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09.30.20

War Crimes and Bribes

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 7:47 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

This week, Techrights noticed the vast increase in Debian travel funding for diversity in 2019.

We hear that most of this money went to bring women from Kosovo and Albania to DebConf in Brazil. Most of these women were introduced to Debian by a Developer who resigned in disgust at internal bickering.

Sam Hartman and his gangsters told the women that if they want more trips like this, he wants them to take sides in Debian politics and help spread rumours about people. Isn’t it charming that women’s first impression of professional life comes in the form of blackmail and coercion?

“Isn’t it charming that women’s first impression of professional life comes in the form of blackmail and coercion?”In the same week, we hear that war crimes prosecutions against rogue elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) will finally begin. The trial was delayed by 9 years, partly because people in power were intimidating witnesses.

We find it disturbing when the regime of Sam Hartman has so much in common with people accused of war crimes, threatening and blackmailing women to help neutralize volunteers who asked questions about the money.

Sam Hartman, Debian, War Crimes, Kosovo

09.25.20

Richard Stallman: New Interview About Privacy (Published This Morning)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Interview at 1:58 am by Guest Editorial Team

Summary: “The last few months have put data protection back in the spotlight. During a crisis of this kind, do we have to choose between safety and privacy? We talked about this with Richard Stallman, digital privacy activist and the founder of the Free Software Movement,” RT says

09.24.20

The Second Wave (of Free/Libre Software)

Posted in Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 1:41 am by Guest Editorial Team

Looking from afar at the more distant future, we need to recognise newer perils (not fully foreseen when GNU’s manifesto was published 3.5 decades ago)

Wave and kids

Summary: Despite some major setbacks and new threats to digital freedom (autonomy is perhaps a more suitable term), progress is being made and activism must adapt to tackle newer trends

THE somewhat belated ascent of Free/Libre/Livre software is real. Many would say “we” have “won” the battle. Who is “we”? What does “winning” mean? Leave that aside; it’s all in the details. It’s both a technical and a philosophical inquiry…

“We ought not ask Microsoft for ‘permission’ and be spied on by Microsoft while developing and retrieving software.”GNU is everywhere, yet freedom is almost nowhere to be found ‘out there’ (clown computing means surveillance and oppression). Linux is by far the most widely used and deployed operating system kernel — so ubiquitous in small devices that there may already be tens of billions of “Linux computers” out there (about 10 times as much/many as Windows instances). Mission accomplished? Maybe. Depends whose…

The fight for software freedom will likely never end (and no, don’t think that a Microsoft bankruptcy or something similar means “the end”). No “fin” just because some certain Finn put his kernel in almost every computer, from large (HPC) to small/tiny (“edge” computing, increasingly a surveillance beacon of some sort).

Techrights is about software freedom, sure, but it’s also about human rights (e.g. privacy) and programmers’ rights, which means no software patents (these patents harm proprietary software development as much as Free software craftsmanship and distribution).

Wave at seaThe “Second Wave” nowadays commonly alludes to the return of a certain problem many have naively (ignorantly too strong a term?) chosen to dismiss as “revolved” or a “thing of the past”; it won’t be resolved until COVID-19 is eradicated, likely by mass vaccination. Vaccines can take 5-15 years to develop, test and make then make prevalent. If it’s fast-tracked, maybe 5 years. Maybe. Don’t fall for promises and hype from pharmaceutical giants and vaccine profiteers including but not limited to Bill Gates. It’s revealing when the corporate media treats this college drop-out like a vaccine expert; he’s meanwhile pushing his "war on cash" (India is his fertile ground for such experimentation, as he did with GMO and other vaccines — to the point where people died in his 'clinical/criminal trials'). At the moment we’re put on the highway towards something very grim; oligarchs have fast-tracked their “war on cash” (associating physical currency with “dirty” people and criminals*) and mass surveillance (as if people who don’t carry around with them a so-called ‘phone’ are a public health hazard).

This whole “Second Wave” thing — namely the implication for personal freedoms (not only software) — is a subject we hope to discuss with Richard Stallman some time soon. We also have some Microsoft leaks on the way.

Free software may have “won” (already) in some sense, but activism must carry on. Having lots of projects in proprietary Microsoft GitHub isn’t freedom but the opposite of that. We ought not ask Microsoft for ‘permission’ and be spied on by Microsoft while developing and retrieving software.

“Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free.”

Richard Stallman

_____
* Lately there has been a British media-led smear campaign against people who insist on paying with cash, associating them with theft, COVID denial, and various conspiracy theories. It has gotten rather bad during summer. The stigma is a growing problem.

Exploring the Relationship Between Red Hat and Microsoft: They’re Barely Even Rivals Anymore

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat at 12:13 am by Guest Editorial Team

We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger. ~Jim Allchin, Microsoft's Platform Group Vice President

Summary: The ‘older Microsoft’ (serial monopolist IBM) bought Red Hat, but evidence shows that one would be wrong to assume Red Hat really competes against Microsoft (any more than Novell did; there’s a strong relationship)

IT may seem painful to say this, but Red Hat does not quite act as a flag bearer to many GNU/Linux users these days. To many of us, with few exceptions, replacing Windows is the goal. Red Hat seems to be more interested in some kind of hegemony. It boils down to money, not principles.

“It boils down to money, not principles.”IBM never truly cared about replacing Windows since the OS/2 days; it’s just not in the market anymore. And for those who believe that Red Hat can be seen as a case apart, bear in mind they’re becoming inseparable quite rapidly. The most recent insider comment from TheLayoff Web site (spotted yesterday):

Screenshot: Red Hat theLayoff

One need not even look far back to see the strength of the relationship, which probably strengthened even further under IBM.

Nadella and Red Hat
Microsoft withdrew due to antitrust fears

In the clip below (2019), notice the gestures upon the entrance of Nadella (body language).

Red Hat Microsoft handshake

Shades of Novell and Hovsepian/Ballmer, right?

Red Hat Microsoft handshake closer

Then the handshakes and the sit-down with “Microsoft” on top of Jim’s head. Did they get the labels the wrong way around?

Red Hat Microsoft labels

Stay classy, Jim from Microsoft.

Here’s the full clip (locally stored):

We’ve been there before, sort of…

It’s about proprietary software. Where does Red Hat go?

09.23.20

The Latest Greenwashing Campaign by the EPO is Just ‘Chinese Propaganda’

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:30 am by Guest Editorial Team

From World Economic Forum:

World Economic Forum on batteries

Summary: When the EPO speaks of “innovation” and “clean energy transition” it means nothing but patents on batteries, in effect monopolies being granted in Europe (to a lot of Asian — not European — companies)

THIS week we’re seeing old tactics resurrected by the Office that rapidly renders itself obsolete. Looking for a distraction? Superficial and shallow positive press? Who from?

“While our goal isn’t to bash China, it’s worth noting that conflating patents with “innovation” and using the whole thing for baseless greenwashing tells a lot about the degree of (dis)honesty in today’s EPO.”Corrupt EPO management is greenwashing patent monopolies once again (lots of that so far this year [1, 2]). Benoît Battistelli did this on occasions and António Campinos seems to be doing even more of that than him.

The latest slant is calling batteries “clean energy” (warning: epo.org link) even though the energy inside batteries tends to be produced or derived from inherently unclean processes (e.g. coal and extraction of harmful chemicals, typically to the detriment of nearby locals, flora, and fauna). Here’s what the EPO wrote:

Improving the capacity to store electricity is playing a key role in the transition to clean energy technologies. Between 2005 and 2018, patenting activity in batteries and other electricity storage technologies grew at an average annual rate of 14% worldwide, four times faster than the average of all technology fields, according to a joint study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

They measure nothing but patents. So what kind of ‘study’ is that? The headline says “innovation” but it’s actually about patents, not innovation. And only EPO patents or European Patents.

On battery pollutionIt didn’t take long for them to squeeze out this press release for Asia entitled “Joint Study by European Patent Office (EPO) and International Energy Agency (IEA) Shows Asia Ahead of U.S. in Battery Technology Innovation”. To quote: “According to a joint study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), improving the capacity of electricity storage solutions is playing a key role in the transition to clean energy technologies. Between 2005 and 2018, patenting activity in batteries and other electricity storage technologies grew at an average annual rate of 14% worldwide, four times faster than the average for all technology fields (3.5%). U.S. firms are lagging, with the U.S. in fifth place behind Japan, South Korea, Europe and China in terms of the number of international patents in battery technology.”

This one too uses the word “Innovation” while measuring something completely different. It’s about patents. The corrupt Office now collaborates with Chinese state media (formal propaganda outlets) to produce self-serving puff pieces with greenwashing all over them. This one says: “Nine of the top ten applicants for patents in batteries and other electricity storage technologies in the period from 2000 to 2018 were Asian companies, according to a study published by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich and the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday.”

You’d think Europe has better and higher standards to offer, no? Greenwashing propaganda in China’s state media. There’s also this EPO puff piece with Campinos quotes all over it:

The study conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed that almost 90 percent of the applications revolved around the storage of electricity in an innovative battery system.

This is the only non-China article we’ve found about it. While our goal isn’t to bash China, it’s worth noting that conflating patents with “innovation” and using the whole thing for baseless greenwashing tells a lot about the degree of (dis)honesty in today’s EPO.

09.21.20

Guest Post: The Worrying State of Political Judgement in Free Software Communities

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:17 am by Guest Editorial Team

Original version in Spanish, to be found here

Banco en Argentina

Summary: A look at what Mozilla has become and what that teaches us about the Web and about software

A

month ago, David Teller published a blog entry explaining in great detail the process behind the controversial XUL+XPCOM elimination from Firefox upon its “57″ version being released.

That decision, as I was saying, was controversial because it implied losing the huge add-on ecosystem Firefox had: one of the main reasons for using Firefox in the first place, instead of just using Google Chrome. And it was so controversial that, in fact, there are still people who are angry about it three years later, even though these people just stopped using Firefox back then. In my echo chamber, everybody saw the move as a shot in Mozilla’s own foot. And the reasons justifying the move were the ones we’re getting used to in contemporary informatics: “speed”, “security”, and “what users want”.

That last part may be a bit unfair, because a good chunk of the justifications were about the many difficulties Mozilla had to face in order to continue to sustain Firefox development. But my point is that those difficulties will be there no matter what they choose, and that’s why I’ve excluded development from that list. Maybe there’s a whole other debate to be found in all this, but it is not the one I’m interested in right now, and so I just let the issue be dealt with here.

“That looks a lot like what started to happen in the late ’90s with the Windows ecosystem.”Teller’s post tells us stuff about historical details of XUL+XPCOM, things that happened around the Web, and the problems Mozilla has faced while sustaining Firefox, in the face of a migration towards another system as was widely decided. His post is excellent and definitely a recommended read — so much is like this, that it became a somewhat popular focal point and an object of debate, getting to have a comment section at least as interesting as the post itself. Now, for a few weeks I wanted to write about it…

I’ll get right to the point: Teller wrote about “competing with Chrome” in his post, and different people argued about that. It got up to a point that Teller ended up editing the article (with an edition note at the end), replacing the “competing with Chrome” phrase with “as fast, as stable and as secure as Chrome”. And I believe this detail is in the core of a very general problem.

One can see, for example, that the first comment available is from Jeremy Andrews, who maintains Pale Moon in Solaris. And Andrews argues against this idea of “competing with Chrome”, on “why would somebody do something other than competing with Chrome”. He says the following:

(…) I’m doing it for the people that have been left behind since about 2007 when the iPhone and Facebook changed the world. The people that still mostly use their desktop PCs and like being able to tweak or customize everything. People who largely feel that they’re being asked to accept that the freedom and choice of the early Internet is being phased out in favor of security, top-down decision making, centralization, and lack of real choices. (…)

Daniel Eriksson then responds this other commentary:

(…) Up until 2010 I was always excited about new technology since it always gave me new possibilities and made it possible to do more in a way that suited me, and then that changed. Now I worry about new releases of software, fearing what useful function or option might have been taken away this time. (…)

That looks a lot like what started to happen in the late ’90s with the Windows ecosystem. Who didn’t start to keep old installers from previous versions, or even portable versions (which back then was just copying the install directory), because new versions were a problem in many ways? I must still have (somewhere) some CDs with a Winamp 2 configured as I pleased, because newer versions were crashy and asked for extra resources. And this practice (keeping old versions) entered in times of crisis when a thousand bits and stuff suddenly had online installers and dependencies, and thus version checks or even protocol changes made it stop working, leaving no other choice but to install newer versions. And this kind of stuff is happening in Free Software today: with “user-friendly” Gnome using UIs (or even program names) that are every day becoming more dumbed-down while breaking old stuff, hellish dependencies at the heart of entire systems (I’m looking at you systemd), QT going private, x86 being deprecated as if it were no longer in use anywhere… and, of course, an obese World Wide Web that no longer allows you to read a simple blog entry in a netbook given so much JavaScript for notifications and tracking. Not a good path.

“Let’s please keep aside for a while the whole privacy issue in this, as it’s absolutely secondary to my argument: the problem here is political and epistemic.”But the “competing with Chrome” mention raised a debate full of exchanges that I recommend you check out. I’m interested in the justification behind “competing with Chrome”: telemetry. I’m not sure if that’s a technical or a commercial name for the thing, but it means “data from the users”. Let’s please keep aside for a while the whole privacy issue in this, as it’s absolutely secondary to my argument: the problem here is political and epistemic.

Epistemic, because all evaluation criteria for reality is being contrasted against data clouds that replace it. Political, because I suspect this is at the core of all the bad changes in last few years in software communities in general, and Free software in particular.

As a programmer, and as a person of science, I understand the value of data. But as an activist, and as a person of art, I also understand its limits. Data is just a single ingredient of several ingredients needed when constructing a map of reality. The others need to be taken at least with the same priority as data. Today, in every aspect of technology, and even in sciences as well, we seem to be living within some spiral and recursive tendency between the act of compiling data and generating any idea of possible future around it. And this is seductive, not just because data is powerful and a thing of our times, but also because it heals or even resurrects our devastated modern search of objectivity: that security which only some unquestionably legit truth can give in order to guide us across the ocean of uncertainties that is the future. Data brings access to a very peculiar way of truth: Aletheia.

“What does Mozilla need telemetry for? And looking at this from the “competing with Chrome” perspective, much more than “what users want”, what this question seems to bring about is, “Mozilla wants to behave like Google”.”But it’s a mirage that previous generations already faced, at the same time they rediscovered how possible worlds and possible futures are also linked with hopes, ethics, and principles, that can and sometimes should take a distance from data instead of embracing what it says. And here’s where politics and art have some lessons to teach.

There are the bias issues. Yet, very frequently bias is evaluated as a defect in judgment, which has the consequence of getting away from objectivity; and I’m more likely trying to vindicate it. Biases do exist, and even when it’s true that biases have palliatives, they don’t translate data into full objectivity either. When we add to that the detail that software development is not necessarily a science, there’s room for the question of what’s the deal with the presentation of objectivity in data, or even data itself.

What does Mozilla do? With its software, with its users, with the data…

What does Mozilla need telemetry for? And looking at this from the “competing with Chrome” perspective, much more than “what users want”, what this question seems to bring about is, “Mozilla wants to behave like Google”. And this is troubling. But not because of “data privacy” (the boogeyman of contemporary progressives in informatics), but because it’s politically aberrant for Mozilla’s history.

Mozilla is supposed to be a non-profit foundation, that used to be a champion of a free web and a great empowerer of users. Mozilla was the one rising up and fighting against Microsoft on the Web, achieving what was the utterly unlikely outcome back then — a triumph that is invaluable today: making the Web not Microsoft-centered. Firefox fought against Internet Explorer in an endurance battle for an entire decade, until Apple and Google entered the ring and finished any hope of Microsoft controlling the Web, for good. And also, let us remember the days when all of us had to make our web pages IE6-compatible, when banks and state offices were forcing us to use IE to access their systems, when a good chunk of the Internet didn’t work without Windows-dependant plugins, or how close we were to get that horrible ending, how lunatic it sounded for a state or any other future. We owe to Mozilla our eternal gratitude and respect for having battled that battle in the way it did. Damn… we should have epic songs about it, for future generations to remember.

For a time (that lasted years), Google recommended Mozilla Firefox for their Web sites, un-recommending that way Internet Explorer. Eventually Google Chrome appeared, based on Safari’s code, for only years later having its own engine/code. Google then started to centralise more and more its Web operations around Chrome — to the point where today it is the de-facto new IE (and, not-so-ironically, even the renamed IE now has Google’s code). But today, unlike back then against Microsoft, Mozilla seems to want to follow Google’s steps instead of fighting it: it takes their browser as a reference instead of having a critical stance. And in the middle of that scene is… data: something that back then didn’t exist, at least not in the way we know it today.

And the thing is, data effectively indicates that users prefer Google Chrome. But that happens in the same way that data from 20 years ago would have suggested the same about IE. Most likely it would also tell us that IE was faster than Firefox here and there (like starting up, as it was integrated well within the OS), or even that the infinite technical problems IE had could not matter less to people (given that IE was used for a much longer time than it should have been tolerated by anyone, and not precisely because of “user experience” or any other metric like that). I’m sure many of us had friends who used the web without ad blockers, and thus they experienced that as the only way there was to use the web, and of course they do that with Google Chrome. And, yeah, I know that counts as “data”. But it’s kinda pointless for what we want from the Web, isn’t it?

However, my problem is not that there can be biases in the interpretation of data: my problem is the actual interpretation Mozilla chooses. Because 20 years ago Firefox would have interpreted “we need to do something against Google Chrome, or it will swallow the whole web in its culture otherwise”; and today it reads like, “we need to be like Google Chrome”.

And here’s where we need to look at Mozilla from some safe distance. Because that blog entry from Teller was posted on the same week Mozilla was laying off hundreds of people. And this post of mine is being written the same week Mozilla cancels yet another couple (two) of services. And this, of course, is deeply related to Teller’s mentions of development and maintenance costs, as stated in his post.

Mozilla is behaving much more like a for-profit business rather than a non-profit foundation. It looks at data in the same way any other enterprise: looking for revenue. It’s sharing the same biases private business do, because it is following the line of “where and how” to make money; and that logic always points to hegemonies to the detriment of minorities (with the notary exception of economic elites).

“Mozilla is behaving much more like a for-profit business rather than a non-profit foundation. It looks at data in the same way any other enterprise: looking for revenue.”And the thing is, the problem is real. This financing problems, and the costs of operation once reaching a certain scale, are not problems experienced exclusively by Mozilla. It’s the same thing that leads Canonical to making deals with Microsoft, then Red Hat being sold to IBM, and the deplorable current state of the Linux Foundation. All free software communities are — year by year — more besieged by financing needs, as the direct result of their operations’ scale/growth. This is because Free software had indeed won many battles, maybe even entire wars, and this is the cost of those triumphs: this is the logic of centrality in capitalism, that free software communities in general don’t seem to be facing as a crucial issue.

However, I expect more from Mozilla, and there’s this point where I start to seriously worry. Because Mozilla is a political reference, and clearly it doesn’t seem to find a way around this. Let me take a deviation for a few seconds, so I can put it in terms of concrete examples.

I know nobody who turns their cable or ADSL modem off during nighttime, or ever. That means that, even when it’s not being actively used, unlike in the dial-up times, our houses are all day long connected to the Internet. That means they’re basically a little potential datacentre. What stops us from serving contents from our very houses? Technologically, the changes needed are almost silly; the real limitation is entirely cultural. And that culture leads us to that; any common person, or even advanced user, today can’t have a clear idea of where to go if they wished to have their own Web site somewhere. In the same way, it’s frequently argued that the “Internet isn’t free” and that it has maintenance/infrastructure costs for being like we know it: fast, 24/7 online, accessible from all around the world, etc. Yet, why does the Internet has to be like that? Why can’t there be Web sites that work just under/during certain hour ranges, like any other human operation that precisely gets cut in time periods in order so save costs and to respect sane work conditions? Why couldn’t my personal Web site work only when I say so, from time x to time y, which is basically when I turn on and off my personal computer inside my house? Why should I guarantee that somebody from Hong Kong or Norway or Ethiopia can connect to my Web site, if I couldn’t care less about the ability to make it happen? Why can’t my Web site be available only to a certain local community that I choose, while having the option of also hosting my site internationally on Amazon or Google or whatever? And why does everything have to be fast? What’s the big deal with waiting for 30 seconds or even a minute in order to access some content, if the important thing there is the content (and not its speed)?

More very basic ideas: the Web is obese, let’s make it lose weight. Why can’t there be other mainstream hypertext languages, more text and styling focused (instead of “structure”) and less complicated to maintain for browser makers? Why not wind up having as a parameter “it must work well in third world countries” or “in 15 years old hardware”, rather than being all the time behind every silly novelty for-profit business make? Isn’t it true that out there exist millions and millions of people in need of stuff like that, given that the thing now seems to be to looking for “data” and “markets”?

“Mozilla’s case is representative and symptomatic: it’s conceiving the Web as an space for market before culture; or even worse, reducing culture to market.”These are fast, accessible, almost silly questions, with very simple answers, which give different ideas corresponding to many different futures for the Web. Apply those same questions to our messaging services, e.g. “who compiles which data through which means and towards what ends”, or “how do we get informed about what stuff, et cetera.” Anybody can think of stuff like this. However, Mozilla, one of our champions of old in the defense and creation of a user-oriented Web, an organization that could be working on stuff like this and easily get results in the shortest time, today puts its efforts into trying to do what Google does. And that’s in a big way just because it has bills to pay. But also there’s a lot of it because of the people that form the Mozilla teams, and the people that form our communities; because in the last 20 years lots of people got inside, and even lots of younger people from a whole different generation. That means people with very different cultural and political formation, which not only generates dissent and needs but also shifts from original or foundational principles. From there, things start to operate with lots of human factors, but it’s also a strong vector of corporate cultural influence. That way, we suddenly have lots of people thinking that Microsoft “is no longer evil”, that increasing speed in things is a need, that we must face politics with a frenetic impetus that leads to very little space for critical reflection (and thus things from ultrapolarization to the RMS cancellation), and that frequently confuses or conflates “novelty” with “progress”.

Mozilla’s case is representative and symptomatic: it’s conceiving the Web as an space for market before culture; or even worse, reducing culture to market. When one does that, what such bias cuts off are many absolutely crucial facts to think about when envisioning a better future Internet, and even better informatics in general. Facts like that are important to many, many of us, who do our stuff without any lucrative spirit, “for free” (as in both free beer and freedom), and that’s most likely a very good and large chunk of current informatics which work well because of that. Facts like “profit logic” are not the only a human logic, and there’s room-full of people all around the world very eager to work on thousands of initiatives, if the conditions are adequate, and without meaning important costs for Mozilla; and that logic, which is very closely related to Free Software history, looks much more closely into the works of activists and artists rather than “producers” or “employees”. Facts like that include the observation that the Internet from 20 years ago was very different, and today we have other big players involved: today, access to the Internet is legally considered a right all around the world. Why doesn’t Mozilla focus on working closer to or more closely with nation states as a revenue source, while working on lots of initiatives related to technology rights, and generating “data” from that other perspective? Apply that to Latin America (where I’m from) and we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people (not at all a small “market”) who also need “solutions” (and not in a commercial sense), and moreover don’t have the same problems as people from the US (which I guess may be the main origin of all the data Mozilla gets from telemetry). Wasn’t the Internet an international thing? Right? Then why are Internet not-for-profit organizations behaving like the whole world needs another Google? Why not even reach out to the UN in order to get funding, in exchange for work on human rights initiatives related to the Internet? The Internet is a thing of relevance to the UN since decades ago (until now), and Mozilla has a curriculum to show off.

From that point of view, the very real financial need looks more like an excuse, and the problem is the political path they’re taking much more ferociously, even before the financing factor. And this is a critique that also applies to any Free Software community. The “as in free beer” is not just a clarification, nor a joke: wherever the money comes from is a big problem, and a political one. Because if we’re slaves to money, when our software gets into the news, then the next step is to become another monster; “not-as-in-free-beer” looks like a very shy way of saying “for-profit”. And this thing will keep on happening again and again and again, until we as the community face the very core problem of our relation with capitalism itself, and perhaps the question of what our stance on it actually is. I believe this is part of the crisis Free Software is dealing with right now.

“…any financing or initiative evaluation has to come with political principles as parameters.”But there’s room for a clarification here, regarding Mozilla. Asking Mozilla to come to Argentina to fix our informatics problems is unfair and absolutely out of place: it should be Argentinian groups — the ones reaching out to Mozilla if they want that to happen. Yet, that “competing with Chrome” impetus from Teller’s article gets Mozilla very far away from any possibility of dialogue with any actor other than an economic leviathan: because that’s against what it’s pretending to compare itself. When the enemy was Internet Explorer, even when it’s true that Firefox worked notably better, that wasn’t the reason all of us Mozilla promoters defended it for, but its role in a better future for the web. Today, when I CAN’T honestly say something like “Chrome works better than Firefox” (as “better” is a much different concept than “some animations are smoother”), it seems that “working better” is the only metric to look at. And that is not the case. That’s wrong, actually.

The thing happening with Mozilla then is something to worry about, because it looks to me like the same as what happened to other references from older ages. And this is something that has a solution in politics rather than in software or in money. Our communities need referents, with a clear political vision, showing the way: any financing or initiative evaluation has to come with political principles as parameters. And this is especially needed in order to guide all the youngsters wanting to be a part of their generational changes: an absolutely necessary guide if we don’t want things like the cancellation of Stallman to happen again in some other way (that brutal disinformation campaign from enemies of free software was successful and effective among younger people, and we didn’t had a strong and sound response from Free Software referents in defense of RMS). Our communities and political organizations just CANNOT be SO sensible to corporate influence, and while that keeps happening there’s no debate about any software or any “data” that could protect us from the next corporate operation against our rights. We need guiding words for organizing resistance, much more quickly (faster) and much ahead or before our need for financing.

As a closing note, just as an observation, I believe it is pretty much graphical why I’m writing this. I read that Teller’s post during my lunchtime break on a working day, and I tried to write a quick response in the comments section. Then I happened to realise that the blog had Medium as their comments technology; and I happen to have a Medium account that I actually think I created to answer another Mozilla employee’s blog post, only some years ago but didn’t remember the password. So I asked for a password reset, and hoped to let the thing work for another time (when I get the password/access back). Two days later, after several tries, I still didn’t have my password, so I gave up and went to use a third party ID service: Medium offered Twitter and Google, as well as several other options. I also have a Twitter account that I never use, so I choose that; but at login time, Twitter told me that Medium “needed” to access some private data of mine — stuff that I don’t remember right now (or cannot recall exactly what was it), but I do remember it was scandalous: something like “my private messages”, or “my contacts list”, or stuff like that, which in no way I would have allowed. So I went back to log in with a Google account, which I also almost never use, and this time Google offered me two links about privacy policies and data collection that I frankly just ignored while feeling defeat. By that time, Teller’s post was already edited — specifically the the part that I wanted to comment on (the one about “competing with Chrome”), and so I had to change my comment before posting it. But even then something else happened: the next day I went to check if anybody answered my comment, but the comment just wasn’t there. I published it, and it wasn’t anything rude so I don’t think it got moderated, so it had to be shadowbanned in some way: I didn’t bother to log in again and check it out.

So, here’s my point: if for having a dialog with somebody from Mozilla I have to enter into a blog hosted in GitHub (Microsoft), allowing a third party to access my data (Medium), to even having to log in to that third party system using another third party credentials (Twitter or Google), and even then end up censored somehow… if Mozilla’s people don’t see a problem there, or ever tried to say something about “what people do” or “what data tells” in front of that… then I’m afraid we should be very worried about the state of political judgement in our political organizations.

09.20.20

Links 20/9/2020: Flameshot Screenshot Tool 0.8, Okular Improvements and More

Posted in News Roundup at 5:49 pm by Guest Editorial Team

  • Leftovers

    • School Building Collapses In Lagos

      Lagos witnessed another building collapse on Saturday when a three-storey building at Ansarudeen Street, Ile-Epo, Ejigbo caved in.

      [...]

      “Fortunately, nobody was trapped, no injury and no fatality has been recorded. Responders to the incident scene are LASEMA, Lagos State Building Control Agency and the police (Ejigbo division).”

    • Education

      • [Old] Famous Biologist Louis Agassiz on the Usefulness of Learning Through Observation

        Pick any industry of life and you’ll find that very few people actually do the work.

        Rather than read the original study, most people cite the headline from a secondary source. Rather than spend 100 hours observing every detail of a fish, most biology students would look up the description of the fish online. When most people say, “I read an article on climate change,” what they really mean is, “I read the title of an article on climate change.”

        This is exactly why doing the boring work more consistently is actually a competitive advantage. Ignore the expert advice and pay attention to what gets results for you.

        Look, and see for yourself.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Trump EPA Denounced for ‘Disgusting’ Decision on Atrazine, Herbicide Tied to Birth Defects

        One critic warned that “this decision imperils the health of our children and the safety of drinking water supplies across much of the nation.”

      • Hospitals Serving the Poor Close as Investors and Electeds Refuse to Rescue Them

        Victor Coronado felt lightheaded one morning last month when he stood up to grab an iced tea. The right side of his body suddenly felt heavy. He heard himself slur his words. “That’s when I knew I was going to have a stroke,” he said.

      • Of smoke and masks; how do we wear masks now?

        According to local officials who work with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, the Creek Fire smoke will likely be with Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra at least through this week and into next week – and perhaps longer than that.

        Although the smoke might get a bit less dense due to an incoming cold front and stronger winds this week, if the fire continues to grow and the winds continue to come from a south or southwest direction as is forecast for quite some time, the Mammoth area (at least) will likely be in for quite a bit more smoke, possibly into the end of the month. The most likely way the smoke will end completely is via a good, winter-like storm, which is not in the forecast at this time, said Tom Schaniel Air Pollution Control Officer with Great Basin. Until then, he said, the smoke could get lighter, it could gather at a higher elevation at times, but it will still be in the area until a large storm scours the smoke out of the region.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • Intel’s Cloud-Hypervisor Making Progress On Booting Windows

              The Cloud-Hypervisor project that is led by Intel open-source folks for providing a cloud-focused hypervisor written in the Rust programming language is out with a new feature release.

              Cloud-Hypervisor 0.10 was issued on Friday and this Rust-VMM based project now supports multiple descriptors with VirtIO-Block, memory zone support for finer grained control of memory allocations for the guest, sandboxing improvements with SECCOMP filters, preliminary KVM HyperV emulation control support, and a number of bug fixes.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More Sinister.

              Since China adopted the National Intelligence Law in June 2017, all Chinese citizens and companies have been under a legal obligation to help the government gather intelligence (and keep any cooperation secret). The law allows China’s intelligence services to embed their people and devices or to requisition facilities in any premise, anywhere, for that purpose.i

              The Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party also essentially requires any company with at least three party members to form a cell tasked with carrying out the party’s wishes.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Belarusian propaganda: From courting the West to taking Russia’s cues

        About a decade ago, after a temporary falling out with Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko tried to pivot his country to the West. In this endeavor, he had help from a British PR firm called “Bell Pottinger” that once employed some of the most influential spin-doctors in the world. The campaign was a complete failure: the consultants left empty-handed and Lukashenko became an international pariah once again. In August 2020, after workers at state television and radio broadcasters in Belarus started walking off the job in protest as the police brutally dispersed opposition demonstrations, a handful of independent journalists and activists reported that whole brigades of “strikebreakers” from Russia arrived to replace these employees.

      • Amnesty International calls for investigation into video showing execution of woman in Mozambique

        Cabo Delgado is home to a $60 billion natural gas development that is heavily guarded by Mozambican military and private security.

        Loosely aligned with ISIS, the insurgents have undertaken increasingly sophisticated attacks in recent months, overrunning large parts of Mocimba de Praia, a strategic port north of the regional capital Pemba in August. Unlike in previous attacks, government forces have struggled to fully retake the territory.

      • OPINION: High time SADC deployed military force in Mozambique

        An injury to one being an injury to all, CAJ News Africa urgently calls upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc member states to immediately deploy a combined force to drive out Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-affiliated Ansar al-Sunna insurgents from Mozambique.

        If ever there was time to ruthlessly deal with the rubble rousing terrorists in the SADC region, it is now.

        The Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique is the epicenter of the insurgency that threatens to spill into the entire regional bloc.

      • Islamic State claims killing of French aid workers in Niger

        The six French nationals and their driver worked for international aid group ACTED and were touring the reserve, which is a popular destination for expatriates and was considered safe by the Nigerien government.

        France and other countries have warned people against travelling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and ISWAP operate.

      • Nigeria’s Kaduna State Enacts Law To Castrate Child Abusers

        The amendment to the Penal Code establishes that rapists who abuse minors under 14 years old will face castration of their genitals and the removal of the Fallopian tubes in the case of men and women respectively.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Spanish-language disinformation intensifies among Florida Latinos, worrying Democrats

        The idea that Spanish-language news cannot be trusted is being pushed by YouTube channels, like GR8 America, Sin Filtros, that urge viewers to subscribe so they can view Trump campaign events in Spanish and follow interviews that viewers “won’t see in traditional news outlets.”

        GR8 compared itself to Telemundo — which is owned by NBCUniversal, NBC News’ parent company — and Univision, saying it was the “second most followed outlet during the Republican convention on YouTube.”

        “People see the videos and the disinformation so many times that it gets to them. They feel they can’t trust the media, and that’s the most worrisome part,” Pérez-Verdía said. “Now they call Spanish-language media fake news.”

        The two largest and most established Spanish-language networks are seeing more protesters confront their reporters and question their coverage.

    • Environment

      • Around 300 Chinese vessels near Galapágos protection zone were ‘pillaging oceans for squid,’ analysis shows

        The findings are based on information captured by the Global Fishing Watch mapping tool developed by Oceana, in partnership with Google and Skytruth, a nonprofit environmental watchdog.

        “This massive and ongoing fishing effort of China’s fleet threatens the Galapagos Islands, the rare species that only call it home and everyone that depends on it for food and livelihoods,” said Oceana’s illegal fishing and transparency analyst, Dr. Marla Valentine.

        Valentine added that the findings were merely the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the impact of mass fishing operations conducted by Chinese vessels: “The situation playing out in the Galápagos should raise serious questions and concerns about the impact China’s massive fishing fleet is having on the oceans it sails.”

      • Massive ‘Climate Clock’ Urging Governments to #ActInTime Unveiled on Metronome in New York City

        “The clock is a way to speak science to power,” says a project co-founder.

      • Energy

        • A Dying Industry is Leaving A Deadly Legacy

          An important new investigation examined the issue of the shocking state of over three million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States.

        • Will BP Finally Succeed at Moving Beyond Petroleum? To Survive, It Must.

          The founder of SunEdison discusses what the future holds for BP and other major oil and gas companies that are looking to transition.

        • How the oil industry made us doubt climate change

          As climate change becomes a focus of the US election, energy companies stand accused of trying to downplay their contribution to global warming. In June, Minnesota’s Attorney General sued ExxonMobil, among others, for launching a “campaign of deception” which deliberately tried to undermine the science supporting global warming. So what’s behind these claims? And what links them to how the tobacco industry tried to dismiss the harms of smoking decades earlier?

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • 2020 Election Could Decide Whether US Pursues Nuclear Escalation or Arms Control

        In these final weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign, U.S. voters’ attention is being consumed by a maelstrom of crises — a merciless pandemic, a battered economy, a society ruptured by racist police violence and deadly structural inequalities, climate chaos and a fragile democracy.

      • If McConnell Packs the Court on Behalf of Minority Rule, Dems Must Expand and Reform It

        They ought to come in prepared to introduce serious reform so that our laws reflect the will of our 330 million people rather than that of a few corrupt billionaires allied with hypocritical religious fundamentalists.

      • ‘We Can, and Must, Fight’: Death of RBG Sparks Senate Showdown and Calls for Supreme Court Reform

        “The fate of our rights, our freedoms, our healthcare, our bodies, our lives, and our country depend on what happens over the coming months.”

      • Unequal Justice: Trump’s Supreme Takeover

        If the president gets to appoint another SCOTUS judge, we’ll be paying the price for decades to come.

      • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A ‘Precise Female’

        This slow talker, ruthless editor, and die-hard romantic wanted to make sure that every woman could find her best place.

      • Ginsburg’s Death Sparks Renewed Calls for Reforms to the Supreme Court

        As mourners left flowers and signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court building overnight following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death Friday evening, President Donald Trump and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to force through her replacement with just weeks until the November election while progressive lawmakers and organizers promised to fight the GOP’s hypocritical effort to shift the court right.

      • With the Passing of Justice Ginsburg, Democracy Just Got Harder, Again

        Right. Ol’ Lindsey nearly broke both legs walking that one back upon the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If Senate Republicans can seat a new Justice before the election, they will do it. If they can seat a new Justice before the end of January (in the event of a Trump loss), they will do it.

      • Groups Plan Vigil Outside Supreme Court and National Solidarity Events to Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg

        “She gave all she could, with literally all she had. Now it’s our turn.”

      • Justice Ginsburg Should Not Be Replaced Until After the Election

        GOP senators invented a new standard in order to deny President Obama a Supreme Court appointment in 2016. Now they should abide by it.

      • Worst Damage Theory

        But when it comes to voting in an election like 2020, where the candidates have such violently competing ideologies, I think many voters will use the mental shortcut of imagining each potential presidency after 4-8 years and ask themselves which would cause the Worst Damage based on their personal values.

        This, combined with the Primacy Concern model, is what allows people to vote for people they don’t really like.

      • GOP’s Strategy for 2020 Election Looks Like an All-Out Assault on Voting Rights

        The Republican Party and its allies have relied on voter suppression tactics for decades, but this year they are pulling out all the stops.

      • Countdown to Election: 52 Days
      • Hawkins Says Climate Justice Requires Racial Justice

        (New York, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, said that achieving racial justice was essential to the effort for effective climate action.

        Hawkins, who participated in the march for Climate Justice Through Racial Justice in Manhattan on Sunday, outlined 7 key initiatives: Green New Deal, Economic Bill of Rights, Medicare for All, Homes for all, Democratic Community Control of the Police, Reparations for African-American rights, and Honor Indigenous Treaty Rights.

        “People of color and low-income communities are the principal victims of climate change. We face this existential threat to our future since the leaders of both major parties, in exchange for campaign contributions, allow fossil fuel companies and others to pollute and exploit such communities. We can not solve climate change without system change, including ending racial injustice,” said Hawkins, the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in his 2010 race for Governor of New York.

        [...]

        Hawkins said today’s youth-led anti-racist and divestment demands in the climate justice movement were similar to the youth-led anti-apartheid movement’s divestment demands a generation ago. It was at Hawkins’ initiative that Dartmouth College students built a shantytown on the college green in the fall of 1985 demanding divestment of college funds from companies doing business in apartheid South Africa. That action sparked shantytown protests on campuses across the nation and a swelling of anti-apartheid actions across society over the next year until the US government imposed sanctions on South Africa in the fall of 1986. The apartheid regime responded by freeing Nelson Mandela and negotiating a transition to democracy. 1243 institutions have divested $14.38 trillion from fossil fuel companies to date.

        “The anti-apartheid divestment movement aroused a new generation of activists. Zephyr Teachout has said that visiting the Dartmouth shantytown when she was in high school near the college was an inspiration for her activism. We see the same happening today with youth in the climate justice movement today. It is time for New York State to listen to these young people who are fighting for their future and divest,” Hawkins said.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Moderate Facebook Workplace Chat

        Facebook employees have recently been wondering if perhaps Facebook—which lets politicians lie in ads, festers with extremist movements like QAnon, and by design amplifies authoritarian propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech—is actually the bad guy.

        Hey, pal, why don’t you shut the fuck up, CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds.

        According to reports in CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday that the company plans to crack down on discussion of polarizing political and social issues on internal message boards. The Journal wrote that Zuckerberg said staff shouldn’t have to discuss social issues at work and outlined potential steps like establishing rules on where these discussions can pop up on the company’s messenger, making sure those conversations are monitored and moderated: [...]

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • As journalists are made to leave, Hong Kong’s global status will suffer

        The ongoing journalists’ visa war between the United States and China shows no sign of abating. Rather than easing, it seems headed towards its end game.

        It began back in February when the US State Department ordered five Chinese news outlets to register as foreign entities and forced them to reduce their staff by roughly 40 percent. Beijing promptly expelled three journalists from the Wall Street Journal, using an op-ed published by the Journal as an excuse even though the journalists had nothing to do with the piece.

      • Day 9: September 18, 2020 #AssangeCase

        New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager took to stand to testify about using WikiLeaks documents in his work. Hager published Other People’s Wars, New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror, and said that WikiLeaks-released military and diplomatic files “greatly increased my understanding of the conduct of the war. It would have been impossible to write the book without these confidential and leaked sources.”

      • A Small Confession

        I have to confess that after the last court session of another tough week (and yesterday was a particularly emotional and startling court day) I went to the pub with a friend after court yesterday rather than start writing. So Friday’s report this afternoon.

      • Six Reasons Julian Assange Should Be Thanked, Not Punished

        4. For years the United Kingdom maintained a pretense that it sought Assange for criminal accusations from Sweden. The idea that the United States sought to prosecute the act of reporting on its wars was mocked as paranoid fantasy. For global society to now accept this outrage would be a significant blow to press freedom globally and to the independence of any vassal state from U.S. demands. Those demands tend to be, first and foremost, to buy more weapons, and, secondarily, to participate in the use of those weapons.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Why Do Americans Give Away So Much Control to Corporations?

        The corporate “Borg” is sucking the ready availability of the good life, decent, secure livelihoods assured by our collective self-reliance, and the freedom to shape our future out of our political economy.

      • U.S. Law Enforcement Shot At Least 115 People in the Head with Crowd-Control Weapons During the First Two Months of George Floyd Protests: Physicians for Human Rights

        PHR’s analysis finds that crowd-control projectiles are being used in cities across the country in ways that violate local, federal, and international guidelines. Shooting civilians in the head with KIPs violates widely accepted use of force principles, which forbid targeting of the head and neck and emphasize proportional response to actual threats faced by law enforcement. Furthermore, past research by PHR has shown that severe injury, disability, and death are often consequences of being shot in the head with these weapons. Such excessive and indiscriminate police responses to protests have a chilling effect on the exercise of the fundamental First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

        In light of “Shot in the Head” and related evidence, PHR calls for a ban on the use of KIPs in crowd-control situations, due both to the life-threatening injuries they can cause and their potential to violate freedom of expression and assembly.

    • Monopolies

      • One thing Apple’s and Epic’s lawyers agree on: Supreme Court’s Pepper v. Apple opinion and 5-4 vote are unrelated to Epic’s App Store case

        There are no signs of a détente between Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple. While Apple apparently keeps the door open to whatever version of Fortnite that would bring the battle royale game back into compliance with the App Store terms, Epic is not only being very vocal in public and running an anti-Apple tournament but also pursuing a litigation strategy that appears to be all about escalation, trying to take the merits of a huge antitrust case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the coming months.

        Notwithstanding the extremely acrimonious nature of this litigation, there’s one remark that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers made in last month’s hearing on Epic’s motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) that neither party is comfortable with. When counsel for Epic insisted on their likelihood to prevail on the merits (while the court placed the emphasis at the TRO stage on irreparable harm), Judge Gonzalez Rogers said this case was not going to be a “slam dunk” for either Epic or Apple, and reminded everyone that the Supreme Court’s Pepper v. Apple vote–which ultimately allowed a consumer class action (seeking damages for allegedly having overpaid for app downloads and in-app purhcases) to go forward before her court–was very close: 5-4.

        Representing Epic, Cravath’s Gary Bornstein distinguished Pepper from Epic a few minutes later. He noted that Epic is an app developer bringing antitrust claims against Apple over its App Store terms, while the Pepper class action complaint is about harm to consumers from what Apple withholds from app developers, and the Supreme Court ruled on whether or not that consumer class could sue for damages (with Epic not even seeking damages for now).

      • Epic Games denies Apple’s claim of Fortnite losing popularity, says usage “actually increased by more than 39%” during chosen period: court filing

        If you’re more interested in what Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in a sworn declaration about the popularity of Fortnite, please click here to skip the part that addresses the legally more relevant questions surrounding Epic’s push for a preliminary injunction against Apple.

      • Apple accuses Epic Games of “coercing platforms for its own gain, under the guise of being ‘pro-gamer’”: PlayStation/Xbox example

        TROs are in effect for only a fortnight (whichever way one may spell it) unless the enjoined party consents to an extension. After that period, a preliminary injunction (PI) can and often does replace it, which is commonly referred to as “converting a TRO into a PI.” What makes a PI preliminary is that it’s in effect until a final judgment grants or denies a permament injunction; a TRO is even more preliminary than a PI. In this case, the court discussed a PI briefing schedule with the parties, which will culminate in a PI hearing on Monday, September 28–ten days after a deadline for Epic’s second filing in that context, its reply brief in support of its motion. Until the court’s decision on the PI motion, Apple must comply with the TRO.

        Typically, a TRO gets converted into a PI, but there are cases in which judges change mind on the basis of more elaborate briefing and in-depth analysis. With respect to the merit of the underlying case, there’s not enough time at the TRO stage to fully consider all outcome-determinative aspects of complex matters, so if a judge believes that irreparable harm is imminent, a TRO might come down just to prevent a tragedy, even though a PI might subsequently be denied. Epic is still trying to persuade the court to #FreeFortnite, but that part is again doomed to fail, given that Epic could simply publish an iOS version of the game that wouldn’t offer alternative payment mechanisms. Epic itself accepted and complied with those terms for years, and all that Apple says it wants is compliance with its longstanding standard terms. For Apple it’s certainly going to be a challenge to defeat the Unreal Engine part of Epic’s motion this time around, but such an outcome is nowhere near as inconceivable as a free pass for Epic to violate Apple’s App Store terms while litigation over whether or not those terms violate the antitrust laws is still in progress.

      • Apple attempts to debunk tale of two Epic companies in order to avoid preliminary injunction concerning Unreal Engine

        As I explained before, it’s hard to imagine that the court would not continue to consider Fortnite’s removal from the App Store to be self-inflicted harm. Apple reinforces that point nevertheless, describing Epic as “a saboteur, not a martyr,” and noting that “Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out, even though Epic can do so itself in an instant by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years.” But the interesting question in the September 28 hearing is not going to be Fortnite–it’s Unreal Engine. Apple wouldn’t ban the engine and all apps that incorporate it, but Epic would lose access to the developer tools, which sooner or later would hurt its customers (according to Apple’s filing, Epic holds Fortnite gamers as well as Unreal Engine licensees hostage).

        What applies to both Fortnite and Unreal Engine is that Epic could just continue to do business with Apple, and on iOS, the way it used to do, by complying with the App Store terms while still being able to challenge them in court. The question for the court to decide is whether the fact that Epic holds the key to the kingdom in its hands applies only to Fortnite–the corpus delicti in a contractual sense–or also to Unreal Engine. The reason Epic obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) was just that the judge was concerned about what might be overreaching retaliation: the termination of a developer account held and used by a separate legal entity for the purpose of developing Unreal Engine.

      • Apple suspects Epic Games seeks “to reinvigorate [waning] interest in Fortnite” and notes Unity is far more popular than Unreal Engine

        This is a follow-up to my post on Apple’s opposition to Epic Games’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Like the previous one, this is about Apple highlighting facts that don’t make Epic look good. And Apple appears to have stepped up its rhetoric after weeks of Epic running an aggressive #FreeFortnite campaign and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s Twitter presence increasingly looking like an “I hate Apple’s App Store terms” type of campaign account. Interestingly, even though Epic is suing Google as well (for an update on that case, San Jose-based Judge Beth Freeman has declined Google’s invitation to take over the Google Play Store antitrust cases), Mr. Sweeney almost exclusively lashes out at Apple in his tweets, and actually promotes Android over iOS at times. On Twitter I read that Epic is “giving away Android devices in #FreeFortnite tournament.”

        There will be opportunities in the build-up to, and after, the September 28 preliminary injunction hearing to talk a bit more about the parties’ legal theories. However, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said in the recent TRO (temporary restraining order) hearing that the case would not be decided at this early stage. For now, it’s about Epic seeking relief before the court has had the chance to fully analyze the merits. At this point it’s just about what the parties are allowed to do while the litigation is ongoing. Epic wants to be allowed to circumvent Apple’s in-app payment system, and Apple argues (as I’ll discuss later) that Epic’s “cheating” (by not disclosing at the time of app review the existence of an alternative payment system) justifies a termination of all of Epic’s developer accounts, including the one used for Epic’s work on Unreal Engine.

      • Epic Games prefers Play Store antitrust trial to take place in San Francisco, Google in San Jose

        Epic Games v. Google is still in the very early stages. Three of the Google entities sued by the Fortnite maker are based overseas. As a result, service of process took longer: Google Asia Pacific Pte. Limited was served on September 4, 2020; Google Ireland Limited on September 6, 2020; and what procedurally matters is the latest date, September 7, 2020 (when Google Ireland Limited was served).

        By contrast, there’s already been a fair amount of activity in Epic Games v. Apple, with a temporary restraining order (TRO) in place, Epic having brought a motion for a preliminary injunction (consistent with its TRO motion), to which Apple will respond later today. Apple meanwhile filed its answer to Epic’s complaint. It may take quite a while before Google does so, especially since it appears to intend to firstly bring a motion to dismiss.

        Other than service, all that has happened so far in Epic v. Google is about the assignment of the case to one judge or another, and about whether or not Epic’s case is related to some other antitrust actions against Google in the same district. That’s obviously less exciting than motions for injunctive relief, but those little things can make all the difference to the outcome of a litigation. For example, if Oracle’s Android-Java copyright case against Google had not been assigned to Judge William H. Alsup back in 2010, it’s highly likely Google would already have lost it a long time ago, and a jury would merely have had to determine damages for past infringement while the merits were crystal clear (except to that one judge).

      • Counsel divided on impact of Avanci case dismissal

        Lawyers at an automotive company, a car supplier, a telecoms company and three firms contemplate the impact of the dismissed antitrust suit

      • Patents

        • Summer of FRAND love: a roundup of SEP cases

          Court rulings from the UK, the US and Germany point to a seismic shift in favour of SEP holders that could reshape FRAND for years to come

        • Three decisions due on Friday (9/25): FTC v. Qualcomm (en banc petition?); EU “state aid” case against Apple/Ireland (further appeal?); Nokia v. Daimler

          By sheer coincidence, three decisions will become known on Friday (September 25) in cases that this blog has previously discussed but which are otherwise unrelated. In two of those cases, competition authorities have to decie whether to turn things around after losing the first appellate decision. In one case, there would definitely be a way, but might not be the political win to keep fighting; in the other case, there would undoubtedly be a will, but there may not be a promising way. Furthermore, a German court will announce a decision on an automotive patent infringement complaint with major antitrust implications.

        • Brazil: new patent priority examination

          Starting this September 2020, the Instituto Nacional da Propriedad Industrial (INPI) adds to its lists of patent priority examination, TWO more. They are technology applications resulting from public funding and technology applications already available on the market.

          INPI already has available 14 types of priority applications, that is, procedures in place. With the two new additions, INPI has ‘16 types of priority procedure available, 14 for the general public and two for public entities’. INPI notes that the period for decisions of priority examination, counted from the application date, was done in 13.1 months (July 2020).

        • Boehmert and Gramm Lins win in Berlin over ID technology patent

          US company Credit Card Supplies, based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, owns the German patent DE 10 2004 041 434 B4. The patent protects a process for embossing 3D structures in sheet metal, which are used on hot-cold laminating presses to produce identity documents and credit cards. However, the US company claimed VTT and Bundesdruckerei had infringed its patent DE 434 B4.

          VTT Verschleißteiltechnik in Langenhagen, near Hanover, manufactures high-tech lamination plates for creating secure documents, such as passports, driving licences, national IDs, bank and health insurance cards. These products all feature integrated security components. Bundesdruckerei is a customer of VTT, using the latter’s plates to produce ID cards and passports.

          [...]

          Boehmert & Boehmert has advised Bundesdruckerei on patent filing for many years. The company develops its own technologies, such as electronic access systems. For the current infringement proceedings, patent attorney Thomas Bittner called in Munich partner and litigator Michael Rüberg. Bundesdruckerei also mandated the Frankfurt based patent team from Linklaters around Julia Schönbohm

          Patent attorney Thorsten Rehmann from Gramm, Lins & Partner specialises in mechanical engineering. Previously, Rehmann has worked for VTT for various patent applications at the EPO. VTT also retained the mixed firm for the infringement case. Gramm, Lins & Partner recently stood out for its work for Bury in the prominent dispute between Nokia and Daimler over connected cars patents.

        • Tech slams ‘crony capitalist’ PTAB rule fuelling Texas rise

          Cisco and another of the four plaintiffs in Apple v Iancu, and Facebook and others set out why the ‘capricious’ NHK-Fintiv rule had to be challenged

        • Added subject-matter and selections from multiple lists – are things getting easier?

          In T 1621/16 the Board of Appeal reversed an Opposition Division decision to revoke a patent for added subject‑matter on the basis the claims comprised multiple selections from lists of converging alternatives.

          The patentee successfully argued on appeal that lists of converging alternatives (i.e. lists of alternatives wherein each of the more preferred alternatives is fully encompassed by all the less preferred and broader options in the list) should not be considered to be equivalent to selections from lists of non-converging elements (i.e. mutually exclusive or partially overlapping alternatives). The previous EPO approach typically objected to multiple selections from non-convergent lists but allowed multiple selections from convergent lists only where alternatives having the same degree of preference were combined with each other (e.g. “most preferred”). This decision goes further and indicates that multiple selections can be made based on combinations of both more and less preferred convergent alternatives.

        • 2020 PTAB Bar Association Annual Conference Rescheduled

          After having to be postponed due to coronavirus concerns, the 2020 PTAB Bar Association Annual Conference has now been rescheduled and is going forward on September 24-25, 2020, with pre-conference sessions being held September 23, 2020. This year’s conference will not be attended in person, but it will be held virtually, making it available to all participants world-wide and may draw a wider audience than in previous years. Regardless of the format, this year’s conference promises to be just as interesting, informative and insightful as previous years.

        • Artificial Intelligence fuels TikTok’s popularity; but could that very asset prevent its sale?

          ByteDance currently owns around 3,300 published patent applications (not including design registrations) in China. Roughly one tenth of those have become granted patents. Nearly half of the patent applications relate to electric digital data processing, including primarily deep learning algorithms and traditional image processing algorithms. According to information ByteDance’s AI lab, the AI algorithms are essential for numerous TikTok features (e.g., video/face detection, keyword matching, aggregated recommendations, the assignment of certain videos for each user) and various real-time special effects developed based on the human face (e.g., cat face stickers, rain control, body slimming, leg stretching, finger bubbles, dancing machine, scene classification, beauty makeup). There are also AI algorithms that operate at a deeper level engaged in video and image reviewing, semantic analysis, machine translation, and further AI creation.

        • Unitary Patent Series Part 2: Data Considerations When Drafting

          Data are primarily required to support the requirements of sufficiency (Article 83 EPC) and inventive step (Article 56 EPC). In recent years, the EPO has applied the concept of “plausibility” when assessing both sufficiency and inventive step. The concept of plausibility has arisen from case law as a response to overly broad claims and to prevent speculative claiming. This is particularly relevant when the invention relates to a new therapeutic effect: is it plausible from the as-filed application that the therapeutic effect can be achieved?

          As established in our earlier article, the absence of any grace period provisions at the EPO means that applications must normally be filed before any clinical trial data is available, since clinical trial protocols are publicly available. Filing with no data at all is highly likely to result in lack of sufficiency and lack of inventive step objections. So, how are applicants to know how much data to include on filing?

          A simple rule of thumb is that the amount of data generally required is inversely proportional to the maturity and predictability of the technical field. It is also important to keep in mind the breadth of the desired claims, as broader claims will (usually) require more data to show an inventive step across their scope. In general, however, it is usually acceptable for applications to be filed with “proof of concept” style data to meet the (relatively low) sufficiency threshold and to establish that the technical effect is plausible. Additional data can then be filed during prosecution if there is a concern that the data are not adequate to show an inventive step across the scope of the claim.

        • [Old] Germany’s Supreme Court releases full judgment in key FRAND licensing case

          In early May, the German Federal Court of Justice (the country’s supreme court) handed down its decsion in Sisvel v Haier, the first FRAND-related case it had heard since the Court of Justice of the European Union’s landmark 2015 Huawei v ZTE judgment. Although it found in favour of Sisvel, so overturning a ruling made by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, it did not release its reasons for doing so. Now, though, it has given the two parties its full judgment.

          IAM will provide more analysis of the case over the coming weeks, but in the meantime Sisvel has given us permision to reproduce a press release the firm put out yesterday that summarises the ruling. Note that this has been edited into IAM house style.

        • Landmark decision affirms jurisdiction of English courts to determine FRAND terms

          In a watershed decision with significant implications for the technology and telecommunications industries – and the patent community more broadly – the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has delivered its long-awaited decision in three cases, Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies (UK) Co Ltd; Huawei Technologies (UK) Co Ltd v Conversant Wireless Licensing SÀRL and ZTE Corporation v Conversant Wireless Licensing SÀRL. The Court has unanimously upheld lower court decisions, confirming that English courts are able to grant injunctions to restrain infringement of UK standard essential patents (SEP) and have the jurisdiction to determine fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms for worldwide SEP licences.

        • [Old] Birds-eye view of the 2018 US patent litigation landscape

          RPX has released its annual Patent Marketplace and Litigation Report. It indicates that the pendulum is beginning to swing back to favour plaintiffs in the US. The report tracks the significant changes in the US patent system over the past year, and also touches upon developments and trends in China. We have created an infographic to present the key takeaways.

        • CardieX (ASX:CDX) subsidiary granted European blood pressure patent

          CardieX’s (CDX) subsidiary, ATCOR, has been granted a new patent by the European Patent Office (EPO) for its SphygmoCor technology.

          The SphygmoCor technology enables non-invasive measurement of artery stiffness through central arterial pressure waveform and blood pressure analysis.

        • Software Patents

          • This week in IP: Podcasts, Ericsson, Banksy and more

            Wednesday, September 16 marked the end of the covered business method patent review programme, which was introduced by the America Invents Act in the US.

            The AIA says a CBM patent “claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service”. The term does not include patents for technological inventions.

            The programme was put in place to review CBM patents and allow petitioners to challenge patents on broader grounds than they could at inter partes review (IPR) trials.

            Use of the programme has become less common in recent years. Statistics from the USPTO found that although 1,145 IPRs were filed in FY2020, just 11 CBM review petitions were filed in the same timeframe.

      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • When Covid-19 Shuttered Cinema Halls!: Should Producers Share Royalties from OTT Release of Films?

          Amongst the many films that have been released on the web so far, some big releases starring stalwarts like Irfan Khan in ‘Angrezi Medium’ (which was his last ever!) and Amitabh Bachchan in Gulabo Sitabo, are a few notable ones. If not for this pandemic, these movies would have been block buster releases, creating a stir in cinema halls. But unfortunately, nothing of this sort happened and the producers were compelled to directly release the films (or re-release as in case of Angrezi Medium after its theatrical release was cut short) on streaming services such as Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video. Clearly, the cinema hall owners lost a big share of their yearly profits, but what is unknown is how much the producers lost by not being able to showcase their multi-starrers in a cinema hall.

          In contrast with blockbuster theatrical releases, web series or films that are destined to be released on streaming services often have a small star cast with small set ups which makes the same cost efficient. This is quite unlikely for a regular, blockbuster Indian cinematograph film that has elaborate sets and a distinguished star cast to begin with and which under normal practice, is looking forward to a grand theatrical release. Consequently, the cost of producing such films is typically much higher (often, if not always) than the web series made solely for release on online platforms. Profits that producers earn in such cases is often directly related to how well the movies perform in the hall and for how long. In other words, box office earnings account for a significant portion of a producer’s earnings from a film. Having done well at the cinema halls, the producers get a second chance to recover their investments when the rights for the same cinematograph film are granted for television/digital premieres. Here again, the popularity of the film at the theatre allows them to bid high stakes for it. So, when producers of such blockbuster films are compelled to directly release such films on streaming services, they stand to lose parts of their profit that they would have otherwise earned by releasing it first in a cinema hall. A glimpse of the losses incurred by them can be viewed here. The streaming services are also aware that the producers presently have no better option than to release their films online, so they might not negotiate much with the latter. Keeping in mind the flagrant spread of the pandemic and the predictions with regard to its subsistence, it seems like the producers will have to bear with these losses for long.

        • AI Programs Are Creating Fashion Designs and Raising Questions About Who (or What) is an Inventor [Ed: Stop calling computer-generated art [sic] an “invention”, mixing different concept to encourage monopoly over mere looks and shapes]

          “Amazon is not synonymous with high fashion yet, but the company may be poised to lead the way when it comes to replacing designers with artificial intelligence (“AI”) algorithms,” Will Knight wrote for MIT Technology Review in 2017. Fast forward to 2020, and Amazon still is not rivaling the likes Prada and Chanel, but in furtherance of its “characteristically algorithmic approach” to retail and given its well-established ambitions to dominate virtually all aspects of the consumer goods market, including fashion, it is working on machine learning-driven endeavors, such as “an algorithm that learns about a particular style of fashion from existing imagery” and uses that information to generate new items in similar styles.

          Knight noted that back in 2017 that Amazon’s fashion design-specific AI initiative – a program that creates garment designs (by way of a tool called generative adversarial network) that can then be physically manufactured by humans – was still in early stages at the company’s Sunnyvale, California-based research and development hub, Amazon Lab126. In other words, the technology was hardly ready to turn out fashion designs that the $1 trillion e-commerce titan could add to its sweeping marketplace site, but assuming that the it does, in fact, get to that point (and even if it does not), the technology – and other initiatives in much the same vein – raises some interesting questions, a couple of which center on creation and ownership, namely: who actually created these designs, and thus, who maintains legal rights in them?

        • “It’s not the gay coat that makes the gentleman”: The Court of Florence rules once again on promotional materials portraying the David by Michelangelo (all dressed up, this time) and misses a chance to “unveil” the meaning of cultural heritage reproduction

          Affectionate readers of this blog will already be familiar with the Italian rules on the reproduction of cultural heritage as well as with two 2017 Court decisions that dealt with unauthorized reproductions of, respectively, the Teatro Massimo of Palermo and the David by Michelangelo (see here) (for an earlier dispute over a controversial picture of the David “bearing arms”, see here).

          Among the many Italian public entities having the right to authorise the reproduction of their cultural heritage assets, those having rights on the David by Michelangelo in particular seem to be the most aware of their prerogatives, as in early 2019 the Court of Florence was called to rule on yet another case involving this Renaissance masterpiece (the full decision is available here).

          The facts of the case are rather simple: Brioni, a prestigious Italian menswear couture brand, launched an advertising campaign (consisting of a video and some pictures) centred on a full-scale marble replica of the David by Michelangelo wearing a tailor made suit from Brioni’s couturiers.

        • Pirate IPTV Operator Hid Away With Mountains of Food to Avoid Coronavirus

          When officers from Hungary’s National Tax and Customs Administration raided a pirate IPTV provider they were unsurprised to discover large amounts of satellite and computer equipment for capturing and distributing live TV . However, what they also found was hundreds of pounds of food that had been stockpiled by the operator, who hadn’t been outside for months due to fears of catching the coronavirus.

        • YouTube Rippers ‘Flvto’ and ’2Conv’ Will Take Legal Battle to US Supreme Court

          YouTube-rippers FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com will petition the US Supreme Court to take on its legal battle with several major record labels. While the case is ultimately about alleged copyright infringements, both parties disagree on whether US Courts have jurisdiction over the sites and its owner, a matter which the Supreme Court may provide more clarity on.

09.18.20

Debian’s Network of Gossip and Gossipmongering in Debian-Private

Posted in Debian, Deception, GNU/Linux at 2:04 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

On a daily basis now, people ask questions that remind volunteers about the leadership problems in Debian. When we visit free software events or any other free software community, it comes up frequently.

It is a horrible situation. When people remind us about the vindictive emails sent by Chris Lamb in September 2018, there is nothing positive to say. It puts us in a position where there is no response other than asking them to question Lamb’s credibility. As Lamb was leader of the project at that time, this inevitably rubs off on Debian as a community.

When people realize issues like these relate to volunteers’ private lives and have nothing to do with their competence as Debian Developers, they quickly apologize for intruding. On those occasions when Lamb’s victims have explained the situation to people in any detail, the colour of their faces has visibly changed, demonstrating an acute combination of sadness and anger at the way certain people in the Debian community, including the former leader, have behaved.

People have asked why nobody tried to speak to Lamb. In fact, people tried. He lives in London, some Debian Developers are visiting there regularly. At least one has written to him numerous times to suggest a meeting: it is Lamb who always refused.

Between September and December 2018, attempts were made to set up a meeting with other volunteers. They either didn’t respond or declined. Yet more and more reports of Lamb’s gossipmongering came back to us.

In an earlier blog, we revealed that one of the challenges faced by a volunteer was the death of his father. People simply can’t understand why Lamb and his sidekicks would be undermining another Debian Developer, involved in the community for more than twenty years, at such a difficult time.

It is not easy to reduce a subject like that to a blog post. More details of volunteers’ private lives can’t be disclosed without violating the privacy of third parties. Yet one of Lamb’s missed opportunities as a leader is that he expected everything to be reduced to email or IRC. So he remained completely out of touch.

Nobody chose to have their private life and professional life interconnected in this way. It was imposed on them by somebody who had the title of leader in an organization of 1,000 Developers but had dedicated more time to covering up his girlfriend’s blunders than anything else.

That brings us to another point: is everybody who has a public profile in the free software community going to be subject to similar attacks and criticism at a time of personal tragedy? GSoC and Outreachy mentors frequently observe the challenges newcomers go through making their first commit on a public repository or their first post to a mailing list. Many of them would never have done so if they saw what volunteers have been put through by rogue elements of the Debian community.

Ultimately, as the leader created a state of hostility through inappropriate gossip, the only real solution is for the current leader of the project to publicly and unconditionally denounce the gossip and put these issues to rest for once and for all.


Also reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

Many people noticed Debian Developers have started making wholesale leaks of material from debian-private.

This finishes off the same year where we saw the death of Lucy Wayland, the cover-up of a controversial $300,000 donation from Google and the blackmailing of Norbert Preining.

What these divisions demonstrate is a maturity gap. The cabals running the project have never really grown up. Like a 15-year-old who receives a Ferrari for his birthday, the Debian Account Managers are not mature enough to handle the power associated with their positions.

Anybody familiar with the content of debian-private can see this is true: some leadership figures who have been in the project for decades are still behaving the same way that they did in the nineteen nineties yet we are about to begin 2020.

Another key reason for division is the rise of the Mollies. There is a hidden message in Molly de Blanc’s fateful FOSDEM talk, where she boasts about humiliating people just days after the death of Lucy Wayland. The missing piece of the puzzle, leaked during DebConf, is that Molly was dating the Debian Project Leader, Chris Lamb. Lamb had become frustrated with day-to-day leadership responsibilities and wanted to stick to more prestigious things, like the invitation to the Cambridge University Dept of Computer Science. When other members of the community ran into problems, Lamby had simply handed them off to his girlfriend, de Blanc, for her sinister social experiments, which she was gloating about at FOSDEM. The Mollies used other volunteers in Debian like lab rats, refining nefarious techniques like misquoting people and gaslighting. They subsequently applied these skills to take down Richard Stallman, founder of the FSF.

Many organizations invest significant time and money preparing their managers to handle the responsibility of a major leadership role. Debian doesn’t. Lamb and de Blanc’s handling of certain situations demonstrate the consequences.

Many of us have been to leadership seminars organized by our employers from time to time. Nobody can ever recall one where the presenter delves into whispering networks, demotions and expulsions, mocking people present at the event itself. The human relations philosophy espoused by de Blanc can be summarized in one word: cyberbullying.

Yet as developers mature, some were able to see this maturity gap and either became frustrated with the project or quit. The cabal leaders haven’t listened to these people, even continuing one of their experiments on a volunteer who’s father recently died. With such extraordinary arrogance, it is no wonder that some people have gone beyond quitting and started to make those wholesale leaks.


Also reprinted with permission from Debian Community News (partially reproduced)

There is a thread about impeaching Bruce Perens although it is not nearly as gripping as the impeachment of Donald Trump.

At the time, Perens had publicly stated:

That’s our little private mailing list where the package developers make fun of you without your being able to see it :-)

That comment was probably not intended to be taken too seriously. Unfortunately, it has come to define the Debian organization for over 20 years since then.

In a more recent episode on debian-private, somebody made an unpleasant remark about another free software developer who isn’t in Debian. When challenged about this backstab, another Debian Developer dismissed the concerns:

They won’t see these comments, that’s the whole point of -private. People can talk more freely in here than usual.

debian-private is a mailing list including over 1,000 Debian Developers who all work in different companies around the world. To pretend this is a private means of communication is a farce.

The former Debian Project Leader’s girlfriend, Molly de Blanc, promotes whispering networks in her talk at FOSDEM 2019. Feminists have worked hard to eliminate terms like toxic woman. Sadly, de Blanc’s antics have given the term a new lease on life.

Debian’s public mailing lists include huge threads preaching about codes of conduct, such as this in December 2019. The mentality of operating debian-private and the things that leadership figures write there contradict all of that.

When the leaders of the organization and key figures in the cabal behave abusively in what they consider to be a safe space, it is completely unreasonable to be upset at other developers for the tone of things they write anywhere else. Human behaviour is often a good reflection of the leadership.

Improving leadership standards and diversity both require real acts of leadership and transparency, not Molly’s call-to-gossip. The leaking of this particular material, if it is intended to undermine confidence in debian-private, could be classed as a leadership act.

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