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06.21.18

Links 21/6/2018: Microsoft’s ‘Damage Control’ Amid Role in ICE Scandals, 11-Hour Azure Downtime (Again), GNOME 3.29.3, and More GNU/Linux Wins

Posted in News Roundup at 9:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • ONF Announces New Reference Designs

    Driving Formation of a New Supply Chain To support operators’ impending deployment of these Reference Designs, a number of tier-1 vendors have joined the efforts as ONF partners to contribute their skills, expertise and technologies to help realize the RDs. Adtran, Dell/EMC, Edgecore Networks and Juniper Networks are actively participating as supply chain partners in this reference design process. Each brings unique skills and complementary competencies, and by working together the partnership will be able to expedite the production readiness of the various solutions.

  • ADTRAN Partners with Open Networking Foundation (ONF) in Reimagined Strategic Plan
  • At C.H. Robinson, open source adoption brings iterative, fast development — almost too fast

    In 2014, C.H. Robinson, a third-party services and logistics firm, faced a roadblock: How do you remove bottlenecks in the technology development pipeline?

    Engineering teams with eight to 10 people aligned with a module or product worked to build out a functionality, such as an order management capability, according to Vanessa Adams, director, architecture and application development at C.H. Robinson. But individual teams were often held up by other product groups whose work they relied on.

    At one point, 12-15 teams were required to meet most development deliverables and milestones, Adams told CIO Dive. In an effort to minimize the number of development dependencies, C.H. Robinson began exploring the idea of allowing people to work in other product areas rather than making them wait in line in the prioritization loop and hope project timelines synced up.

    [...]

    With open source, legal departments have to approve contributions to open source projects, procurement departments have to understand there may not be a place to send an invoice and managers have to learn giving back to the open source framework on work time is part of the process. It’s a long term shift that can take months, if not years, to execute, McCullough said.

  • Kafkaesque: Instaclustr creates Kafka-as-a-Service

    Instaclustr has announced Kafka-as-a-Service in bid to provide an easier route to the real-time data streaming platform

    An open source player from the start, the e-dropping Instaclustr specifies that this release follows an ‘early access programe’ that saw a handful of Instaclustr users deploy the Kafka-as-a-Service solution to manage high volume data streams in real-time.

  • Why are so many machine learning tools open source?

    Open source and machine learning go together like peanut butter and jelly. But why? In this article, Kayla Matthews explores why many of the best machine learning tools are open source.

  • Events

    • New adventures – old challenges

      I’ve also spent a lot of time on promoting free and open source software. I’ve spoken at conferences, gone to hackathlons, spoken at the university, and arranged meetups. All this culminated in foss-north which I’ve been organizing for the past three years.

      The conclusion from all of this is that there is an opportunity to focus on this full time. How can free and open source software be leveraged in various industries? How does one actually work with this? How does licensing work? and so on. To do so, I founded my own company – koderize – a while back and from now on I’m focusing fully on it.

  • Web Browsers

    • Brave/Mozilla

      • Deterministic Firefox Builds

        As of Firefox 60, the build environment for official Firefox Linux builds switched from CentOS to Debian.

        As part of the transition, we overhauled how the build environment for Firefox is constructed. We now populate the environment from deterministic package snapshots and are much more stringent about dependencies and operations being deterministic and reproducible. The end result is that the build environment for Firefox is deterministic enough to enable Firefox itself to be built deterministically.

      • Brave Launches User Trials for Opt-In Ads That Reward Viewers

        We’ve been busy building our new Basic Attention Token (BAT) platform, which includes a new consent-based digital advertising model that benefits users, publishers, and advertisers. Our first phase started last Fall with the integration of BAT into Brave Payments, and enabled users to anonymously distribute contributions to their favorite publishers and creators.

      • Get Paid For Watching Ads: Brave Browser Announces Opt-in Trials

        Brave, the web browser which garnered a huge fan following, predominantly for its ad blocking feature, and depriving advertisers of confiscating private data by blocking trackers is in the news again. And this time, users can earn some cash.

        In a blog post, Brave announced that it will be conducting voluntary testing of their new ad model in which they will showcase at least 250 pre-packaged ads to users who will sign up for their early access version. Thus, offering a small amount of money in the form of micropayments.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • How markets coopted free software’s most powerful weapon (LibrePlanet 2018 Keynote)

      Several months ago, I gave the closing keynote address at LibrePlanet 2018. The talk was about the thing that scares me most about the future of free culture, free software, and peer production.

    • How markets plundered Free Software’s best stuff and used it to create freedom for companies, not people

      Bejamin “Mako” Hill (previously) is a free software developer, activist and academic with a long history of shrewd critical insights into the ways that free software, free culture and the wider world interact with each other.

      In his keynote address to the annual Libreplanet conference, Mako traces the history of software freedom and how it changed when it met the forces of relentless commercialization and extraction.

      Early free software advocates assumed that working on free software would be centralized and would be a kind of voluntary ideological project that would result in pay-cuts to programmers who wanted to ensure that users of programs got as much freedom as possible, and were willing to sacrifice to achieve this.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source traffic management

      Louisville is sharing what it learned from the initial project with Waze with over 60 governments around the world through the Open Government Coalition, a network of government agencies working together on open source projects.

      The Louisville open source traffic project has four components: putting the Waze data into a database that can be queried and analyzed, replacing traffic studies with data visualizations, building out an application programming interface to allow integration with existing systems, and allowing cities to create real-time and historic online maps of their data.

      Eight cities have already downloaded the city’s code to create a database of traffic data.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Hardware: Good for Your Brand, Good for Your Bottom Line

        Chip makers are starting to catch on to the advantages of open, however. SiFive has released an entirely open RISC-V development board. Its campaign on the Crowd Supply crowd-funding website very quickly raised more than $140,000 USD. The board itself is hailed as a game-changer in the world of hardware. Developments like these will ensure that it won’t be long before the hardware equivalent of LEGO’s bricks will soon be as open as the designs built using them.

      • Desktop Radio Telescope Images The WiFi Universe

        A HackRF SDR and GNU Radio form the receiver, which just captures the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) value for each point as the antenna scans.

  • Programming/Development

    • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in Rapperswil, June 2018

      A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting of the ISO C++ Standards Committee (also known as WG21) in Rapperswil, Switzerland. This was the second committee meeting in 2018; you can find my reports on preceding meetings here (March 2018, Jacksonville) and here (November 2017, Albuquerque), and earlier ones linked from those. These reports, particularly the Jacksonville one, provide useful context for this post.

      At this meeting, the committee was focused full-steam on C++20, including advancing several significant features — such as Ranges, Modules, Coroutines, and Executors — for possible inclusion in C++20, with a secondary focus on in-flight Technical Specifications such as the Parallelism TS v2, and the Reflection TS.

    • Proposal for a staged RFC process

      I consider Rust’s RFC process one of our great accomplishments, but it’s no secret that it has a few flaws. At its best, the RFC offers an opportunity for collaborative design that is really exciting to be a part of. At its worst, it can devolve into bickering without any real motion towards consensus. If you’ve not done so already, I strongly recommend reading aturon’s excellent blog posts on this topic.

      The RFC process has also evolved somewhat organically over time. What began as “just open a pull request on GitHub” has moved into a process with a number of formal and informal stages (described below). I think it’s a good time for us to take a step back and see if we can refine those stages into something that works better for everyone.

      This blog post describes a proposal that arose over some discussions at the Mo

    • C gfx library for the Linux framebuffer with parallelism support

      FBGraphics was made to produce fullscreen pixels effects easily with non-accelerated framebuffer by leveraging multi-core processors, it is a bit like a software GPU (much less complex and featured!), the initial target platform is a Raspberry PI 3B and extend to the NanoPI (and many others embedded devices), the library should just work with many others devices with a Linux framebuffer altough there is at the moment some restrictions on the supported framebuffer format (24 bits).

    • 16 blogs and newsletters to follow for DevOps practitioners

Leftovers

  • Why Ford Is Buying Detroit’s Derelict Train Station
  • Divers, underwater drone join Indonesia’s search for 192 missing in ferry disaster

    Divers and an underwater drone on Wednesday joined a fleet of rescue vessels in Indonesia’s search for at least 192 passengers missing two days after an overcrowded wooden ferry sank in one of the world’s deepest volcanic lakes in Sumatra.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Validity of Gilead’s Swiss TRUVADA® SPC confirmed but Switzerland will move away from the “infringement test” for future SPCs for combination products

      The Swiss litigation is about the validity of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Swiss SPC C00915894/01 for the combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate plus emtricitabine. The SPC was granted by the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property on 29 August 2008 based on the marketing authorization for TRUVADA®, a medication used to treat (and in some jurisdictions also to prevent) HIV/AIDS. It is a fixed-dose combination of the two antiretroviral medications tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine.

      On 3 January 2017 Mepha Pharma AG, a Swiss subsidiary of Teva, filed a revocation action against Gilead’s Swiss SPC. Mepha essentially argued that the ratio legis of the Swiss law on SPCs requires that the “infringement test”, which had been confirmed in a decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1998 (BGE 124 III 375), be set aside, and that this change of practice shall be applicable with immediate effect even for existing SPCs. Mepha was of the opinion that Swiss courts should apply EU case law and if it did, Gilead’s SPC would be invalid in light of the practice of the CJEU for combination products because the two active ingredients were not specified in the claims of the basic patent and did not correspond to the basic patent’s core inventive advance.

    • MSF Challenges Gilead Hepatitis C Patent In China

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) filed a patent challenge at the China State Intellectual Property Office today, asking for the invalidation of a Gilead patent on a hepatitis C medicine.

      In a press release, MSF explains that it requested the invalidation of a patent granted to US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences for oral hepatitis C medicine velpatasvir. According to the health advocacy group, the patent is unmerited as it involves “well-known technologies.”

      “Without access to affordable DAAs [direct-acting antivirals], people with hepatitis C in China are still forced to take an older, injected drug called interferon, which has low cure rates and causes people severe side effects, such as psychosis,” Gaëlle Krikorian, head of policy for MSF’s Access Campaign, said in the release.

    • Suppressed Study: The EPA Underestimated Dangers of Widespread Chemicals

      A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by the Trump administration because of the “public relations nightmare” it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has been quietly released online.

      The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the controversial 852-page review of health dangers from a family of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — manmade chemicals used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams — on its website this morning, and will publish a notice in the Federal Register tomorrow.

      The study upends federally accepted notions for how much of these chemicals are safe for people — recommending an exposure limit for one of the compounds that is 10 times lower than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has maintained is the safe threshold, and seven times lower for another compound. The stricter exposure thresholds are similar to those established by state health agencies in New Jersey and Michigan. All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought.

  • Security

    • Why an Infrastructure Transition is the Perfect Time to Invest in Security

      The idea behind containers has been around since the 1970s, when the technology was first used to isolate application code on Unix systems. However, the use of containers only became widespread in 2013 with the advent of Docker, and container orchestration tools like Kubernetes are even newer than that.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Millions of Streaming Devices Are Vulnerable to a Retro Web Attack

      Sitting in his Chicago apartment, two blocks from Lake Michigan, Dorsey did what anyone with a newfound hacking skill would: He tried to attack devices he owned. Instead of being blocked at every turn, though, Dorsey quickly discovered that the media streaming and smart home gadgets he used every day were vulnerable to varying degrees to DNS rebinding attacks. He could gather all sorts of data from them that he never would have expected.

    • Pros vs Joes CTF: The Evolution of Blue Teams

      Pros v Joes CTF is a CTF that holds a special place in my heart. Over the years, I’ve moved from playing in the 1st CTF as a day-of pickup player (signing up at the conference) to a Blue Team Pro, to core CTF staff. It’s been an exciting journey, and Red Teaming there is about the only role I haven’t held. (Which is somewhat ironic given that my day job is a red team lead.) As Blue teams have just formed, and I’m not currently attached to any single team, I wanted to share my thoughts on the evolution of Blue teaming in this unique CTF. In many ways, this will resemble the Blue Team player’s guide I wrote about 3 years ago, but will be based on the evolution of the game and of the industry itself. That post remains relevant, and I encourage you to read it as well.

      [...]

      It turns out that a lot of the fundamental knowledge necessary in securing a network are just basically system administration fundamentals. Understanding how the system works and how systems interact with each other provides much of the basics of information security.

      On both Windows and Linux, it is useful to understand:

      How to install & update software and operating system updates
      How to change permissions of files
      How to start and stop services
      How to set up a host-based firewall
      Basic Shell Commands
      User administration

    • 5 Best practices for protecting SAP in Linux environments
    • Does Linux need antivirus?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Military should be deployed to combat cyber attacks, new head of Army says
    • The Pentagon Expands Its Provocative Encirclement of China

      U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy in a little noticed statement on May 30.

      From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both.

      Such a name change may not sound like much, but someday you may look back and realize that it couldn’t have been more consequential or ominous. Think of it as a signal that the U.S. military is already setting the stage for eventual confrontation with China.

      If, until now, you hadn’t read about Mattis’s decision anywhere, it’s not surprising as the media gave it virtually no attention — less certainly than would have been accorded the least significant tweet Donald Trump ever dispatched. What coverage it did receive treated the name change as no more than a passing “symbolic” gesture, a Pentagon ploy to encourage India to join Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies in America’s Pacific alliance system.

    • The Persistent Myth of U.S. Precision Bombing

      Opinion polls in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that a majority of the public in both countries has a remarkably consistent belief that only about 10,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

      Estimates of deaths in Iraq actually range from 150,000 to 1.2 million. Part of the reason for the seriously misguided perception may come from a serious belief in guided weapons, according to what the government tells people about “precision” bombing. But one must ask how so many people can be killed if these weapons are so “precise,” for instance in one of “the most precise air campaigns in military history,” as a Pentagon spokesman characterized the total destruction last year of Raqqa in Syria.

      The dreadful paradox of “precision weapons” is that the more the media and the public are wrongly persuaded of the near-magical qualities of these weapons, the easier it is for U.S. military and civilian leaders to justify using them to destroy entire villages, towns and cities in country after country: Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq; Sangin and Musa Qala in Afghanistan; Sirte in Libya; Kobane and Raqqa in Syria.

    • A £1m military drone flew over a packed primary school sports day – then there was a crash

      Then the camera pans upwards to reveal at least £1m of British military hardware: a Watchkeeper drone, still in its test and development phase, flying over a packed primary school sports day attended by about 100 children and a similar number of adults.

      On the same afternoon that the drone flew over Penparc School in west Wales it – or another almost-identical Watchkeeper – crashed just a couple of miles away from the village primary, in the process narrowly missing a 17-year-old boy having his first driving lesson.

    • The US Has Conducted 550 Drone Strikes in Libya Since 2011 — More Than in Somalia, Yemen, or Pakistan

      The United States has conducted approximately 550 drone strikes in Libya since 2011, more than in Somalia, Yemen, or Pakistan, according to interviews and an analysis of open-source data by The Intercept.

      The Intercept’s reporting indicates that Libya has been among the most heavily targeted nations in terms of American remotely piloted aircraft and radically revises the number of drone strikes carried out under the Obama administration, doubling some estimates.

      During a four-month span in 2016, for example, there were approximately 300 drone strikes in Libya, according to U.S. officials. That’s seven times more than the 42 confirmed U.S. RPA attacks carried out in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan combined for all of 2016, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based nonprofit news organization. The Libya attacks have continued under the Trump administration, with the latest U.S. drone strike occurring last week about 50 miles southeast of the town of Bani Walid.

    • Study: 242 Libyan civilians killed by airstrikes since 2012
    • Seven years after Obama’s ‘worst mistake,’ Libya killing is rampant

      Years after then President Barack Obama made what he has described as his worst mistake by not adequately planning for the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya remains in chaos. In the past seven years, four nations have conducted air strikes in Libya and hundreds of civilians have died in those strikes.
      As the protests of the Arab Spring swept through Libya, Gadhafi mounted a war of attrition against his own people describing those who were protesting his rule as “rats.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pickets in Sri Lanka and India demand freedom for Julian Assange

      The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) in Sri Lanka held a successful picket in Colombo yesterday afternoon to demand Julian Assange’s freedom. In India, supporters of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) organised a demonstration at Sriperumbudur, 40 kilometres from Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Both events were live streamed via Facebook.

      Nearly 60 SEP and IYSSE members and supporters participated in the protest held in front of Colombo Fort railway station. A substantial Tamil-speaking delegation from the war-ravaged Jaffna peninsula and also plantation workers from central Sri Lanka took part.

    • The Government Sponsored Torture of Julian Assange Will be Remembered With The Shame Felt Regarding The Ill-Treatment of Alan Turing

      Outside of the sciences though, Turing is best remembered as a code-breaker who worked with the UK government during the Second World War in cracking highly sophisticated German messages that were intercepted by the Allies in The Atlantic. At the time, Turing was hailed as a hero who played an invaluable role in helping to defeat fascist Germany.

      But Turning’s hero status shifted abruptly after the Second World War when in 1952, he was prosecuted by the same state he once worked for during war time. His offence was committing homosexual acts at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom. In lieu of prison time, Turning underwent a controversial chemical castration procedure which itself led to Turing committing suicide in 1954.

    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Should Not Face Extradition to U.S. for Leaking Secrets, Says Human Rights Watch

      Six years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains in limbo. The government of Ecuador recently terminated his internet connection, and reports from his legal representatives suggest his medical situation is worsening.

      This week, on the anniversary of his arrival at the embassy in June 2012, Human Rights Watch threw its weight behind the controversial figure, saying he should not be forced to face judgment under the “antiquated” U.S. Espionage Act.

      “The U.K. has the power to resolve concerns over his isolation, health, and confinement by removing the threat of extradition for publishing newsworthy leaks,” wrote the general counsel of Human Rights Watch, Dinah PoKempner, in a blog post on Tuesday. “It should do so before another year passes.”

    • ‘Ex-CIA officer Joshua Schulte case intended to send chilling message to whistleblowers’

      Charges against an ex-CIA employee are intended to send a message to potential whistleblowers, warning them that they will have no defense when pursued by the government, the executive editor of 21st Century Wire told RT.

      Former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte is facing charges over what has been described as the largest information leak in the agency’s history.

      Prosecutors claim that he unlawfully obtained information on the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the CIA during his time at the agency. He is alleged to have provided the information to an organization for it to be disseminated.

    • Ex-CIA Worker Denies Feeding US Secrets To WikiLeak

      A New York man accused of stealing secrets while working for the Central Intelligence Agency in 2016 and feeding them to WikiLeaks pled not guilty Wednesday to charges of stealing and transmitting national defense information and asked for time to consider if he will consent to proceeding in Manhattan federal court.

    • Charges brought against CIA Vault 7 suspect

      When Schulte was arrested last year, investigators charged him with possession of child pornography, which they allege they found on his seized computer, but they didn’t charge him for the breach and disclosure at the time, even though that was the subject of the initial investigation. The appearance of child pornography charges as a pretext for detention in national security investigations is something we’ve seen before and provides an additional reason for this case to be monitored carefully.

      Several observers have noted that, whatever its merits of his case, Schulte does appear to have adopted some objectively terrible operational security practices, including uploading CIA source code (some of which did indeed appear in the Vault7 leaks) to his public GitHub page. In the light of the second massive loss of US intelligence community hacking tools in a year, questions should be asked about whether it is ever justified to hoard devastating vulnerabilities when their security and use has to be entrusted to fallible humans.

    • Vigil Held For WikiLeaks’ Assange in Ecuador’s London Embassy

      The two-hour event was held to highlight the deteriorating physical and mental health of the Australian activist, who has not left the embassy in more than five years.

      An international group of lawyers contacted the UN Human Rights Council earlier this week to express concerns that Assange’s protracted confinement is forcing him to choose between asylum and healthcare.

      “The United Kingdom shows a deliberate disregard for his medical needs by forcing him to choose between his human right to asylum and his human right to medical treatment,” said human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson. “No-one should ever have to make this choice.

      “We call upon the special rapporteur to give immediate attention to Mr Assange’s case, to plan an official visit to the Ecuador Embassy and to urge the United Kingdom to give the assurances required for him to leave the embassy to obtain the medical treatment he requires.”

      Footage of the event posted on social media showed dozens of demonstrators hoisting banners reading ‘Defend free speech’ and ‘Don’t shoot the messenger.’

    • Vigil for the health of Julian Assange to take place in London

      A vigil will take place Tuesday evening outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the health of its longstanding resident Julian Assange.

      The vigil will be held between 6 and 8 p.m. local time and will be attended by Susan Manning, mother of Chelsea Manning, along with Peter Tatchell, Vivienne Westwood and Lauri Love.

      Tuesday marks six years since WikiLeaks founder Assange first entered the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges. The charges have since been dropped, but Assange is still wanted in the UK for skipping bail in 2012. He is concerned that if he leaves the embassy the US may also seek to extradite him on espionage charges.

    • Protesters at Ecuador embassy vigil in London demand freedom for Julian Assange

      Wiesje from the Netherlands came to support Assange because he had exposed the lies of governments and the press and was now being treated “vindictively.”

      She noted how the Netherlands government was implementing laws to suppress information under the guise of “fake news.”

      The European Union, which includes the Netherlands, is voting this week on a Copyright Directive, Wiesje explained, “that installs copyright filters to censor information and restrict the sharing of links as had happened with YouTube’s changing of its algorithms. It means information will be even more concentrated in the hands of the big corporations.

      “All the governments of the European Union say they are opposed to ‘fake news’ but the real distributors of fake news are papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. In Holland, the TV we get fed is pure propaganda, a narrative of the government.”

    • The persecution of Assange is an attempt to silence mass anti-war sentiment

      The International Youth and Students for Social Equality fully supports the fight to free Julian Assange.

      This is a decisive struggle for our generation. We have grown up amid a relentless barrage of pro-war lies and falsifications by the corporate media and all the parliamentary parties.

    • ‘Refugee Is Not Forever’: Ecuador FM Vows to Review Assange’s Asylum Status

      Assange’s communications with the outside world were cut off in March after the country accused the Iraq war whistleblower of putting its good ties with London at risk. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno later ordered to remove extra security at the diplomatic mission.

    • After six years confinement: WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange in great danger

      WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange is still trapped inside Ecuador’s London embassy, cut off from all communication with the outside world, and in failing health, despite vigils and rallies held internationally this week to demand his freedom.

      Demonstrations organised on Tuesday marked the sixth anniversary of him entering the embassy. There he remains an effective political prisoner, with the British government denying him even the right to seek medical treatment.

      The protests signalled the renewal of the campaign for his defence, and underscored the enduring support for the courageous journalist and publisher among broad layers of the population.

      However, as Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Assange, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “AM” radio program yesterday, his situation has become “very difficult.”

    • Educators internationally must stand up for Julian Assange

      On behalf of the Committee For Public Education, I would like to state our opposition to the malicious and anti-democratic treatment of the courageous whistleblower Julian Assange.

      The attack on Assange is not an isolated incident, but part of a global assault on the most basic and fundamental rights of young people and the international working class.

    • Assange is being punished for exposing state secrecy and the reality of war

      I’d like to welcome all of you and commend you for taking the decision to attend this highly significant rally, all the more so because the situation facing Julian Assange, and our efforts to defend him, are being subjected to an ongoing media blackout, not only in Australia but around the world.

      At the outset, I’d like to send the warmest greetings, on behalf of everyone here today, to journalist Julian Assange and his colleagues in WikiLeaks. Our greetings also go to journalists and workers in every country who are fighting government, military-intelligence and corporate efforts to suppress their democratic rights and intimidate them into silence.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Why tipping in America is up for debate

      Tipping originated in feudal Europe. It disappeared there, though not before arriving in America in the late 1800s. Some employers took advantage of the practice to shortchange employees. The result was a two-tiered pay structure for tipped and non-tipped workers. Under federal law, tips belong to front-of-house staff, such as servers and bartenders. They earn a lower base pay than back-of-house staff, like cooks and dishwashers, with tips covering the difference. So while the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, it is $2.13 an hour for tipped workers. (Employers must fill the gap if tips fail to do so.) Seven states—Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—have ended the two-tiered system. On Tuesday, residents of Washington, DC, voted to do so as well. Michigan and New York may follow suit.

    • ‘Facebook is taking everything’: rising rents drive out Silicon Valley families

      “Facebook is taking everything we have … and giving us what? Nothing. Just pain in our lives,” said the pre-school teacher and restaurant worker, seated inside her dimly lit apartment, a mile from the company’s headquarters. “Facebook is just ruining the community.”

      The displacement of working-class and low-income Latino families in the shadow of Facebook’s behemoth campus, which is undergoing a major expansion adjacent to their homes, offers a stark illustration of California’s housing crisis and expanding income inequality. By many measures, the tech industry has in recent years exacerbated the crisis of evictions, homelessness and poverty.

    • Women in Tech Score Symbolic Wins, but Cash Is Still Hard to Come By

      EzCater, run by a woman, just raised $100 million—but it’s more an exception than the rule.

    • Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit

      His pro-Leave lobby groups raised nearly £12m – but claim they spent less than £1m during the ‘official’ Brexit campaign. So where did the rest go? Andy Wigmore says he has “no idea”

      [...]

      In total, the two groups declared that they were given £11.7 million in the first half of 2016 – with Mr Banks the main donor to both, including making loans worth £6m to Leave.EU. Yet referendum rules only required them to disclose how they spent money during the ten weeks between 15th April 2016 until the day of the vote on 23rd June. In that ‘controlled’ period, strict spending limits apply: each group was only legally allowed to spend up to £700,000.

      From 9th March until polling day, Leave.EU received donations and loans worth £9.2 million. The group claims that it only spent £693,000 of this during the ‘controlled’ campaigning period – although it has since been fined for multiple breaches of the law by the Electoral Commission, which found that Leave.EU “failed to include at least £77,380 in its spending return, thereby exceeding the spending limit”. The Commission also stated that the “unlawful overspend may have been considerably higher”, and that “it has reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences”. The Commission said it was referring Leave.EU CEO Elizabeth Bilney to the Metropolitan Police.

    • Revealed: New evidence of ‘Hard Brexit svengali’ Shanker Singham’s ‘unparalleled access’ to senior government figures

      The pace of the British government’s Brexit progress seems to be frustrating even the most enthusiastic supporters of life outside the European Union. At an event in Glasgow last week, Shanker Singham, billed by the organisers as “one of the world’s leading trade lawyers”, complained that the UK’s “lack of clarity” over Brexit was causing “confusion”.

      But what he didn’t talk about was his own role in the middle of this muddle: Singham himself has continued to enjoy unrivalled access to Brexit ministers and officials. The trade advisor, whose work for the Legatum Institute has attracted significant media attention, had repeated private meetings with the highest official in the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) according to new information released to openDemocracy.

      Singham, a former Washington lobbyist – who has been said to enjoy “unparalleled access” to senior government figures – left Legatum earlier this year to head up a new trade unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Earlier this month, the charity regulator ruled that Legatum’s Brexit work had ‘crossed the line’ and did not meet its charitable objectives.

    • The blockchain beyond bitcoin

      Blockchain technologies have been made popular by the creation of bitcoin, but how exactly can a blockchain benefit an enterprise? A blockchain provides an immutable store of facts. This model delivers significant value in the face of regulatory oversight by providing irrevocable proof that transactions occurred. Some even refer to these uses of a blockchain as enterprise resource planning (ERP) 2.0.

    • Singer Akon Unveils His Cryptocurrency “AKoin”; Wants To Develop “Real-life Wakanda”

      The popular American singer, who made rounds with his famous song “Smack That,” is in the news; it’s not for the release of some new music but for a cryptocurrency. Yes, Akon has announced a new crypto coin called ‘AKoin,’ reports Page Six.

    • Akon set to launch cryptocurrency called Akoin

      Senegal-born star Akon — whose Lighting Africa project is bringing solar power to Africa — is at Cannes Lions launching a new cryptocurrency called Akoin that will be available for sale in two weeks with hopes it will help further help the continent.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Minnesota’s Vague Ban On ‘Political’ Wear At Polling Places Shut Down By The Supreme Court

      Eight years after Minnesota’s vague ban on “political” apparel at polling places was first challenged, the Supreme Court has finally struck the ordinance down as unconstitutional. The law allowed election judges to decide whether or not someone’s t-shirt or button or whatever sent a “political” message that might somehow sway the vote.

      The law covered far more than overt messages about political parties or specific candidates. According to the state’s arguments, it could be read as covering anything possibly pertaining to referendum issues and/or issues any political candidate had expressed an opinion on. This lead to a spectacular bit of oral argument [PDF] when the state’s lawyer tried to explain what may or may not be covered by the apparel ban.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Sex workers are rallying around a congressional candidate who’s pledged to fight FOSTA
    • EU Parliamentary Committee Votes To Put American Internet Giants In Charge Of What Speech Is Allowed Online

      As we’ve been writing over the past few weeks, the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted earlier today on the EU’s new Copyright Directive. Within that directive were two absolutely horrible ideas that are dangerous to an open internet — a link tax and a mandatory copyright filtering requrement (i.e., the “censorship machines” proposal). While there was a big fight about it, and we heard that some in the EU Parliament were getting nervous about it, this morning they still voted in favor of both proposals and to move the entire Copyright Directive forward.

    • China’s anti-porn office cracks down on videos of women whispering into microphones
    • China’s Latest Censorship Crackdown Target: Videos Of Women Rubbing, Kissing And Licking Binaural Microphones

      The banned videos in China typically show people — well, nearly always young women — whispering into special high-quality binaural microphones that aim to capture audio the same way our ears hear sounds. As well as producing extremely realistic results, the microphones also allow sounds to move from one ear to the other — best experienced with headphones to enhance this effect — as if the person speaking is right next to you, and moving around very close to you.

      The women in the videos whisper, rather than speak, because it has been found to be the most effective way to produce ASMR’s characteristic “tingling” sensation. But ASMR videos also include the sounds of people licking, kissing, and rubbing the microphones in various ways — which may explain that “vulgar use of a microphone controller” the Chinese authorities want to censor. As a representative example, the Abacus News points to a two-hour long YouTube video of one of the ASMR stars in China, Xuanzi Giant 2 Rabbit

    • Commentary: How to ‘fix’ social media without censorship

      The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal may have changed the way millions of people perceive the risks to privacy when they go online. But it could have obscured an equally profound digital age debate: widespread resistance to internet companies’ role as the global speech police of the digital age. The future of free speech depends on getting this debate right.

      And yet the most influential corporations in this sphere wield extraordinary power from a distance. They develop rules, standards, and guidelines, often in Silicon Valley, to determine for people around the world the appropriate boundaries of expression. In many places, American companies provide the dominant source of news and information, having an enormous impact on public life.

    • Big Brother is watching you: the exhibition aiming to tackle surveillance and censorship

      Surveillance and censorship are becoming part and parcel of daily life around the world, and yet many citizens seem content to turn a blind eye to it. A new exhibition at Wei-Ling Gallery in Kuala Lumpur called Seen is addressing that issue. Curator Line Dalile brings together ten leading international and Malaysian artists, hoping that through documentary, photography and conceptual practice, the artwork can open people’s eyes to the modern threats encroaching on our privacy

    • China censors John Oliver after scathing 20 minute video

      Comedian John Oliver has been scrubbed from Chinese microblogging site Weibo after satirizing Chinese president Xi Jinping on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”

      HBO is part of WarnerMedia, which also operates CNN parent company Turner.

      Oliver spent 20 minutes Sunday criticizing Xi on everything from the removal of term limits, allowing him to rule for life, to China’s economic leverage.

      One of his critiques focused on censorship. “While China has never exactly been known as a haven for free expression, (Xi) has clamped down noticeably on any form of dissent whatsoever,” Oliver said, citing banned phrases online such as “personality cult.”

      True to form, Chinese censors soon wiped posts about Oliver and his show from Weibo.

      Users can still search his name, but all recent content has been deleted, leaving only posts from before June 12.

    • Media Censorship

      Access to information is the right of every citizen of Pakistan – this also includes being able to subscribe to a publication of their choice. However, there is growing censorship in the media, especially as the dates of the general elections are drawing near. One media group which is being targeted at the moment is Dawn, as confirmed in their statement that hawkers are being stopped from distributing the paper in several parts of the country. This is a gross violation of the Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees the freedom of the press unless there is a special restriction imposed in circumstances that pose a threat to the security of the state. However, that too is a legal course of action and is not initiated without due process. Prohibiting the distribution purely on the personal basis is an act against the constitution of Pakistan and must be looked into because guaranteeing a right offered by the constitution is the duty of all the institutions of the state.

      [...]

      We live in a global digital age where such blanket bans are bound to be noted and create the air of insecurity because it portrays that certain elements are trying to infringe upon the basic rights of the people of the country.

    • ACLU challenges Scott on social media censorship
    • ACLU calls on Scott to stop censoring constituents on social media
    • ACLU asks Vermont Gov. Scott to stop blocking online critics
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Court Says Probation Violations By Teen Don’t Justify On-Demand Warrantless Searches Of His Electronics

      It’s assumed (wrongly) that minors have few, if any, Constitutional rights. The error is easy to make because they’re just kids. They can’t drink, smoke, vote, or even serve their country/secure these own valuable freedoms by [checks sources] aiding in the increase of opium production in foreign countries. “Hundreds of government officials can’t be wrong!” someone is sure to exclaim, being just as wrong as the hundreds half-assedly cited in their stinging rebuttal.

      Minors do have rights. They’re subject to more limitations but they’re far from nonexistent. But that doesn’t stop prosecutors, cops, and school officials from pretending “limited” equals “zero.” A case highlighted by FourthAmendment.com shows a court pushing back against this assumption, which took the form of an overly-invasive probation condition slapped on a minor following a search of the student which uncovered a small knife, rolling papers, and a lighter.

      The incident leading to the search began when the student fell asleep during class, which is possibly one of the most ordinary things a student can do. The student admitted he had smoked marijuana the night before (also possibly one of the most normal things a high school student can do), but hadn’t smoked any that day or on school property. He was asked to consent to a search and he volunteered he had a knife in his possession. The search uncovered the rest of the “contraband.” The 15-year-old was then arrested, detained, and placed on home detention.

    • Data Localization (Nearly) Banned In EU

      The European Parliament, Council and European Commission on 19 June cut a deal on a new regulation on the free flow of non-personal data. The regulation, which is expected to pass the final votes in Parliament and Council without further issue, is a European answer to concerns over potential data localization obligations, which came into some demand following the Snowden revelations about intelligence services hoovering data from netizens.

      “Data localization restrictions are signs of protectionism for which there is no place in a single market,” EU Vice-President Andrus Ansip said after the agreement.

    • Balancing transparency and privacy as big data meets HR

      This is an exciting time for HR—the use of analytics is predictably changing the conversations and the perception around HR as a function. Most organizations are convinced of the role people analytics can play in making HR a strategic partner to the C-suite, thus firmly involved in the agenda of business transformation. While people analytics has been one of the most crucial tools to usher in this change, the unintended effect is that is has opened up a big debate about transparency vs. privacy in the workplace.

    • The California Attorney General’s Office Says It’s Finally Taking Database Abuse Seriously—But Time Will Tell

      In 2017, 22 law enforcement employees across California lost or left their jobs after abusing the computer network that grants police access to criminal histories and drivers’ records, according to new data compiled by the California Attorney General’s office. The records obtained by EFF show a total of 143 violations of database rules—the equivalent of an invasion of privacy every two and half days.

    • Victory: California Overhauls Police Database Oversight Procedures in Wake of EFF Investigations

      New Data Shows Law Enforcement Abused Network 143 Times in 2017

      San Francisco – Responding to years of investigations and pressure from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the California Attorney General’s Office has overhauled and improved its oversight of law enforcement access to a computer network containing the sensitive personal data of millions of state residents, which police abused 143 times in 2017.

      The new policies and data will be presented at a regular oversight meeting on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at the Folsom City Council Chambers.

      EFF has been investigating abuse of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (CLETS)—the computer network that connects criminal record and DMV data with local and federal agencies across the state—since 2015. Law enforcement personnel access this data more than 2.8 million times daily.

      EFF’s research found that misuse of this system was rampant. Examples include officers accessing confidential data for domestic disputes and running background checks on online dates. One particularly egregious case involved an officer who allegedly planned to hand sensitive information on witnesses to the family member of a convicted murderer.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘The Black Athlete Has Been Involved in the Political Struggle From the Beginning’

      When Colin Kaepernick wanted to join thousands of other Americans in expressing his outrage and sorrow at the killing of black people by police, the San Francisco 49er spoke with—among others—Nate Boyer, another football player for the Seattle Seahawks, who was a Green Beret. Boyer suggested that rather than sit out the national anthem, Kaepernick take a knee—the way, he said, soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, as a way to express dissent without disrespect for the military or veterans.

      That critics, including in the press, would describe Kaepernick’s gesture as a refusal to stand, an insolent refusal to act rather than an action consciously chosen, is telling; much as many people still believe Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus because her feet were tired. Like Parks, Kaepernick is in fact engaged in thoughtful, political action—in his case, the particular expression of political action that African-American athletes have engaged for decades, known informally as “the Heritage.”

      That history and its meaning in the present moment is the subject of a new book, The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America and the Politics of Patriotism, out now from Beacon Press. Our next guest is its author. Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, and sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He’s also author of, among other titles, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston and The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron. He joins us now by phone from Massachusetts.

    • How a Montana Prison Is Reforming Its Treatment of People With Disabilities

      Our criminal justice system has long struggled to accommodate persons with disabilities. So when a state prison reforms how it treats incarcerated people with disabilities, those reforms can have an immediate and vital effect. As a result of a groundbreaking settlement approved yesterday by Judge Jeremiah Lynch in our case, Langford v. Bullock, just such a set of reforms is now underway at the Montana State Prison.

      While life at Montana State Prison is certainly difficult for all prisoners, it is especially hard on those who are disabled. Deaf prisoners have been punished for failing to respond to orders to stand for count issued through an intercom they could not hear. Men with mobility impairments, many of whom are elderly due to the long sentences handed down in the state, were denied access to vocational and educational programs the prison offered on the second floor of one of its buildings and in areas that were otherwise inaccessible.

    • Trump Signed an Executive Order to End Family Separation, But It Comes at a Cost
    • Where Are We in the Fight for Dreamers?

      With immigration bills scheduled for a vote in Congress this week, here’s a recap on where DACA currently stands.

      The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program turned 6 years old last week. The future of the program, which has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and injected billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, remains uncertain.

      Last September, President Trump announced he was ending the DACA program, placing hundreds of thousands of recipients who came to this country as children at risk of deportation. Nine months and many twists and turns later, DACA recipients remain in limbo. Immigration bills scheduled for a vote this week do nothing to appropriately address the problem. In the meantime, various courts have weighed in. Below is a recap on where DACA currently stands.

    • U.S. Marine to Be Imprisoned Over Involvement With Hate Groups

      Vasillios Pistolis, a United States Marine Corps lance corporal who ProPublica and Frontline identified as a neo-Nazi and assailant during last August’s bloody white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been convicted at a court martial on charges of disobeying orders and making false statements.

      Pistolis, 19, will be imprisoned for a month, docked pay and reduced in rank to private first class, and then likely forced from the Corps, according to a USMC spokesman.

      Pistolis, a water support technician, was treated as low-level offender by military authorities, who tried him at what is known as a summary court martial, which is akin to a misdemeanor trial.

    • In Georgia, Imprisoned Deaf and Disabled People Don’t Stand a Chance

      The Georgia Department of Corrections is failing its obligations to deaf prisoners at every stage.

      In Georgia, deaf people ensnared in the criminal legal system are routinely denied sign language interpretation and other accommodations, dramatically disadvantaging them while in prison and at every stage of their criminal justice proceedings. The ACLU today filed a motion seeking a class action lawsuit on behalf of currently and formerly imprisoned deaf people in Georgia. The motion highlights gross violations of their constitutional rights.

      The criminal legal system is stacked against many of the most vulnerable Americans, including people with disabilities. At every stage — arrest, interrogation, trial, sentencing, prison, and parole — deaf people are more susceptible to going to prison more often, staying longer, suffering more, and returning to prison faster.

      Deaf people with other marginalized identities — including those who are LGBTQ and come from communities of color — fare even worse. Throughout the country, our system refuses to provide sign language interpreters and other communication access, as required by federal law. Our case against the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles — calls out these institutions for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Constitution.

    • Chaos and Cruelty for Immigrants Held in Brownsville, Texas

      In the federal courthouse in Brownsville, in the space of 75 minutes, 63 people were read their charges, asked to plead guilty or not guilty, and sentenced. Handcuffed and chained at the waist, they had to stoop to raise their right hands.

      All this for a misdemeanor: entry without inspection.

      The 63 men and women shared the same lone public defender. When they spoke, they spoke in timid whispers, nearly inaudible except to the translators. Eleven said they would happily be deported if they could be reunited with their children. The judge said it is “U.S. policy that once you are finished here, you’ll be reunited with your children.”

    • Federal Judge to Consider Independent Monitor for Illinois Child Welfare Agency

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois asked a federal judge on Wednesday to take the rare step of appointing a “special master” to resolve disputes and data requests related to statewide child welfare reforms, including providing more appropriate services for children languishing in psychiatric hospitals.

      The ACLU, which has monitored the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for decades as part of a federal court consent decree, appeared in front of U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso after writing in court documents that DCFS had repeatedly “failed to honor promises made during negotiations.”

      The most recent dispute centers on how the oft-criticized department is carrying out a reform plan. That plan calls for a total overhaul of the agency, as well as the turnover of relevant data to the ACLU and independent experts named in 2015 to aid and oversee the department’s progress.

    • Making a difference

      No, I have not gone insane. The reason for the latter is that here in Kansas, the Democrats rarely field candidates for most offices. The real action happens in the Republican primary. So if I can vote in that primary, I can have a voice in keeping the crazy out of office. It’s not much, but it’s something.

    • Ex-CIA Contractor Makes Millions Flying Immigrant Kids to Shelters

      The Trump administration has been paying an intelligence contractor millions of dollars to to fly immigrant children to shelters across the United States.

      MVM, Inc. has a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide “unaccompanied alien children (UAC) transportation services” worth $162 million, according to records reviewed by The Daily Beast. MVM’s recent job postings show it sought to hire people to escort immigrant children from the border on commercial airlines. MVM is one of a number of defense contractors cashing in on the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of locking up immigrant families.

    • Gina Haspel’s New Vision for CIA? [Ed: These Trump supporters support torture]

      After a bruising confirmation fight, one wonders if newly approved Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel will have the political support to put her own stamp on how the agency is structured and operates. Insiders note that, though she was acting director for only two months, she did little more than continue the changes made by her predecessor Mike Pompeo, who had been in charge of the agency for 15 months.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Calif. state lawmaker accuses fellow Dem of ‘gutting’ net neutrality bill

      “What happened today was outrageous,” Sen. Scott Wiener (D) said in a statement Wednesday after an Assembly committee rewrote his legislation. “These hostile amendments eviscerate the bill and leave us with a net neutrality bill in name only.”

    • California Net Neutrality Bill Was ‘Hijacked,’ Lawmaker Says

      The amended version of the bill still bans broadband providers from blocking or throttling legal content, and from creating “fast lanes.” But critics of the changes worry that they could create loopholes that would allow broadband providers to undermine net neutrality. Perhaps most important is the removal of a prohibition on broadband providers charging access fees to content providers. Depending on how courts interpreted the bill, this could create a loophole that would allow companies like Verizon or Comcast to charge companies like Facebook or Netflix additional fees to make their content available and block access to content from companies that don’t pay.

    • Corruption at the Assembly Committee Gutted California’s Net Neutrality

      In the morning before S.B. 822 was to get its first hearing in front of a California Assembly committee before the cameras were on to catch it, the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance introduced and got a vote on amendments that substantially weakened the net neutrality provisions of S.B. 822. EFF received word that was his intent and we were disappointed he would carry out such a bait and switch on behalf of AT&T and Comcast.

      Chair Miguel Santiago, along with seven other Assembly members both Republican and Democratic, voted for those amendments. Amendments proposed at 10 pm the night before the hearing. Amendments voted on before the bill was heard and before the bill’s author, State Sen. Scott Wiener, could argue against them. Amendments voted on before the witnesses and Wiener could argue for the bill as written.

      This comes after the committee chair refused a move to join S.B. 822 and S.B. 460 so that there was a single net neutrality package rather than two bills. That proposal was rejected in favor of new amendments that stripped net neutrality protections right out including provisions that banned discriminatory zero rating that hurt low income Internet users.

    • Sprint, T-Mobile to FCC: Our Job Killing, Competition Eroding Megamerger Will Create Jobs & Competition

      Americans tend to be oddly gullible when it comes to megamerger promises. Especially over in the telecom sector. Time after time we’re told that the latest major deal will provide all manner of amazing synergies, jobs and added competition. And time after time we subsequently realize that the only people that usually benefit from these deals are investors and executives. Shortly after that, we realize that the slow consolidation and steady erosion in competition results in higher rates and even worse service, something AT&T, Comcast and Charter customers are intimately familiar with after decades of M&A mania.

      And yet it’s a historical lesson we refuse to learn much of anything from.

      The latest megadeal du jour in the telecom space is Sprint and T-Mobile’s latest attempt at a $23 billion super-union. The two companies filed their formal sales pitch with the FCC this week, and you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who thinks agency head Ajit Pai and friends won’t rubber stamp the deal.

      [...]

      It’s not entirely clear why America loves to play Charlie Brown and Lucy style football when it comes to megamerger promises. Time and time again we’re promised the world, and time and time again we give companies the benefit of the doubt as they promise an ocean of synergies, jobs and competition that never actually materialize. By every indication the millennials that have bought into T-Mobile’s consumer friendly (except for opposing that whole net neutrality thing) branding schtick are about to learn their first real lesson on this front the hard way.

    • Net Neutrality And The Broken Windows Fallacy

      I’ve mentioned the idea of the broken windows fallacy — not to be confused with the long debunked broken windows theory of policing — twice in the past in reference to net neutrality, including in my recent post about what Ajit Pai should have said about repealing net neutrality. But both times I talked about it, it was kind of buried in much longer articles, and the more I think about it, the more important I think it is in understanding why Pai and his supporters are so far off in their thinking and understanding on net neutrality. What I find most perplexing about this is that people who often position themselves as doing away with overly burdensome regulations — which is a stance that Pai has staked out pretty clearly — are usually the kind of folks who talk frequently about the broken windows fallacy. And yet, here, those same folks seem to be missing it.

      As background, the broken windows fallacy comes from Frederic Bastiat, the French economist often associated with free market and libertarian thought, and it’s his clever and highly evocative way of explaining why destructive behavior — while it may generate economic activity, is not good for the economy, because it misses all of the other (often hidden) costs, including the opportunity cost of investing that money in more productive activity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Myth Of IP Incentives For All Nations – Q&A With Carlos Correa

      Dr Carlos Maria Correa, an Argentinian economist and lawyer, is globally renowned for his expertise on international trade, intellectual property, health, technology transfer, investment policy and especially their impact on developing countries. He has authored several books and academic articles and been a visiting professor at several universities. Additionally, he has consulted with many United Nations agencies, the World Bank, and other regional and international organisations and has advised several governments on intellectual property, innovation policy and public health. Correa was a member of the UK Commission on Intellectual Property, of the Commission on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health established by the World Health Assembly and of the FAO Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture.

      [...]

      Any simplification about those links may be characterized as a ‘myth’. IP protection does not necessarily lead to more innovation or trade. It may have the opposite effect, for instance, if local companies at an early stage of technological development cannot enter certain markets, they will be prevented to move through the learning curve and upgrade technologically. Historical studies show that today developed countries advanced in their industrialization processes on the basis of lack of IP protection or flexible IP regimes. The US itself provides a good example in this regard.

    • Xiaomi has spent over $1 billion on IP royalties over the past three years, IPO documents show [Ed: Microsoft among those who blackmailed it using patents because it used GNU/Linux]

      File this under: things I missed while going through Xiaomi’s 600-page IPO prospectus. An analysis at Chinese tech news portal Sina points out that the company revealed its IP licensing outlays for the past three years (hat tip to Don Merino for digging this up and sharing on LinkedIn). Here are the figures, converted to present US dollars (the original data can be found on page 447 of this document): Expense 2015 2016 2017 Royalty fees $252m $293m $533m To be specific about what’s being reported, Xiaomi describes these figures as “royalty fees paid to third-party intellectual property holders”.

    • South Korea First Country To Adopt WIPO’s AI Translation Tool [Ed: Automated translations are rubbish and not legally-binding, even if you add the "AI" buzzword to that]

      According to a press release, WIPO and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) signed a memorandum of understanding that demonstrates KIPO’s intent to integrate the AI translation tool. The signing occurred during the 23-25 May “Meeting of Intellectual Property Offices on ICT Strategies and Artificial Intelligence for IP Administration.”

      The tool, called WIPO Translate, uses advanced technology to mirror a language to another language without many words getting lost in translation.

    • WIPO Workshop Looks At Potential Impact Of Reducing Patent Fees For Universities [Ed: The highly abusive WIPO (against its own staff, too) just wants to artificially inflate the number of patents]

      The World Intellectual Property Organization’s main financial resource is from the global patent treaty it manages, allowing inventors to file international patent applications and gain protection in a large number of countries. WIPO members have been debating for some time whether universities should benefit from a fee reduction, in particular those from developing countries to encourage patent filing. A workshop held at WIPO this week pondered whether a fee reduction would lead to more patenting of inventions by universities. The answer is apparently not clear-cut.

    • Lawsuits involving Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Volvo underline growing auto sector patent focus

      A couple of recent infringement suits involving long-established car manufacturers have shown once again that patent assertion remains a looming threat in an auto industry that is undergoing some very significant changes. Late last week Jaguar Land Rover brought a case against Bentley Motors accusing the luxury carmaker of infringing one of its patents relating to its “terrain response” technologies. The patent-in-suit, RE46,828 entitled “vehicle control” is a re-issue of 7,349,776.

    • Decision finding that “Swiss claims” were affected by Spain’s Reservation to the EPC now revoked

      In July 2017, the Patents Court of Barcelona handed down a decision finding that “Swiss-type” claims were affected by the Reservation made by Spain when it ratified the European Patent Convention (“EPC”), whereby European patents, insofar as they confer protection on chemical or pharmaceutical products “as such“, shall be ineffective in Spain. In particular, the decision lifted a preliminary injunction that had been ordered “ex parte”, based on claim 16 of the patent asserted, and which read as follows:

      “Use according to claim 15, wherein the pharmaceutical composition is for treating hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia and atherosclerosis”.

      This decision caused an earthquake within Spanish patent circles for several reasons.

    • Infringement-by-manufacture requires complete — not merely substantial — manufacture

      In FastShip, LLC v. U.S., the question before the Federal Circuit was whether the infringing Littoral Combat Ships (“LCS”) were “manufactured” by the Government before the patent expiration dates. In particular, the accused LCS-3 ship model was still under construction when the asserted patents expired, but the patentee argued that it should be considered manufactured since it was substantially complete, including the key aspects of the claims at issue that had no non-infringing uses.

    • PGS Geophysical: Partial Institution and Remand

      Our timeline for theses appeals probably began with WesternGeco’s infringement lawsuit against its Norwegian competitor PGS. In the S.D.Tex. lawsuit, PGS counterclaimed alleging infringement of its U.S. Patent Nos. 6,906,981 and 6,026,059. WesternGeco then petitioned the PTO to begin Inter Partes Review Proceedings against those patents. Happy to oblige, the PTO partially instituted the IPRs and eventually cancelled a number of claims of each patent. In the midst of the appeal WesternGeco and PGS settled settled their dispute. On appeal, however, the PTO intervened to defend its decision. In its decisions, the Federal Circuit has largely affirmed, I raise a few interesting points from the decisions below.

    • When are Confidential Sales Prior Art?

      In the pending case of Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., et al., No. 17-1229 (Supreme Court 2018), the petitioner has asked the Supreme Court to offer its statement on whether Congress altered the “on sale bar” to now apply only to non-confidential sales or offers.

    • Thanks to 2016′s trade secret law and algorithmic justice, America’s courts have become AI-Kafka nightmares

      In 2014, the Alice decision made it much harder to patent software in the USA; in 2016, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, creating the first federal trade secrets statute: the result of these two developments is that software companies aggressively switched from patents to trade secrets as a means of controlling competition and limiting inspection and criticism of their products.

      This has wide-ranging effects, but the most vivid and immediate ones were on the criminal justice system, where algorithmic forensic analysis, bail assessment, and sentencing has become the norm. As a result, people facing criminal penalties are frequently told that trade secrecy means that they can’t look at the evidence against them, can’t challenge the basis for their bail, and can’t look at the calculations that went into their sentencing.

      This is absolutely unprecedented: criminal defendants have never had their rights curtailed by the trade secrecy of the technology providers who contract with the courts and police. What’s more, repeated experience tells us that the machine learning systems that accuse, convict and sentence criminal defendants are wildly imperfect, subject to racial bias (and other forms of bias), riddled with errors, and really, just the sort of thing you’d hope to be able to inspect before you were sent to prison.

    • Trademarks

      • Warner Bros. Turns Harry Potter Fan Events Into Events For The Franchise That Must Not Be Named

        It’s always a weird look for companies and IP owners to go after clear expressions of fandom from their customers. And, yet, this sort of thing is done often, with fan get-togethers or festivals regularly being threatened by the IP owners they’re fans of. Often times we hear the usual nonsense trademark law excuse that fans must be served with cease and desist letters, or sued, or else the trademark owner will lose its rights. That, as we’ve discussed repeatedly, is not true, as there are other options available to the trademark holder besides threatening fans.

      • Registering ZERO: Trademarks mean Nothing to Me

        This case stems from Royal Crown’s opposition of Coca-Cola’s attempt to register various trademarks with the term ZERO. These include, among others, SPRITE ZERO, FANTA ZERO, COKE ZERO, PIBB ZERO, and my favorite COKE ZERO ENERGY.

        [...]

        Coca-Cola argued that no disclaimer was necessary since its use of the ZERO mark was not generic and has acquired distinctiveness under Section 2(f) of the Lanham Act. The TTAB agreed with Coca-Cola and approved the marks for publication without any disclaimer.

    • Copyrights

      • Link Tax, ‘Censorship Machines’ Pass EU Committee Vote

        By far the most criticized articles by activists and other EU politicians have been Article 11 and Article 13. Article 11 refers to the so-called “link-tax,” which will require sites that link to news stories to pay the original authors.

      • MEPs ignore expert advice and vote for mass internet censorship

        The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, which mandates the mass monitoring and censorship of internet uploads. The vote comes after widespread criticism of these measures and against the advice of civil society, of leading academics and universities, of research institutions, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and even the inventors of the internet and of the world wide web.

      • EU Parliament Committee Adopts Piracy ‘Upload Filter’ Proposal

        The EU’s plans to modernize [sic] copyright law in Europe are moving ahead. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament (JURI) just adopted several proposals, including the controversial “upload filters.” Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda is disappointed but notes that the fight is not over yet.

      • EU votes for copyright law that would make [I]nternet a ‘tool for control’

        MEPs defy warnings from [I]nternet pioneers, civil liberties groups and commercial interests

      • EU takes first step in passing controversial copyright law that could ‘censor the internet’

        Both Article 11 and Article 13 were approved by the JURI committee this morning but won’t become official legislation until passed by the entire European Parliament in a plenary vote. There’s no definite timetable for when such a vote might take place, but it would likely happen sometime between December of this year and the first half of 2019.

      • ‘Disastrous’ copyright bill vote approved

        The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs voted by 15 votes to 10 to adopt Article 13 and by 13 votes to 12 to adopt Article 11.

        It will now go to the wider European Parliament to vote on in July.

      • The EU’s Terrible, Internet-Wrecking Copyright Plan Lurches Forward

        The proposal won’t officially become EU law until passed by the entire European Parliament in a plenary vote, which isn’t expected until the tail end of this year or early 2019. There’s also some potential for improvement during closed-door “trilogue negotiations” between EU legislators and member states—though this process has been derided for being entirely non-transparent.

      • Europe’s Proposed Copyright Law Could Screw Up the Whole Internet
      • Today, an EU committee voted to destroy the [I}nternet. Now what?
      • Europe advances copyright law that could filter the Internet

        The Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs voted 15-10 “to approve the controversial Article 13, which critics warn could put an end to memes, remixes and other user-generated content,” the BBC reported. The full parliament is expected to vote on the measure in July.

      • EU panel approves controversial copyright legislation

        The measure includes two controversial provisions that critics say will have a devastating effect on the [I]nternet.

        One provision includes a “link tax” that would force companies like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from news media companies before they can link to their online stories.

        Another provision, an “upload filter,” would require all online content uploaded from within the EU to be screened for copyright infringement.

      • EU votes to effectively ban memes electronically as Article 13 ‘copyright filter’ passes

        In fact, Article 13 had been removed from the original final draft of the bill, only to reappear on GDPR day – nobody knows why. Truth be told, nobody is entirely sure what the end game is here.

      • EU Copyright Reform Proposal Clears Lead Legislative Committee, To Cheers And Jeers

        The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) adopted its report on the European Commission-proposed copyright in the digital single market directive yesterday. The vote, by the lead committee vetting the proposal, sparked a continuation of the acrimonious debate that has raged for many months over several controversial provisions: The creation of a new right for online publishers and a requirement that Internet platforms monitor users’ uploads for copyright infringements. The narrow majority that approved the report by German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Axel Voss, of the European People’s Party, “suggests that the struggle is still long,” telecom consultant Innocenzo Genna blogged.

      • European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee Gives Green Light to Harmful Link Tax and Pervasive Platform Censorship

        Today, the European Parliament the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of the most harmful provisions of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

        The outcome reflects a disturbing path toward increasing control of the web to benefit powerful rights holders at the expense of the open internet, freedom of expression, and the rights of users and the public interest in the digital environment.

        The committee voted 13-12 in favor of Article 11, the provision known as the “link tax,” which grants an additional right to press publishers requiring anyone using snippets of journalistic content to first get a license or pay a fee to the publisher for its use online. Article 11 is ill-suited to address the challenges in supporting quality journalism, and it will further decrease competition and innovation in news delivery. Similar efforts have already failed miserably in Germany and Spain.

      • Think Tank: Congress Should Make Streaming Piracy a Felony

        The Free State Foundation, a think tank founded in 2006 which receives regular donations from the MPAA, is calling on Congress to tackle the threat from streaming piracy. In a new paper, FSF notes that those streaming unlicensed content to the public are currently guilty of a misdemeanor, an offense that should be upgraded to a felony if piracy is to be brought under control.

Battistelli and Topić Lose Their Bogus ‘Case’ Against Judge Corcoran After They Defamed Him and Ruined His Career/Life

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SLAPP tactics by Željko Topić have a long tradition in Croatia

MoU signed by Bergot
From left to right: Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and Elodie Bergot

Summary: The SLAPP action against Judge Patrick Corcoran, who has so far won all cases involving the EPO, is finally dismissed in Germany; what remains is an ugly legacy at the EPO, wherein everyone bold enough to say something about corruption at the top is having his or her life — not just career — destroyed

IN JUST over a week António Campinos inherits a mess at the EPO. He inherits it from the man who has, in essence, arranged the job for him, having actually caused this whole mess. Campinos, based on sources of ours, is totally accepting crooks and thugs inside his management, perpetuating all the same dysfunctions as before. There’s a new article titled “EPO Staff, Users List Priorities For Incoming President” (full version is available from SUEPO [PDF]). It’s quite gently worded, maybe for “diplomatic” reasons.

“Campinos, based on sources of ours, is totally accepting crooks and thugs inside his management, perpetuating all the same dysfunctions as before.”Do not expect Campinos to even bring up the subject of Judge Corcoran, who is said to be in hospital (victim of 3.5 years of mental torture). We don’t know the cause for sure, but rumours suggest it may be related to the trauma and financial damage caused by the Office. Recently, for example, a German magazine quoted Corcoran’s lawyer as saying she’s thankful he’s still alive, which we assumed meant that this whole ordeal took a tremendous toll, maybe even thoughts of suicide.

Serious criminality can be seen right at very the heart of Europe, committed by an organisation that was erroneously placed above the law, the EPO. Curiously enough, at least in Topić’s case, there are suspicions that he uses the EPO’s diplomatic immunity to dodge prosecution in his home country, Croatia (where he faces many criminals charges). Quite a team you got there, Mr. Battistelli, eh?

“Curiously enough, at least in Topić’s case, there are suspicions that he uses the EPO’s diplomatic immunity to dodge prosecution in his home country, Croatia (where he faces many criminals charges).”“There exists apparently a second case in which an EPO employee was found innocent and acquitted of all (criminal) charges by the highest Dutch Criminal Court but yet found guilty by the EPO and ILOAT,” an insider wrote yesterday, reflecting or relating to this news from Dr. Thorsten Bausch, who courageously (considering the risk of consequences to his career or retribution from the employer) continues to cover these affairs.

“If you hurry, you can still take part in our free #webinar on how to access court decisions on patents across Europe with ECLI,” the EPO wrote yesterday as if it actually cares about court decisions. The EPO repeatedly refused to obey court orders, including in Judge Corcoran’s case. The EPO truly acts like a criminal organisation, which nobody seems capable of compelling to obey the law, let alone enforce court rulings.

Bausch’s latest (in Twitter as well) states this:

Breaking News

All of the above decisions of the ILO and the EBA went in favour of Mr. Corcoran for procedural reasons only. This made me curious whether there is anything to the accusations raised against Mr. Corcoran on the merits, or whether – using the EBA’s words – “unsubstantiated or groundless, made-up allegations were used as a pretext for getting rid of an irksome judge”. It took me several months and a request to the Regional Court of Munich (Landgericht München) to get closer to the bottom of this issue. Finally I received an anonymized copy of a decision 24 Qs 18/17 in criminal proceedings between the EPO President (private plaintiff 1) and his VP4 (EPO Vice-President), Mr. Željko Topić (private plaintiff 2) against Mr. Corcoran (defendant). An English translation is provided here.

To put it succinctly, Mr. Corcoran was acquitted of all charges both by the Local Court (Amtsgericht München) and on appeal by the Regional Court of Munich (Landgericht München). The decision is final and I encourage readers to read it thoroughly. Not only has the procedure instigated against Mr. Corcoran been unlawful, Mr. Corcoran is also innocent on the merits!

Comment

Reading the Landgericht’s decision, my first impression was that the President’s and VP4’s criminal action failed absolutely spectacularly, both for formal reasons and on the merits. It is particularly worth noting that the three judges of the Landgericht, who could have taken the same easy way out as the Amtsgericht and the ILOAT decisions by just deciding the appeal based on formalities, did not stop there but actually considered the merits of the case as well.

In doing so, the Landgericht thoroughly destroyed the complaint, designating plaintiffs‘ evidence as „assumptions“ or „suspicions“ far away from the high probability or near certainty necessary for entering a judgment against the defendant, and held that there is no basis for the accusations (a) that Mr. Corcoran wrote a certain allegedly defamatory email about Mr. Topić, (b) that he sent this email out, (c) that it was received by any of the alleged addressees, and (d) that the email was even defamatory to the Plaintiffs. I would call this decision a first class acquittal.

There are some decent comments there (so far). “Michel” wrote: “Do you honestly think that Mr. Ernst, who is about to be appointed vice-president of the Office, will do anything to restore Mr Corcoran’s situation or reputation? You must be kidding. The Administrative Council was behind Mr. Battistelli, and they were fully aware of what was going on. This is why it has become almost impossible to clean the Augean stables of the Office. The Organisation as a whole has gone berserk.”

Yes, this isn’t going to change. Someone then starts asking what we asked several times before:

Thinking about it, here two questions :

1 – how much did the private court cases of Mr Battistelli and Topic cost in total?

2 – who paid for these private court cases : Battistelli and Topic themselves (don’t die laughing) or… the EPO (Applicants’ money) ?

“Very good question for the AC to ask the plaintiffs,” Thorsten Bausch responded. Don’t expect them to ever answer these questions. We asked these in past years and nobody seems to have know the answer in this very ‘transparent’ EPO.

“Darius III” then says: “I don´t expect the AC to offer any apology. They are well aware of their huge reponsibility in Mr Corcoran´s situation and they seem to – wrongly – believe that the only way for them to avoid being held accountable is to destroy him entirely, mentally and physically.”

“Cynic” adds: “That this decision came on 6.11.2017 and yet the EPO still continued to pursue the BoA member after that (and the Administrative Council met in December) is unforgivable. Vindictive and malign.”

Irreversible damage has been done and no doubt the judges in the German FCC will take this into account. Here’s a long comment about budget and Campinos (whom we don’t expect to do anything to correct this):

Well the transfer of DG3 to Haar cost a fat 2 digits amount of million EUR of good old applicants’ money (the price of mismanagement since Battistelli did it as a smoke-screen to cover the tracks of his erratic actions (which de facto put the question of possible lack of independence under clear light).

For what result?

None since your point is valid: DG3’s budget remains dependent from the president and the damages done to DG3’s reputation (with the active support of the Council) will probably not be reversed by later whilst re-instating Mr Corcoran soon (I hope to be wrong on this one).

All this is very sad but indeed the next president soon to arrive will perhaps do better.

One of the main issue for Mr Campinos is that all top managers responsible for the current EPO debacle (not only in DG3 but overall) have been placed at key positions all across DG4, DG5, DG1, presidential office, investigative unit etc.

They will still be in place after Battistelli’s departure.

So cleaning the Augean stables of the Office will only be possible, IF and only IF, Mr Campinos gets rid of them (or they will of course continue to act in collusion first to protect themselves then to protect Battistelli’s legacy since he made them and they owe him). They are not many but will Mr Campinos have the guts to take the only decision which is to be taken: hold them responsible for their abusive and illegal actions and draw the logical consequences?

One only has one chance to make a good first impression. Mr Campinos will have to act – and be seen to act – to restore the severe damages or else, it will only be more of the same.

Let’s hope Mr Campinos remembers this for the sake of preserving the EPO.

Campinos is taking over a complete mess, including a disgusting, dodgy person like Topić as a Vice-President. Disillusioned workers might still choose to believe that bright days are ahead, but all we’re able to see over the horizon is reputational damage and layoffs. This is of course the fault of everything Battistelli has done since 2010. Even back then, as we showed around Christmas time, he already attacked staff representatives, muzzling them after he and Topić had done similar things elsewhere. Sociopaths have taken over the Office, bringing with them some more crooked people who are loyal to them. The only solution may be to flush the entire management of the EPO and start afresh.

Even Media of the Patent Microcosm Mentions the Decline in Quality of Patents at the EPO, Based on Its Very Own Stakeholders, While IAM Ignores the News

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Quality of Patents at the EPO

Summary: The whole world basically accepts, based on patent examiners as well as those whom they interact with (patent agents), that patent quality at the EPO has sunk; but the EPO and IAM continue to vigorously deny that as it threatens some people’s nefarious agenda

THE quality of patents at the EPO goes in the opposite direction of those at the USPTO. This should be alarming to Europeans. It’s purely detrimental, a case of self-harm.

Joff Wild and BattistelliThe sad thing is that the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Christoph Ernst, as well as António Campinos, will just carry on denying the problem. They’re simply not interested in facts; all they care about is their careers.

“It’s hard to ignore the fact that there’s still not a word from IAM, the EPO’s propaganda arm when it comes to dubious claims about quality…”Michael Loney from the patent maximalists’ media finally mentions “German firms’ EPO criticism”. He’s not alone. Kluwer Patent Blog, amplifier of Team UPC, broke this story, which has thus far attracted close to 50 comments.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that there’s still not a word from IAM, the EPO’s propaganda arm when it comes to dubious claims about quality (made in the form of several publications and even a public talk earlier this month, basically part of the anti-Section 101 lobby — the section that greatly limits patent scope in the US).

The EPO meanwhile lies yet again (see our response to it from yesterday), then receives press coverage (titled “Patent quality is up, according to EPO quality report”), albeit not without decent rebuttals in the text, e.g.:

Last week, four German law firms wrote a letter to the EPO, expressing their concern over recent developments, specifically the increasing work targets at the office.

The law firms Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald, and Vossius & Partner wrote that the incentive systems and internal directives appear to be directed at rewarding or even requesting “rapid termination of proceedings” and a “correspondingly higher productivity.

The letter said that while the firms appreciated the timeliness of examination, the “overreaching desire” for high productivity has lead to a range of problems, including issues of quality, scope of protection and inadequately assessed patents.

The EPO’s report mentioned that it had surpassed targets for establishing a comprehensive search and written opinion within six months from filing of the application with the EPO.

The firms noted a a recent petition from EPO examiners that expressed concern over the work targets and how they are affecting patent quality at the office.

SUEPO has meanwhile mentioned this letter directly, stating yesterday in its official site (after it had mentioned 5 articles about it): “Open letter from June 7, 2018 of four leading patent law firms in Germany – Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald and Vossius & Partner, addressed to outgoing EPO president Benoit Battistelli, the chairman of the Administrative Council Christoph Ernst, principal director user support & quality management Niclas Morey and future EPO president Antonio Campinos (who will start in office on 1 July 2018).”

The original PDF version is available from SUEPO [PDF]; it’s basically text, not an image (like the above snapshot). Maybe somewhat of an historic item? IAM is on the wrong side of history and has been for years (after it had received payments from the EPO’s PR agency, FTI Consulting).

Battistelli loves IAM:

Battistelli and IAM

EPO and IAM

From IAM’s event (UPC promotion):

IAM events

06.20.18

Links 20/6/2018: Qt 5.11.1, Oracle Solaris 11.3 SRU 33, HHVM 3.27.0, Microsoft Helping ICE

Posted in News Roundup at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Sculpt for The Curious

    Sculpt for The Curious is the second development stage of the Genode-based general-purpose OS used at Genode Labs. Compared to the initial version, which was targeted at early adopters only, the new version invites a broader user base to explore the system. It comes in the form of a ready-to-use disk image for a bootable USB thumb drive.

  • Genode-Based Sculpt OS Now Available With Easy-To-Use Disk Image

    Sculpt OS is striving to become a general purpose operating system built off the Genode OS framework. The second release of Sculpt OS is now available and it’s much easier now to try out.

    Sculpt OS relies upon Genode’s micro-kernel architecture, sandboxed drivers, and other modern approaches for providing a unique OS on commodity PC hardware.

  • Bitfi and McAfee Announce First Truly Unhackable and Open Source Crypto Wallet

    Bitfi, a global payments technology company working to enable businesses and consumers to participate in the digital currency economy, today announced Bitfi Wallet – the first unhackable, open source hardware wallet with an accompanying dashboard that features wireless setup and support for many popular cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, including Monero, a fully decentralized private cryptocurrency that has previously never had a hardware wallet solution.

  • Events

    • Call for Code is open and organizations are lining up to join the cause

      Today is the first official day of Call for Code, an annual global initiative from creator David Clark Cause, with IBM proudly serving as Founding Partner. Call for Code aims to unleash the collective power of the global open source developer community against the growing threat of natural disasters.

      Even as we prepare to accept submissions from technology teams around the world, the response from the technology community has been overwhelming and today I am thrilled to announce two new partners joining the cause.

    • Getting started with Open edX to host your course

      Now in its seventh major release, the Open edX platform is a free and open source course management system that is used all over the world to host Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as well as smaller classes and training modules. To date, Open edX software has powered more than 8,000 original courses and 50 million course enrollments. You can install the platform yourself with on-premise equipment or by leveraging any of the industry-leading cloud infrastructure services providers, but it is also increasingly being made available in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model from several of the project’s growing list of service providers.

      The Open edX platform is used by many of the world’s premier educational institutions as well as private sector companies, public sector institutions, NGOs, non-profits, and educational technology startups, and the project’s global community of service providers continues to make the platform accessible to ever-smaller organizations. If you plan to create and offer educational content to a broad audience, you should consider using the Open edX platform.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Call for Feedback! Draft of Goal-Metrics for Diversity & Inclusion in Open Source (CHAOSS)

        In the last few months, Mozilla has invested in collaboration with other open source project leaders and academics who care about improving diversity & inclusion in Open Source through the CHAOSS D&I working group. Contributors so far include:

        Alexander Serebrenik (Eindhoven University of Technology) , Akshita Gupta (Outreachy), Amy Marrich (OpenStack), Anita Sarma (Oregon State University), Bhagashree Uday (Fedora), Daniel Izquierdo (Bitergia), Emma Irwin (Mozilla), Georg Link (University of Nebraska at Omaha), Gina Helfrich (NumFOCUS), Nicole Huesman (Intel) and Sean Goggins ((University of Missouri).

      • Introducing A-Terrain – a cartography component for A-Frame

        Have you ever wanted to make a small web app to share your favorite places with your friends? For example your favorite photographs attached to a hike, or just a view of your favorite peak, or your favorite places downtown, or a suggested itinerary for friends visiting?

      • Setting up Arcanist for Mozilla development on Windows
      • Taming Phabricator

        So Mozilla is going all-in on Phabricator and Differential as a code review tool. I have mixed feelings on this, not least because it’s support for patch series is more manual than I’d like. But since this is the choice Mozilla has made I might as well start to get used to it. One of the first things you see when you log into Phabricator is a default view full of information.

      • This Week in Rust 239

        This week’s crate is SIMDNoise, a crate to use modern CPU vector instructions to generate various types of noise really fast. Thanks to gregwtmtno for the suggestion!

      • WebRender newsletter #20
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • 25th Anniversary for FreeBSD

      On June 19, 1993 the name FreeBSD was officially agreed on and has been used ever since. Find out more about how to celebrate this important day with us.

    • June 19 Has Been Declared National FreeBSD Day, Happy 25th Anniversary FreeBSD!

      The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce today that June 19 has been declared National FreeBSD Day to celebrate the project’s official name 25th anniversary.

      Exactly 25 years ago on this day, on June 19, 1993, David Greenman sent an email to one of the mailing lists available at that point in time to suggest “FreeBSD” as the name for the Unix-like operating system used by billions of people all over the world, which continues to have a positive impact on us every single day.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Purism’s Librem 5 To Rely On Secondary Processor For Binary Blobs

      With not being able to deliver a 100% fully free software / libre system, the Librem 5 smartphone will rely upon a secondary processor for dealing with the necessary binary blobs for hardware initialization to keep them out of touch from the U-Boot boot-loader and Linux kernel.

      The first road-block in their effort to make the Librem 5 smartphone as open as possible is the DDR PHY with firmware blobs needed for the DDR4 memory training process at boot time. With it not being realistic for them to rewrite the firmware blob to do the DDR4 PHY training, they are planning to punt the binary-only blobs out to a secondary processor. In doing so, they can also apply for an exclusion with the Free Software Foundation for still having a device that “Respects Your Freedom” while still having necessary binary blobs at play.

    • Solving the first FSF RYF hurdle for the Librem 5

      While investigating using the i.MX 8 for the Librem 5 phone we found an issue that would have been problematic for us to obtain the Free Software Foundation’s “Respects Your Freedom” (RYF) hardware endorsement…

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: June 22nd starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
  • Licensing/Legal

    • Xapian Joins Conservancy as a Member Project

      Software Freedom Conservancy proudly welcomes Xapian as Conservancy’s newest member project. Xapian is a probabilistic information retrieval library that allows developers to add advanced indexing and search facilities to their own applications.

      Conservancy, a public charity focused on ethical technology, is the home of over forty member projects dedicated to developing free and open source software. Conservancy acts as a corporate umbrella, allowing member projects to operate as charitable initiatives without having to independently manage their own corporate structure and administrative services.

      “We’ve spent the past 18 years at Xapian developing a technologically mature software package,” said Olly Betts, Xapian’s Project Lead. “We’re excited about how Conservancy can help us extend that maturity to our project governance.”

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.27 Released With More Mature HackC Compiler Front-End

      Just over one month after the release of HHVM 3.26 that introduced the new HackC compiler front-end for Hack and PHP languages, HHVM 3.27 is now available.

    • HHVM 3.27.0

      HHVM 3.27 is released!

    • Has Agile Programming Lost its Way?

      Programmers are passionate about which development methodology is the best. Is it Agile? Waterfall? Feature Driven Development? Scrum? So everyone took notice when one of the 17 authors of the seminal Agile Manifesto wrote a blog post last month headlined “Developers Should Abandon Agile.”

      Further down in his post, Ron Jeffries made a clear distinction between Manifesto Agile — “the core ideas from the Manifesto, in which I still believe” — and its usurping follower, “Faux Agile” (or, in extreme cases, “Dark Agile”). Jeffries ultimately urged developers to learn useful development methods — including but not limited to Extreme Programming — that are true to the Manifesto’s original principles, while also detaching their thinking from particular methodologies with an Agile name.

    • Write fast apps with Pronghorn, a Java framework

      In 1973, Carl Hewitt had an idea inspired by quantum mechanics. He wanted to develop computing machines that were capable of parallel execution of tasks, communicating with each other seamlessly while containing their own local memory and processors.

      Born was the actor model, and with that, a very simple concept: Everything is an actor. This allows for some great benefits: Separating business and other logic is made vastly easier. Security is easily gained because each core component of your application is separate and independent. Prototyping is accelerated due to the nature of actors and their interconnectivity.

    • What’s all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

      Earlier this year, Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of C++, managing director in the technology division of Morgan Stanley, and a visiting professor of computer science at Columbia University in the US, wrote a letter inviting those overseeing the evolution of the programming language to “Remember the Vasa!”

      Easy for a Dane to understand no doubt, but perhaps more of a stretch for those with a few gaps in their knowledge of 17th century Scandinavian history. The Vasa was a Swedish warship, commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus. It was the most powerful warship in the Baltic Sea from its maiden voyage on the August 10, 1628, until a few minutes later when it sank.

    • Systems Languages: An Experience Report

      Recently, there’s been a lot of turmoil in the systems language community. We have the Rust Evangelism Strikeforce nudging us towards rewriting everything in Rust. We have the C++17 folks who promise the safety and ease of use of modern programming languages with the performance and power of C. And then there’s a long tail of other “systems” programming languages, like Nim, Reason / OCaml, Crystal, Go, and Pony.

      Personally, I’m super excited we’re seeing some interesting work in the programming language theory space. This got me excited to learn more about what’s out there. A lot of the problems I solve are usually solved in C. Recently, Go has begun to encroach on C’s territory. I enjoy C and Go as much as the next person — They’re good languages for getting shit done. Often times, they leave a lot to be desired, and leave me envious of other programmers with tools like Flow, Typescript, and Dialyzer. Coming from developing in Erlang, even with its rudimentary type system, functional programming just came far more easily to me.

    • Python and Bash – Contenders for the most used scripting language

      Packt Publishing, publisher of software learning resources, has revealed the results of its 2018 Skill Up survey in a new report.

      From what programming languages, frameworks, and libraries are most used, to job satisfaction, attitudes to management and what it’s like to work in the software industry today, the report offers a snapshot of what matters to software developers in 2018.

Leftovers

  • How paranoid parenting fuels kids’ ‘[I]nternet addiction’

    It is understandable that parents are concerned with what their children are up to in their digital bedrooms. But the current one-dimensional focus on the [I]nternet confuses the symptom with the underlying problem. When I interviewed a group of parents recently, they complained that their children spend all their time either texting or online, and rarely engage directly with other children. When I asked about what opportunities they have provided for their children to explore the physical world, and to have direct offline experiences with other children, there was a hesitant silence.

  • How I got my attention back

    The main principle behind getting my attention back was making a decision: I’m not going to do any tasks unless I think it’s a good time to do them worth doing in the first place.

    So instead of being reactive to everything that was coming from the outside world, I needed to decide if, why and when I’m going to do anything.

    In order to start as I meant to go on, I cut out all of the distractions that could interfere with my actions.

  • Apple fined $9m for misleading Australian customers with faulty iPhones and iPads

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action in April 2017, claiming Apple had misled consumers about their warranty rights by routinely refusing to inspect or fix faulty devices without charge if they had been repaired by a third party.

  • Apple hauled into US Supreme Court over, no, not ebooks, patents, staff wages, keyboards… but its App Store

    The US Supreme Court will scrutinize an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, opening the door for the computing giant to escape censure over its app store policies and potentially millions of dollars in claims.

    The lawsuit claims that Apple – which has had its fair share of legal challenges from alleged wage fixing to defective keyboards – has a monopoly on the app market, partly demonstrated by the fact it is able to claim a 30 per cent commission on all sold applications.

    That monopoly is used to kill off competition, the suit claims, by only allowing apps that are approved by Apple onto the App Store, with Apple insisting on exclusive distribution through its store as a condition of approval.

  • Apple’s HyperCard was inspired by an acid trip

    In 1985, Atkinson dropped acid and came up with HyperCard, the groundbreaking multimedia authoring program that was really a precursor to the first Web browser. Atkinson recently told Leo Laporte the story of this incredible LSD-fueled eureka moment.

  • The Psychedelic Inspiration For Hypercard

    I thought if we could encourage sharing of ideas between different areas of knowledge, perhaps more of the bigger picture would emerge, and eventually more wisdom might develop. Sort of a trickle-up theory of information leading to knowledge leading to wisdom.

    This was the underlying inspiration for HyperCard, a multimedia authoring environment that empowered non-programmers to share ideas using new interactive media called HyperCard stacks.

  • Science

    • Why collaborative thinking beats individual smarts

      THREE decades ago Thomas Malone modernised how the business world thought about digital communications in organisations with a seminal paper, “Electronic Markets and Electronic Hierarchies”. It was 1987, before the commercialisation of the [I]nternet, yet he and his co-authors predicted “an overall shift toward proportionately more use of markets—rather than hierarchies—to co-ordinate economic activity”.

      Evidence confirming that thesis is now everywhere. His book “The Future of Work” in 2004 foresaw “hyperspecialisation” in business, which has also come to pass. As a professor of management at MIT, Mr Malone has built on his earlier works to consider how new technologies and people can combine to create new kinds of productive entities, which he calls “superminds”—the title of his latest book.

    • This Week in Numbers: Discrimination in the Tech Industry

      According to the Dice survey, more tech professionals experienced or witnessed discrimination due to age compared to gender, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. …In fact, among those 55 or older, 88 percent are worried that their age can hurt their continuing career.

    • Predatory publishers: SciencePG

      I got spammed again by SciencePG (“Science Publishing Group”).

      One of many (usually Chinese or Indian) fake publishers, that will publish anything as long as you pay their fees. But, unfortunately, once you published a few papers, you inevitably land on their spam list: they scrape the websites of good journals for email adresses, and you do want your contact email address on your papers.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #164
    • PyRoMineIoT cryptojacker uses NSA exploit to spread

      Larry Trowell, principal consultant with Synopsys Software Integrity Group, said the government shares some of the blame for the NSA exploit.

      “It’s in every country’s interest to develop systems enabling offensive and defensive strategies to protect individuals and national services,” Trowell wrote via email. “There is no fault in that. If the NSA does have some blame to share in this situation, it is for allowing secrets to be exfiltrated — not in developing them.”

      Jett said although the NSA exploit was stolen, “they didn’t create the vulnerabilities that allow for the malware to exploit devices.”

      “As such, you can’t hold them responsible for the malware that has emerged from the EternalRomance exploit. Vendors whose products are vulnerable to EternalRomance are responsible for resolving the exploit problem,” Jett wrote. “Additionally, it has been more than a year since the NSA exploits were released, and vendors have created patches. It becomes incumbent on the users to make sure they are properly patching their software and reducing the threat surface for these exploits.”

    • Can Hackers Crack the Ivory Towers?

      While both researchers agreed that their colleagues would gain from incorporating hackers’ discoveries into their own work, they diverged when diagnosing the source of the gulf between the two camps and, to a degree, even on the extent of the rift.

    • 6-Year-Old Malware Injects Ads, Takes Screenshots On Windows 10

      A sneaky and persistent malware has surfaced which spams Windows 10 PCs with ads and takes screenshots to eventually send it to the attackers.

      Security researchers at Bitdefender found this malware named Zacinlo which first appeared in 2012. About 90% of Zacinlo’s victims are from the US running Microsoft Windows 10. There are other victims too from Western Europe, China, and India with a small fraction running Windows 7 or 8.

    • OpenBSD Disabling SMT / Hyper Threading Due To Security Concerns

      Security oriented BSD operating system OpenBSD is making the move to disable Hyper Threading (HT) on Intel CPUs and more broadly moving to disable SMT (Simultanious Multi Threading) on other CPUs too.

      Disabling of Intel HT and to follow with disabling SMT for other architectures is being done in the name of security. “SMT (Simultanious Multi Threading) implementations typically share TLBs and L1 caches between threads. This can make cache timing attacks a lot easier and we strongly suspect that this will make several spectre-class bugs exploitable. Especially on Intel’s SMT implementation which is better known as Hypter-threading. We really should not run different security domains on different processor threads of the same core.”

      OpenBSD could improve their kernel’s scheduler to workaround this, but given that is a large feat, at least for now they have decided to disable Hyper Threading by default.

      Those wishing to toggle the OpenBSD SMT support can use the new hw.smt sysctl setting on OpenBSD/AMD64 and is being extended to cover CPUs from other vendors and architectures.

    • Linux malware threats – bots, backdoors, trojans and malicious apps [Ed: Ignoring back doors in Windows and other proprietary platforms to instead focus on malicious software one actually needs to install on one's machine or choose a trivial-to-guess password (when there are open ports)]
    • Does Open Source Boost Security? Hortonworks Says Yes

      Organizations are best served security-wise if they favor and adopt open source technology — especially enterprise open source — over proprietary alternatives, according to Hortonworks. However, not everybody agrees that open source software intrinsically is more secure.

      It’s tough to argue that open source hasn’t brought significant benefits to the IT industry and the tens of thousands of organizations that rely on IT products to automate their operations. Starting with the introduction of Linux in the late 1990s, major swaths of the tech industry have shifted to open source development methodologies. That includes the vast majority of the big data ecosystem, which has been largely bootstrapped by various Apache Software Foundation projects.

    • Don’t Neglect Open Source Security [Ed: Well, if you have chosen proprietary software, then you have already given up on security altogether. With FOSS there's at least control and hope.]
    • How to build a strong DevSecOps culture: 5 tips [Ed: Red Hat is still promoting dumb buzzwords that help employers overwork their staff]
    • Where in the DevOps cycle do you do security?
    • A Framework to Strengthen Open Source Security and Compliance [Ed: Firms that profit from perceived insecurity of FOSS push so-called 'white papers' into IDG]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The American Who Says He’s Been the Target of Five Air Strikes

      He was born Darrell Lamont Phelps. He grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, moved down to the city, tried his hand at comedy, and later converted to Islam, adopting the name of Bilal Abdul Kareem. Now 46 years old, he lives in the Middle East, where he has a wife, five children, and a controversial freelance-journalism career focused on Islamist fighters in the Syrian civil war.

      In his estimation, the United States government has tried to kill him five times. Last week, he won the ability to proceed with a lawsuit that could save his life. It may also constrain the president’s ability to order other Americans killed.

    • Target Castro! Some of the CIA’s most bizarre attempts to kill the Cuban leader were dreamed up by the man whose granddaughter is now dating Poldark star

      The great man and his army of bodyguards would suspect nothing, CIA operatives assured the would-be assassin at a secret meeting in Paris on November 22, 1963. Major Rolando Cubela Secades, a Cuban army officer and revolutionary comrade of Castro who was plotting to replace him, wasn’t too impressed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange health fears: UK forcing Wikileaks chief to ‘make impossible choice’

      As they prepared to hold a vigil they called for the UN to intervene on his sixth anniversary as an asylum-seeker.

      Mr Assange’s team of lawyers claimed doctors have confirmed his protracted confinement in the Ecuador’s London embassy is having a severe impact on the journalist’s physical and mental health.

      Calling for the intervention of the UN’s Human Rights Council, they argued the UK is forcing Mr Assange, 46, to make an “impossible” choice.

      Human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers, representing the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said: “The UK shows a deliberate disregard for his medical needs by forcing him to choose between his human right to asylum and his human right to medical treatment.

    • Threatened by the truth – Julian Assange anniversary

      Today marks the sixth anniversary of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s effective house arrest in London. He cannot move around in public, because he fears he will be arrested and extradited to America — a daunting prospect, since a UN special rapporteur described Chelsea Manning’s treatment by that country’s justice system as torture.

      Assange is divisive. Hawks wish him nothing but misfortune and a stretch in jail. According to journalist John Pilger, a leaked official memo says: “Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He’ll be eating cat food forever.”

      If you stand at the other end of the spectrum, Assange is a hero who revealed how our world really works. Consequently, he has been relentlessly targeted. Hilary Clinton has contributed to this process, as Assange highlighted the Clintons’ links with Saudi Arabia and the multimillion donations that kingdom made to their foundation, after she, as secretary of state, sanctioned an $80bn Saudi arms deal.

    • Workers and young people speak out after Sydney rally to defend Julian Assange

      The Socialist Equality Party held a powerful rally yesterday at Sydney’s Town Hall Square, demanding that the Australian government of Malcolm Turnbull take immediate action to secure Julian Assange’s freedom and return to Australia, with a guarantee that he will not be extradited to the United States.

      Hundreds of workers and young people attended the event, under conditions of a media blackout of the protest and the growing dangers facing the WikiLeaks editor. Attendees travelled from as far away as Hobart, the Tasmanian capital—a trip of 1,500 kilometres. Contingents came from Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne, as well as Newcastle, a working-class regional centre of New South Wales, and other cities and towns.

    • Julian Assange’s lawyer appeals for UNHRC assitance

      A lawyer for Julian Assange has urged the United Nations to make an official visit to see first hand the impact living inside of the Ecuadorian embassy for six years has had on the WikiLeaks founder. Jennifer Robinson told the UN Human Rights Council that Mr Assange was unable to obtain proper medical attention and was being denied sunlight. British authorities have made it clear to Mr Assange if he were to leave the embassy, even for medical treatment, he would be arrested.

    • Bay Area political events: Women in politics, Assange rally

      Pro-Assange rally: Rally outside the British Consulate to support Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is detained at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. 4-6 p.m., 1 Sansome St., San Francisco. More information is here.

    • WikiLeaks’ Assange Threatens Corporate Media’s Narrative ‘Monopoly’

      On June 19, thousands of WikiLeaks supporters will hold rallies in Washington, DC, to protest against the conditions to which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being subjected to inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Kevin Zeese, co-coordinator of Popular Resistance, an activist group based in Maryland that tackles a broad range of social issues, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear that the rallies for Assange are a vital fight against big corporations and the US government monopolizing the media.

    • Former CIA worker charged with leaking top-secret hacking tools to WikiLeaks
    • Ex-CIA engineer accused of leaking hacking docs to WikiLeaks charged in massive ‘Vault 7′ security breach
    • Former CIA engineer charged with leaking classified information to WikiLeaks
    • Ex-CIA employee charged in leak of classified hacking tools
    • Ex-CIA employee charged in major leak of agency hacking tools
    • Ex-CIA employee charged with leaking classified information
    • Alleged CIA leaker charged with disclosing classified information
    • Ex-CIA employee charged in major leak of agency hacking tools
    • US charges ex-CIA employee with leaking classified data, child porn offenses
    • CIA engineer, 29, charged with possessing child pornography is now charged with leaking THOUSANDS of classified documents to WikiLeaks

      A former CIA engineer who was charged with possession of child pornography has also been charged with leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

    • Man who allegedly gave Vault 7 cache to WikiLeaks busted by poor opsec

      According to the new superseding indictment, which was made public on Monday, Schulte faces numerous charges, including illegal gathering of national defense information, transmission of this information, obstruction of justice, among others.

    • Ex-CIA worker charged with disclosing classified information
    • US Feds Charge New Yorker With Criminally Leaking Classified Info from CIA

      On Monday, ex-CIA officer Joshua Schulte was charged by the US Attorney’s Office from the Southern District of New York for child pornography offenses and for stealing classified national defense information from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and sending the material to an organization that disseminates such information publicly.

    • The Implications of Assange’s Persecution for Journalism and Democracy

      If the U.S.-led campaign to extradite and silence Assange is successful, it will invariably become the blueprint used by powerful governments like the U.S. to silence independent journalists the world over, and bludgeon them into submission.

    • UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to US

      It has been six years since Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to seek asylum from possible extradition to the United States to face indictment under the US Espionage Act.

      At the time, Assange, an Australian national, was wanted by Sweden for questioning over sexual offense allegations. Assange had also broken the terms of his UK bail. Since then, he has become even more controversial, having published US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and internal emails from Democratic Party officials.

      While some admire and others despise Assange, no one should be prosecuted under the antiquated Espionage Act for publishing leaked government documents. That 1917 statute was designed to punish people who leaked secrets to a foreign government, not to the media, and allows no defense or mitigation of punishment on the basis that public interest served by some leaks may outweigh any harm to national security.

    • For Our Rulers, Smearing A Dissident Journalist Is As Good As Killing Him

      As I write this, demonstrations around the world are taking place in protest of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange’s arbitrary detention and silencing by the US-centralized power establishment that has been actively pursuing his destruction for over a decade. The demonstrations will be well-attended, but not a fraction as well-attended as they should be. They will receive international attention, but not a fraction as much attention as they should.

      This is because the manipulators and smear merchants who have made their careers paving the way for oligarchic agendas have been successful in killing off sympathy for the plight of Assange. As we discussed yesterday, sympathy is key for getting narratives to take hold in public consciousness. This is why western corporate media will circulate pictures of dead children all day long when it’s in the interests of advancing longstanding imperialist agendas, but never when those children were killed by western weapons. If you can tug at someone’s heart strings while telling them a story, the story you tell them will slide right in with minimal scrutiny. And it works the other way, too: if you can prevent someone’s heart strings from being plucked while hearing about a legitimately heartbreaking story, you can prevent that story from taking hold. Kill all sympathy for a dissident journalist and you kill all belief in his side of the story.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How the Case for Voter Fraud Was Tested — and Utterly Failed

      From a new Supreme Court ruling to a census question about citizenship, the campaign against illegal registration is thriving. But when the top proponent was challenged in a Kansas courtroom to prove that such fraud is rampant, the claims went up in smoke.

      [...]

      The trial had a significance that extends far beyond the Jayhawk state. One of the fundamental questions in the debate over alleged voter fraud — whether a substantial number of non-citizens are in fact registering to vote — was one of two issues to be determined in the Kansas proceedings. (The second was whether there was a less burdensome solution than what Kansas had adopted.) That made the trial a telling opportunity to remove the voter fraud claims from the charged, and largely proof-free, realms of political campaigns and cable news shoutfests and examine them under the exacting strictures of the rules of evidence.

      That’s precisely what occurred and according to Robinson, an appointee of George W. Bush, the proof that voter fraud is widespread was utterly lacking. As the judge put it, “the court finds no credible evidence that a substantial number of noncitizens registered to vote” even under the previous law, which Kobach had claimed was weak.

    • There Is Another England

      My grandfather Henry was a lifelong socialist who had no illusions about the British Empire and its role in the World. Yet he was also a patriotic Englishman whose life, like so many of his generation, was largely defined by the struggle against Nazism, in which his only son had been killed. That focus on the Second World War partly explained his fondness for the Soviet Union, in discussing the abuses of which he would always remark “But you have to consider what came before. Given where they started, they are making progress”. He would recite “A man’s a man for a’that” to me as a small child and explain its meaning. Yet Henry would fly his St George’s flag proudly when occasion warranted it. I do not therefore automatically associate that flag with UKIP or with Essex man.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • [Older] A purity test for artists is the end of art

      Consider for a moment the range of behaviours that cinema sponsors. Rape, arson and pillage. Defenestration, disembowelment, drawing and quartering, amputation and flaying alive. Hanging, electrocution and crucifixion. Enslavement, political persecution, assassination and genocide. Treachery, betrayal, humiliation and heart-breaking. Wife-beating, serial killing and cannibalism. Incest, castration, and police brutality. Mass slaughter on battle-fields or western frontiers and even in outer space. Stabbing, strangling, poisoning and bludgeoning to a bloody pulp. Oh, but never mind that. Just so long as nobody smokes.

    • [Older] Millennials don’t fear censorship because they plan on doing all the censoring

      Accordingly, the young casually assume not only that they’re the cutting-edge, trend-setting arbiters of the acceptable now, but that they always will be. The students running campuses like re-education camps aren’t afraid of being muzzled, because they imagine they will always be the ones doing the muzzling — the ones dictating what words we can use (cis, not heterosexual), what books we can read (Tom Sawyer is out), what practices we can embrace (white people may not wear dreadlocks). These millennials don’t fear censorship because they plan on doing all the censoring.

    • 50 artists, 50 limited edition t-shirts on “censorship” to raise money for Amnesty International

      Everpress and Amnesty International have joined forces to launch 50/50, a collaborative exploration of a single topic – censorship. Fifty limited-edition t-shirts have been designed and produced by 50 leading artists on this theme, including Liam Hodges, Careaux, Octavian, Thierry Noir, Hetty Douglas – all to encourage discussion and raise crucial funds for the human rights organisation.

      The t-shirts are on display at an exhibition at Protein Studios in Shoreditch and are on sale at everpress.com until 28 June. Each t-shirt costs £25 and half the profits will go to the designers while the remaining will go to Amnesty.

    • London police have banned a rap group from making music without their permission

      The Kingston Crown Court gave its ruling on June 15. For three years, each of 1011′s five members must seek permission before creating music. They are prohibited from rapping about violence or death in their lyrics, and “mentioning named postcodes in a gang context.” The group must inform the police 24 hours before releasing new music videos, and 48 hours before any performance or filming, which police must also be present for.

      The five members of 1011 were arrested in November 2017 and charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder. The group admitted to the charge, leading to the new court order.

    • Courts And Police Accused Of ‘Censorship’ As Drill Music Group Faces Ban

      A human rights group has criticised a landmark court decision banning a drill group from making music with violent lyrics, claiming the focus on the genre “highlights the danger that racial bias infects the criminal justice system”.

      Recorder Ann Mulligan on Friday banned Yonas Girma, 21, Micah Bedeau, 19, Isaac Marshall, 18, Jordan Bedeau, 17, and Rhys Herbert, 17, from mentioning death or injury in songs or on social media after a hearing at Kingston Crown Court.

    • The banning of ‘Active Shooter’ reveals the balance between censorship and freedom

      Recently, controversy and criticism have fallen upon Active Shooter, an early-access tactical first-person shooter in which players can either be a SWAT member or the eponymous “active shooter” during a fictitious school shooting. The game was developed by Ata Berdiyev, who has been disparaged as a known troll and caustic developer. He had previously released other games with inflammatory titles such as White Power: Pure Voltage and Tyde Pod Challenge, used purely for shock value for otherwise benign and simple games. After significant backlash, Active Shooter was pulled by Valve from its digital distribution platform, Steam, and Berdiyev was subsequently barred from doing business with Valve.

    • Coming to a movie studio near you: Chinese censorship

      Two subjects were off limits at a major gathering of top Chinese and Hollywood movie producers and financiers in Shanghai this week.

      Journalists covering the Global Film Industry Value Chain Development Forum event were told not to ask questions about tax avoidance or the US trade war. Both issues are topical and present major challenges to the next phase of growth for China’s booming movie industry.

      The request itself highlights another challenge for western movie-makers seeking to profit from the world’s second-largest box office – censorship.

      China’s box office is poised to take over Hollywood as the world’s largest next year as US movie studios increasingly target Chinese audiences. However, that often involves skirting around Beijing’s tough censorship rules, which means plots or characters which are critical of China or touch on sensitive issues such as Tibet are unlikely to be screened in the country. An extreme example of this was casting white Scottish actor Tilda Swinton as a Tibetan monk in Doctor Strange in 2016 to avoid upsetting Beijing.

    • Crunch Day as EU Copyright Reform Threatens Internet Censorship

      The European Parliament will tomorrow vote on a reformed Copyright Directive, which among other things features provisions mandating online platforms to install automated upload filters that many fear could result in significant “over-blocking” of lawful content (censorship) and restrictions on news linking.

      The proposed “content recognition technologies” appear to form part of the proposed Article 13, which makes intermediaries (instead of just end-users) liable for uploads by their users and seems to circumvent the existing E-Commerce Directive. It would essentially require businesses to implement automated filters that scan for and then block copyrighted videos, photos, music, text or code in user submitted content.

    • GAIKA on the censorship of drill music

      Writing for Dazed, the Warp artist takes aim at the Met Police’s new court order against the genre.

    • A TV Mega-Merger That’s Bad for the First Amendment

      The Sinclair deal combines unprecedented market control with a pattern of forcing local TV stations to run propaganda.

      The Federal Communications Commission is currently considering a corporate acquisition that would make a single company — Sinclair Broadcasting Group — the largest owner of local TV stations in history.

      Americans watch more local news than cable news or network news, making that medium key for informing the public about important issues. In a public comment submitted Tuesday, we formally urged the FCC to block the deal. This unprecedented concentration of control, which contradicts the FCC’s own policies about how wide a broadcasting company’s reach can be, would stifle the diversity of views in the press that’s essential for a healthy democracy.

      You may have heard of Sinclair before, because it has been exposed for repeatedly injecting politically charged segments into local news, which otherwise typically avoids ideological punditry.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How To Turn Off Targeted Ads Using Google’s New Ad Personalization Settings [Ed: Google would still spy on you, but it might not be obvious about the outcome of all that spying]

      Until now, the year 2018 had been all about the security of user data and its misuse by big tech giants. In the past where advertisers profited from our data through targeted marketing, the recent European Union GDPR regulations and Cambridge Analytica scandal forced the corporations into updating their privacy policies. In short, adding restrictions on advertisers thus prompting more digital data control for users.

    • Wireless Carriers Hope You Won’t Notice Their Location Data Scandal Makes The Facebook, Cambridge Fracas Look Like Amateur Hour

      When the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, we noted that however bad you thought that scandal was (and it certainly was bad), it couldn’t hold a candle to the routine privacy abuses that have occurred in the telecom sector for the better part of the last few decades. From charging consumers hundreds of additional dollars annually to opt out of snoopvertising, to the use of private user financial data to justify providing even worse customer service, the broadband industry has long been the poster child for privacy abuses without much in the way of practical public penalty.

      It’s just as bad on the wireless side, where carriers like Verizon have routinely have been caught modifying user data packets to track users around the internet (without telling them or providing opt out tools), and selling user browsing, app-usage and location data to everyone that comes calling. That’s before you even touch on the fact that these companies are practically bone grafted to the NSA and other intelligence services.

      As such, we noted how if you were part of the #DeleteFacebook set but were still rolling around using a stock phone on an incumbent carrier network, you failed to understand that Facebook’s casual treatment of private consumer data was the cross-industry norm, not some errant exception.

    • Facebook Adds Annoying Autoplay Ads In Personal Messenger Conversations

      Advertisers who wish to run their ads on the messenger can do so by opting for paid Facebook ad campaigns. As of now, no option has been provided to run ads only on the Messenger.

    • Now Facebook is putting autoplay video ads inside Messenger

      Messenger first started selling ads inside Messenger 18 months ago, but they were static ads, not video. The benefit of video ads is that they’re usually more expensive, which means they’re more valuable to Facebook. The company has said in the past that it’s running out of room for ads inside its flagship Facebook app, so we’ve seen Facebook expand ads into more places, like Messenger and Facebook’s Craigslist competitor, Marketplace.

    • The demotivating week

      This week I will continue to integrate pgpainless into Smack. There is also still a significant lack of JUnit tests in both projects. One issue I have is, that during my project I often have to deal with objects, that bundle information together. Those data structures are needed in smack-openpgp, smack-openpgp-bouncycastle, as well as in pgpainless. Since smack-openpgp and pgpainless do not depend on one another, I need to write duplicate code to provide all modules with classes that offer the needed functionality. This is a real bummer and creates a lot of ugly boilerplate code.

    • Think The GDPR Only Regulates Big Internet Companies? The EU Says It Regulates You Too.

      People tend to think of the GDPR as regulation companies must comply with. But thanks to a decision by the Court of Appeals for the EU earlier this month, there’s particular reason to believe that ordinary Internet users will need to worry about complying with it as well.

      In this decision the court found that the administrator of a fan page on Facebook is jointly responsible with Facebook for the processing of its visitors’ data. And, as such, the administrator must comply with applicable data processing regulations – which necessarily include the GDPR.

    • The GDPR and Browser Fingerprinting: How It Changes the Game for the Sneakiest Web Trackers

      Browser fingerprinting is on a collision course with privacy regulations. For almost a decade, EFF has been raising awareness about this tracking technique with projects like Panopticlick. Compared to more well-known tracking “cookies,” browser fingerprinting is trickier for users and browser extensions to combat: websites can do it without detection, and it’s very difficult to modify browsers so that they are less vulnerable to it. As cookies have become more visible and easier to block, companies have been increasingly tempted to turn to sneakier fingerprinting techniques.

      But companies also have to obey the law. And for residents of the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force on May 25th, is intended to cover exactly this kind of covert data collection. The EU has also begun the process of updating its ePrivacy Directive, best known for its mandate that websites must warn you about any cookies they are using. If you’ve ever seen a message asking you to approve a site’s cookie use, that’s likely based on this earlier Europe-wide law.

      This leads to a key question: Will the GDPR require companies to make fingerprinting as visible to users as the original ePrivacy Directive required them to make cookies?

      The answer, in short, is yes. Where the purpose of fingerprinting is tracking people, it will constitute “personal data processing” and will be covered by the GDPR.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Immigration Divides Europe and the German Left

      Freedom of movement is the founding value of the European Union. The “four freedoms” are inscribed in the binding EU treaties and directives: free movement of goods, services, capital and persons (labor) among the Member States.

      Of course, the key freedom here is that of capital, the indispensable condition of neoliberal globalization. It enables international finance to go and do whatever promises to be profitable, regardless of national boundaries. The European Union is the kernel of the worldwide “Open Society”, as promoted by financier George Soros.

      However, extended to the phenomenon of mass immigration, the doctrine of “free movement” is disuniting the Union.

    • Fact-Checking Family Separation

      The Trump administration made a policy choice, but doesn’t want to own the consequences. Here’s what you need to know.

      With nearly 2,000 immigrant children separated from their parents in just six weeks alone, there is an unprecedented human rights disaster unfolding at our border. As public outrage mounts, members of Congress demand access to government-run facilities, and the United Nations condemns us, the Trump administration is attempting to shift the blame — fast.

      In the past week, the administration has made several misleading statements, trying to justify the systematic separation of children from their parents. On Monday, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen held a press briefing where she doubled down on family separation, denying that the separation of children from their parents amounts to child abuse because, “We give them medical care. There’s videos; There’s TVs.”

      All the while, horror stories are emerging: among them, Marco Antonio Muñoz, a Honduran father, who killed himself after being separated from his wife and child; three siblings taken from their parents who were told that they couldn’t hug each other in the shelter they were placed in; and parents who were deported four months ago and are still waiting for the U.S. to return their baby.

      The level of cruelty is difficult to comprehend, and that’s how the administration wants it. Here’s what you need to know to understand family separation.

    • Video: The Voices Missing From the Immigration Debate

      As the Trump administration continues to defend its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which, since April, has separated more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border, ProPublica obtained an audio recording from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. The recording captured the voices of kids as young as 4, crying for “Mami” and “Papá” as if those were the only words they knew.

    • Behind the Criminal Immigration Law: Eugenics and White Supremacy

      Amid a bipartisan backlash, President Trump has tried repeatedly to shift blame to Democrats for his own administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in more than 2,300 migrant children being taken from their families along the U.S.-Mexico border. “The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

      The president didn’t specify which law he was talking about. But the statute at the center of his administration’s policy is the work of Republicans — with origins dating back all the way to World War I — albeit with substantial Democratic support along the way. Known originally as the “Undesirable Aliens Act,” the statute would not exist without support from, respectively, a eugenicist and a white supremacist.

      The law in question was the foundation of a memo Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued in early April that laid out the administration’s new, zero-tolerance policy. In the memo, Sessions instructed federal prosecutors in the southwestern United States to file criminal charges against any adults caught entering the country illegally. His order stripped officials of discretion over whether to place migrant families seeking asylum into civil proceedings, which allow families to stay together. (Court rulings limit how long the government can detain migrants in civil proceedings. There’s also no guarantee they’ll return for future hearing dates once they’re let out, a phenomenon that has prompted the president’s complaints about “catch and release.”)

    • Americans Are At Risk of Forgetting Slavery and Repeating Our Mistakes

      Juneteenth is a celebration of African-Americans’ emancipation and a reminder of the horrors the U.S. can’t afford to forget.

      Even historians find themselves startled by the past.

      My blood ran cold on a recent visit to Montgomery, Alabama. I was there to experience something that didn’t exist anywhere in America just a few months ago, but which deeply resonated with me as a Black man: a museum and memorial site dedicated to recognizing our nation’s grisly history of slavery, lynchings, and mass incarceration.

      The stunning new project spearheaded by NYU Law Professor Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative boldly confronts the legacy of the U.S. carceral state. Upon entering a dark tunnel, holograms of enslaved Africans speak to the museum visitor from behind the bars of an early 19th-century Montgomery jail, where they awaited the auction block. Passing into the light of day, one enters a timeline chronicling U.S. racial terrorism.

      This project fills a critical void given an endemic lack of knowledge in this country of systemic cycles of inequality and the erasure of history surrounding anti-Blackness. Like the Legacy Museum, Juneteenth — the nation’s biggest celebration of Black freedom, marked every year on June 19 — offers an opportunity to remember the brutalities that have been hidden in plain sight from so many Americans.

      A report published earlier this year by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project revealed that only 8 percent of U.S. high school seniors know the Civil War occurred because of slavery. Some textbooks have softened the language about the inhumane institution. So have some of our leaders. In 2017, HUD Secretary Ben Carson publicly referenced Black people who’d been kidnapped and transported to America via the Middle Passage as “immigrants” rather than slaves.

      It is this willful blindness that enables the perpetuation of slavery’s legacy. Some of our nation’s top legal minds — such as Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, and Jeff Robinson — have revealed how slavery and segregation have evolved into new methods of racial torture and alienation. The racially biased war on drugs and disparate sentencing have led to more Black people being encaged by the criminal justice system today than were ever enslaved in America. Even in liberal cities like New York City, Black people are eight times more likely to be put in handcuffs for marijuana-related charges than white people, despite studies showing that they use the substance at the same rates.

    • President Trump Directs Pentagon To Create A ‘Space Force’ In What Is Surely Not Any Kind Of Distraction From Crying Children

      You may recall that about this time last year, the House of Representatives put together a budget that included funding for a brand new military branch dubbed the Space Force. At the time, our take is that this was always inevitable, as humanity tends to carry its war-making luggage everywhere we go and, since we go to space, we’re going to have a Space Force. More surprising was the pushback from those who have a thing or two to say about military matters, such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who noted that setting up a new military branch was hellishly complicated, and required congressional approval.

    • Fellow alum: Kirstjen Nielsen should resign now

      I have known Kirstjen Nielsen for nearly 30 years — since we were both incoming freshman at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, or SFS, in Washington. The program is considered to be a training ground for the diplomats, policymakers and global business leaders of tomorrow. As the school’s website says, “SFS undergraduates enter a prestigious program with a legacy of academic excellence combined with a devotion to humanitarian service.”

      [...]

      But Nielsen needs to think this through more than one chess move ahead. If we have learned anything in the past year and a half of the Trump presidency, it is that Donald Trump never takes responsibility or blame for anything. As this crisis at the border grows in scale and magnitude, and as his claims that this is all the “Democrats’ fault” fail to stick anywhere outside of far-right media, Trump will look for a new scapegoat — and there is none more obvious than his arguably underqualified secretary of Homeland Security. That clock is already ticking.
      If there is but a scintilla of good left in Kirstjen Nielsen’s soul — and we who have known her for several decades think there is — she has only one good option and that is to resign her post as secretary of Homeland Security, a move suggested Monday afternoon by California Sen. Kamala Harris.

    • Just Following Orders…

      A crime against humanity is still a crime against humanity if it is committed by one trying to please the boss. Neither the boss nor the minion get to deny the harm they do.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Chairman Santiago to Weaken California Net Neutrality for AT&T and Comcast

      Senators Kevin de Leon and Wiener had recently joined forces to push their net neutrality bills through the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance tomorrow as a joint package. Such a unified effort represented the most powerful way to move both S.B. 460 and S.B. 822 together to present Governor Brown the strongest net neutrality bill in the country.

      However, EFF has learned that their effort to move a strong package has been rejected by Communications and Conveyance Chairman Miguel Santiago. In essence, it appears now that the Chair of the Assembly Committee is ready to strike key provisions out of the legislative package on behalf of AT&T and Comcast rather than allow an up or down vote on the bills as they stand.

    • ISPs Lobbying California Lawmakers In Bid To Weaken State’s Looming Net Neutrality Law

      More than half the states in the nation now pursuing individual net neutrality rules, either in the form of executive orders (banning state contracts with net-neutrality violating ISPs) or new state laws. And while ISPs have been whining about the unfairness of having to adhere to independent requirements in each state, that’s probably something their lobbyists should have thought more deeply about when they worked to kill what, despite all the prattle about heavy-handed regulation, were probably some of the more modest net neutrality rules worldwide.

      ISPs first tried to stop states from protecting consumers by lobbying the FCC to include language in its “Restoring Internet Freedom” repeal attempting to ban states from doing so. But in the process of gutting their authority over ISPs Ajit Pai’s FCC may have also, amusingly, completely neutered its ability to tell states what to do.

      As such, ISP lobbyists have been forced to run, state to state, trying to convince state lawmakers that giving consumers, small businesses and internet competition a giant middle finger is the smart political play here with midterms looming.

    • Ajit Pai Now Trying To Pretend That Everybody Supported Net Neutrality Repeal

      By now it’s abundantly clear that the Trump FCC’s repeal of net neutrality was based largely on fluff and nonsense. From easily disproved claims that net neutrality protections stifled broadband investment, to claims that the rules would embolden dictators in North Korea and Iran, truth was an early and frequent casualty of the FCC’s blatant effort to pander to some of the least competitive, least-liked companies in America (oh hi Comcast, didn’t see you standing there). In fact throughout the repeal, the FCC’s media relations office frequently just directed reporters to telecom lobbyists should they have any pesky questions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Mexican stand off shaping over Taco Tuesday trademark

        It’s the most Melbourne of Mexican stand-offs – a food-court chain staring down a punk rock pub over its temerity to hold a Taco Tuesday.

        A stone’s throw into the city’s wild west sits Footscray’s Reverence Hotel, famed for its live music and cheap Tuesday tacos.

        After six years of dishing up the spicy fare, the landmark corner hotel is suddenly feeling the heat over a claim that it is infringing a trademark held by Mexican food chain Salsas Fresh Mex, which has outlets dotted across Melbourne including a site at Highpoint shopping centre.

        A letter from Salsas Holdings marketing manager Rebecca Woods to The Reverence Hotel demanded it stop using the phrase ”Taco Tuesday” on its website and social media accounts.

      • More Taco Tuesday Trademark Stupidity, This Time Down Under

        Some of us believe that all the different nations of the world are filled with people that are mostly the same, that share the same values, and the same troubles. If only we could find some unifying issue or force that could fully bring us together, then we could finally live in a kind of Lennon-esque harmony with one another. I submit to you that perhaps stupid trademark stories revolving around “Taco Tuesdays” could well be that thing. In America, for instance, a chain called Taco John’s has spent the past few years waving around the trademark the USPTO stupidly gave it on the both generic and descriptive term “Taco Tuesdays”, insisting that every other business that uses it stop immediately. How this mark was ever granted, given that it describes a good offered on the day it is offered — tacos on a tuesday — is a question that has kept me up many a night. Despite the trouble Taco John’s has caused with this, the trademark remains registered and in place.

      • Judge Cock(y)blocks Author Faleena Hopkins’ Demand Other Authors Stop Using The Word ‘Cocky’ In Their Titles

        Romance novelist Faleena Hopkins recently turned the rest of the genre against her by deciding — with the USPTO’s blessing — she was the only person who could use the word “cocky” in a book title. Given the nature of romance novels, the striking of the word “cocky” left precious few terms capable of describing a certain blend of bravado and sexual prowess.

        The backlash was not only immediate, but thorough. Authors hit with cease-and-desist notices posted these to social media. One writer filed a petition with the USPTO to have the recently-acquired trademark invalidated. To top everything off, the Authors Guild of America joined forces with two of the authors Hopkins sued. What Hopkins likely felt would be an easy win in a trademark infringement case is turning into another cautionary tale about questionable IP and heavy-handed enforcement.

        As The Guardian reports, Hopkins has already been handed a loss in her lawsuit against author Tara Crescent and publicist Jennifer Watson.

    • Copyrights

      • EU legal affairs committee adopts controversial copyright directive

        The draft includes controversial provisions set out in in articles 11 and 13 – also known as the press publishers right and value gap proposal – which were approved by small majorities

        The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) approved the proposed text for the Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive today.

      • Copyright Directive: Let’s Fight Automated Filtering… and Web Centralisation!

        On 20 June, the European Parliament will make its decision regarding the Copyright Directive, symbol of a new era of Internet regulation. La Quadrature is calling on you to call the Members of European Parliament and demand they act against automated censorship in the name of copyright protection and, more broadly, against centralisation of the Web.

        To understand the complex ruling which will take place on 20 June, we first need to revisit the basics of the regulation of content distributed over the Internet.

      • Boston Globe Posts Hilarious Fact-Challenged Interview About Regulating Google, Without Any Acknowledgement Of Errors

        The Boston Globe recently put together an entire issue about “Big Tech” and what to do about it. I’d link to it, but for some reason when I click on it, the Boston Globe is now telling me it no longer exists — which, maybe, suggests that the Boston Globe should do a little more “tech” work itself. However, a few folks sent in this fun interview with noted Google/Facebook hater Jonathan Taplin. Now, we’ve had our run-ins with Taplin in the past — almost always to correct a whole bunch of factual errors that he makes in attacking internet companies. And, it appears that we need to do this again.

        Of course, you would think that the Boston Globe might have done this for us, seeing as they’re a “newspaper” and all. Rather than just printing the words verbatim of someone who is going to say things that are both false and ridiculous, why not fact check your own damn interview? Instead, it appears that the Globe decided “let’s find someone to say mean things about Google” and turned up Taplin… and then no one at the esteemed Globe decided “gee, maybe we should check to see if he actually knows what he’s talking about or if he’s full of shit.” Instead, they just ran the interview, and people who read it without knowing that Taplin is laughably wrong won’t find out about it unless they come here. But… let’s dig in.

      • Dear EU Parliament: Why Are You About To Allow US Internet Companies To Decide What EU Citizens Can Say Online?

        We’ve pointed this out over and over again with regards to all of the various attempts to “regulate” the internet giants of Google and Facebook: nearly every proposal put forth to date creates a regulatory regime that Google and Facebook can totally handle. Sure, they might find it to be a nuisance, but its well within the resources of both companies to handle whatever is thrown their way. However, most other companies are then totally fucked, because they simply cannot comply in any reasonable manner. And, yet, these proposals keep coming — and people keep celebrating them in the false belief that they will somehow “contain” the two internet giants, when the reality is that it will lock them in as the defacto dominant internet players, making it nearly impossible for upstarts and competitors to enter the market.

        This seems particularly bizarre when we’re talking about the EU’s approach to copyright. As we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks, the EU Parliaments Legal Affairs Committee is about to vote on the EU Copyright Directive, that has some truly awful provisions in it — including Article 11′s link tax and Article 13′s mandatory filters. The rhetoric around both of these tends to focus on just how unfair it is that Google and Facebook have so much power, and are making so much money while legacy companies (news publishers for Article 11 and recording companies for Article 13) aren’t making as much as they used to.

      • Creative Commons Announces New Board Members: Delia Browne and Amy Brand

        Today, CC is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members of the Board of Directors, both prominent leaders and advocates in their fields. Congratulations to Amy Brand, Director of the MIT Press, and Delia Browne, National Copyright Director for the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Education Council and Copyright Advisory Group.

      • BitTorrent Is Reportedly Selling for $140 Million

        BitTorrent Inc, the parent company behind the popular file-sharing client uTorrent, recently made a deal to sell to Justin Sun, the founder of cryptocurrency TRON. According to new information, Sun has agreed to pay $140 million for the company. While no details have yet been confirmed, a shareholder notes that BitTorrent will in part be used to “legitimize” TRON’s business.

Patent Extremists Are Unable to Find Federal Circuit Cases That Help Them Mislead on Alice

Posted in America, Patents at 2:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom to develop software (code) with lower risk of patent litigation in the US

Dolphin

Summary: Patent extremists prefer talking about Mayo but not Alice when it comes to 35 U.S.C. § 101; Broadcom is meanwhile going on a ‘fishing expedition’, looking to profit from patents by calling for embargo through the ITC

IN RECENT years the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) guided the USPTO into a harder approach towards software patents; if there’s nothing “hard” (as in non-abstract), then a patent isn’t suitable ‘protection’, maybe copyrights at best. This has always made perfect sense to actual software developers, but policy was perturbed by lawyers for their selfish interests.

“This has always made perfect sense to actual software developers, but policy was perturbed by lawyers for their selfish interests.”The Federal Circuit has taken SCOTUS decisions such as Mayo and Alice into account; so did the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which is basically a lot more efficient and is technically part of the Office.

“This case had nothing to do with software.”At the start of the year there were a few Federal Circuit outcomes (decisions) which patent maximalists were able to spin in order to market software patents; but nothing of that kind has happened for months. Watchtroll, failing to cherry-pick any ‘convenient’ cases, would rather speak of Vanda Pharmaceuticals — a case that we’ve mentioned here before (albeit not much because it’s really about Mayo, not Alice). John M. Rogitz (Rogitz & Associates) wrote about this USPTO “memo [which] dives into the Federal Circuit’s holding, noting that “[t]he Federal Circuit distinguished Mayo, stating: ‘The inventors recognized the relationships between iloperidone, CYP2D6 metabolism, and QTc prolongation, but that is not what they claimed. They claimed an application of that relationship. Unlike the claim at issue in Mayo, the claims here require a treating doctor to administer iloperidone.’…As a result, the Federal Circuit held the claims in Vanda patent eligible under the first step of the Alice/Mayo framework…because the claims ‘are directed to a method of using iloperidone to treat schizophrenia,’ rather than being ‘directed to’ a judicial exception.””

This case had nothing to do with software. The following day Theodore Chiacchio (also in Watchtroll) persisted with Mayo:

This article examines Supreme Court and Federal Circuit analyses of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 where the patent claims at issue were directed to Life Sciences-related technologies. I first examine this topic in the context of composition of matter patent claims and then in the context of method claims. As reflected in the below discussion, while the § 101 case law is fairly straightforward with respect to composition claims, the case law is murkier when it comes to method claims.

Suffice to say, this has nothing to do with software or even computing. We’re watching that domain closely and there’s no rebound there of any kind; software patents are pretty much dead.

“We’re watching that domain closely and there’s no rebound there of any kind; software patents are pretty much dead.”Patent Docs too has meanwhile cherry-picked just one case (so far this week): Akeso Health Sciences, LLC v Designs for Health, Inc.

This one does not even related to § 101 but to § 286. “Patentee Equitably Estopped from Asserting Patent Due to 10-Year Delay in Filing Suit,” their outline says. Here are some portions:

Earlier this year, in Akeso Health Sciences, LLC v. Designs for Health, Inc., District Judge S. James Otero of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Designs for Health, Inc. (“DFH”), in which DFH argued, inter alia, that Plaintiff Akeso Health Sciences, LLC should be equitably estopped from asserting U.S. Patent No. 6,500,450 due to Akeso’s ten-year delay in filing suit. Akeso had filed suit against DFH for infringement of the ’450 patent, which relates to a dietary supplement for the treatment of migraine headache, asserting that DFH’s manufacture and sale of the migraine treatment product Migranol indirectly infringed the asserted claims due to various instructions and implications on the label.

[...]

The Court indicated that its finding was further bolstered by 35 U.S.C. § 286, which precludes a patentee from recovering for any infringement committed more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint. In particular, the Court explained that “the patentee’s failure to preserve over four years’ worth of potential lost profits is reasonably interpreted as an abandonment of its claims.” With respect to the first element of equitable estoppel, the Court therefore found that “the patentee, through misleading conduct (or silence), [led] the alleged infringer to reasonably infer that the patentee [did] not intend to enforce its patent against the alleged infringer,” quoting Radio Sys. Corp. v. Lalor, 709 F.3d at 1130.

We don’t typically write about the absence of something, but it’s certainly noteworthy that these patent maximalists fail to find anything ‘positive’ (to them) to report about Alice. No news is good news in that regard…

“Any time there’s a lawsuit or a call for embargo they pounce at the opportunity to promote it. They don’t care about technology, only legal bills.”Then there’s Broadcom’s ITC complaint that we covered last week (after Reuters had covered it). We covered ITC issues a week earlier and Broadcom’s flirtation with this strategy early last month, not too long after Qualcomm merger/takeover attempts (stopped some months ago and it looks like NXP will be the one to get devoured). Watchtroll’s take on this is pretty revealing. Any time there’s a lawsuit or a call for embargo they pounce at the opportunity to promote it. They don't care about technology, only legal bills.

What Use Are 10 Million Patents That Are of Low Quality in a Patent Office Controlled by the Patent ‘Industry’?

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 1:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“To technology companies, NPEs [patent trolls] are a drag on innovation, taxing them tens of billions of dollars every year while achieving no social purpose” –Mark Lemley and Robin Feldman

Mark Lemley
Image source: Stanford Law School

Summary: The patent maximalists are celebrating overgranting; the USPTO, failing to heed the warning from patent courts, continues issuing far too many patents and a new paper from Mark Lemley and Robin Feldman offers a dose of sobering reality

THIS post is not another rant about the EPO but purely about the USPTO, which is now being run by patent maximalists (see/recall the Director's selection, which seems to have involved nepotism). As the USPTO’s “CIO Watchdog” put it yesterday (amid pretty substantial rumours of endemic USPTO nepotism): “PTO is sending Patent SES (David Wiley) back to Patents and bringing another (Debbie Stephens) to serve as the DCIO for a couple of months, this sounds odd? Rumors are flying about a new CIO selection but nothing official. Wiley seemed to be well thought of, Stephens not sure?”

“A meaningless — symbolic at best — ‘milestone’ will be celebrated. 10 million patents!”Nobody in the media has been covering the spousal connections there; barely anyone bothered pointing out that the USPTO’s new Director headed a firm that used to work for Donald Trump before Trump nominated/appointed him. Either way, the news sites will be full of pieces like this one in the coming days. A meaningless — symbolic at best — ‘milestone’ will be celebrated. 10 million patents! As one site put it (the first we have seen on this):

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued its 10 millionth patent.

The patent, Coherent Ladar Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection, was the first to receive a new patent cover design, which was unveiled back in March.

The first patent was signed 228 years ago by George Washington in 1790. It was issued to Samuel Hopkins and was for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer.

Commenting on the historic occasion, Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce, said: “Innovation has been the lifeblood of this country since its founding.”

Wilbur Ross has been part of the so-called ‘swamp’ which put a Trump-connected patent maximalist in charge of the Office. And 228 years after it all started the USPTO issues patents at a laughable scale/pace which makes it rather clear that it issues a lot of patents wrongly. It has financial incentive to do so.

Examiners who try to do a good job and properly scrutinise applications receive “shaming” treatment from patent extremists like Anticipat, which now (yesterday) advises wrestling with patent examiners over rejections as if anything that renders patents void — like PTAB for the most part — is an abomination and wrong. Anticipat if just looking to profit from patent extremism. ‘Stalking’ examiners, too. Doxing next? Here’s what they wrote:

The Examiner Answer can be a very important stage of the ex parte appeal process. It is at this stage that Examiners may want to make up for weak Office Action positions and set themselves up for getting affirmed at the Board. Understanding the incentives and tactical options, however, can give the patent practitioner the upper hand.

The Examiner Answer is technically optional (“The primary examiner may, within such time as may be directed by the Director, furnish a written answer to the appeal brief.” 37 CFR 41.39). Examiners usually prepare them because of the disposal credits that they receive. Outside of this most obvious incentive, Examiners also have an opportunity to present their case most favorably to the Board panel that will decide the case. Sometimes these analyses can improperly go out of bounds. Since an appellant only gets 60 days to respond to an Examiner Answer (no extensions), a timely assessment of the Examiner Answer is critical.

Professor Lemley (whom patent extremists hate) and a co-author less familar to us, Robin Feldman, have meanwhile published this new paper. “My latest paper with Robin Feldman,” Lemley wrote, “surveys tens of thousands of companies about the patent licensing demands they receive (fewer than you think) and whether those patent licenses drive innovation (not often).”

From the abstract:

Patent reform is a hotly contested issue, occupying the attention of Congress, the Supreme Court, and many of the most innovative companies in the world. Most of that dispute centers on patent enforcement, and in particular on the role of non-practicing entities (NPEs) or “patent trolls” – companies that don’t themselves make products but sue those that do. To technology companies, NPEs are a drag on innovation, taxing them tens of billions of dollars every year while achieving no social purpose. To NPEs and their supporters, they are enabling the first inventor to get paid and creating a working market for the transfer of technology.

Which is it?

In this paper, we present the first full empirical of the effect of patent licensing demands on the economy. With the help of a National Science Foundation grant and experts in survey design, we sent our survey out to every US-based business with at least one employee and revenue of $1 million or more – over 45,000 companies. Our results provide important insights into the nature and limits of patent licensing demands and their role (or lack thereof) in driving innovation.

So the bottom line is, this whole Cult of Patents as we habitually call it does not actually help innovation; it mostly helps the patent ‘industry’, which conflates litigation with innovation. How about a saner patent system which actually seeks to maximise innovation rather than the number of granted patents?

The Eastern District of Texas is Where Asian Companies/Patents/Trolls Still Go After TC Heartland

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 1:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Katana Silicon Technologies

Summary: Proxies of Longhorn IP and KAIST (Katana Silicon Technologies LLC and KAIST IP US LLC, respectively) roam Texas in pursuit of money of out nothing but patents and aggressive litigation; there’s also a Microsoft connection

THE decision on TC Heartland (SCOTUS) dealt with the venue at which companies operate and what this means for the venue of litigation (where patent lawsuits get filed). Weeks ago there were some new cases related to this, especially when it comes to foreign (non-US) companies from somewhere like South Korea or Taiwan. We wrote about that.

For those who haven’t been keeping track, KAIST has generally become a patent parasite masquerading as “education” or “research” (that’s how it’s known or recognised around Korea or Seoul, like CSIRO in Australia). Jacob Schindler of IAM (the patent trolls’ lobby) now celebrates litigation in the Eastern District of Texas by KAIST’s proxy in another country (KAIST IP US LLC). It’s a shell entity of an entity that produces nothing. This shell has won the case, but we certainly hope that Samsung will appeal this decision to the Federal Circuit, overriding the notorious biases of the Eastern District of Texas (biases which is openly advertises). As IAM makes clear, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was already involved prior to this. From the summary (outside the paywall) it’s made apparent that a nontechnical jury decided on this technical case (we explained many times why such trials may be unsuitable for patents):

Last Friday, a jury in the Eastern District of Texas ordered Samsung Electronics to pay $400 million to the IP licensing arm of South Korea’s top technology university. KAIST IP US LLC, an affiliate of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, saw its patent survive multiple IPRs and a dispute over its proper ownership en route to a courtroom victory over South Korea’s most prominent technology company. While US litigation watchers will be wary of a reversal on appeal, the big award signals that top Asian university IP owners like KAIST cannot be ignored.

We have meanwhile seen/come across yesterday’s article titled “Samsung Threatens U.S. Prosperity By Disregarding Intellectual-Property Rights” (this author apparently doesn’t know that Samsung has the most US patent grants per annum and held the same title at at the EPO in the past).

Anyway, what’s worthy about the above case is that a Korean entity used the US courts to go after another Korean entity, but only because it’s the Eastern District of Texas, which openly brags about being friendly towards plaintiffs, welcoming patent trolls such as Dominion Harbor with many Asian patents (almost expired).

It has meanwhile emerged, also based on the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), that a Japanese company has had its patents passed to patent trolls. Guess where…

“Foxconn transfers former Sharp patents to Texas-based NPE,” said the tweet and the article said:

Longhorn IP, the Texas-based NPE, has launched its fifth portfolio, a collection of semiconductor patents originally owned by Sharp. The licensing company, run by Khaled Fekih-Romdhane and Chris Dubuc, is calling its new vehicle Katana Silicon Technologies LLC – a name hinting at the Japanese source of the patents, which USPTO assignment records reveal is Sharp.

Notice how Longhorn IP uses shells, as is so typical in Texas (Dominion Harbor does this as well). There’s a bit of a connection between those two; at the end of last year IAM said that “Dominion Harbor and Longhorn IP [had] both formed partnerships with Beijing East IP…”

The “Founder and Managing Member” of Longhorn IP/Katana Silicon Technologies LLC used to work for the Microsoft-connected Acacia, according to this page. Dominion Harbor receives the lion’s share of patents from the Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures. Guess where the other founder came from; he was “Licensing Program lead at Intellectual Ventures.”

EPO Insiders Correct the Record of Benoît Battistelli’s Tyranny and Abuse of Law: “Legal Harassment and Retaliation”

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 12:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli himself broke the law, discrediting any notion that EPO complements patent law

Faces of cards

Summary: Battistelli’s record, as per EPO-FLIER 37, is a lot worse than the Office cares to tell stakeholders, who are already complaining about decline in patent quality

YESTERDAY afternoon the EPO published its latest nonsense (warning: epo.org link). “EPO publishes Quality Report 2017,” the headline said. That’s like North Korea releasing its “democracy” report. Remember that the EPO now has something called the “Working Party for Quality” [1, 2] because the Office has been reduced to just lying (left right and centre) before crooked Battistelli leaves the helm.

The timing of this publication might not be a coincidence considering last week’s letter and resultant press coverage (bemoaning patent quality). Staff generally agrees with concerned stakeholders thar patent quality has sunk. Alas, as usual, the EPO is just taking the piss and is nowadays ‘googlebombing’ the word “quality” with the sole intention of lying, lying, and lying. In the face of facts all they can do is lie. Repeatedly. A lot.

“The EPO has published the second edition of its dedicated Quality Report,” it wrote in Twitter. “Compared with the 2016 edition, the report provides more extensive information on existing and new measures to deliver high-quality products and services.”

They conflate stuff like “timeliness” (i.e. how quickly they recklessly grant or reject) with “quality”. In many ways, quick grants (permitting less time for public input) are likely of a lower quality, but never let “nasty” facts get in the way of “good” propaganda. In the EPO’s own words (same as in Twitter):

The EPO has today published the second edition of its dedicated Quality Report. Compared with the 2016 edition, the report provides more extensive information and details on existing and new measures to deliver high-quality products and services.

Are there really “high-quality products and services”? Not according to stakeholders. What does staff say? Look no further than EPO-FLIER 37, which is new and we have decided to reproduce below. It serves to show how detached the EPO really is from the Rule of Law. It even attacks judges.


EPO FLIER No. 37

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Battistelli’s record: legal harassment and retaliation

12 June 2018

The EPO’s current president, Mr Battistelli will long be remembered for riding roughshod over staff’s rights and for his acts of revenge against anyone who tried to stop him. Simultaneously acting as accuser, prosecutor and judge, he could count on the zealous assistance of PD-HR Elodie Bergot. His brutal management methods have transformed a former model international civil service organisation into an Orwellian dystopia.

Interference with the internal appeals system

In 2014, the workload of one of the members of the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC)1 had (been) increased to a point where there was not enough time to fulfill his duties as an IAC member. These duties include “completing opinions or dissenting opinions following the hearings and sessions within the deadlines provided.”2 The member, who had been nominated by the Central Staff Committee (CSC), informed the IAC chairman that he was not able to attend a number of oral hearings because his workload was too heavy, including a significant backlog of dissenting/minority opinions2. VP4 and VP5 then publicly accused the CSC’s nominees and claimed that they would “not duly support the procedure”3. The CSC nominees subsequently resigned from the IAC. PD-HR suspended the (former) member who had suffered from his heavy backlog and threatened another one with a disciplinary measure3. The staff made its voice heard through five demonstrations within a single month. They claimed respect for the rule of law and freedom of association.

The IAC continued in a three-member composition – without members nominated by the CSC. Probably not a coincidence: the overall success rate for internal appeals dropped from 25% in 2013 to 11% in 2014 (see table).

In 2015, Mr Battistelli nominated two staff representatives to the IAC who had volunteered for the job upon his request. While the IAC then acted again in a five-member composition, the overall success rate dropped further to 2%.

The three-member composition and the five-member composition with volunteers were both successfully appealed3,4. In ILO Judgments No. 3694 and 3785 the Tribunal found that the composition was not balanced and sent the cases back to the EPO so that they could be examined by an IAC “composed in accordance with the applicable rules”5.

The non-functioning of the IAC left visible traces in the appeal statistics:

2013

2014

2015

IAC opinions

25%3

11% (20/175)1

2% (4/194)6

Final decisions

10% (14/141)2

2% (18/139)6

1% (2/243)6

Table: Development of the success rate of internal appeals (allowed or allowed in part): opinions of the IAC and final decisions taken by the president (the number of cases are indicated in brackets).

The president’s decisions on internal appeals

The final success rate, i.e. after decision by the president, dropped from 10% in 2013 over 2% in 2014 to a miserable 1% (!) in 2015. The EPO’s Board of Auditors commented the 2015 numbers with the following words: “The number of cases in which the Appeals Committee opinion and the final decision of the President differed was lower than last year.”6 What they did not say was that the IAC had left only a few occasions where Mr Battistelli could deviate from their recommendation, unless he wanted to reverse some of the IAC’s negative opinions to demonstrate his ‘immeasurable goodwill’ towards his staff.

Investigations, suspensions and disciplinary proceedings

In December 2014, President Battistelli suspended a Boards of Appeal (DG3) member and imposed a house ban on him. During the preceding secretive investigation, the Office had made use of cameras and keylogging in a semi-public area, and the investigative unit had consultated the data protection officer retroactively to have their covert surveillance action authorised8. In 2015 and 2016 the president and the Administrative Council (AC) made three attempts9, all spectacularly unsuccessful, to have the board member removed from office.10 They retroactively changed the regulations so that the DG3 member could be suspended for longer. During the disciplinary proceedings, the president refused the accused the right to hear witnesses10 – demonstrating a terrifying disregard for legal process in what is in effect an organisation set up to implement a set of laws. In December 2017, through Judgments No. 3958 and 3960 the Tribunal quashed the suspension, and observed – in highly critical tones for the ILO – that the president had a major conflict of interest so that he should not have been involved in the matter.

2015 saw public demonstrations of Munich staff, organised by the staff union SUEPO, in an almost monthly rhythm. In November 2015 president Battistelli suspended three staff representatives (committee members of SUEPO Munich) and imposed a house ban. A few days later, two officials of SUEPO The Hague were summoned to make statements before the EPO’s Investigation Unit, sent by the president. The Register noted that “it was the mass protest that appears to have been the spark that lead the heavy legal response from the EPO.”11

In January 2016, after disciplinary proceedings based on secretive investigations, President Battistelli fired two of the suspended Munich staff representatives and downgraded the third12.

Various newspapers and TV programmes13 became aware of the situation and reported on the continued staff protests and the machinations at the EPO. In a letter14 to the AC, the Dutch Institute of Patent Attorneys criticised Mr Battistelli for his “intolerant and destructive people management style” and expressed that they “sincerely believe that the current situation at the EPO has spun out of control by the actions of its President.” They urged the Administrative Council “to stop the President of the EPO from continuing these unproductive and destructive practices.”

In March 2016, the AC passed a resolution15 instructing the president “to ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are not only fair but also seen to be so” and “before further decisions in disciplinary cases are taken, to […] make proposals that enhance confidence in fair and reasonable proceedings and sanctions”.

But in November 2016, despite the Council resolution and all other protests, President Battistelli fired another staff union representative, this time an official of SUEPO The Hague.16,17

In a letter18 to the Netherlands Parliament, Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders claimed that the social situation at the EPO would have to improve soon and the disciplinary measures taken against staff union officials should be reconsidered.19

What comes next?

The ILO-AT has the final say. It held its 126th Session from 23 April to 18 May 2018. The Tribunal’s judgments on several prominent cases will be delivered in public on 26 June 2018 at 3 p.m.

The pattern of institutional harassment and retaliation against staff union officials cannot have escaped the judges’ attention.

But the last batch of ILO judgements caused more than a few raised eyebrows as they seemed, if not to condone the aggressive actions of the EPO management, at least to avoid expressing any strong criticism, let alone providing anything that would resemble any meaningful relief to the appellants. Hopefully this was just a “blip” and more measured decisions will be handed down in the 126th Session.
_____

1 The IAC is composed of five members, the chair and two members being nominated by the president, and the remaining two members being nominated by the CSC

2 ILO Judgment No. 3971 (see eg considerations 12 and 16)

3 Non-functioning of the Internal Appeals Committee – the story behind Communiqué 12/16 (SUEPO Munich, 06.12.2016); in a Communiqué of 30.09.2014, VP4 and VP5 said that “CSC appointees are putting artificial hurdles to the daily functioning of the IAC, e.g. providing minority views by documents redoing the opinion, thus duplicating the work already done.

5 These judgments forced the EPO to reform its internal justice system. This was done through CA/D 7/17 which stipulates that the IAC shall be chaired by external judges or lawyers. But the current system still contains some significant flaws; see eg EPO-FLIER No. 31 Reform marathon continues, 27.06.2017 (www.epostaff4rights.org)

6 Reports of the Board of Auditors of the European Patent Organisation on the 2015 and 2016 accounting periods (CA/20/16; CA/20/17)

7 Report on the European Patent Office’s review and internal appeal procedures (CA/21/15)

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