security of the second safe for myself – or ask an expert to evaluate it. I’ll be better informed about how secure my safe is, and therefore more confident that my document is safe inside it. That’s the value of open-source technology.

  • Programming/Development

    • Announcing: Thorntail 2.2 General Availability

      Today Red Hat is making Thorntail 2.2 generally available to Red Hat customers through a subscription to Red Hat OpenShift Application Runtimes (RHOAR). RHOAR provides application developers with a variety of application runtimes running on the OpenShift Container Platform.

      Thorntail is the new name for WildFly Swarm, and bundles everything you need to develop and run Thorntail and MicroProfile applications by packaging server runtime libraries with your application code and running it with java -jar. It speeds up the transition from monoliths to microservices and takes advantage of your existing industry standard Java EE technology experience.

    • The history and future of OpenJDK

      In the second half of 2017, a number of major changes were announced in the Java ecosystem that have the potential to force a reassessment of Java roadmaps and vendor selection for enterprise Java users. Some of the changes are happening in the upstream OpenJDK (Open Java Development Kit) community, and some of the changes are happening in proprietary commercial distributions of Java. Red Hat anticipates that many of our customers will need to review their current Java plans and we want to take this opportunity to review the history of our relationship with the OpenJDK community, discuss the changes in the Java ecosystem, and describe Red Hat’s Java offerings. Subsequent posts will cover the ecosystem changes and Red Hat’s plans going forward.

    • LLVM 7 improves performance analysis, linking

      The developers behind LLVM, the open-source framework for building cross-platform compilers, have unveiled LLVM 7. The new release arrives right on schedule as part of the project’s cadence of major releases every six months.

      LLVM underpins several modern language compilers including Apple’s Swift, the Rust language, and the Clang C/C++ compiler. LLVM 7 introduces revisions to both its native features and to companion tools that make it easier to build, debug, and analyze LLVM-generated software.

    • wlc 0.9

      wlc 0.9, a command line utility for Weblate, has been just released. There are several new commands like translation file upload or repository cleanup. The codebase has been also migrated to use requests instead of urllib.

    • Code Review–an Excerpt from VM Brasseur’s New Book Forge Your Future with Open Source

      Even new programmers can provide a lot of value with their code reviews. You don’t have to be a Rockstar Ninja 10x Unicorn Diva programmer with years and years of experience to have valuable insights. In fact, you don’t even have to be a programmer at all. You just have to be knowledgable enough to spot patterns. While you won’t be able to do a complete review without programming knowledge, you may still spot things that could use some work or clarification.

      If you’re not a Rockstar Ninja 10x Unicorn Diva programmer, not only is your code review feedback still valuable, but you can also learn a great deal in the process: Code layout, programming style, domain knowledge, best practices, neat little programming tricks you’d not have seen otherwise, and sometimes antipatterns (or “how not to do things”). So don’t let the fact that you’re unfamiliar with the code, the project, or the language hold you back from reviewing code contributions. Give it a go and see what there is to learn and discover.

Leftovers

  • Why Google wants to sell its gadgets in Goop stores [iophk: "Google buys into pseudo science"]

    We really don’t have to look that closely. It’s an example of mutual corporate back-scratching that incorporates two of consumerism’s favorite buzzwords: “wellness” and “luxury.”

  • Think global: How to overcome cultural communication challenges

    What does it mean to be a high- or low-context culture? In the United States, children learn to communicate explicitly: “Say what you mean; mean what you say” is a common principle of communication. On the other hand, Japanese children learn to communicate effectively by mastering the ability to “read the air.” That means they are able to read between the lines and pick up on social cues when communicating.

    Most Asian cultures follow the high-context style of communication. Not surprisingly, the United States, a young country composed of immigrants, follows a low-context culture: Since the people who immigrated to the United States came from different cultural backgrounds, they had no choice but to communicate explicitly and directly.

  • Science

    • What do we actually know about the risks of screen time and digital media?

      Recently, PNAS took a look at what we actually know about these risks, publishing a series of papers focused on “Digital Media and Developing Minds.” Collectively, this work explores the current state of research on this broad question lingering in the back of many minds: what impact do screens have on our brains, especially the developing noggins of everyone from children to young adults?

    • Tesla patents new type of cable easier to manipulate by robots in move to automate production

      Tesla has made some missteps in its attempt to drastically automate vehicle production, but it has now launched new initiatives to get it right for its next-generation ‘Alien Dreadnought’ factory.

      [...]

      Tesla’s solution consists of having a “structural element” inside the cable with the goal being “manipulated into place by a robotic arm as part of an automated process while providing reliable data connections to its desired location.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • GOP Senator Pushed VA to Use Unproven “Brainwave Frequency” Treatment

      Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, pushed doctors at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Reno to adopt an experimental mental health treatment marketed by a company with ties to his office.

      On a Friday night last December in his Reno office, Heller, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced VA officials to representatives from a health care startup called CereCare. The company markets an “off-label” method of treating addiction and post-traumatic stress, using electromagnetic brain stimulation.

      The meeting came about because two of CereCare’s partners had a business connection to Heller’s senior aide in Reno. “We’ve known her for years,” one of the partners, Nino Pedrini, said of the aide, Glenna Smith. Pedrini and his partner have a separate joint venture with Smith’s former employer. “This was Glenna reaching out to us, knowing what we were doing, saying we think there’s a fit here where you folks can help our veterans,” Pedrini said.

    • Research Group Identifies Over-Patenting Of Pharmaceuticals In India, Calls For Patent Reform

      The tricontinental research group “accessibsa” has found that while the Indian Patent Office rejects 40 percent of pharmaceutical patent applications, it should be rejecting 90 percent of applications to comply with Indian patent law, according to the results of its recent study of Indian patent data.

    • U.S. appeals court upholds ruling that canceled Teva Copaxone patents

      A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling that canceled patents owned by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd on its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.

  • Security

    • DMARC Email Security Adoption Soars as US Government Deadline Hits
    • ShieldX Integrates Intention Engine Into Elastic Security Platform

      ShieldX announced its new Elastic Security Platform on Oct. 17 providing organizations with Docker container based data center security, that uses advanced machine learning to determine intent.

      At the core of the Elastic Security Platform is a technology that ShieldX calls the Adaptive Intention Engine that automatically determines the right policy and approach for security controls across multicloud environments. The intent-based security model can provide network microsegmentation, firewall and malware detection capabilities, among other features.

    • Spectre V2 “Lite” App-To-App Protection Mode Readying For The Linux Kernel

      We are approaching one year since the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities shocked the industry, and while no new CPU speculative execution vulnerabilities have been made public recently, the Linux kernel developers continue improving upon the Spectre/Meltdown software-based mitigation techniques for helping to offset incurred performance costs with current generation hardware.

    • Another Massive Credit Reporting Database Breached By Criminals

      Lots of companies like gathering lots of data. Many do this without explicit permission from the people they’re collecting from. They sell this info to others. They collect and collect and collect and it’s not until there’s a problem that many people seem to feel the collection itself is a problem.

      The Equifax breach is a perfectly illustrative case. Lenders wanted a service that could rate borrowers quickly to determine their trustworthiness. This required a massive amount of data to be collected from numerous creditors, along with personally-identifiable information to authenticate the gathered data. The database built by Equifax was a prime target for exploitation. That this information would ultimately end up in the hands of criminals was pretty much inevitable.

      But Equifax isn’t the only credit reporting service collecting massive amounts of data but failing to properly secure it. TransUnion not only collects a lot of the same information, but it sells access to cops, lenders, private investigators, landlords… whoever might want to do one-stop shopping for personal and financial data. This includes criminals, because of course it does.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • LibSSH Flaw Allows Hackers to Take Over Servers Without Password
    • This iPhone Passcode Bypass Allows Hackers To View And Share Your Images

      If you look at the video, the iOS vulnerability can be seen as part of running accessibility features on the device. He used the iPhone VoiceOver feature and the Siri assistant to access the Photo Library, open photos and send them to another device chosen by the attacker.

    • Windows PCs Vulnerable To RID Hijacking; Grants Full System Access To Attackers
    • RELPOLINES: A New Spectre V2 Approach To Lower Overhead Of Retpolines

      Nadav Amit of VMware has announced their (currently experimental) work on “dynamic indirect call promotion” or what they have dubbed “RELPOLINES” — not to be confused with the traditional Retpolines for “return trampolines” as one of the Spectre Variant Two software-based mitigation approaches. Relpolines is designed to have lower overhead than Retpolines.

    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • UAE Contracted An American Hit Squad to Kill Political Figures And More in Yemen
    • A Middle East Monarchy Hired American Ex-Soldiers To Kill Its Political Enemies. This Could Be The Future Of War.

      Cradling an AK-47 and sucking a lollipop, the former American Green Beret bumped along in the back of an armored SUV as it wound through the darkened streets of Aden. Two other commandos on the mission were former Navy SEALs. As elite US special operations fighters, they had years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But now they were working for a different master: a private US company that had been hired by the United Arab Emirates, a tiny desert monarchy on the Persian Gulf.

    • Dramatic drone video shows US mercenaries act as ‘murder squads’ to assassinate high-profile politicians and clerics in the Middle East

      Video captured by military drones shows armed American mercenaries take part in an operation to assassinate a prominent cleric in Yemen, a Buzzfeed News investigation has revealed.

      Two former Navy SEALs were among the fighters working for Spear Operations Group, a private US company that was hired by the United Arab Emirates to carry out an assassination in war-torn Yemen on December 29, 2015.

    • Terror at the Moria refugee camp

      Anyone who doesn’t toe the line or is in the way can expect physical violence or even death threats. The perpetrators often cite Sharia law as their justification. More and more graffiti glorify IS. The Greek authorities take no action.

    • ISIS sympathisers dominate Greek refugee camp: “If you are not Muslim I can rape you” [Ed: More unsavoury sites take it even further]

      The video is titled: “Terror in Camp Moria”. DW reporters attached spy cameras on former inmates of the camp, and the images they got described a living hell.

      Former inmates described Moria as the worst camp of Europe. More than 8000 people are living under miserable conditions inside this camp, which was initially designed to host about 2500 people. And they give a SHOCKING statement in front of the camera.

    • ‘Islamic State Recruiter’ Allegedly Runs Free School In Sweden [iophk: “Free in that context means Private”

      While no formal charges have been brought against him, El Nadi (53) is considered one of the reasons for the rise of Islamist extremism in Gothenburg, which produced about a third of Sweden’s roughly 300 jihadists (or “foreign fighters,” to use the official parlance), Doku reported.

    • The multiculturalism umbrella: Made in Islam wool [Ed: Right wing media in Israel is inflaming the far right in Europe (also below)]

      Why do US citizens miss the wool being pulled over their eyes? Because Americans are conditioned to be tolerant and compassionate, to embrace multiculturalism and respect each other’s beliefs, ideals and values. Islam, however, does not reciprocate.

    • When is church vandalism just high jinks? When Muslims are involved

      Swedes, especially Christians, remain on edge as their new Muslim neighbours who refuse to assimilate continue to get a pass on hateful behaviour, and the Swedish media continues to cover it up.

    • It is game over for Europe

      Charlotte d’Ornellas, a journalist for the French weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles, has just explained it in different words: “When you go to Château-Rouge, there is a cultural Africanization, when we go to certain areas, where all the women are veiled, there is an Islamization of the landscape”.

    • Iranian pseudo anti-imperialism

      Anti-imperialism comes in various shapes and forms in Iran, ranging from hard-nosed to soft-bellied. However, with the rise of reactionary forces, the history of anti-imperialism in post-revolutionary Iran has been the triumph of the latter. The 1979 Revolution in which the religious forces seized the power and tried to redirect the anti-imperialist discourse, brought the long-term Iran-America honeymoon to an end. It led to a misconception among western intellectuals that the Iranian government is at the forefront of resistance against American imperialism. There were also some people among the secular Iranian intellectuals who endorsed this anti-imperialism – most importantly Tudeh Party (Party of the People) that was the admirer of imperialist discourse of the Islamic Republic, until the regime imprisoned and executed its main leaders in 1983.

      The hostage crisis in 1979 marked a turning point in Iran-United States relations. It derailed the leftist anti-imperialist discourse and turned it into shallow rhetoric against the so-called Great Satan with the unifying slogan ‘Down with America’.

      Thirty years later, when Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad took power, even some western intellectuals fell for a misleading vision that considered him a leftist fighting against the dominant global system.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador Rejects Reports on Assange but It Admits New Protocol

      Ecuador on Wednesday rejected reports about pressure from UN officials on the government, regarding the situation of Julian Assange, but it accepted to implement a new Special Protocol to maintain his asylum status.

      ‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador rejects with indignation such stories and underlines that the president of the Republic did not even discuss the issue of Mr. Assange’s asylum with the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, or with the United Nations special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye,’ an official statement said.

      According to the press release, the fake reports aim to maintain that UN officials pressured Ecuador to make the decision to issue a Special Protocol with regulations on the minimum conditions of the asylum seeker’s stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

    • Ecuador warns Assange to obey rules or lose asylum

      Ecuador officials have told WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been in asylum in the country’s British embassy for six years, to obey house rules or lose asylum.

    • Leading US House Democrat demands that Ecuador’s president “hand over” Julian Assange

      The US is increasing its pressure on Ecuador to evict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy, where he took political asylum in June 2012. He would then be arrested immediately by British police and subjected to extradition proceedings to face trumped-up espionage charges in the US that could see him jailed for life or even executed.

      On Wednesday, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee sent a threatening letter to Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno insisting that he “hand over” Assange to the “proper authorities” as a precondition for improving relations with the United States.

      In a bipartisan letter, Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, and former Foreign Relations Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, declared: “We are very concerned with Julian Assange’s continued presence at your embassy in London and his receipt of Ecuadorian citizenship last year.”

    • In Illinois Governor’s Race, Rauner and Pritzker See a Clear Need to Promise Transparency

      Since he first entered politics as a candidate five years ago, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has pledged his commitment to open government.

      As he put it during a debate last week with challenger J.B. Pritzker before the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board: “Transparency is great.”

      As he fights for re-election, making the declaration is a great move on Rauner’s part — and an easy one. Voters are demanding more and more information about what their governments are doing with their tax money, and every candidate at every level is wise to speak in favor of sharing it with them.

      But what Rauner means when he vows to be transparent isn’t so clear, given his administration’s habit of fighting against the release of information. The governor’s office won’t even disclose how often it blocks the release of records sought by the public.

    • TMID Editorial: The state broadcaster and Julian Assange

      It is a small detail, but it is very much symptomatic of the rather large problem of media imbalance that we are facing, and which we have been facing for years, in Malta.

      Yesterday, a group of the world’s leading proponents of freedom of speech, expression and media gave a press conference in which they delivered an extremely grave assessment, from an outsider’s point of view, on how those rights are, or, rather, are not, espoused in Malta.

      [...]

      That PBS is little more than a tool in the hands of the government of the day has been a reality for a long time but this government has pushed that envelope to all new abysmal levels. This in itself is a most damning indictment and is symptomatic of a far deeper rot that has taken hold of this country.

      Funnily enough, that completely out of place question came just after the organisations’ assessment on the state of the country’s media pluralism, which was not complimentary at all. The journalist was politely reminded that it was not the time or place for such questions, and was invited to speak about Assange after the press conference about Malta.

      The national broadcaster, after all, is meant to be the standard bearer when it comes to objectivity, fairness and neutrality, but so many times, more often than not, it very selectively chooses to completely ignore the news of the day when it is not complimentary to the government.+

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Company that sucks CO2 from air announces a new methane-producing plant

      It’s been a banner week for hydrocarbons made from waste gases. Earlier this week, a company announced that it had delivered 4,000 gallons of jet fuel made from steel-plant waste gases to Virgin Atlantic. Now, Swiss company Climeworks has announced the opening of a new plant in Italy that will collect carbon dioxide (CO2) from ambient air and pair it with renewably made hydrogen (H2) to make methane fuel that would add little or no CO2 to the atmosphere.

    • Report: Action Needed Now in Climate Crisis
    • We Need Massive Change to Avoid

      To correct course and avoid 1.5 C, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, we’ll need to cut emissions by half before 2030, and go carbon-neutral by 2050, the report says. That gives us three decades to transform our energy production into something unrecognizable, with renewable energy galore combined with carbon capture techniques like the bolstering of forests, and maybe even sucking the stuff out of the atmosphere and trapping it underground. We’ll have to change our behavior as individuals, too. Meaning, we’re looking at unprecedented change, what is essentially the restructuring of civilization.

    • Why the next three months are crucial for the future of the planet

      This time, the scientists will attempt to answer whether and how the world can meet the “aspiration” set in the Paris agreement of 2015 to hold warming to no more than 1.5C, beyond which many low-lying states and islands are likely to face dangerous sea level rises.

      When the scientists deliver their verdict, the onus will pass to politicians to translate their advice into concrete action. Already in recent weeks, global initiatives have begun aimed at doing so: the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last month spurred protests, and dozens of local governments and multinational companies to make pledges; the second One Planet Summit saw advances in climate finance; while at the UN General Assembly, secretary general António Guterres urged world leaders to step up, calling climate change “the defining issue of our time”.

    • We Can Still Do A Lot To Slow Climate Change. But Will We?
    • Why Half a Degree of Global Warming Is a Big Deal

      The report also highlights the possibility that even modest amounts of warming may push both human societies and natural ecosystems past certain thresholds where sudden and calamitous changes can occur.

    • ‘a guardian’ film shows how drone technology can save animal lives in africa

      director andy fackrell has launched a guardian, a 90-second film that highlights that surprising role of drone technology in the war against poaching. produced for los angeles–based charity over and above africa, the all-drone shot movie presents a series of swooping aerial shots of animal groups, each titled with the respective collective nouns – a pride of lions, a wobble of ostrich, an implausibility of gnu, etc. – before tracking ‘a gang’ of poachers on the drone’s night vision camera.

  • Finance

    • We have the answers to Brexit’s causes

      The seaside town had one of the highest leave votes in the country. Image: Teresa Dapp/DPA/PA ImagesWe should have seen the referendum result coming. For millions the status quo isn’t working. Life is unstable, unfulfilling and unfair. And given the option to send a message to Westminster – or, as Russell Brand would have it, to press a bright red button that said “F off establishment” – it’s not surprising that so many people took it.

      Too many people spend too many hours working in insecure jobs to pay rocketing rents. The cost of living continues to rise, while average earnings remain almost £800 a year lower than they were ten years ago. As a nation, we are £19 billion in debt on our everyday bills.

    • Brexit is showing the urban middle classes the real Britain

      Back in July, I rang the Met. Britain’s elections watchdog had just referred another major Leave campaign to the cops, for suspected crimes committed during the knife-edge Brexit campaign. This was the second referral in three months (the first related to Arron Banks’s controversial pro-Brexit outfit, Leave.EU). I assumed the Metropolitan Police had done nothing about either case. After all, if Britain’s police forces took the crimes of rich white people seriously, London wouldn’t be the world centre for money laundering. But it’s always important to check your assumptions.

      When the police finally got back to me, they confirmed my suspicions. They hadn’t opened an investigation into any of the cases referred to them by the Electoral Commission. I mentioned this in a broader story about regulators (noting “you can be fined more for touting football tickets than you can for subverting Britain’s democratic process”). And then I popped a reminder in my diary for a fairly random date a few months thence, saying “check whether Met still haven’t opened investigation”.

      Last week, we published the result of that diary entry. No, the Met still hadn’t opened an official investigation, citing “political sensitivities”. When I tweeted the piece, it was carried across the internet on a wave of FBPE fury. Some said they were angry, but not surprised. But the reaction from most seemed to be shock. Shock that politics might interfere with policing; astonishment that London’s police force might not be policing the laws of our democracy as vigorously as they do many other rules of our society.

    • Brexit is taking our food policy in the wrong direction

      The decision around the food that we eat is among the most intensely private that we can make. Children express extremely strong preferences from the earliest ages – and these can last a lifetime. The choice about food has a direct, causal impact on our health. There is growing awareness for example that refined sugar is addictive, and is contributing to an obesity crisis.

      We assume that the food that we buy is not poisonous, even if extravagances are ultimately unhealthy. We expect responsible companies to sell products that are not extremely bad for our children.

      But we have a problem. There can be a conflict of interests between the producer of foods and the customer. The producer needs to sell as much food at as low a price as possible. If the ill effects are immediate and significant then customers will notice and most will stop buying the food. But if the effects are less direct and take longer, then this is not so clear.

      We therefore want governments to ban hidden ingredients that will cause cancer, or otherwise make us sick. We want to go about our lives with an assurance that our food will not kill us. So who influences government decisions: is it us, or the corporations?

      Take the use of growth hormones in the raising of beef for slaughter. The synthesised hormone causes the animal to grow more meat, resulting in higher profits for the company concerned – and more protein going into the human diet. The European Union has considered evidence that some hormones can cause cancer and has therefore banned their use as growth promoters, and also banned meat from other countries where hormones have been used for that reason.

    • What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit

      You’d think that the 100th anniversary of the sinking of a Royal Mail ship – torpedoed in the Irish Sea in 1918 with the loss of 569 lives – would cause a few ripples in Brexit Britain. Most of the 771 passengers aboard were British soldiers heading back to the Western Front to fight for France. One of the engineers came from Birkenhead, a ship’s trimmer from Holyhead. There were Americans, Canadians and New Zealanders among the dead. So revolted was US president Woodrow Wilson by the sinking – for the RMS Leinster was also carrying more than a hundred civilians – that he delayed replying to a German request for an armistice.

      The Leinster, the regular daily ferry to Holyhead, was sunk 100 years and a day ago, the greatest ever disaster in the Irish Sea, and scarcely a month before the end of the First World War. But yesterday in Britain, only a mention in the Welsh press, a local BBC report and a minute’s silence at the Holyhead cenotaph commemorated the event. Obversely, the nation which suffered the greatest loss of life aboard the Leinster hardly bothered to remember its sinking until recent years. And the reason is simple. For most of the British soldiers aboard were Irishmen and the ship was a Dublin vessel and the 22 postal sorters killed were Irish and it sank less than an hour after it left the Irish port of Kingstown which is now called Dun Laoghaire.

      And this has produced an extraordinary irony of both history and politics. An independent Ireland which deliberately erased its First World War history after its brutal war for freedom from Britain – then a civil war within its 26 county borders – has only in recent decades felt able to acknowledge its people’s sacrifice in British uniform on the Somme, Flanders and at Gallipoli. And aboard the Leinster. And so it was that yesterday morning, led by the Irish naval service patrol ship Orla, a small flotilla of boats set sail from Dun Laoghaire – once a great royal navy port – so that descendants of the dead could scatter wreaths only a hundred feet above the wreckage of the Leinster. The Irish Times devoted a whole page to the disaster. Irish national television carried a prime time documentary on the Leinster.

      [...]

      For weeks, bodies washed up in Ireland, Scotland and Wales; one of them a young, unidentified woman came ashore near Holyhead. So did rumours: that soldiers threatened the passengers in the panic to abandon ship, that firearms were used – Sinn Fein would use this in its forthcoming election campaign. A few days later, the German U-boat U-123 was lost with all hands when it struck a mine in the North Sea.

      The local council at Dun Laoghaire has just produced a fine volume on the sinking of the Leinster in which the lord mayor of Dublin, Mícheál Mac Donncha, refers to the 1914-18 war as “futile” and adds – truthfully – that “our country was brought into it without … a democratic, independent government which was denied to us by the British government.” The mayor of Holyhead, Ann Kennedy, regards the Leinster tragedy – again, correctly – as “part of the history of Holyhead and Ireland” and speaks of “the friendships that have developed between Wales and Ireland”. She does not mention Britain. The British ambassador in Dublin, Robin Barnett, concludes rather prissily that the commemorations allow us “to remember our forbears in a respectful and inclusive (sic) manner”.

      But the German ambassador to Ireland, Matthias Hopfner, gets it spot on. Peace, he says, is inextricably linked to the European Union. “Europe is not only an answer to the past. It is an answer to the future.” In other words, this is not about “inclusivity” – how I am beginning to hate that smug word – but about history. Wales, alas, voted for Brexit – although there are signs it would not do so again if given a second referendum.When Ireland “did a Brexit” by leaving the British empire after 1921 – and the Commonwealth in 1949 – it buried some of its recent history. Through pride or prejudice? But its EU membership surely encouraged Ireland to see itself as a free and confident European country which could re-examine that history. Hence yesterday’s commemorations above the 1918 wreck of the Leinster. In those days, of course, British soldiers on leave from the Western Front in France could be given a free ticket to London or Dublin. No hard borders then.

    • Why a people’s vote on Brexit is democratic

      Britain is not used to referendums. Which is why the view that a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal – which thousands will be taking to the streets of London to demand this weekend – is somehow ‘undemocratic’ has gained traction.

      But it is actually quite usual to have a second vote on really big decisions that will have longterm impacts. For example, Ireland had two referendums on the Nice Treaty, first in June 2001, then in October 2002, before ratifying the Nice Treaty. Denmark also had two referendums on Maastricht, in June 1992 then May 1993.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Do the Media Keep Parroting Trump’s Falsehoods?

      The circle of lies begins with Trump, continues through Fox News, and ends up in the mainstream media.

    • Here Are the Trump Projects Where Ivanka and Her Dad Misled Buyers

      A pattern of deception ran through the Trumps’ real estate deals since the mid-2000s. Not only were the Trumps more than the mere licensors they claimed to be, extracting millions in fees from nearly every facet of these projects, but they often misled buyers and investors on key information — such as the level of sales and the Trumps’ role and investment in the deals. (Read our full investigation.) The Trump Organization did not respond to our questions, and the White House didn’t have a comment.

    • Facebook’s Purge Of Political Pages Fuels Delusion Of Insurgent Threats To Democracy

      Facebook’s purge of more than 500 pages and 250 accounts ahead of midterm elections in the United States represents a massive trend to police social media activity in ways that put freedom of expression at risk.

      This trend effectively discourage users from engaging in radical politics and may be viewed as part of a counterinsurgency effort by a powerful social media company to assure a passive majority of Americans that they are properly guarding a widely used platform from alleged threats to democracy.

      On October 11, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, and Oscar Rodriguez, the company’s product manager, published a press release about the purge.

      “We’re removing 559 pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Gleicher and Rodriguez stated. “Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of groups and pages to drive traffic to their websites.”

      According to Gleicher and Rodriguez, these techniques were used by groups and pages to make content “appear more popular” than it truly was on Facebook.

      Both suggested some of the pages and accounts were “ad farms” that misled users into believing they were “forums for legitimate political debate.”

    • Facebook Accused of Hiding Inflated Ad Metrics Back in 2015

      Facebook Inc. knew in early 2015 that it misled advertisers about the average time users spent viewing online video clips — and then lied about it, according to a lawsuit.

      The owner of the world’s largest social network acknowledged in September 2016 that it had inflated the metric for marketers, and said it fixed its calculations. Crowd Siren, the online marketing agency that sued over the misrepresentations, now claims that Facebook knew as early as 2015 that it was over-reporting the figures.

      Crowd Siren added fraud claims and a request for punitive damages against the company in an amended complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Oakland, California.

    • Facebook Sued By Advertisers For Hiding Ad-Metrics Error For More Than A Year

      After going through 80,000 pages of internal Facebook records that were obtained as a part of court proceedings, they found that that the company recognized the miscalculations in the year 2015.

    • Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections

      On October 11, Facebook announced the removal of 559 pages and 251 accounts from its service, accusing the account holders of “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

      The purged users stand accused of posting “massive amounts of content … to drive traffic to their websites” with suspicious “timing ahead of US midterm elections.”

      Facebook admits to “legitimate reasons” for such behavior — “it’s the bedrock of fundraising campaigns and grassroots organizations.” Not to mention the operations of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and a bunch of other users/pages which weren’t purged.

      Facebook also admits that it has previously “enforced this policy against many Pages, Groups and accounts created to stir up political debate …”

    • Twitter Publicly Shames Russian Troll Accounts: Publishes 10 Million Tweets

      Since the 2016 US election meddling went under the nose of Twitter, the company has become very diligent towards catching any troll accounts. Now, the company is publicizing troll tweets in order for people to understand the situation in a better way.

      The social media website has published datasets comprising 10 million tweets which includes text, images, GIF, videos from Russia and Iran affiliated accounts.

      The data set is made up of 3,841 accounts from the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, 770 accounts potentially from Iran. It also includes 2 million GIFs, videos and recorded Periscope live streams. Some data even dates back to 2009.

    • Twitter publishes tweet archive of Russian and Iranian state-run [astroturfer] farms

      The Russian set is 1.24GB of tweets, with nearly 300GB of media. The Iranian one is 168MB, with 65GB of media.

    • Enabling further research of information operations on Twitter

      These large datasets comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the IRA, originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran. They include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest on-Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009.

    • Why Coverage of Indigenous Issues Is So Lousy

      Long ago and far, far away, in a Canadian prairie city and a prior life as a local and regional reporter for TV news, I wondered why we covered Indigenous issues so badly. I presented this question to reporters, editors and producers in print and broadcast newsrooms, including my own, throughout the city. This in a city where roughly one-quarter of the local population was Indigenous, living literally on the other side of the tracks.

      Not a single person I interviewed argued against my premise. Everyone agreed our coverage was “lousy,” and got worse throughout the province, the further away from the city you were. Most gave me the usual excuses: We didn’t have enough time or people to do better, given tight deadlines; didn’t have adequate resources or people, given tighter budgets; and we worried about accusations of racism if we did a story about the problems, and accusations about racism if we painted over the problems.

      One producer in TV news said something different. She didn’t agree with what she called easy excuses. She said it was about money—advertising. Poor people in poor neighborhoods didn’t buy advertising, as a rule. Indigenous peoples, often the poorest of the poor, not only didn’t buy ads, but didn’t pay attention to ads or buy newspapers, a major source of stories and ideas for local broadcasting newsrooms. To her, Indigenous peoples got the coverage they paid for: no money, no coverage.

      Put simply—we weren’t considered part of the audience or readership.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook accused of censorship after hundreds of US political pages purged

      And those who have built their livelihoods around the power of Facebook to drive traffic to their websites are wondering what to do next.

    • UK gov ploughs on with plans for mandatory porn age checks

      The regulation will be left for Parliament to poke to see if it becomes enshrined into law, and if it does, the regulation would force any website with porn content to force age checks before access is granted to a site.

      But things get murky to how the law could be applied. While sites that directly provide porn and charge for it or serve adverts to visitors will need to have age checks in place. But apps and services that have less than a third of their content rammed with porn won’t have to have the checks in place.

    • Why Trump’s Stormy Daniels Tweet Wasn’t Defamation

      Defamation is hard to prove in the United States — and that’s a good thing for political debate.

      On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, against Donald Trump alleging that he defamed her on Twitter. While Trump’s bullying and name-calling, particularly targeting women, are abhorrent and vulgar, it’s not surprising that Clifford’s suit was unsuccessful. Defamation is relatively hard to prove in the United States — and that’s a good thing.

      The case was about Clifford’s assertion that in 2011, as she was considering going public with information about an affair she had with Trump, she was confronted by a stranger in a parking lot who told her to “leave Trump alone.” In April 2018, Clifford released a sketch of the person who she says confronted her. Trump responded by tweeting that the alleged encounter didn’t happen and the whole story was a “con job.” Clifford then sued Trump for defamation, among other legal actions she has taken against him and his coterie.

      To prove defamation, a plaintiff must essentially show three things: that the published statement in question was provably “false” and not just an opinion, that the defendant knew it was false and published it with the intent to cause harm, and that the plaintiff suffered demonstrable injury from the published falsehood.

    • PEN America Sues Donald Trump For 1st Amendment Violations In Attacking The Press

      PEN America, the well known human rights group that focuses on protecting freedom of expression for writers has now sued President Trump for a bunch of different attacks on the First Amendment — using Trump’s repeated tweets and threats as the key evidence in making these claims. The complaint lists out a bunch of different statements and actions by the President that PEN America argues all violate the 1st Amendment. There are four separate actions by the President described in the lawsuit, and let’s go through them one by one.

      First up is the President issuing an executive order about raising postal rates in retaliation against Jeff Bezos and Amazon, because Bezos (not Amazon) owns the Washington Post, and the Washington Post has been doing pretty strong reporting in revealing all sorts of Presidential misdeeds.

    • The Good Censor Document Shows Google Struggling With The Challenges Of Content Moderation

      Last week, the extreme Trump-supporting media sites went positively ballistic when Breitbart released a leaked internal presentation entitled “The Good Censor.” According to Breitbart and the other Trumpkin media, this is somehow “proof” that Google is censoring conservatives, giving up on free speech and planning to silence people like themselves. To put this into a context those sites would understand, this is “fake news.” I finally had the time to read through the 85 page presentation and, uh, it paints a wholly different picture than the one that Breitbart and such sites have been painting.

      Instead, it pretty clearly lays out why content moderation is impossible to do well at scale and that it will always result in decisions that upset a lot of people (no matter what they do). It also discusses how “bad actors” have effectively weaponized open platforms to silence people.

      It does not, as some sites have suggested, show a Google eager to censor anyone. Indeed, the report repeatedly highlights the difficult choices it faces, and repeatedly highlights how any move towards increased censorship can and will be abused by governments to stamp out dissent.

    • Chinese Professor Argues Google Should Launch A Censored Search Engine In China

      There’s been quite a lot of reasonable uproar over the leaked plans for Google to re-enter the Chinese market with a censored, locked down search engine. There’s a lot of history there, but giving in to the authoritarian government’s desire to block access to all sorts of content would seem to go very much against Google’s stated focus on helping provide access to information around the globe. There have been numerous recent reports of Google employees protesting this decision internally, and even some employees have quit Google to put an exclamation point on just how against this idea they are. Recently an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post from a Chinese professor started making the rounds, arguing that “even a censored Google search engine would be better” for people in China than its current main search engine, Baidu.

      [...]

      That’s really throwing in the towel entirely, though. The entire argument is based on the idea that Google hoped that leaving China would prompt some change in its unhealthy censorship policies. But, if true, that would entrust to Google a lot more power than I think even the biggest Google booster thinks the company has. It didn’t pull out of China to try to force China’s hand. It pulled out of China because it believed China’s censorship and surveillance campaigns were simply wrong. That hasn’t changed, and that’s why Google shouldn’t give in here. It’s not about some big calculus about what’s better for whom. It’s about not censoring content at the behest of an authoritarian censorship-happy government.

    • The Benton’s ‘Dangerous Art and Censorship’ forum brings much needed discourse on art’s impact in our world

      On Friday, The William Benton Museum of Art held a forum on the topic of dangerous art and censorship, directly tying into the museum’s latest exhibit, “What’s the Alternative? Art and Outrage of the 1960s Underground Press.” The panel showcased Dwayne Booth (also known as Mr. Fish), cartoonist and curator of the aforementioned exhibit, Molly Land, professor of law and associate director of UConn’s Human Rights Institute and Christopher Vials, associate professor of English and director of American studies. The forum was moderated by Brendan Kane, associate professor of history and assistant director of public humanities. The conversation lasted just over an hour and a half.

    • Saudi Arabia Threatens Anyone Spreading ‘Fake News’ Online with 5 Years in Prison, Heavy Fines

      Saudi Arabia is threatening to give 5-year prison terms and heavy fines to anyone caught spreading “fake news” online, a warning to those discussing the suspected murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The threat, published over the weekend in the Saudi Gazette, echoes one of President Trump’s favorite phrases to demean any journalism that he finds unfavorable to his regime.

      The Saudi Gazette cited Article 6 of the Saudi Arabia’s cybercrimes regulations which makes it against the law to breach “public order, religious values, public morals and privacy.” The law makes no distinction between Saudi citizens and foreign nationals found to be in violation of the draconian rules.

    • Facebook’s purge of left-wing media: A frontal assault on freedom of speech

      On Thursday, Facebook carried out a mass purge of left-wing political pages as part of an ongoing conspiracy by the state and the technology monopolies to censor the internet.

      Over 800 pages and accounts, with a combined following in the tens of millions, were summarily removed. The banned pages include highly popular postings by groups opposing and publicizing incidents of police violence such as Police the Police, Cop Block and Filming Cops, as well as prominent left-wing news pages such as Anti-Media, Reverb Press, Counter Current News and Resistance.

      The removal of these pages is an unconstitutional assault on freedom of speech and expression. Facebook, acting in coordination with the US government, is violating the most fundamental rights of the American population.

    • Ambassador to France criticized over censorship attempt

      Israeli Ambassador to Paris Aliza Bin-Noun, demanded that French television channel France 2 reconsider airing a news report about Palestinians who were wounded by the IDF, calling it “unbalanced” and asserting that it will cause incitement against Jews in the country.

      The French media was outraged at Bin-Noun’s request and protested it via various media channels. It was seen as an Israeli attempt to censor and undermine freedom of speech.

    • Supreme Court To Hear Case That Could Possibly (But Not Really) Impact Social Media Content Moderation

      This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal in a case called Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, which some are arguing could have a major impact on whether or not social media sites are barred from moderating content because they’re quasi state actors and the 1st Amendment blocks them from moderating content.

      Let’s be clear on this: while something could go completely wacky and sideways (it is 2018, after all) the chances of this ruling directly impacting social media platforms is very, very, very, very, very, very, very small. That does not mean whatever ruling won’t be cited by various plaintiffs to make bizarre arguments — as we’ve seen repeatedly with people misinterpreting the Packingham decision. However, given both the facts of this case, and the way the Supreme Court works, I would be shocked if this ruling has any significant impact at all.

      This case involves a public access channel, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, where two producers — DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez — were apparently fired for making critical comments about the network. They sued, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated, because the city and the network — as a state actor — were punishing them based on the content of their speech. The city has been dismissed from the case as it has basically nothing to do with any of this. The question at issue is whether or not this public access channel is a “traditional public forum,” in which even a private operator can be judged to be a de facto representative of the government and subject to the limits on the state — such as the First Amendments ban on suppression of speech.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Secret Government Report Shows Gaping Holes in Privacy Protections From U.S. Surveillance

      The Trump administration released a report from federal privacy watchdog after the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

      On Tuesday, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, a federal privacy watchdog released an important report about how the U.S. government handles people’s personal information that it sweeps up in its surveillance. Despite requests from Senator Ron Wyden and the European Union, the Trump administration had refused to make the report public — until now. The report addresses government agencies’ implementation of “PPD-28,” President Obama’s 2014 policy directive on government spying and the treatment of “personal information,” which includes communications like emails, chats, and text messages.

      [...]

      This new report is yet more evidence that the future of the central U.S.–EU data-sharing agreement — known as Privacy Shield — is in doubt.

      Privacy Shield allows American tech firms operating in Europe to easily and lawfully transfer data to the United States, and it’s predicated on the idea that the U.S. “adequately” protects Europeans’ communications. The European Commission approved Privacy Shield in part because it believed that Obama’s directive provided meaningful protection. PPD-28 recognized that “all persons have legitimate privacy interests in the handling of their personal information” — and it explicitly extended some very modest privacy protections to non-Americans abroad.

      Although the directive was a step in the right direction, we’ve explained elsewhere why it does not provide adequate protection for EU persons’ data and is too weak to serve as the legal basis for Privacy Shield. This report makes it even clearer that the directive fails to cure the fundamental problems with U.S. surveillance law.

      In short, the U.S. government is exploiting the personal information it gathers using these spying activities more broadly than ever, but the report reveals just how anemic PPD-28’s protections are in practice. It also raises serious questions about whether the directive has been implemented fully and consistently across the intelligence community.

    • ABA Issues Opinion on Lawyers’ Obligations after Electronic Data Breach

      ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 483 (Oct. 17, 2018) is here. Like many ABA opinions, it provides a useful roadmap to the issues and how to respond to them (and, in this opinion, some good proactive advice). The opinion addressed the narrow issue of a data breach which results in disclosure of, or destruction of, client confidences as opposed to “ransomware” attacks and the like, where access is denied but the data is not compromised, or access to data is otherwise inhibited or delayed.

      The first take away is an obligation to “employ reasonable efforts to monitor” for unauthorized access to client confidences, whether at the office, through vendors, or otherwise.

      The second is that the lawyer must act reasonably promptly to stop any breach and mitigate, or rectify, the consequences. In this regard, the opinion suggests creating an “incident response plan with specific plans and procedures” to do so.

      Third, the opinion states that the lawyer must determine what, with reasonable care, was compromised, deleted, or misappropriated. And, again, it suggested these be part of the “incident response plan.”

    • Just As Expected: GDPR Has Made Google Even More Dominant In Europe

      Oh, the EU, will you ever learn? Over the last few years, the EU has been screaming about the awfulness of evil large tech companies in the name of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (sometimes called “GAFA”), though in reality, their biggest concerns are focused almost entirely on Google and Facebook. The EU keeps popping up with ridiculous laws, all of which are designed to hit Google and Facebook. The GDPR was a big one, and the latest is the EU Copyright Directive. And there are more as well. Some of us keep pointing out to the EU that if these laws are designed to go after Google and Facebook, they’re going to miss their target quite a bit, because they’ll mostly serve to lock in those companies as the dominant providers. That’s because they’re big enough to manage the regulatory burden, whereas startups and smaller competitors will not be able to and will suffer.

      The first bit of data is in on the GDPR and of course it shows that the big winner under the GDPR is… Google. The biggest losers? Smaller competitors to Google. A bit surprisingly, Facebook did see its adtech marketshare decline (while Google’s grew), but relative to everyone else, Facebook sill beat out all other competitors.

    • Facebook lied: its in-home “Portal” cameras will collect your data

      Portal will spy on you continuously while you use it and that data will be used to target Facebook ads at you later.

    • It turns out that Facebook could in fact use data collected from its Portal in-home video device to target you with ads

      Facebook announced Portal last week, its take on the in-home, voice-activated speaker to rival competitors from Amazon, Google and Apple.

      The biggest question surrounding the device: Why should anyone trust Facebook enough to put Facebook-powered microphones and video cameras in their living room or kitchen? Given Facebook’s year of privacy and security issues, privacy around the device — including what data Facebook collects and how it’s used — has been an important part of the story surrounding Portal.

    • Turns Out Putting a Facebook Camera in Your House Might Be a Privacy Issue

      Right after getting hacked a few weeks back, Facebook announced the Portal, a smart video calling device for your home that they said would respect your privacy. Turns out they didn’t really mean your privacy. Somebody’s privacy might get respected though.

      The Facebook Portal has a camera and microphone, and is meant to be used to talk to your relatives, watch videos from social media, and listen to music. It’s supposed to be the new communication portal with the rest of the world, using Facebook and Messenger to communicate with friends and family.

    • Ten Legislative Victories You Helped Us Win in California

      Your strong support helped us persuade California’s lawmakers to do the right thing on many important technology bills debated on the chamber floors this year. With your help, EFF won an unprecedented number of victories, supporting good bills and stopping those that would have hurt innovation and digital freedoms.

      Here’s a list of victories you helped us get the legislature to pass and the governor to sign, through your direct participation in our advocacy campaigns and your other contributions to support our work.

    • Atlanta airport launches America’s first “biometric terminal”

      On October 15th Delta Air Lines launched what it called America’s first “biometric terminal”, in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Once the programme is fully implemented, passengers will be able to use facial-recognition technology to check in, pass through security and board flights without having to scan a passport or boarding documents. The technology started to be used at boarding gates on October 15th and will be expanded throughout the airport’s international terminal by December 1st.

    • Public funds support proposal to remove Zuckerberg as Facebook chairman

      “Facebook plays an outsized role in our society and our economy. They have a social and financial responsibility to be transparent – that’s why we’re demanding independence and accountability in the company’s boardroom,” Stringer said in a statement.

    • Major Shareholders Propose To Remove Zuckerberg From Facebook’s Chairman Position

      2018 is certainly one of the worst years for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. After successive data breaches leading Zuckerberg to testify in front of Congress, now several shareholders are pushing to dethrone him from his position as Chairman of the board.

      On Wednesday, state treasurers of Rhode Island, Illinois, and Pennsylvania raised signed a proposal issued by Trillium Asset Management in June. The proposal suggests that Mark Zuckerberg should be removed as the Chairman for mishandling several high profile scandals.

    • Are Consumers Worried Enough to Buy a Personal Computer Server?

      Longer term, Privacy Labs wants Helm to be a private digital-identity hub for everything people do online. Instead of Google and Facebook Inc. storing all your information in their data centers and selling ads based on it, consumers would control the data and [I]nternet companies would have to ask for access, according to Chief Executive Officer Giri Sreenivas.

    • Meet Helm, the startup taking on Gmail with a server that runs in your home

      “I think more and more people are learning that what they get for free is not actually free,” Giri Sreenivas, cofounder and CEO of Helm, told Ars. “They’re learning that they give up their data, and companies like Google and companies like Facebook and others are figuring out anything and everything they can do under the sun to make money with that data and the corresponding online behaviors. This rising awareness is driving people to ask questions like ‘How do I own my data? How do I own my online identity?’”

    • Facebook faces GDPR probe as watchdog confirms breach hit three million EU users

      Facebook confirmed earlier this week that one million accounts had no, and 14 million lost what Facebook calls basic contact information – a name and an email address or phone number.

      The remaining 15 million got the worst of it: basic information, plus extra data which may include gender, religion, relationship status, education, work, location, device information and the 15 most recent searches they had done at the time.

    • Facebook hack [sic] affected 3 million in Europe, creating the first big test for privacy regulation there

      Approximately 3 million Europeans were affected by a September Facebook security breach in which users’ personal information was stolen, the Irish Data Protection Commission told CNBC on Tuesday.

    • EU General Court confirms that there is no general presumption of confidentiality in clinical study

      The circumstances in which clinical data concerning authorised medicinal products can be disclosed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), continues to generate debate. In the recent case of Amicus Therapeutics v European Medicines Agency (EMA) (Case T-33/17), the General Court (Second Chamber) of the European Union has confirmed that there is no general presumption of confidentiality of certain categories of documents submitted in the context of a marketing authorisation application, and in particular clinical study reports.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • NY Prosecutors Sue to Stop Misconduct Watchdog

      New York prosecutors sued Governor Andrew Cuomo and others Wednesday to block a new law that made the Empire State the first in the country to put its district attorneys under the scrutiny of an oversight panel.

    • How the Ongoing Prison Strike is Connected to the Labor Movement

      The striking prisoners of today have released a list of ten demands, which calls for improvements to the current living conditions in prisons, increased rehabilitation programs, educational opportunities, and specific policy goals. This essentially articulates the idea of non-reformist reforms, a central plank of prison abolition. By illuminating the barbarity of the current prison system and calling for its abolishment while advocating for an improvement in current conditions, they are—to paraphrase French socialist André Gorz—asking not for what can be achieved within a current system, but for what should be possible.

    • A Confederate Portrait, Racial Bias, and the Death Penalty in Virginia

      A portrait of Robert E. Lee on display in a Virginia court where a Black man faces the death penalty reveals an abhorrent racial injustice.

      In Louisa County, Virginia, a Black man stands trial for his life. When he looks around to see who is presiding over his trial he will see the picture of another man besides the judge staring down at him from above— Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

      This isn’t the post-war South of the late 19th century or even the first six decades or so of the 20th century. This is Virginia in 2018. And this is the court where the defendant, Darcel Murphy, is expected to receive justice under the portrait of a man who fought to keep his ancestors enslaved. This week, Murphy’s lawyers filed a motion asking for the trial to be held in a courtroom free of Confederate symbols, memorials, and iconography.

      Although it should not need to be stated, a man whose picture is etched on Stone Mountain, the Mount Rushmore of white supremacy, should not be on the wall in a court of law in America. The fact that the portrait is speaks volumes about how America has historically and continues to minimize its racist legacy.

    • ‘Their Policies Toward Indigenous People and Toward the Land Need to Change’

      The second Monday of October has passed, and listeners may have noticed that there was less “In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” than they might remember from the past. More and more cities, states and colleges have officially changed the day’s name to Indigenous Peoples Day, in acknowledgment that Columbus’s legacy of mass murder, rape, invasion and enslavement is nothing to celebrate.

      Challenging the glorification of someone who did such horrific harm is welcome. But changing the name of the holiday might give some the impression that that harm—which is ongoing—has been addressed. And that wouldn’t be just untrue, but unhelpful.

      Our next guest is among those asking that, even should the whole country go along, we think more deeply about declaring Indigenous Peoples Day a completed intervention.

    • With 19 Days to Midterms, Georgia Is Rejecting Ballots Over Handwriting

      Georgia’s signature-match laws deprive voters of due process. We’re suing.

      Early voting in Georgia for the 2018 general election just kicked off on Monday, but already the state has rejected close to 600 absentee ballots or applications for an absentee ballot.

      One culprit?

      State laws that require election officials to reject all absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications if they believe that signatures within the voter’s paperwork do not match each other.

      The elections’ officials making these determinations do not have any formal education or training to analyze people’s handwriting, and are not given any unifying instructions on what should constitute a mismatch. It’s left entirely up to them, a layperson. Georgia does not notify voters before their ballots are rejected nor does it provide them an opportunity to contest the determination.

      To throw out someone’s ballot — without any prior notice or chance to appeal — is a clear due process violation. That’s why we, with the ACLU of Georgia, are suing Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and all county registrars on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, an organization that will have to divert voter turnout resources into educating the public about the risk of being disenfranchised over handwriting.

    • ‘See Something Say Something’ Sends Philly Counter-Terrorism Unit After A Local Journalist Over A Harmless Facebook Post

      But they were. Philly police insisted on speaking personally to Owens about his post. He met them at the unit’s headquarters the next day. Once there, the officers said stuff about “see something, say something” and proceeded to question Owens about gun ownership, bomb-making ability, and any plans he might have to harm anyone else. After answering these questions, the police told Owen he was “cleared” and free to go. The officers also told him this was standard procedure police follow when criminal activity is reported.

    • Philly Police counterterrorism unit interrogated journalist over Facebook comment

      Ernest Owens, the LGBTQ editor at Philadelphia Magazine, tends to be provocative when writing about racism and homophobia. But he had no idea that a social media comment about racial tensions in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood would get him a call from the Police Department’s counterterrorism unit.

      That’s what happened last December, after someone complained to the police about what he wrote on Facebook. “I was just shocked,” Owens, 27, said two weeks ago. Being questioned by detectives in an interrogation room in South Philadelphia left him shaken, he said, and factored into his decision not to cover the January 2018 Mummers Parade, as he had in the past.

    • Even in Philadelphia, One of the Most Determined Sanctuary Cities, Refuge Is Elusive

      A small, impish grin spread across Jeff Sessions’ face. It was a sun-drenched June afternoon in Scranton, a northeastern Pennsylvania town a few generations removed from its coal-mining heyday, and the U.S. attorney general was ensconced in a window-lined university hall, preaching to cops, prosecutors and police cadets about the importance of President Donald Trump’s war on illegal immigration. Outside, protesters jeered.

      Sanctuary cities, Sessions said, reject the law, reward criminals and put U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in peril. Then he smiled and began attacking Jim Kenney, Philadelphia’s Democratic mayor.

      Philadelphia had emerged as one of the largest thorns in the Trump administration’s side. It wore its sanctuary reputation like a badge of honor, and its leaders, including Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner, continued to find creative ways to outmaneuver ICE’s enforcement efforts. Just a week earlier, Philadelphia won a federal lawsuit that Kenney filed against the Department of Justice. At risk had been a $1.6 million law enforcement grant, and the critical question of whether Philadelphia — and, by implication, cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco — could limit cooperation with ICE without being penalized by the federal government.

    • AIMPLB to advise women: Settle marital disputes within family, avoid police & courts

      Avoid approaching the police or a court against your husband, try and settle marital disputes within the family under Sharia law, know your rights under Sharia law — this is the advice the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is planning to give Muslim women through a series of workshops across the state.

    • Girl killed, mother wounded over marriage dispute
    • Iran: Victim of domestic and sexual violence, arrested as a child, is executed after unfair trial

      “After the murder of her husband, Zeinab Sekaanvand said she was interrogated under torture by male police officers without a lawyer present. During her final trial session, where she was allowed a lawyer for the first time, she retracted her earlier ‘confession’ that she had murdered her husband, saying that she had been coerced to make it. Despite this, the judge refused to order a further investigation and instead sentenced her to death.

    • Despite Pleas, Iran Executes Female Juvenile Offender

      According to religious law, Iran considers girls as young as nine criminally liable and the age for boys is 15, based on a notion of when children reach puberty.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New York Attorney General Expands Inquiry Into Net Neutrality Comments

      Most strikingly, many comments on net neutrality were falsely submitted under the names of real people, in what amounted to mass acts of virtual identity theft. Some comments used the name of dead people. Ms. Underwood’s investigators have estimated that almost half of all of the comments — more than nine million — used stolen identities.

    • NY’s AG Is Trying To Tie Major ISPs To Those Bogus Net Neutrality Comments

      Last year you might recall that the New York AG’s office began investigating who was behind all of those bogus comments that flooded the FCC’s website during the net neutrality repeal. As we noted then, “somebody” paid a proxy organization to flood the FCC comment period with a myriad of fake comments. Some of those comments hijacked the real identities of real people (like myself). Others utilized a bot to post a myriad of fake support for Ajit Pai using a hacked database of some kind. Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of Ajit Pai’s policies were, interestingly enough, dead.

      When the AG’s office reached out to the FCC for help getting to the bottom of who was behind the fake comments, the FCC completely stonewalled them, rejecting nine requests for data between June and November of last year. The FCC has subsequently stonewalled numerous FOIA requests regarding who used the necessary APIs to submit the fraudulent comments in bulk, resulting in a lawsuit by journalist Jason Prechtel. A court recently ruled in Prechtel’s favor, demanding the FCC release at least some data (in a month or two) that could identify the culprits.

    • Up to 9.5 million net neutrality comments were made with stolen identities

      The New York attorney general’s office is widening an investigation into fraudulent net neutrality comments, saying it estimates that up to 9.5 million comments were submitted using stolen identities.

    • YouTube Is Down Across The World; Company Working On The Fix

      There is no word on what caused the massive outage and for a Google-operated service like this, such a serious downtime for YouTube is quite rare. The pages have begun loading a few minutes back but trying to watch a video still throws up an error message.

      [...]

      But the most interesting one came from Philadelphia police requesting residents not to call 911 to complain about YouTube’s downtime!

    • Pakistan causes YouTube outage for two-thirds of world

      Most of the world’s Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours Sunday after an attempt by Pakistan’s government to block access domestically affected other countries.

      The outage highlighted yet another of the Internet’s vulnerabilities, coming less than a month after broken fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean took Egypt off line and caused communications problems from the Middle East to India.

      An Internet expert explained that Sunday’s problems arose when a Pakistani telecommunications company accidentally identified itself to Internet computers as the world’s fastest route to YouTube. But instead of serving up videos of skateboarding dogs, it sent the traffic into oblivion.

      [...]

      The block was intended to cover only Pakistan, but extended to about two-thirds of the global Internet population, starting at 1:47 p.m. ET Sunday, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, N.H., firm that keeps track of the pathways of the Internet for telecommunications companies and other clients.

      The greatest effect was in Asia, were the outage lasted for up to two hours, Renesys said.

      YouTube confirmed the outage on Monday, saying it was caused by a network in Pakistan.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property [sic]?

      Levandowski, for his part, has been out of work since he was fired by Uber. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for him, though. He’s still extremely wealthy. He left Google with files that nearly everyone agrees he should not have walked off with, even if there is widespread disagreement about how much they’re worth. Levandowski seemed constantly ready to abandon his teammates and threaten defection, often while working on an angle to enrich himself. He is a brilliant mercenary, a visionary opportunist, a man seemingly without loyalty. He has helped build a technology that might transform how the world functions, and he seems inclined to personally profit from that transformation as much as possible. In other words, he is an exemplar of Silicon Valley ethics.

    • Stark’s broad WesternGeco application tees up damages issue for Federal Circuit

      Delaware’s chief judge ruling in Power Integrations v Fairchild Semiconductor means the Federal Circuit may soon rule on the scope of the Supreme Court’s WesternGeco decision on patent damages for foreign sales

      District of Delaware Chief Judge Leonard Stark on October 4 ruled that the US Supreme Court’s WesternGeco v Ion decision has broad implications for patent damages for foreign sales.

    • Germany: Filtern digitaler Videobilder, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 90/15, 23 May 2017

      This decision by the FCJ confirms that the cited prior art should, generally, provide concrete suggestions, hints or at least provide other reasons beyond the recognizability of the technical problem to seek the solution of a technical problem in the way presented in the patent.

    • China’s Supreme Court Clarified the Doctrine of Prosecution History Estoppel

      In China, a patent owner’s statements made during prosecution or invalidation may give rise to prosecution history estoppel (or prosecution disclaimer), which precludes the patent owner from recapturing subject matter that was relinquished during prosecution or invalidation in subsequent infringement actions. To invoke the doctrine of prosecution disclaimer, such statements must constitute a clear and unmistakable surrender of claim scope.

      Prior to 2016, China’s standard of prosecution disclaimer was not clear in that, whether a patentee is bound by the arguments that it made before the examiner or the Board regardless of whether the examiner or the Board adopted such argument for allowance.

      In 2016, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in a judicial interpretation introduced an exception to prosecution history estoppel if a patentee’s narrowing statements are expressly rejected by the examiner during prosecution or by the Paten Reexamination Board (PRB) during invalidation proceedings.

    • Court of Appeal gives Ice-World the cold shoulder

      On 10 October 2018 the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in the matter of Icescape Limited v Ice-World International BV & Ors*. Three discrete issues were considered by the Court and, although the decision of the Lord Justices of Appeal ultimately did not change the effect of the first instance judgment, the opinions given on Priority, Infringement (further to the supreme court decision in Actavis v Eli Lilly**), and Threats are worthy of note.

    • Equitable Servitudes and Post-Sale Restrictions

      I have continued to find the issue of post-sale restrictions vexing. On the one hand, I think that there are sound economic reasons for them. On the other hand, I really don’t like them, especially when they limit what should otherwise be reasonable and free activities.

      The Supreme Court’s recent cases in this area have made it more difficult to enforce such restrictions, but they have done so in a way that leaves open the possibility that some restrictions might apply while also not giving much guidance about when.

    • USA: Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc., United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, No. 2017-1575, 12 October 2018

      Concluding that the asserted claims of patents relating to dosing and administration of the drug Copaxone used to treat multiple sclerosis are obvious, the U.S. Court of Appeals the Federal Circuit has affirmed a decision by the federal district court in Delaware invalidating the patents, handing a major victory to generic drug manufacturers.

    • Proportional Restraints in Horizontal Patent Settlements

      When rivals settle a patent dispute, they prefer to preserve monopoly profits, even if the patent is very likely invalid or noninfringed. Antitrust has come to embrace a policy that requires horizontal settlements to restrain competition by no more than the expected result of counterfactual patent litigation. But this creates serious difficulties in practice, and has only been effectively applied to one type of settlement. However, we show that a settlement’s design necessarily determines how “proportional” private bargaining outcomes will be: how closely their competitive effects will compare to the expected result of litigation. Using our approach, one can identify settlement designs that will always induce bargaining outcomes generating the same profits — and greater consumer welfare — than litigation would provide in expected value. More generally, our approach enables one to discern any settlement’s proportionality (or lack thereof) without having to estimate the expected outcome of counterfactual patent litigation.

    • Extraterritoriality and Proximate Cause after WesternGeco

      The Supreme Court’s decision WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. appeared to be a narrow case about a rather obscure patent law provision. In reality, however, it had the potential to reach into a number of trans-substantive areas, including the nature of compensatory damages, proximate cause, and extraterritoriality. Instead of painting with a broad brush, the Supreme Court opted to take a modest, narrow approach to the issue of whether lost profits for foreign activity were available to a patent holder for infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f)(2). In addressing this issue, the Court utilized its two-step framework for assessing the extraterritorial reach of U.S. law adopted in RJR Nabisco Inc. v. European Community. The Court skipped step one, but its analysis of step two confirmed that the territorial limits of damages is tied to the corresponding liability provision. Ultimately the Court allowed the damages for the relevant foreign activity.

      This decision clarified a few things about the extraterritorial application of US law. By skipping step one, the Court made it clear that the presumption against extraterritoriality is distinct from the focus analysis of step two. The Court passed on the opportunity to further elaborate on step one and to answer definitely whether the presumption applies to remedial provisions. The Court also elaborated on step two and embraced a methodology that tied extraterritorial reach of a general remedy provision to the corresponding liability provision.

      The Court’s decision also leaves a number of questions open. Specifically, it remains unclear whether the Federal Circuit’s Power Integrations and Carnegie Mellon decisions survive WesternGeco. I contend that they do, in disagreement with other professors. The Court also failed to explore the important role that proximate cause may play in future patent cases, particularly those involving global theories of damages, and issue that I take up here. The Federal Circuit could – and should – embrace a narrower conception of proximate cause to limit these types of global theories of patent damages.

    • How To Avoid Having A Worthless Patent

      This summer, the United States Patent & Trademark Office issued patent number 10 million with great fanfare. But most of those patents are worthless, I’m afraid. Few patented inventions recoup the cost of filing and maintaining patent protection. There isn’t a single definitive figure. But it’s safe to say probably fewer than 10% do.

      The question of why so many patented inventions never make it to market is one I’ve been asking myself for years.

    • Considering the Value of Patents in African Countries

      Many African countries have strict exchange control requirements that govern the flow of capital into and out of their economies. For a global company doing business in Africa, expatriating profits made from their African operations may not be a simple matter. Local officials may carefully scrutinise cross-border licence agreements and query the royalty rates charged.

      Transfer pricing principles must be applied when supplies are made between related entities within a corporate group structure. In particular, when royalties are paid by a local subsidiary to a foreign parent company, the royalty charged must be aligned with what would be charged on an arms-length basis between unrelated parties.

    • Practice Note: Don’t Send Drugs to the Federal Circuit

      The cannabis attachment was apparently intended to create subject matter jurisdiction in the case. I don’t fully understand the Schirripa’s flow chart, but it appears to be a boot-strap version a catch-22 for the court — the type of argument that you might figure out while high.

    • Trademarks

      • ISU Student Groups Changing Names En Masse To Protest School’s Ridiculous New Trademark Policy

        You will recall that over the past few years, we have been discussing how Iowa State University essentially did everything wrong concerning an alumni group running a pro-marijuana organization that made use of school symbols and iconography. After initially approving the group’s use of school trademarks, several members of the state’s conservative legislature got involved, leading to the school rescinding that authorization. NORML, the name of the group, sued the school, claiming all of this was a violation of their free speech rights. The courts agreed, eventually to the tune of a $600k judgement, meaning that school wasted over half a million dollars of taxpayer money to fail at trademark bullying.

        You might have expected that this would serve as a delightful education for the school as to the reasons why they don’t want to be a trademark bully. You would be wrong, of course. Instead, the school’s next step was to immediately rewrite its trademark use policy, making it laughably restrictive and essentially attempting to give the school broad oversight over all uses of its iconography by student groups. This, predictably, has led to a full on revolt both by many of the school’s student organizations and its student government.

    • Copyrights

      • Italian Supreme Court holds that an unauthorized derivative work may be both infringing and protectable

        In 1979 Ralph Carey created what would become the mascot of the Western Kentucky University (WKU) basketball team, a red character named Big Red. In 2009 he brought proceedings before the Milan Court of First Instance against broadcasters RTI and Mediaset and the creator of well-known TV programme Striscia La Notizia, claiming that the likeness of mascot/TV character Gabibbo (‘operating’ since 1990) would infringe copyright in Big Red.

      • Advertisement distributed by Swedish ISP held to be sexually discriminatory

        Readers who have been following the EU copyright reform saga may be familiar with the argument that the new directive, if adopted, would make it impossible to share GIFs and memes in Europe due to the requirements under Article 13.

        But can a meme be pulled also on other grounds than what, quite scarily, copyright has been accused – rightly so or not – of?

        This is indeed what happened in what frankly looks like a bizarre decision of the Board of the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman(the Board) a few weeks ago.

        According to the Board’s decision, the well-known Distracted Boyfriendmeme (a stock image come to fame) used for advertisement would be sexually discriminatory and should be consequently banned.

        [...]

        In response to the negative attention, Bahnof attempted to publicly apologize on Facebook. It stated that it was attempting to use the Distracted Boyfriend meme to visualize the application process in a humouristic fashion. It depicts – albeit in a sarcastic style – jealousy and longing – for something better than what the employee currently has. The spirit is that the advertiser is an attractive workplace that can lure you into breaking your relationship with the current employer.

        [...]

        In light of the above, the Board found that the advertisement was in breach of Article 4 of the ICC Marketing and Advertising code.

        Beware memes!

      • 20 Best Legal Alternatives To Sites Like Pirate Bay, KAT, Yify, 123movies, Putlocker

        I am sure many of you remember the golden days of torrents when it was easily accessible and offered really good content. However, in recent years, due to crackdown on torrents like KickassTorrents, several file-sharing websites have been shut down. While there are mirror sites to substitute the original ones, they come with their share of risks like malware or adware.

        But there are several legal alternatives to torrents and illegal streaming sites like Pirate Bay, KAT, Yify, 123movies, Putlocker. Such legal websites offer free movies, TV shows, music, anime, ebooks, cracked software, etc. So in this article, I have listed them according to the content they provide best. So do check out all the sections to find exactly what you need.

      • Australia Targets Google With Tough New Anti-Piracy Law

        Australia already has laws to enable the blocking of overseas sites that facilitate piracy but the content industries want more. New legislation unveiled today will give copyright holders new tools to force Google and other search engines to delete search results that link to infringing sites.

      • Court: ISP’s Lack of Terminations Didn’t Lure Pirating Subscribers

        There is no evidence that Internet provider Grande Communication’s lack of repeat infringer terminations acted as a draw to pirating subscribers. US District Court Judge Lee Yeakel has adopted the recommendations of the Magistrate Judge, which means that the RIAA labels must now limit their case to the contributory infringement claim.

      • Roku to Go Back on Sale in Mexico After Copyright Victory

        Popular streaming device Roku will go back on sale in Mexico after a ruling by a court in Mexico City. The device has been off the shelves for more than a year following an initially successful copyright complaint by TV company Cablevision. However, that ruling has now been overturned and Roku declared legal, paving the way for a full return to the streaming market in Mexico.

It’s Almost 2019 and Team UPC is Still Pretending Unitary Patent (UPC) Exists, Merely Waiting for Britain to Join

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amplifying those two lies (twisting facts) still

Female gymnast

Summary: Refusing to accept that the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) has reached its death or is at a dead end, UPC proponents — i.e. lawyers looking to profit from frivolous litigation — resort to outright lies and gymnastics in logic/intellectual gymnastics

EUROPEAN patent courts don’t quite tolerate software patents in Europe. National courts have pretty clear laws (excepting or excluding abstract things), so the António Campinos-run EPO hopes to bypass/replace these courts with UPC, which rumours say Battistelli still wants to manage. IAM keeps him in the loop, as does CEIPI.

Earlier this week Womble Bond Dickinson LLP’s Patrick Cantrill, Rose Smalley and Tim Barber spoke about UPC. They clarify that everything is conditional although they stop short of saying it’s dead. To quote:

The current membership of the EPO numbers 38 countries, i.e. a far greater number than the current 28 Member States of the EU. Therefore, as far as the EPO, EPC and UK patent profession are concerned, it is business as usual. To put into context this continuation of the UK in the operations of the EPC and the EPO, it may be recalled that UK patent attorneys comprise one-fifth of the total number of professionals across the EPO signatory states, and they handle one-third of all of the European patent (“EP”) applications. Moreover, of the 40,000 EPs filed last year by UK patent attorneys, 90% originated from outside the UK. Consequently, the prosecution of EP applications, whether at the EPO or through the Patent Cooperation Treaty, will not change. New and pending applications will continue to designate the UK and as before, at the grant stage, the applicant will be able to opt for national protection in the UK and other countries, exactly as they do at present.

However, there will be some ramifications following Brexit in such areas as Supplementary Protection Certificates (“SPCs”); Community Plant Variety Rights (“CPVRs”); and the proposed Unitary Patents (“UPs”) and Unified Patents Court (“UPC”).

Moreover, if the UP system is to come into existence, there is a query as to the extent to which the UK can participate, an issue which this note addresses in greater detail below, along with the issue as to whether, and if so how, patentees might wish to opt out of UPC system.

[...]

The establishment of the UPC has been stalled by a challenge brought before the German Constitutional Court, which is not due to be heard until the autumn of 2018. Even if this challenge were to be overcome, the UPC is now unlikely to open its doors until the middle of 2019 at the earliest, after the date for Brexit.

It has nevertheless been stated by the UK Government that, regardless of Brexit, the UK wishes to participate in the UPC. With this in mind, the UK ratified the UPC Treaty on 26 April 2018. However, as aspects of the UPC will be subject to EU law, the UK’s participation post-Brexit will require an amendment to the UPC Treaty, as its provisions only cover ‘Member States’. Encouragingly, there appears to be willingness on all sides that such an accommodation will be made in order to allow the UK to participate.

If the UK is unable (or unwilling) post-Brexit to participate in the UP system, a UP will cover only those EU Member States within the EPC system that have ratified the UPC Treaty. As at the date of publication, 16 Member States had ratified and three more are on track to have ratified by the time that the UP system commences (if such should occur in mid-2019). If the UK does not join, it will continue to be possible to validate ‘classical’ EP application in the UK as is the case today.

They are leaping quite a few steps because there are additional barriers (other than Germany’s challenge) and opposition can be leveraged — if necessary — in all sorts of other ways. The truth is, UPCA is nothing but a collusion of law firms. They strive to change the law to better suit the litigation ‘industry’. It’s bad for Europe and good for foreign patent trolls.

IPPro Patents’ Ben Wodecki has meanwhile mentioned some nonsense from a “LIPS panellist” (they promote patent maximalism in this event). The UPC is virtually dead, but facts don’t seem to matter because Team UPC keeps lying about it in its behind-closed-doors lobbying events. Here’s what the new report said:

The UK does not need to sign a new treaty to remain part of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), according to Francesco Macchetta, intellectual property advisor and former director of IP at Bracco Imaging.

In a panel discussion at the London IP Summit on intellectual property post-brexit, Macchetta said that, in his opinion, no new treaty would be necessary for the UK to remain in the UPC as “the UK ratified when it was an EU member as required by the legislation”.

Pierre Véron, honorary president of the European Patent Lawyers Association, agreed, showing the audience the Lamping-Ullrich paper, which suggests that the UK should not be allowed to be part of the UPC post-brexit.

This is the same European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) which recently mocked the paper using anonymous sockpuppets. These people are downright crazy and they’re growingly miserable.

Last but not least we have this new article by Dorsey & Whitney LLP. “The Unified Patent Court (‘UPC’) has not yet been established as it is still needs ratification by Germany (the timing of which, vis-à-vis Brexit, is unknown),” it says. Timing? Not even the outcome is known!

But that doesn’t matter, does it?

They’d have their target audience believe that the outcome is already known and judges are just some ‘nuisance’ in the face of inevitability. From their article:

As much of patent law has a basis in UK domestic legislation, the existing systems (including conditions, legal requirements and application processes) will remain in place but will operate independently from the EU. EU legislation relevant to patents and supplementary protection certificates will be retained in the UK law and will form the UK’s own supplementary protection certificate regime on exit. Any existing rights and licences in force in the UK will remain in force after exit day.

The Unified Patent Court (‘UPC’) has not yet been established as it is still needs ratification by Germany (the timing of which, vis-à-vis Brexit, is unknown). The UPC is intended to be a single international forum established by 25 EU countries to provide businesses with a streamlined process for enforcing patents. The UK government has stated that it wishes to remain part of the UPC and unitary patent system on exit day if possible. If the UPC is ratified and comes into force, the UK will explore whether it would be possible to remain within the UPC and unitary patent systems following Brexit. Following Brexit it may be that staying within the UPC and unitary patent system is unworkable. To do so would mean that the UK has to accept the supremacy of European law in these matters and this is most likely not acceptable to certain UK political circles who regard the supremacy of any form of outside law and of forum as objectionable.

Pretty much all the above is a salad of lies and wishful thinking, i.e. what sums up pretty much everything that comes out of the mouths of Team UPC nowadays. Time has probably run out for them already, but they refuse to give up. They’re delusional.

IAM and IP Kat Are Still Megaphones of Battistelli and His Agenda

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

(The ‘new’ IP Kat (after Merpel 'died'), the one which deletes comments about Battistelli and António Campinos)

Battistelli revisionism

Summary: IAM reaffirms its commitment to corrupt Battistelli and IP Kat maintains its stance, which is basically not caring at all about EPO corruption (to the point of actively deleting blog comments that mention such corruption, i.e. ‘sanitising’ facts)

THE EPO said “goodbye and good riddance” to Battistelli almost 4 months ago. He has since then maintained a low profile except when French media approached him as he may be criminally liable but immune nonetheless.

Joff Wild of IAM, where the corrupt Battistelli writes on occasions (promoting software patents in Europe), is still whitewashing this man. This is the man IAM does revisionism for even in October. See the screenshot above.

Curiously enough, not only was the above behind paywall (which makes it harder for Battistelli’s critics to assess). It only appeared in searches more than a fortnight late. Why?

On the same day (Tuesday) Annsley Merelle Ward (Bristows LLP), who dominated IP Kat last year, returned for a change to carry on cheering for patent trolls in the UK. “One of the key issues on appeal from Mr Justice Birss’ decision,” she said, is basically whether companies can use their proxy patent trolls to shake down the competition.

“In conclusion, IAM is still (more than 3 months later) grooming Battistelli and IP Kat has no interest whatsoever in EPO scandals (which carry on by the way).”So a firm involved in the case uses IP Kat for its own purposes; “The IPKat team [i.e. Bristows staff quoting other Bristows staff] will be back next week to report on the key findings of the Court of Appeal, with analysis to follow,” she said.

What has IP Kat become? Aside from the fact that it doesn’t write as much as it used to (and several writers very recently left), watch what it published on the same day about “blockchain” (the usual patent hype) and then in “Standards and Patents annual conference returns to London”. IP Kat actively promotes an event in London that lobbies for software patents under the guise of “AI”, “FRAND” and other nonsense (even software patents inside standards).

Later in the same day IP Kat started celebrating patents on food; the comments are better than the post. Last but not least, on the same day IP Kat mentioned the EPO (at long last). But remember this is the Kat which deleted the thread (about 40 comments) about António Campinos, whose friends he already brings to the EPO (just like Battistelli did). What did the blog write about the EPO? Nothing. It just plugged in the EPO’s press release: “The Administrative Council of the EPO has appointed the next vice-presidents of the EPO: Stephen Rowan (UK), Christoph Ernst (Germany) and Nellie Simon (Austria). Find out more about the new vice-presidents here.”

In conclusion, IAM is still (more than 3 months later) grooming Battistelli and IP Kat has no interest whatsoever in EPO scandals (which carry on by the way). This cat got neutered…

The EPO Under António Campinos Relaxes the Rules on Software Patenting and the Litigation ‘Industry’ Loves That

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Patents at 5:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Easier to tax coders, whose projects will be undermined or never come to fruition in the first place (due to fear of lawsuits)

EPO white flag

Summary: EPO management, which is nontechnical, found new terms by which to refer to software patents — terms that even the marketing departments can endorse (having propped them up); they just call it all AI, augmented intelligence and so on

THE EPO seems eager to handicap Europe’s software industry. What does it care anyway? All it wants to do is grant as many patents as possible and get a pat on the back from litigators. António Campinos has taken this lunacy to new levels as the EPO under his leadership constantly promotes software patents in Europe. It does so not only every day but several times per day. Campinos recently saw the need to write a blog post about it.

“…now that nontechnical people (promoted based on loyalties rather than merit) run the EPO they’re more easily swayed by law firms and marketing departments, not scientists.”Not everyone is upset about this abomination. Some people make a living not from creation but from destruction; put another way, they sue things out of existence. Like patent trolls do…

Patent law firms, unlike patent trolls, win irrespective of the courts’ outcomes. It doesn’t matter if European Patents are nowadays presumed invalid; all that matters is that lawyers are needed…

We recently wrote about the leveraging of "AI" as a byword or surrogate for software patents. Philip Naylor (Carpmaels & Ransford LLP) took note of that too; writing in IAM, the EPO’s propaganda rag, Naylor said this:

The EPO has updated its official guidelines to include a specific section on how the office is likely to assess patent applications directed towards artificial intelligence (AI). A preview of the update can be found on the EPO website and will come into force on 1 November 2018.

The update to the guidelines provides further clarity on how the EPO’s existing legal framework will be applied to AI inventions. Generally, the update confirms that the same rules that are applied to all computer-implemented inventions will apply to inventions involving AI. The rules stipulate that mathematical methods per se are “devoid of technical character” and thus are not patentable when considered in isolation. However, inventions that use mathematical methods remain patentable if they provide a technical solution to a technical problem. The EPO’s guidelines now state that AI and machine-learning algorithms are considered to be mathematical methods. Therefore, an invention that uses AI or machine learning must solve a technical problem in order to be patentable, in the same way as any other computer-implemented invention.

So they’re adding tricks for software patenting, knowing that these are not allowed. They tell applicants to say “AI” and at the same time instruct examiners to almost ‘rubber-stamp’ all this “AI” stuff. Never mind if the concept is rather nebulous, much like the concept of “cloud”. The litigation industry rejoices and helps this agenda, based on another new article that says:

Jennings is in the camp that believes that AI “augments humans”. He said he was “very happy to see that the European Patent Office (EPO) stresses AI as augmented intelligence”.

The EPO published its preliminary update of its guidelines for examination in early October, which included changes for provisions relating to the patentability of AI and machine learning.

So software can be patented “per se” and “as such”; just make sure the application says “AI” in it.

Eamon Robinson (Haseltine Lake LLP) has also just published this article about the EPO cutting corners for shallower or faster examination:

A European patent or a patent application may not be amended to contain subject matter extending beyond the application as filed. This section of the Guidelines provides guidance on when replacing or removing features from a claim results in unallowable added subject matter.

The Guidelines describe a three step test to determine if such amendments result in added subject matter. The updated Guidelines clarify that an amendment will fail the test, and thus add matter, if at least one criterion of the test is failed.

[...]

The changes to the Guidelines emphasise the importance of this “gold standard” over the above three step test. The “gold standard” should therefore, be considered when making amendments to the claims of a patent or application, in particular when removing or replacing features. Furthermore, the change to the first step of the test may make it easier for objections to be raised to amendments. The previous Guidelines stated that it was enough for a skilled person to recognise that a feature is explained as essential, whereas, the updated Guidelines require that the feature must be objectively explained as essential.

In summary then, the EPO’s advice to examiners in relation to removal of features would seem to be getting stricter.

Decisions are already being made a lot faster, at the very least in order to meet quotas/targets. Maybe some time soon Campinos will just use so-called ‘AI’ (algorithms) to assess patent applications with the term “AI” in them.

It should be noted that this whole “AI” hype doesn’t deal with novelty; the term “AI” was reintroduced a lot in the media last year. A lot of it boils down to marketing. In the broadest sense of the term the concept of AI dates back to the dawn of computing. But now that nontechnical people (promoted based on loyalties rather than merit) run the EPO they’re more easily swayed by law firms and marketing departments, not scientists.

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