05.01.20

EPO is Killing Free Software and Personal Privacy During Quarantine or Lock-Down

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 10:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO ‘Stasi’ follows people into their own homes with their families

Skype backdoor

Skype access

Summary: European Patent Office (EPO) management forces staff to use Microsoft malware at home; that’s like a 24/7 watcher inside your house, checking your health (a longstanding controversy) and it is very clearly illegal

THE COVID-19 pandemic is good for nobody. Nobody. Maybe except for sadists…

Having said that, there’s something to be said about the effect on software freedom — an issue we already alluded to several days ago. Unfortunately, as we’re seeing in Europe, António Campinos exploits the pandemic to outsource the patent office to Microsoft, which isn’t even European; it’s not ethical (it still commits many crimes) and its record on privacy — not to mention patents — is appalling. The latest two comments about it include: “we examiners know that we’re very likely violating Article 113 EPC in this regard, but internal instructions bind us to do so. We’re sorry, and we hope this Corona times pass soon, so that the DG3 can remit all these cases summarily to us again.”

“Even the USPTO has not gone that crazy!”Reuven then wrote: “In my opinion the epi now faces the consequences of their compliance-at-all-costs with the decisions of the former President of the EPO. Did they protest against the firing of the judge? Nope. Did they cry out when the Boards of Appeal were “reformed” and their independence destroyed? Nope. Did they alert the Administrative Council when less and less applications were refused and quality was only given lip service? Of course not.The President has seen that they are spineless and that they would kill their granny in exchange for a keynote speech at the European Inventors Award. So, very naturally, he gives them what they deserve: contempt.”

Absolutely. We wrote a lot about the role a Battistelli-friendly epi actively played in cracking down on actual EPO staff.

The above comments were taking stock of EPO violating the EPC (the usual) by outsourcing everything of significance and forcing EPO staff to do the same — from their own homes! SUEPO updated its public site for the first time in more than a month to highlight this. Watch what happens to people who install Skype, based on a blog post published just two days ago:

So it happened again: I feel being patronized by a large SW vendor who forces me to automatically run his software on my system after each login. As an open source developer and advocate I hate if I don’t have control over these kind of things and no option to turn them off. Unix know-how to the rescue, though. Read on.

The members of a project I am currently working on to make a living are now widespread over the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. Project management has decided that the communication should happen over a product called skype. It’s not free and open, but hey, come on, I have to make some money somehow so that I can manage it with KMyMoney. Fortunately, I found out that there is a version for Linux and it even works quite well.

Nevertheless, I wondered why it starts after login without me doing anything. OK, this could be the default setting and I started the KDE system settings to turn it off. Not thinking about it further, I started and stopped skype for a few days until there was a kernel update and I had to reboot my system.

After login, I was surprised that skype started automatically. I thought, I had turned it off. Well, unmark that checkbox again in system settings and guess what: it returned without me doing anything except starting and using the application. That ~/.config/autostart/skypeforlinux.desktop file, which is responsible for the autostart, just re-appeared every time one starts skype manually.

Using the search engine of choice, I learned that this is a known problem and cannot be turned off with an option. This is the time, when patronization starts and I get angry.

The EPO now expects EPO staff to install such malware on personal equipment used by employees in their own homes (together with family members and sometimes kids). It beggars belief. Even the USPTO has not gone that crazy!

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