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Responses to Software Patents in India Though Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions

Posted in Asia, Patents at 4:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

India's famous site

Summary: India’s famous skills, which revolve around software services and software development, are under attack by new laws which strive to grant foreign corporations de facto monopolies on software, even inside India

GROUPS in India continue to fight back against what’s correctly perceived as distortion of law and betrayal of Indians. It’s regarding India’s patent policy, which has come under attack from foreign multinationals for as long as Techrights existed. India moves closer to officially endorsing software patents, despite the US cracking down on many of them (Alice/§101 [1, 2]), and the media-shaping IBM is happy about it. Microsoft patents software in India even when it's not legal.

The Indian media did not always give space (and a voice) to large foreign corporations. See for example this article titled “How the Patent Office is Intent on Killing Innovation in India?”

“Newsclick interviews Venkatesh Hariharan,” says the author, “Outreach lead for the Open Invention Network and a member of the Ispirits expert group on software patents, to discuss the issue of software patenting, the effects this can have on society, as well as the specific guidelines issues by the IPO.”

Well, the Open Invention Network (OIN) is not against software patents, so it’s baffling that they chose to speak to OIN, a de facto front group of IBM et al..

“Software Patents Refuse to Die” was a better article from the same publication (Newsclick). It said that “Software patents are like the “living dead” in the zombie film genre that Hollywood has made popular. They just refuse to die. As many time you kill them, they revive again and keep coming back. In India, we thought we had killed and buried software patents with the Amended Patent Act in 2005, and again in the Patents Manual, 2011, both of which effectively deny software patents. The recent Guidelines on Computer Related Invention (CRI) issued by the Indian Patents Office last month, has brought them back again, with an interpretation that not only violates the Act, but also the English language.”

Perhaps the best response that we found in recent weeks is this joint letter to the PMO. Here are some quotes from this letter:

This concerns the “Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions (CRIs)” issued on August 21, 2015 by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. We, the undersigned, wish to share with you some of our concerns over this document, particularly in context of its potential repercussions on Indian industry and innovation. The Guidelines in their current form, by providing for patenting of software, could place the Indian software industry, especially software product companies and startups, at the mercy of Multinational Corporations and patent holding entities who have amassed many patents in the area and continue to do so. The Guidelines by allowing for software patents will make writing code and innovating in the area of software a dangerous proposition due to the chance of infringing on the patents held by big corporations.

The stated intent of the document is to provide guidelines for the examination of patent applications relating to CRIs by the Patent Office so as to further foster uniformity and consistency in their examination. However, we submit that the Guidelines in their current form run counter to the object of Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970, which is to unconditionally exclude mathematical and business methods, computer programs per se, and algorithms from patentable subject matter.

Well, more actions may be needed in order to stop the plutocrats because their lobbyists have a lot of influence in India, which has notoriety for political corruption. The conglomerates in India (not even Indian) are conspiring against software developers, including Indians, trying to essentially destroy any chances of software independence in the country where programmers are renowned for their skills and sheer number. To keep Indian software companies marginalised (unable to effectively compete with Western software corporations) one needs to threaten and occasionally sue, e.g. with software patents.

Sadhana Chathurvedula wrote an article in a few places — an article that proponents of software patents (like IBM) like to cite. “Revised guidelines say software that demonstrates a technical application or improves hardware may also be patented, widening the scope of patents,” the article says.

It seems likely that unless some very major backlash disrupts the political system, foreign corporations will cement their occupation of India (in the software sense), bolstered by monopolies on algorithms. Activism is sorely needed now.

Mobile Linux (e.g. Android) Still a Victim of Software Patents, No Peace in Sight

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 4:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Retarding innovation in the name of profit

Manchester Piccadilly

Summary: A look at recent developments in the fight against mobile Linux (notably Android these days) and whoever is behind the patent attacks (not always as obvious as people are led to believe)

THERE IS A lot to be said about the impact of software patents on Free (as in freedom) software, such as Linux or Android. Yet another OIN ‘ad’ (among others) has just been published because the OIN turned 10 and decided to start a publicity campaign, approaching journalists and yanking out press releases in a lot of Web sites. The OIN is, in simple terms, a conglomerate of software patent holders, led by lobbyists for software patents (notably IBM). It is trying to make software patents and Free software look mutually compatible, reconciling or ignoring the fact that the two are inherently in conflict. SJVN wrote that “One reason why Linux weathered patent attacks and trolls to become today’s dominant server and cloud operating system is because the Open Invention Network united its supporters into a strong patent consortium.”

No, that’s not the reason. OIN might try to take credit for it, but that’s utter nonsense. Free software and GNU/Linux succeeded despite OIN and software patents. In many ways, Free software and GNU/Linux continue to suffer from software patents and this will be the subject of today’s post.

IBM is not the only company that supports GNU/Linux and software patents at the same time. As patent maximalists remind us right now, other large companies, even in China, are doing this. Consider Xiaomi’s story. “Responding to a question about recent high-profile executive hires,” writes IAM, “Lei said: “Former Qualcomm global senior vice president Wang Xiang joined Xiaomi in July. He’s in charge of our IP. We should be able to make progress in this. Xiaomi pays great attention to innovation. Last year we applied for 2,700 patents. This year’s goal is 4,000.””

This won’t protect them. The matter of fact is, those overall (aggregate) numbers are low compared to the likes of Microsoft, which uses patents to extort GNU/Linux and Android backers like Xiaomi (it’s allegedly, based on numerous recent reports, working on a GNU/Linux laptop, not just Android devices).

Microsoft Versus Android

Microsoft continues to attack Free software using patents. Ewan Spence wrote about this the other day. He is syndicated in some large sites and most prominent was probably this article from Forbes, titled “Microsoft’s Slow Yet Successful Infection Of Android”. Spence is right to claim that “Once more Microsoft has announced an updated patent licensing deal around smartphone technology, and once more a Microsoft deal includes the pre-loading of Microsoft’s productivity software on a smartphone. As more partners come on board, Microsoft’s cloud-based services and applications are becoming more prevalent within the Android platform.”

As we explained at the time, this is not a “patent licensing deal” but an extortion which targets a company from Taiwan, PRC. Microsoft is using blackmail (with patents) to get its way. Spence continued: “The more occasions that users encounter the software, the better the sign-up rate will be for Microsoft. Look back over the last year at Microsoft’s deals and you will find that many of the major manufacturers in the Android space have deals that include bundling Microsoft apps, with Sony, LG, Dell, and a number of other smaller manufacturers all signed up.”

This is a large-scale campaign of extortion and it continues to widen. If it wasn’t for software patents, this probably wouldn’t be possible. China’s government is trying to counter this (e.g. by publishing a secret list of Microsoft patents asserted against Linux/Android), but will this really help shield Chinese giants like Xiaomi and Huawei? It has not protected ZTE.

Speaking of patent attacks on Android, how about patent trolls? How about Microsoft’s troll, Intellectual Ventures? It has been attacking Android backers over their use of Android this year. Such patent bullies obviously help Microsoft against Android while Microsoft says it opposes these (Microsoft is clearly supporting them, even arming them, or at least those that are working for Microsoft or attacking Google, e.g. MOSAID and Vringo).

There is a silent war on Android and Google going on, paralleling Microsoft’s war on privacy.

Apple Versus Android

Several weeks ago the appeals court granted an injunction to Apple, banning some features from Samsung‘s Android phones, which are the world’s best sellers. Here is another take on it, aptly titled “Appeals Court: It Is In The Public’s Interest That Samsung Not Be Allowed To ‘Slide To Unlock’ Devices” (software patents).

To quote TechDirt: “The patent fight between Apple and Samsung has been going on for many years now with Samsung being told to pay a lot of money to Apple. But on one point Apple has been unsuccessful: getting an injunction barring Samsung from offering products for sale that include the “infringing” inventions — such as the concept of “slide to unlock.” I still have trouble understanding how “slide to unlock” could possibly be patentable, but there it is: US Patent 8,046,721 on “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image.””

It’s a very simple concept, much like opening a gate that keeps cattle confined. The CAFC (Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) is once again helping software patents and Android antagonists like Florian Müller are visibly jubilant [1, 2, 3], even though this lobbyist with history of doing activism against Android (for money) seemingly flip-flops at times and occasionally criticises Apple, though not yet Oracle.

Just remember that Apple uses software patents against Linux. Here is an article titled “Samsung Infringed Apple Software Patent”. It was very big news at the time. Even the BBC covered it, but poorly (too shallow). Britain’s leading technology news site chose the clever headline “Apple VICTORY: Old Samsung phones not sold any more can’t be sold any more”.

What Apple did to Linux with patents in this case is more or less the same as patent trolling, except the size of the plaintiff is a lot larger and there are phones with the “Apple” name/logo on them (even though it’s not Apple that makes them, Apple is not an Asian company and it has no factories of its own).

Watch this space for followups as this legal fight is far from over. Apple won this round [1, 2, 3], but Samsung continues to outsell Apple.

Bogus ‘Peace’

At the end of last month some people were left with the false impression that Google and Microsoft had reached some kind of peace. See this analysis titled “Microsoft: Sacrificing Android Patents Licensing In Favor Of Platform-Agnostic Growth”.

Well, Microsoft is not “Sacrificing Android Patents Licensing”, it still attacks (with software patents) many companies. The Microsoft-Google deal is only applicable to the Motorola litigation; every other company that uses Android is still attacked, sometimes by proxy.

FOSS Force wrote that “[a]lthough it’s certain that some money is exchanging hands in the process — an appeals court in July ruled against Motorola in a case Google was defending — no terms of the agreement have been released.”

This kind of patent ‘peace’ between Microsoft and Google means that Microsoft proxies will do more suing. Android OEMs (not Google) will take the burden of extortion.

There were many articles about this, e.g. [1, 2, 3] and Müller, whom Microsoft had paid for Android FUD, wrote: “There’s nothing in it that would suggest Microsoft made any headway in five years of suing. This one is structurally reminiscent of the second-class settlement Google reached with Apple last year from a position of mutual weakness: neither do Android’s enemies hold patents that would represent a serious threat to the world’s most widely-distributed mobile operating system nor are the patents for which Google bought Motorola powerful enough to force Apple or Microsoft into a cross-license covering the entire Android ecosystem.”

The part that we didn’t like to see reappearing is this: “Microsoft has the industry’s best IP licensing team and is generating billions of dollars per year in Android patent licenses.”

This is not true; nobody has evidence to that Microsoft earns anything this way. It’s a leverage card for extortion and FUD.

BlackBerry Edging Towards Patent Trolling

BlackBerry is moving to Android these days (it won’t admit that its own proprietary operating system is on its death throes yet), but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be using patents to attack competitors who use Android (like Sony does for instance). It is still possible that BlackBerry will become a patent troll based on some recent reports [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], the most principal of which came from Reuters and was titled “BlackBerry CEO sees company patents as key to turnaround strategy”.

BlackBerry’s CEO has spoken of other things too [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It may be premature to judge BlackBerry’s future direction, but either way, just like Nokia, it has the potential to do a lot of harm with its patents arm.

What we sorely need right now is a universal (global) end to software patents. Our next post will focus on India’s patent policy and US patent policy we shall cover some time in the coming days.

Bad News for the EPO’s Judicial Independence and Due Process in Next Week’s Administrative Council (AC) Meeting

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…And Britain’s bureaucrats contacted for action


Summary: A quick update about what’s expected to happen next week when the Administrative Council holds a two-day meeting

“Blatterstelli [meaning Blatter-like Battistelli] is planning something very bad,” Florian Müller told me this morning, “(regarding judicial independence, due process) at next week’s Admin Council meeting.”

There is a staff protest planned for that time. “I’ve seen a document from Admin[istrative] Council meeting preparation,” he added, “but I’m presently not blogging about patents (just copyright).”

John Alty, Head of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO), is meanwhile being urged to take action (he has just responded too). If anyone has documents to share with us, please consider doing so anonymously (e.g. using Tails).


More Back Doors Found in Microsoft’s Entrapments (Proprietary Software)

Posted in Microsoft at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Windows are famously easy to smash

Summary: Security flaws and even blatantly obvious loopholes for surveillance are identified in several of Microsoft’s so-called ‘products’, which turn users (and their data) into the real product (to be sold to private companies or shared with spies)

THOSE who pay close attention to the news (as we typically do) have lost count of the number of Microsoft back doors, affecting a large number of products and vast number of people. The whole spectrum of application has a plethora of ways to take over PCs and intercept messages. That’s not even an accident.

Neel Gupta wrote a month ago about Microsoft and the NSA, including the way this relates to UEFI (remote takeover at hardware level, aided by secret software and keys). Gupta wrote: “As Microsoft Windows has already lost this ‘trust’ through Spams, Blackmails, _NSAKEY, and not fixing critical bugs. So Microsoft changed it’s definition of ‘trust’ in computing: devices with dedicated microprocessor designed to secure the hardware against consumers, and only allow software signed(authorized) by the device manufacturer to run on the device.”

“There is not even a denial that there are back doors and wiretapping (without warrant). They just excuse themselves by saying “law enforcement”.”Curiously enough, based on [1] (below), Microsoft continues to expose users on the Web, making its use of HTTPS a total sham, almost definitely by design (and intention). When users go to Outlook to read their E-mails things get even worse [2,3]. “Backdoor in Outlook Web Application operates inside target’s firewall,” to quote a Microsoft-friendly writer/publication.

Microsoft ‘privacy’ is a lie, as software like Skype serves to demonstrate. There is not even a denial that there are back doors and wiretapping (without warrant). They just excuse themselves by saying “law enforcement”. The FBI never complains about encryption in Microsoft or Windows because there is none that’s truly effective.

Don’t believe what the media is saying right now about Vista 10 figures (e.g. number of devices or users) because these are lies, as we explained last week (many who tried Vista 10 moved away from it afterwards).

As Gupta’s SAP blog concludes: “Note that Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 are all going down. With the exodus from Windows, if we as SAP don’t create solutions on Linux and Mac/iOS, we will loose customers to those who do.”

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft sites expose visitors’ profile info in plain text

    If you think using secure HTTP would be enough to protect your privacy when checking webmail, think again. When users connect to their Microsoft user account page, Outlook.com, or OneDrive.com even when using HTTPS, the connection leaks a unique identifier that can be used to retrieve their name and profile photo in plaintext.

    A unique identifier called a CID is exposed because it’s sent as part of a Domain Name Service lookup for the address of the storage server containing profile data and as part of the initiation of an encrypted connection. As a result, it could be used to track users when they connect to services from both computers and mobile devices, possibly even identifying users as their requests leave the Tor anonymizing network.

  2. Microsoft OWA falls victim to password-pinching APT attack

    SECURITY RESEARCHERS FROM Cybereason have sounded a klaxon over a problem with the Microsoft Outlook Web Application (OWA) that could let attackers swoop in and tag and bag data and documents through the use of APT techniques.

    Cybereason discovered the bug when a customer with some 19,000 endpoints suspected that it was the victim of infection.

  3. New Outlook mailserver attack steals massive number of passwords

    Backdoor in Outlook Web Application operates inside target’s firewall.

NASA Gives Back What It Took Away in the Form of Patent Monopolies for Private Gain

Posted in America, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NASA Windows

Summary: Criticism of NASA’s habit of clinging onto patents when it is actually the public which pays for everything

THE ISSUE that we occasionally tackle here in Techrights (and the #techrights IRC channel) is unjust monopoly acquired or protected by hoarding of patents. It is especially unjust when it’s public money (tax) subsidising this kind of monopoly. Such was the case with NASA when it sold patents (paid for by the public) to patent trolls about 3 years ago. NASA had previously helped protect and expand Microsoft’s illegal monopoly [1, 2, 3].

“Some of the people who helped NASA build its rockets are the same people (and by extension their teams) that helped launch rockets into London in the second world war.”This time, for a change, NASA decides to give these patents back to those who paid for them, setting these patents free to all [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. It is claimed that as many as 1200 patents (if not more) will be set free, but there are some caveats (see headlines that mention “free access to its patents for startup entrepreneurs”).

NASA’s work is funded by taxpayers, so the very idea of them ‘donating’ patents is ludicrous (or indicative of corruption). NASA shouldn’t waste its time on patents in the first place; it can just publish its ideas and inventions in its public-facing Web site.

Don’t romanticise too much over NASA and its glorified patents. Yours truly used to believe the popular lie that space exploration of NASA gave us Teflon. Well, Teflon was made for nuclear weapons (cold war), so even this isn’t a good example of NASA’s so-called ‘inventions’. Some of the people who helped NASA build its rockets are the same people (and by extension their teams) that helped launch rockets into London in the second world war.

The Coup D’état of Benoît Battistelli Follows an Imperialist Model, Threatens Opposition and Dissent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli wants to ‘pacify’ the office by means of threats, bullying, and even exile

Mall window

Summary: SUEPO, the staff union, and boards that are independent from the EPO are both under attack and are constantly threatened by Benoît Battistelli and his goons

THE misconduct at the EPO is becoming an urgent issue to tackle. We wrote about patent trolls fighting against Android (i.e. Linux) in Europe just a few days ago and the UPC may soon become a reality, joining blatant injustices like the TPP.

“The EPO wants staff to blindly obey its decisions on patents and workers’ rights while the EPO itself does not obey the law.”Earlier this week the FFII’s President Benjamin Henrion wrote that “EPO does not follow the “rule of law” principle, which means any of its acts are not challengeable in front of a court” (i.e. above the law).

The EPO wants staff to blindly obey its decisions on patents and workers’ rights while the EPO itself does not obey the law. This is double standard of the highest order.

In “March of this year alone, the IPKat welcomed 212,040 site visitors,” it wrote earlier this month. Well, that’s obviously because of EPO scandals, especially the news from the Netherlands which made it a very busy month for EPO-related news. We are gratified to see that Merpel is back to covering this topic. Last week she wrote about some new developments and yesterday she wrote about Željko Topić's latest attacks on workers' rights, preceding next week's demonstration.

“We are gratified to see that Merpel is back to covering this topic.”“On this world day against software patents,” Henrion wrote, “we have to wake up sleeping Europeans against swpatv3 via the Unitary Patent Court” (UPC is just the latest among many plots or ploys that can further legitimise software patents in Europe from the back door).

“Cisco and Samsung cross-license to ignore the harm of patents,” he noted, but the “option [is] not available to small companies and developers” (it’s very much like OIN, which helps large corprations legitimise and preserve software patents, as we last explained last night).

SUEPO, the staff union at the EPO, seems eager to fight back and challenge the gangster of the management, Mr. Topić.

“Mr Zeljko Topic (VP4),” it wrote, “and Mr Raimund Lutz (VP5) issued on 2 October 2015 a Communiqué to EPO staff titled “Your rights” which was later published here by IPKat.

“SUEPO was sorely tempted to rebut the slanderous allegations of VP4 and VP5, but the public ridicule to which they are subjected speaks volumes on our behalf, see for instance the comments on IPKat.

“Based on the very latest from IP Kat, the EPO’s Battistelli is now destroying the boards (of appeal) that are supposed to provide an independent last resort when the EPO is misbehaving.”“If anyone has doubts about the legality of SUEPO’s actions or about the sincerity of the EPO’s offer of impartial legal assistance, the SUEPO committee will be happy to answer questions. At this moment, it will suffice to say that SUEPO applauds VP4 and VP5 for finally grasping the notion of the applicability of “basic fundamental rights” and “general principles of law”, and look forward to further progress reports about their seemingly ongoing study of fundamental legal doctrines.”

Based on the very latest from IP Kat, the EPO’s Battistelli is now destroying the boards (of appeal) that are supposed to provide an independent last resort when the EPO is misbehaving. As Merpel put it: “The drive to get the Boards out of Munich strikes Merpel as either deeply stupid or entirely cynical, and she doesn’t believe Mr. Battistelli is at all stupid. The purported problem identified in Mr Battistelli’s proposal to reform the Boards of Appeal was the “perception of independence”. You couldn’t, he argued, have Boards in the same building as other EPO employees whose decisions a Board might be reviewing — which is an odd argument, since there are no Examining or Opposition Divisions based in the Isar building.

“A rather more widespread perception around the EPO is that Mr Battistelli can’t bear to have the Boards in “his” building (Merpel seems to recall that they were there first, though), and/or that he wanted to teach the Boards a lesson. Even having his own private express lift from car park to the sumptuously appointed presidential floor does not always exclude the chance that he might encounter one face-to-face during his working day.

“The relationship was poisoned when the Enlarged Board decided Case R19/12, a decision about judicial independence about which Mr Battistelli was furious. You see, far from lacking independence, the real problem for EPO management is that the Boards are sometimes too damn independent and this cannot be tolerated. Yes, there’s a structural issue in how the Boards fit into the European Patent Organisation, which would require amendment of the Convention to fully remedy, but this did not seem to cause problems in practice until now. Nobody should pretend that this proposal to move the Boards out of Munich serves the interests of judicial independence. It is really the opposite: showing this group of ungrateful judges who’s really the boss, who’s in control of their careers.

“There are many things that are rotten at the EPO and the rest of the month will be spent putting some more ‘dirty laundry’ out there.”“Having established that the Boards had to get out of the current Munich headquarters, Mr Battistelli identified two options: find another building in Munich, or relocate the members of the Boards to Berlin (Vienna, which is now the front runner, appears to have been arranged behind the backs of the Administrative Council (AC) and of the Boards, since it never formed part of the formal proposal).”

So Battistelli wants them exiled like Napoleon. See what we recently (earlier this month) wrote about these attacks on the boards. There are many things that are rotten at the EPO and the rest of the month will be spent putting some more ‘dirty laundry’ out there.

Links 8/10/2015: Manjaro Linux Releases, Linksys WRT1900ACS, FOSS at NHS

Posted in News Roundup at 9:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Developer creates an open source glucose monitoring and tracking app he can trust

    According to Diabetes.org, in 2012 over 29.1 million Americans (that’s 9.3% of the population) had diabetes. Chances are, you know someone who has diabetes and you can help them by supporting an open source project that they can trust. If you are a developer, contribute to improve the code; you can help with documentation, or language so it can be translated.

    That’s the only way any open source project succeeds – through collaboration and contribution; through people.

  • Open Source for Log Analytics – Let’s get serious

    “Making machine data accessible, usable, and valuable to everyone” was the main theme at the Splunk .conf2015 last month in Las Vegas. The thousands attending this event are a clear proof of the growing importance and interest in collecting, analyzing and gaining insights from machine data. This interest started years ago mostly with IT related logs but will spread to cover all types of machine generated data. The growing IoT space will make today’s pile of machine data dwarf compared to what else is coming our way in the form of logs and other data generated by machines and sensors.

  • Fears Grow For Safety of Imprisoned Syrian Open Source Developer, Bassel Khartabil

    Bassel sent his letters from Adra prison, a civilian jail in the northeast outskirts of Damascus. Even representatives of the Assad government admit that conditions in Adra are overcrowded and inhumane. The prison was designed for 2,500 and now houses 9-11,000 prisoners. Single rooms hold fifty to a hundred cellmates. Food rations are minimal and prisoners must often pay bribes for sleeping materials. Nearby, according to reports, anti-regime forces attempted to seize the compound.

  • SYRIA: Disclose Whereabouts of Detained Freedom of Expression Advocate Bassel Khartabil
  • Syria: Disclose Whereabouts of Detained Freedom of Expression Advocate

    EFF has joined with organizations around the world in calling for Syria to reveal the whereabouts of detained technologist Bassel Khartabil. Khartabil’s arbitrary detention and treatment by the Syrian authorities have been cause for concern since his initial arrest three and a half years ago. Fears have grown for his safety after he was taken from civil prison to an unknown destination on Saturday. He is one of the five current cases that EFF tracks in our Offline campaign to protect unjustly imprisoned technologists and bloggers.

  • Google AMP: “Instant Articles”-style mobile news plans unveiled – an open source standard for publishers’ content to be immediately in search
  • Google (GOOG) Releases Faster Mobile Web Browsing In New Open-Source Initiative With Twitter And 38 News Organizations

    We’re increasingly living in a mobile world, and Google wants to make it a better experience. The search giant on Wednesday announced an initiative called “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP) that makes viewing news articles on a smartphone even faster, the company said at a New York City event.

  • VoiceNation Releases Revolutionary Open Source Live Answering Software. Georgia CALLS is an Early Adopter

    OpenAnswer is built on familiar open source technology like Asterisk, FreePBX, Apache, Linux, PF Sense, SIP and more.

  • Open Source Needs Enterprise Developers

    Open source projects have risen in prominence over the past few years and are becoming important assets to enterprises. A recent report indicates that some 78 percent of enterprises use open source, and two-thirds build software for their customers that is based on open source software.

  • Making B2B Open To Open Source

    The eCommerce software space is a crowded one, with vendors offering any number of ways to track product data. B2C may grab the spotlight with innovation and omnichannel initiatives, and B2B has some catching up to do. But as small businesses recognize the need to adapt quickly to satisfy both their customers and suppliers, flexible software can make all the difference, according to Yoav Kutner.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Proposed Principles for Content Blocking

        Content is not inherently good or bad – with some notable exceptions, such as malware. So these principles aren’t about what content is OK to block and what isn’t. They speak to how and why content can be blocked, and how the user can be maintained at the center through that process.

        At Mozilla, our mission is to ensure a Web that is open and trusted and that puts our users in control. For content blocking, here is what we think that means.

      • Thunderbird 38.3.0 Lands in All Ubuntu OSes

        Details about a number of Thunderbird vulnerabilities in Ubuntu 15.04, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS operating systems have been revealed by Canonical in a short security notice.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • Industry Outlook: Open-Source Databases and IoT

      This week, Industry Outlook talks with Pierre Fricke about open-source databases and their role in the Internet of Things (IoT). Pierre has a long history in open-source software. He spent 10 years as director of product marketing for JBoss Middleware. He had joined JBoss Inc. just over a year before its acquisition by Red Hat in 2006 and stayed on until he joined EDB. Pierre first became involved in open-source software in 1998 during his 17 years at IBM. He played a critical role in establishing IBM’s Linux and open-source strategy, being one of seven team leaders whose contributions are still used today. He also spent five years as an industry analyst with an emphasis on Java and Microsoft application development and integration software.


      PF: No. “Open source” does not equate to “less secure.” Enterprise open-source solutions such as EDB Postgres boast the same level of security as traditional solutions, including enhanced auditing, row-level security, SQL-injection-attack guard and other capabilities. In addition, better-managed open-source solutions also have fewer vulnerabilities than commercial products owing to the strict reviews and testing process that these types of systems must undergo. Furthermore, the inherent nature of open source—in which the code kernel is available to a large community of developers—means more individuals are looking for potential bugs and problems (an open process that is often prohibited in propriety systems).

  • Healthcare

  • Business

  • BSD

    • NetBSD 7.0 Released With New ARM Board Support, Lua Kernel Scripting

      NetBSD 7.0 was quietly released at the end of September.

      NetBSD 7.0 is a big release for this BSD operating system and it features Lua kernel scripting support, GCC 4.8.4 is the default compiler, DRM/KMS graphics support, multi-core support for ARM, Raspberry Pi 2 with SMP support, NPF improvements, and a variety of other enhancements.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • EU digital policy moves into public comment phase

      The normal procedural step that the Commission takes after the introduction of such a strategy is to seek specific input and feedback—via a public consultation process—for the general ideas and proposals that they are presenting. A public consultation, as the phrase implies, is an invitation to answer a long list of wide ranging questions on these issues. Although procedural, the information gleaned from the consultation will help shape any formal legislation or other actions and regulations that the Commission deems necessary to achieve the goals of the DSM.


  • Security

    • Malware Peddling Vigilantes behind Linux.Wifatch Speak Up

      The group also add that Linux.Wifatch was never intended to be secretive and added that to be “truly ethical, it needs to have a free license.” However, the developers did not go out of their way to make the Wifatch’s presence known in the wider community, to avoid detection by other malware authors.

      The group haven’t revealed their identity and contend that they are “nobody important,” while adding that although they can be trusted not to do “evil things” with users’ devices anybody could steal the key (speaking figuratively), no matter how well the group protects it.

    • Government Accountability Offices Finds Government Still Mostly Terrible When It Comes To Cybersecurity

      The government has done a spectacularly terrible job at protecting sensitive personal information over the past couple of years. Since 2013, the FDA, US Postal Service, Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the IRS and the Office of Personnel Management have all given up personal information. So, it’s no surprise the Government Accountability Office’s latest report on information security contains little in the way of properly-secured information.

    • This New ‘Secure’ App for Journalists May Not Be Secure At All

      When I started working as a journalist in Colombia in 2006, “What do I do if I get kidnapped?” was a common topic at parties. In fact in 2007, my brother (not a journalist) got kidnapped in a small town outside of Medellín. The Colombian anti-kidnapping squad (GAULA) rescued him.

      So let’s just say I take an interest in journalist security tools. New apps have the potential to help journalists do their jobs, and stay safe while doing so.

      Unfortunately, Reporta, a new app from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) billed as “the only comprehensive security app available worldwide created specifically for journalists,” sounds like it may put journalists in danger.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • NYT Plays Up Risks to Bomber Pilots, Downplays the Civilians They Kill

      Cooper does her best nevertheless to make the reader empathize with the risks faced by bomber pilots, despite a former flyer’s admission that “if you stay above 10,000 feet, you’re not going to be hit.” Though the mechanical difficulties faced by Yip Yip dominate the story, Cooper asserts that “engine troubles are not the only risk at 25,000 feet.” What else is there? Well, there’s acceleration: “The F/A-18s today require more G-forces than the planes of the Top Gun era, and pilots today pull nine Gs instead of four and five Gs”—so pilots have to make sure they are “not dehydrated or hungover from drinking and crooning the Righteous Brothers to Kelly McGillis at a bar the night before.”

      For comparison purposes, riders on the Shock Wave roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas experience six Gs–placing the amusement park-goers somewhere between Maverick and Bones on the toughness scale.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

    • What’s in a Boarding Pass Barcode? A Lot

      The next time you’re thinking of throwing away a used boarding pass with a barcode on it, consider tossing the boarding pass into a document shredder instead. Two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes can hold a great deal of information, and the codes printed on airline boarding passes may allow someone to discover more about you, your future travel plans, and your frequent flyer account.

    • US Secret Service Violated Privacy Policy to Embarrass Congressman

      The Secret Service thought we all needed a reminder that databases of personal information will be exploited for political gain. The chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, was leading the investigation into one of the recent cases of Secret Service misconduct. Agents within the service accessed records concerning Chaffetz’ application to the Secret Service (which was not acted upon) and then disseminated that information within the agency and talked to the press about it.

    • Anti-Piracy Activities Get VPNs Banned at Torrent Sites

      This week users of popular torrent sites found that they could no longer access them using their VPN. Speaking with TorrentFreak the operator of one of the affected sites revealed that the IP ranges of a popular VPN provider had been banned after they were used for massive anti-piracy activities. Using a VPN for copyright enforcement is apparently quite common.

    • In China, Your Credit Score Is Now Affected By Your Political Opinions – And Your Friends’ Political Opinions

      China just introduced a universal credit score, where everybody is measured as a number between 350 and 950. But this credit score isn’t just affected by how well you manage credit – it also reflects how well your political opinions are in line with Chinese official opinions, and whether your friends’ are, too.

    • Rise of ad-blockers shows advertising does not understand mobile, say experts

      Apple has made ad-blocking mainstream, prompting fears in the $31.9bn mobile ad market. But those grappling with the problem say the user must come first

  • Civil Rights

    • Rupert Murdoch hints that Barack Obama isn’t ‘real black president’

      Murdoch was praising Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife on Twitter Wednesday evening when he wrote: “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?”

    • Saudi husband is caught groping and forcing himself on his maid after his suspicious wife set up a hidden camera… but now SHE faces going to jail

      A Saudi woman may face going to jail after she caught her husband cheating with the family maid and posted it on social media.

      The woman used a hidden camera to catch her husband in the act, but despite his proven infidelity, she may be the one who ends up being punished.

      The video, which she uploaded to YouTube, shows the man forcing himself on one of the family’s members of staff, while the maid appears to attempt to resist his advances.

    • Tacoma Police Sued Over Heavily-Redacted Stingray Non-Disclosure Agreement

      Despite there being multiple copies of nearly-identical FBI/Stingray non-disclosure agreements in the public domain at this point, the Tacoma (WA) Police Department still refuses to provide FOIA requesters with an unredacted version of its own NDA.

      In late 2014, the Tacoma Police Dept. handed Seattle’s Phil Mocek a copy of its NDA, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed to disclose much about the non-disclosure agreement. The only things left unredacted were the two opening paragraphs of the agreement and the signatures at the end of it. In the middle was a solid wall of black ink.

    • Sweden is shifting to a 6-hour work day

      Despite research telling us it’s a really bad idea, many of us end up working 50-hour weeks or more because we think we’ll get more done and reap the benefits later. And according to a study published last month involving 600,000 people, those of us who clock up a 55-hour week will have a 33 percent greater risk of having a stroke than those who maintain a 35- to 40-hour week.

      With this in mind, Sweden is moving towards a standard 6-hour work day, with businesses across the country having already implemented the change, and a retirement home embarking on a year-long experiment to compare the costs and benefits of a shorter working day.

  • DRM

    • TPP Also Locks In Broken Anti-Circumvention Rules That Destroy Your Freedoms

      We already wrote about how New Zealand has released some of the details about the finalized TPP agreement before the official text is released. The one we discussed is forcing participants into a “life plus 70 years” copyright term, even as the US had been exploring going back towards a life plus 50 regime like much of the rest of the world. That won’t be possible any more.

    • [Apple] What is the “rootless” feature in El Capitan, really?

      I have just learned about the “Rootless” feature in El Capitan, and I am hearing things like “There is no root user”, “Nothing can modify /System” and “The world will end because we can’t get root”.

      What is the “Rootless” feature of El Capitan at a technical level? What does it actually mean for the user experience and the developer experience? Will sudo -s still work, and, if so, how will the experience of using a shell as root change?

  • Intellectual Monopolies


Links 8/10/2015: KDE Plasma 5.4.2 Released, Linux Drama Queens

Posted in News Roundup at 6:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • 5 Popular Safety Measures That Don’t Make You Any Safer

    Thus the no fly list was established. It is estimated to have around 1 million names but nobody knows for sure. Keeping the list secret is a matter of national security, so the only way to find out if you’re on it is to be detained in the airport. Or in the air. For instance, in 2005 a 747 flight from Amsterdam to Mexico was turned back before it could reach its destination. The reason? Two of the plane’s passengers were on the no fly list and the flight crossed over US airspace. Well, better safe than sorry, right?

  • Stephen King’s practical advice for tech writers

    Even if you don’t enjoy writing and have no intentions of becoming a professional tech writer, chances are you’ll have to draft reports, mailing list updates, or technical articles at some point in your career. With a few practical tips in mind—along with solid writing advice from Stephen King—you can improve your writing before you start writing. And, with proper planning, you can easily repurpose your content for multiple audiences.

  • Avoiding tap water has become a way of life in Flint

    Outside a taco shop on Flint’s Fifth Street, Estella Walker balances a gallon jug of water on top of the stroller that holds her 3-month-old son, DeWayne. She’s mixing bottles of formula for DeWayne and his 19-month-old sister Vanessa.

    Nadene Strickland sits outside her home on the city’s north side, watching her grandsons play basketball. She still drinks the water. She can’t afford bottled.

    Shopping at the local farmers market with five of her seven children, Tena Fransioli says she hasn’t used tap water in a long time.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • LinuxCon 2015 Report: Shrinking the Security Holes in OSS

      Dublin native James Joyce famously wrote that “mistakes are the portals of discovery.” LinuxCon 2015 keynote speaker Leigh Honeywell grabbed hold of the same theme here in Dublin, reminding hundreds of open source professionals that “you’re going to make mistakes; you’re going to introduce security bugs.” The goal, said Honeywell, who works as a senior security engineer at Slack Technologies, shouldn’t be the all-out elimination of these mistakes. Instead, security engineers should strive to make different mistakes next time around.

    • The perils of free digital certificates

      The current certificate is not cross-signed, so loading the page over HTTPS will give visitors an untrusted warning. The warning goes away once the ISRG root is added to the trust store. ISRG expects the certificate to be cross-signed by IdenTrusts’s root in about a month, at which point the certificates will work nearly anywhere. The project also submitted initial applications to the root programs for Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Apple so that Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari would recognize Let’s Encrypt certificates.

    • Get Simplified Web Encrytion For Your Website With Let’s Encrypt
    • InvizBox Go Offers Open Source Online Privacy And Security (video)

      Team InvizBox have unveiled a new pocket sized device which has been created to provide an open source solution to online privacy and security.

      The small InvizBox box is capable of offering users a broad range of privacy options, allowing secure connectivity to the Internet from both desktop and mobile devices.

    • New programmer pow-wow for coders paranoid about Android

      DevSecCon is a newly formed, non-profit conference for DevOps and SecOps practitioners, run by practitioners. By creating a neutral platform, it will exchange and create new ideas on how to leverage the best of both worlds and adopt a new mind-set of inclusiveness and collaboration.

    • Cisco disrupts $30 million browser plug-in hacking operation
    • ​Cisco: notorious hackers using Linux cloak earn $30m a year

      Cisco notes that Linux servers were being managed remotely via SSH using root, adding that they were likely compromised systems in Europe and Asia.

    • Linux.Wifatch: The Wireless Router Malware that Increases IoT Security
    • Vigilante Malware
    • Creators of the Benevolent Linux.Wifatch Malware Reveal Themselves

      The Linux.Wifatch malware, also dubbed as the “vigilante malware” has been going around the Internet, infecting IoT devices, cleaning out malware infections, and boosting the devices’ security.

    • Linux.Wifatch Is Protecting Unpatched Routers, Devices

      Today’s topics include how vigilante malware is protecting unpatched routers, HP launches its Open-Source Network OS, Twitter locks in Jack Dorsey as its permanent CEO, and Cisco is driving its investments in network chip startup Aquantia.

      Countless numbers of routers and Internet-connected devices around the world are not properly updated, leaving the devices, their owners and the Internet at large at risk. A new code infection, however, dubbed Linux.Wifatch, is taking unpatched routers and devices a different route, protecting them, rather than exploiting them.

    • Microsoft OWA falls victim to password-pinching APT attack

      SECURITY RESEARCHERS FROM Cybereason have sounded a klaxon over a problem with the Microsoft Outlook Web Application (OWA) that could let attackers swoop in and tag and bag data and documents through the use of APT techniques.

      Cybereason discovered the bug when a customer with some 19,000 endpoints suspected that it was the victim of infection.

    • New Outlook mailserver attack steals massive number of passwords

      Backdoor in Outlook Web Application operates inside target’s firewall.

    • Vint Cerf: The Headline I Fear Is ’100,000 Fridges Hack Bank of America’

      When the ILOVEYOU worm struck on May 4, 2000, it thrust the reality of computer vulnerabilities into the public consciousness in a very big way.

      Sure, computer worms had spread before, but some estimates pegged this particular worm as causing billions of dollars in damage. Entire government departments were crippled. The nature of its spread was unprecedented in scale.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Denies WikiLeaks Claims of Plot To Topple Bolivian President

      Bolivia says it is launching a thorough investigation into revelations made public by a WikiLeaks report.

      The U.S. has refuted reports that it planned to topple the government of Bolivia.

      The controversy started after a report surfaced on WikiLeaks that the U.S. government had plotted an assassination attempt against President Evo Morales in 2008.

      A representative described the WikiLeaks accusations as “absolutely false and absurd.”

    • NYT Continues to Obscure Responsibility in US’s Bombing of Hospital

      The New York Times followed up its euphemistic and equivocal coverage (FAIR Blog, 10/5/15) of the US bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, with an article (10/6/15) that continued to downplay the US’s responsibility for the deaths of 12 hospital staffers and 10 patients.

    • Down the Memory Hole: NYT Erases CIA’s Efforts to Overthrow Syria’s Government

      FAIR has noted before how America’s well-documented clandestine activities in Syria have been routinely ignored when the corporate media discuss the Obama administration’s “hands-off” approach to the four-and-a-half-year-long conflict. This past week, two pieces—one in the New York Times detailing the “finger pointing” over Obama’s “failed” Syria policy, and a Vox “explainer” of the Syrian civil war—did one better: They didn’t just omit the fact that the CIA has been arming, training and funding rebels since 2012, they heavily implied they had never done so.

      First, let’s establish what we do know. Based on multiple reports over the past three-and-a-half years, we know that the Central Intelligence Agency set up a secret program of arming, funding and training anti-Assad forces. This has been reported by major outlets, including the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and, most recently, the Washington Post, which—partly thanks to the Snowden revelations—detailed a program that trained approximately 10,000 rebel fighters at a cost of $1 billion a year, or roughly 1/15th of the CIA’s official annual budget.

    • ‘Military Intervention in the Middle East Started This Crisis in the First Place’ – CounterSpin interview with Raed Jarrar on the refugee crisis

      Janine Jackson: A recent CNN report said that the worsening Syrian refugee crisis highlights the differences among countries that welcome what they called “desperate migrants” and those that don’t; but if US audiences think that the crisis, some 11 million people now displaced, reflects only on the action or inaction of countries “over there,” they’re misunderstanding the situation. What more do we need to know about this crisis, its roots and possible ways forward? Raed Jarrar is government relations manager at the American Friends Service Committee. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Raed Jarrar.

    • 9/11 and the Rise of Neoconservative Foreign Policy

      9/11 and the Rise of Neoconservative Foreign Policy. For this 14th anniversary 9/11 special program, co-hosts Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips speak with Media Roots journalist and filmmaker Robbie Martin about his new film “A Very Heavy Agenda.” The film looks in depth at the Kagan family and the rise of neoconservative foreign policy prior to and since the events of 9/11. Tune in for a detailed discussion about the development of the US policy driving American Empire.

  • Finance

    • TPP Negotiations Conclude: What Next for the Trade Deal Without a Public Text?

      The Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations concluded early this morning in Atlanta with the 12 countries reaching agreement on the remaining outstanding issues. The U.S. quickly posted a summary of the TPP and the Canadian government has followed with its own package on the deal. At a just-concluded ministerial press conference, the ministers noted that this is one step in a longer process. The text itself must still be finalized and then each country will have its own rules before signing onto it. In the U.S., there is a review period with the full text, so this will be a 2016 issue. In Canada, new treaties must be tabled for review in the House of Commons, so there will be a Parliamentary review.

    • 12 countries strike Pacific Rim trade accord

      Trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific region have reached a deal on the Pacific trade pact that is intended to cut trade barriers and establish common standards for 12 countries, This is the largest trade pact in 20 years and has been a long-term goal of the Obama administration.

    • Users Have Been Betrayed in the Final TPP Deal—Help Us Tell Washington How You Feel

      Trade negotiators from the U.S. and its 11 Pacific Rim partners announced their agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) today, concluding the final round of closed negotiations in Atlanta and marking the culmination of seven years of secrecy. Throughout all that time, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has acted as a de facto representative of the Hollywood big media lobbies in pushing other countries to adopt the most punitive aspects of U.S. copyright policies—such as our over-the-top civil and criminal penalties—while at best giving lip service to pro-user aspects such as fair use.

    • ‘Massive’ Media Hype for TPP

      It is amazing how the elite media can be dragged along by their noses into accepting that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can have a big impact on trade and growth. If I had a dollar for every time the deal was described as “massive,” or that we were told what share of world trade will be covered by the TPP, I would be richer than Bill Gates.

    • A Solution To Bitcoin’s Governance Problem

      A key aspect of Bitcoin’s value proposition is that it’s an open source protocol independent of any particular corporation or government.

      Similar to other open source initiatives, the software that runs the Bitcoin network is managed and improved upon by a group of volunteer developers.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • State Court Says University Can’t Punish Student For Off-Campus Tweets

      The Appeals Court of Kansas has upheld a lower court’s decision finding it beyond the reach of a university to expel a student for off-campus behavior.

      Beneath this logical conclusion are some not-so-pretty facts. The origin of the lawsuit is a “bad breakup” that resulted in criminal charges for the former boyfriend, Navid Yeasin.

    • Motherboard’s Version Of ‘Valuing Discussion’ Involves No Longer Letting You Comment

      Add Motherboard to the quickly growing list of news websites killing their comment section because they’re so breathlessly in love with reader interaction and visitor conversation. Like The Verge, Recode, Popular Science, The Daily Beast and numerous other websites before it, Motherboard has decided that there’s simply no value whatsoever to having a healthy, on-site local community.

    • Why are students now cheering about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo?

      I witnessed something genuinely disturbing at Trinity College Dublin last night: trendy, middle-class, liberal students cheering and whooping a man who had just given the closest thing I have yet heard to a justification for the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.

      It was as part of a debate on the right to offend. I was on the side of people having the right to say whatever the hell they want, no matter whose panties it bunches. The man on the other side who implied that Charlie Hebdo got what it deserved, and that the right to offend is a poisonous, dangerous notion, was one Asghar Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee.

    • Scholarship, Security, and ‘Spillage’ on Campus

      On September 24 I gave a keynote presentation at Purdue University about the NSA, Edward Snowden, and national security journalism in the age of surveillance. It was part of the excellent Dawn or Doom colloquium, which I greatly enjoyed. The organizers live-streamed my talk and promised to provide me with a permalink to share.

      After unexplained delays, I received a terse email from the university last week. Upon advice of counsel, it said, Purdue “will not be able to publish your particular video” and will not be sending me a copy. The conference hosts, once warm and hospitable, stopped replying to my emails and telephone calls. I don’t hold it against them. Very likely they are under lockdown by spokesmen and lawyers.

  • Privacy

    • Landmark EU ruling says US privacy protections are inadequate

      Europe’s highest court today ruled that Facebook cannot send personal information on European users to data centers in the US, invalidating a 15-year trans-Atlantic data transfer agreement. In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for many US tech companies, the European Court of Justice said that the EU’s Safe Harbor agreement with the US is “invalid” because the country does not guarantee adequate privacy protections. The agreement allows technology companies to transfer data from Europe to the US, provided that certain privacy requirements are met. According to The Wall Street Journal, today’s ruling could impact around 4,500 companies that currently rely on the laws to transfer data to the US.

    • EU-US Safe Harbour For Personal Data Eliminated

      The European Court of Justice (CJEU) handed down a decision declaring EU-US safe harbour for personal data invalid this morning. It has far-reaching implications for cloud services in particular and may presage increased opportunity for open source solutions from non-US suppliers. Looks like a real gift to companies like Kolab.

    • Interview with Kirsten Johnson, Director of “The Above”

      Kirsten Johnson talks with Eric Hynes about her new film, which documents a military surveillance blimp over Kabul and its impact on the Afghans living beneath it.

    • Adblock Plus to appoint whitelist watchdog

      The company behind the internet’s most popular advert-blocking plug-in has pledged to open up its controversial “whitelist” to outside scrutiny.

    • Data Transfer Pact Between U.S. and Europe Is Ruled Invalid
    • Verizon’s Sneaky Zombie Cookies Now Being Used Across The Entire AOL Ad Empire

      Poor Verizon. Telco executives for years have sat in their board rooms bored by the billions to be made on telecom and transit, jealously eyeing Facebook and Google ad revenue, and desperately dreaming of being seen as more than just a dull old phone company. That’s why the telecom giant recently paid $4.4 billion to acquire AOL, and is now throwing tens of millions at a new Internet video service aimed squarely at Millennials (hey kids, why get Internet video right from the source or a disruptive content company when you can get it from the phone company?).

    • Facebook can be blocked from passing data to US after treaty ruled invalid

      Facebook, Google and thousands of other US companies can be barred from transferring private information about European citizens across the Atlantic after Europe’s highest court struck down a 15-year-old data sharing treaty.

      The European Court of Justice has declared that the “Safe Harbour” agreement, which gives more than 4,400 US businesses free reign to send data about Europeans to American servers, is invalid.

    • Ireland, Facebook’s European base, pushed to act on ‘safe harbour’ ruling

      Ireland has said it plans to investigate the transfer of data on Facebook users in Europe to the United States after an EU court invalidated the “safe harbour” provisions under which it took place.

      It follows a request by Austrian citizen Max Schrems to the Irish data protection commissioner to investigate if there was adequate protection of his data transferred to the US by Facebook, which has its European headquarters in Dublin.

    • EU ruling means Facebook and Google can’t send data to the US

      If you live in Europe, your online life changed this morning. The European Union’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice, has invalidated the legal agreement by which personal data can be moved from the EU to the US for processing.

      The ruling against the 15-year-old law, known as Safe Harbour, threatens the business models of more than 3000 companies that use it to ship data to the US, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.

    • No Safe Harbor: How NSA Spying Undermined U.S. Tech and Europeans’ Privacy
    • Microsoft sites expose visitors’ profile info in plain text

      If you think using secure HTTP would be enough to protect your privacy when checking webmail, think again. When users connect to their Microsoft user account page, Outlook.com, or OneDrive.com even when using HTTPS, the connection leaks a unique identifier that can be used to retrieve their name and profile photo in plaintext.

      A unique identifier called a CID is exposed because it’s sent as part of a Domain Name Service lookup for the address of the storage server containing profile data and as part of the initiation of an encrypted connection. As a result, it could be used to track users when they connect to services from both computers and mobile devices, possibly even identifying users as their requests leave the Tor anonymizing network.

    • EFF joins Nameless Coalition and demands that Facebook kills its real names policy

      Facebook has come under heavy criticism for its real names (or ‘authentic identities’ as they are known to the social network) policy. Over the last year, all manner of rights groups and advocates have tried to convince Facebook to allow users to drop their real name in favor of a pseudonym if they want.

      Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation is part of the 74-member strong Nameless Coalition and has written to Facebook demanding a rethink on the ground of safety, privacy, and equality. This is far from being the first time Facebook has been called on to allow the use of ‘fake names’, and the latest letter is signed by LGBT groups, freedom advocates, privacy supporters, and feminist organizations.

    • Thousands of “Spies” Are Watching Trackerless Torrents

      BitTorrent is a very efficient way to share large files, but not a very private one. It’s commonly known that anti-piracy outfits monitor users through public trackers. However, new research reveals that BitTorrent’s DHT is also full of “spies” who actively harvest IP-addresses.


      Through DHT, BitTorrent users share IP-addresses with other peers. Thus far, little was known about the volume of monitoring through DHT, but research from Peersm’s Aymeric Vitte shows that it’s rampant.

      Through various experiments Vitte consistently ran into hundreds of thousands of IP-addresses that show clear signs of spying behavior.

      The spies are not hard to find and many monitor pretty much all torrents hashes they can find. Blocking them is not straightforward though, as they frequently rotate IP-addresses and pollute swarms.

    • Open Rights Group welcomes CJEU Safe Harbor ruling

      Open Rights Group welcomes today’s decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the Safe Harbor agreement is invalid.

    • Why the CJEU ruling on #SafeHarbor is a landmark victory for privacy rights

      In 2013, Austrian law student, Max Schrems brought a case against Facebook in Ireland, where the company has its European headquarters. He argued that revelations by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, showed that the NSA were accessing data held by companies like Facebook. As US law did not offer enough protection against this surveillance, his privacy was being violated.

      The Irish Data Protection Commissioner rejected Schrems’ case because the Safe Harbor agreement governed the transfer of data. The case was then referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).


      The ruling places greater obligations on data protection authorities – such as the UK’s Information Commissioner – as it says that they must ensure that fundamental rights are respected in data transfer arrangements to the US by private companies. It also limits the ability of the Commission to claim everything is OK and persuade European regulators to look away.

    • Safe harbor: abusive data collection and mass surveillance repealed by the European Court of Justice!

      By a decision published this morning, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the highest European jurisdiction, repealed the Safe Harbor agreement. This agreement in effect since 2000, allows data transfers between Europe and the United States under different versions, authorised the processing of European citizens’ data by US companies, with fewer guarantees than those existing in Europe. Max Schrems, an Austrian citizen, has put Facebook on trial since the monitoring by the NSA of his data hosted by Facebook had an impact on his freedom and privacy. The CJEU today confirmed his viewpoint by invalidating the Safe Harbor and held that the European Commission abused its power by approving it. The CJEU also affirmed that a local data protection authority may dissent a European agreement if guarantees granted to citizens were modified.

  • Civil Rights

    • Valencia Woman Files Suit Alleging She Was Punched By Police In Front Of Her Kids

      A Valencia woman has sued the city of Carlsbad and several of its officers over allegations that she was pinned to the ground and punched by police in 2013.

      Cindy Hahn said the incident on July 31 – a day she calls the worst one of her life – was caught on cellphone video.

    • Google drops ‘Don’t be evil’ mantra as it becomes Alphabet

      EVIL-DOING HAS HAD A BOOST. Google is no longer opposing it in its official company code of conduct for new and improved big brother company Alphabet, where employees will be expected to ‘do the right thing’.

    • Second Saudi Juvenile Faces Beheading As Cameron Tries To Justify “Squalid” Deal

      According to the campaign group Reprieve, “Dawoud al-Marhoon was 17 when he was arrested without a warrant by Saudi security forces in May 2012, at the height of protests in the country’s Eastern Province.”

      The campaign group claims that al-Marhoon signed a “confession”, which was used to convict him, after he was tortured. In a press release the group said: “He has been held in solitary confinement, and has been barred from speaking to his lawyer.

    • David Cameron attacks Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology’ – live [Ed: opposition compared to terrorism]
    • Leon Brittan vs Julian Assange

      Indeed, the BBC has decided that, given the accusations against Assange are so risible, it would be wrong for any detail at all of the accusations to be given out. Therefore the BBC has never reported the fact that the allegation they describe as “rape” is that, during the act of consensual sex, Assange allegedly tore a condom with his fingers whilst wearing it (of which I doubt the physical possibility). The second sexual molestation accusation is that again consensual sex took place, but after they fell asleep in each others arms, Assange awoke and initiated a repeat of the sex act without requesting permission again.

      Despite the fact that Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen have given press conferences in Sweden promoting their allegations, the BBC has made no attempt to interview them. The BBC has not reported that, the day after the condom splitting “rape”, Anna Ardin hosted a crayfish party for Assange and tweeted her friends from it that she was with the coolest man in the world. The BBC has not reported that Anna Ardin had invited Assange to share her flat and her bed. The BBC has not reported that Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen only made accusations after the two of them got together and cooked up the story. The BBC has not reported that Stockholm’s chief prosecutor dismissed it as no case to answer, and that Ardin then took it, as Swedish law allows, to another prosecutor, Marianne Ny who has a campaigning feminist agenda.

      The BBC has not reported any of that because it would be quite wrong to doubt the word of victims of sexual abuse. It would be wrong to put them under pressure, or look sceptically at the evidence for their stories, both direct and circumstantial. It would be quite wrong to prejudice possible legal proceedings.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Hey, Remember How Net Neutrality Was Supposed To Destroy The Internet?

      Before and after the FCC imposed new net neutrality rules, you’ll recall there was no limit of hand-wringing from major ISPs and net neutrality opponents about how these “draconian regulations from a bygone era” would utterly decimate the Internet. We were told investment would freeze, innovation would dry up like dehydrated jerky, and in no time at all net neutrality would have us all collectively crying over our busted, congested, tubes.

      And, of course, shockingly, absolutely none of that is happening. Because what the ISPs feared about net neutrality rules wasn’t that it would senselessly hurt their ability to invest, but that it would harm their ability to take aggressive and punitive advantage of the lack of competition in last mile broadband networks. Obviously ISPs can’t just come out and admit that, so what we get instead is oodles of nonsense, including bogus claims that net neutrality violates ISPs’ First Amendment rights.

    • Facebook Will Beam the Internet to Africa Using this Satellite [iophk: "zero-rating"]

      Africa’s current state of Internet access is stark: the lowest levels of broadband connectivity, according to the United Nation’s State of Broadband report, are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the UN, Internet availability reaches less than 2% of the populations in Guinea, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea.

  • DRM

    • FCC clarifies third-party router firmware is allowed — but with restrictions

      A few weeks ago, we covered news that the FCC was considering rules that could ban the use of third-party router firmware. The FCC has issued new draft rules that would prevent customers from making changes to certain radio settings that would allow for operation outside of certain parameters. Typically these restrictions are designed to prevent multiple devices in the same geographical area from overlapping and conflicting with each other.

      The FCC has now revealed more details on these new policies, which could theoretically be read to prevent the installation of all third-party router firmware. The FCC’s initial order specifies, for example, that programs like DD-WRT should not be allowed, which is part of why people have been concerned about new restrictions in the first place. According to the FCC, manufacturers don’t need to lock out third-party firmware — they just need to prevent the third party firmware from changing settings the FCC doesn’t allow consumers to modify.

    • The Stagnation Of eBooks Due To Closed Platforms And DRM

      Craig Mod has a fascinating article for Aeon, talking about the unfortunate stagnation in digital books. He spent years reading books almost exclusively in ebook form, but has gradually moved back to physical books, and the article is a long and detailed exploration into the limits of ebooks today — nearly all of which are not due to actual limitations of the medium, but deliberate choices by the platform providers (mainly Amazon, obviously) to create closed, limited, DRM-laden platforms for ebooks.

    • Sorry, Unix fans: OS X El Capitan kills root

      If you haven’t heard, Apple has locked out root from various file system paths and core functions in Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. The new sheriff here is System Integrity Protection (SIP), which reduces root privileges in an attempt to increase security.

      The gist is that no user — not even root — can write to /usr, /bin, /System, and /sbin or debug protected processes. Apple has also removed the ability to use unsigned kernel extensions through boot-time flags. It’s important to note that SIP can be disabled, through the recovery partition, but this will typically be done only for development and testing purposes.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Megaupload prosecutor wraps up arguments to extradite Kim Dotcom to the US

        For two weeks, Kim Dotcom and three other former Megaupload staffers accused of criminal copyright infringement were bombarded by accusations from New Zealand prosecutors.

        To hear prosecutors tell it, Dotcom is the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of illegal file sharing. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the defendants operated Megaupload as a criminal enterprise designed to profit from the illegal swapping of movies, music and software by users. A hearing is underway to determine whether New Zealand will extradite Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batato to the US. Much is at stake for the four, who may eventually face lengthy prison sentences.

      • Megaupload Accuses U.S. of Unfair Tactics, Seeks Stay

        After the United States were given several days to state their case against Kim Dotcom and his former business associates, this morning lawyers for the Megaupload four stated why their clients should not be extradited to the United States. The U.S. has used unfair tactics to gain an advantage so the hearing should be brought to an end, the Court heard.

      • Google Must Expose eBook Pirate, Court Rules

        Google has to hand over the personal details of a user who published pirated eBooks online, a Dutch court has ruled. The information was requested by anti-piracy group BREIN, working on behalf of a local book publishers’ organization.

      • Happy Birthday And The Problem With The Copyright Office’s ‘Orphan Works’ Plan

        A few weeks ago, we wrote about the big ruling by Judge George King in a district court in California that Warner/Chappell does not hold a valid copyright in the song “Happy Birthday.” The press ran with the story, with nearly all of the coverage falsely stating that the judge had declared Happy Birthday to be in the public domain. As we noted in our post, however, that was not the case. While the plaintiffs had urged just such a finding, Judge King noted that there were issues related to this that a jury would need to answer, and he would not go that far. Instead, he merely stated that Warner did not hold a valid copyright. Many people assume that this is good enough. The likelihood of some third party magically showing up after all of these years and not just claiming the copyright, but having enough evidence to prove it seems very slim. Glenn Fleishman has done a nice job writing up a detailed explanation of this copyright mess for Fast Company, in which he notes the “uncertainty is maddening.”

      • Bat-tastic – Batmobile Protected by Copyright in the US

        Amongst the very old school and traditionalist judgments here in the UK, it is always refreshing to read ones that step outside of that dusty judicial demeanor, and often our friends across the pond in the US show us that even judges remember their youth with fondness.


        In applying the test judge Ikuta quickly saw that, as the Batmobile has appeared in many renditions in a variety of forms, it has conceptual and physical qualities. The vehicle has also maintained a sufficient amount of distinct features over the years, even with minor (or more major) difference in some iterations, along with its specific characteristics and features in equipment and technology, making it sufficiently delineated to be recognizable as the same vehicle. Finally, judge Ikuta saw that the vehicle was especially distinctive, containing unique elements of expression through its status as a key part of Batman’s crime-fighting repertoire, along with its very distinctive name. The Batmobile therefore was deemed to be protectable under copyright.

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