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11.16.14

The GOP’s Patent Reform Plan Not Effective Enough to Stop Massive Patent Trolls Like Microsoft/Nokia

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GOP

Summary: The corporations-serving GOP says that it wants a patent reform, but another reminder is needed of the futility of the suggested changes

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, a GOP-leaning News Corp-owned paper, says that “Leading GOP Senator Says More Patent Reform on the Horizon”, but as we explained before, this is not an effective reform. Being on the GOP’s agenda, one can expect it to serve large corporations rather than public interests (which GOP is neither sympathetic nor apathetic towards because public interests often conflict with business/rich people’s interests). “The bill,” says the paper, “will likely add new responsibilities on plaintiffs filing patent-infringement suits. Among the possible additions: a provision requiring plaintiffs who lose their infringement lawsuits to pay the defendants’ litigation costs.”

This would be effective in preventing poor people or small businesses from suing, irrespective of their nature (e.g. trolls, startups, individuals). It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.

“It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.”This is of course better than no amendments to existing laws, but does it go far enough? It might not be enough to discourage big trolls like Nokia, which the paper above indicates is likely to use software patents for profit (article behind paywall). Nokia is already patent-trolling, with Microsoft’s help, by proxy, e.g. through MOSAID (now renamed “Conversant” because of its bad reputation). The European authorities have already been made aware of this and they warned Nokia.

Nokia seems to be following the footsteps of companies like Qualcomm, which got the attention of some pro-software patents the other day.

How the EPO’s Executive Branch (Battistelli and Topić) Banned Scrutiny and Created Authoritarian Model of Control: Part X

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: A look at highly dubious moves by EPO President Battistelli and his right-hand man Topić, whose abuses are becoming hard to oversee or even report

EARLIER this month we asked European readers lodge complaints about EPO management that continues a long tradition of abuse. Some new sources have since come forward and provided us with more information about corruption, so this series will go on and on, lasting until next year. We welcome more whistle-blowers and informed sources to come forward if they know something that we have not yet covered and we, in return, promise anonymity.

Staff that has been involved in rogue practices would obviously like to prevent colleagues (and the public) from finding out about it. Today we would like to present Topić’s letter regarding data protection [PDF] and the accompanying body of text [PDF], signed by Benoît Battistelli, who himself has a lot to hide (for reasons we covered beforein numerous parts). An annotated document [PDF] is added, with highlighted text that reveals how Topić and Battistelli worked to prevent investigation of the EPO, essentially banning people from speaking to the press, conducting an audit, investigation, etc. Clearly, the Data Protection Guidelines at the EPO are of interest if one wishes to understand the lack of scrutiny and the lack of communication with the press. The corporate media largely abstained from covering very serious issues that are known but nobody really wishes to talk about. The EPO is corrupt. It’s a secretive institute, by design. Staff are actively discouraged from informing the public. Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all a little bit of legal background.

Under Article 33(2)(b) EPC, the legislative competence to amend the EPO Service Regulations (i.e. the set of rules governing conditions of employment etc.) lies with the Administrative Council (AC). To quote The European Patent Convention: “The Administrative Council shall be competent, in conformity with this Convention, to adopt or amend: [...] (b)the Service Regulations for permanent employees and the conditions of employment of other employees of the European Patent Office, the salary scales of the said permanent and other employees, and also the nature of any supplementary benefits and the rules for granting them”

In plain English, this means that any changes to the Service Regulations are supposed to be subject to the oversight and scrutiny of the AC.

What Battistelli has done during his presidency is an introduction of certain wide-ranging internal measures by means of “Circulars” which are basically unilaterally-enacted Presidential decrees that have never been subject to any scrutiny or oversight by the AC. Not surprisingly, Battistelli is again imposing an authoritarian code of conduct inside the EPO.

One of these measures was Circular No. 342, the so-called “Investigation Guidelines” which effectively give the EPO President dictatorial powers to unilaterally initiate so-called “investigative processes”. He can even initiate “investigative processes” against senior EPO employees who have been appointed by the AC under Article 11 EPC.

Refer to the European Patent Convention which covers this in more details. In such cases he doesn’t even have to inform the individual concerned or the appointing authority (i.e. the AC) that an investigation has been initiated.

Circular 342 was never presented to the AC for approval. It was unilaterally enacted by Battistelli. This is again the hallmark of authoritarian reign. Of course this action on his part is completely illegal or “ultra vires” to use the appropriate legal jargon. The fact of the matter is that the AC no longer exercises any effective oversight over the President.

Whether this is due to stupidity or corruption, or maybe a combination of both, is an open question which we will not attempt to answer. Furthermore, challenges to these measures by EPO staff have to go to the ILOAT in Geneva which is completely clogged up. The current time required to process a case at the ILOAT has been estimated as 12-15 years. So staff can complain all they like about what Battistelli does but there is no longer any effective legal redress available to challenge unlawful acts by the EPO President.

The system of legal redress has become completely dysfunctional.

This state of affairs has led to some national courts starting to call the EPO’s jurisdictional immunity into question.

New DPGs at the EPO

Now let’s get back to the DPGs.

The most recent amendment of the EPO DPGs was announced by Mr. Topić on 2 April 2014 (see the PDF above). By a curious twist of irony, these Guidelines entered into force on 1 April 2014.

Although the EPO DGs pay lip-service to EU Data Protection Regulations, they are in fact much weaker. Under the EPO DPGs, all power is ultimately concentrated in the hands of the President.

For example look at Article 8, “Transmission to recipients outside the European Patent Organisation”. According to Article 8(4): “In cases of doubt, the President decides on the adequacy of the protection afforded by the relevant country or international organisation.”

According to the DPGs there is a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who enjoys “independence”. But this “independence is only nominal, i.e. it only exists on paper, because the DPO is a normal member of EPO staff appointed by the President and thus de facto under the control of the President.

There is no independent supervisory entity such as the European Data Protection Supervisor which exists under the EU Data Protection framework.

But there is an even more sinister aspect to the new DPGs which doesn’t get any mention in Topić’s announcement.

The new DPGs include a number of clauses which state that they do not apply in the case of “investigative processes”.

What this means in practice is the following:

  1. The President can at any time – unilaterally and subject to no oversight whatsoever – launch an “investigative process”.
  2. The practical effect of this is to override the DPGs.

In other words, the DPGs are subordinate to the “Investigation Guidelines”.

We think that this doesn’t require further comment or explanation on our part.

Credit: anonymous source.

11.15.14

Links 15/11/2014: Linux Mint 17.1 Release Candidate, Popcorn Time 0.3.5

Posted in News Roundup at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Continental Drift Continues

      While there are many hotspots in the GNU/Linux landscape, usage of GNU/Linux on the desktop is still spotty around the world. There are millions of GNU/Linux desktops but they are in clusters rather than widely spread.

  • Server

    • Docker-based Multi-Container Applications Run on AWS Cloud with Introduction of the EC2 Container Service

      It was great to have Werner Vogels up on stage talking about “why developers love containers.” That was a wonderful lead in to my Docker presentation in front of the 13,500+ person audience at AWS re:Invent listening to Werner’s keynote. That kind of visibility is inspiring, but the thing I’m most excited about today is what great news there is for Docker and AWS customers with the launch of the Amazon EC2 Container Service.

  • Kernel Space

    • Stable kernel updates

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has released three stable kernels; 3.17.3, 3.14.24, and 3.10.60. All of them contain lots of important fixes throughout the tree.

    • Why prominent ‘hobbyist’ operating systems face an existential crisis

      Do you think Linux is an alternative, hobbyist operating system? Ha! Linux is mainstream. If you’re looking for the next niche OS, you’ll need to dive deep into the cracks and crevices: passion projects worked on by a handful of developers in their spare time.

    • NVIDIA Adds “Nyan Blaze” To Coreboot

      NVIDIA has committed a new “nyan_blaze” motherboard for Coreboot.

    • Over-Volting Your GPU With The New NVIDIA Linux Driver

      Unlike the frequency overclocking done through the NVIDIA Settings GUI, the over-volting can only be done via the command-line interface. It’s not clear yet if this is just a temporary limitation if NVIDIA didn’t get around to exposing it via the GTK interface or they will keep it CLI-only in trying to discourage novice users from accidentally over-volting their system and causing potential damage, etc.

    • AMD’s “AMDKFD” HSA Driver Is Ready For Pulling In Linux 3.19

      Oded Gabbay of AMD sent out the pull request to David Airlie for trying to land the AMDKFD driver in Linux 3.19. The difference between this driver and AMDGPU is that it’s already been public for a while where we’re still waiting for the AMDGPU graphics driver to be published that’s the new DRM driver to be shared with the Catalyst Linux user-space for supporting the AMD Radeon R9 285 and newer GPUs.

      While the AMDKFD driver hasn’t yet been pulled by Airlie at the time of writing, this driver has already undergone review from upstream developers and in fact revised six times through the public process. Given that the drm-next merge window is still open for a few more days, this driver stands good chances of being merged then as a new Linux 3.19 driver. Friday’s sixth version contains just minor changes to the driver compared to last week.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • GeForce GTX 970/980 Linux Benchmarks With NVIDIA 346.16 Driver

        This week NVIDIA introduced the 346 Linux driver beta with a huge amount of changes and new features — from GPU over-volting to NVENC and VP8 support. Curiosity got the best of me so I’ve now ran some GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 Linux benchmarks to see if the performance of these new, high-end Maxwell GPUs have changed at all with this latest proprietary driver release.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Running XFCE on Chrome OS

      I know what you are thinking. Big deal. Folks have been running Crouton, Chrubuntu, and even Xubuntu for some time now on their Chromebooks. Yes, but what about running XFCE straight from the cloud itself. A webapp, if you may, without an offline mode.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • OpenGL Support Is Looking Good For GTK+ 3.16, But Help Is Needed

        For a few weeks now within mainline GTK+ has been native OpenGL support and as part of that a new GtkGLArea widget for allowing OpenGL drawing within GTK applications. Since that initial work landed, there’s been more GTK+ OpenGL code progressing that right now primarily benefits Linux X11 and Wayland users.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos

        I was very pleased with Trisquel 7.0 while I was using it. I found it to be incredibly stable and also very fast while I was opening and using applications. I did not experience any crashes or other overt indications of stability problems.

        For me Trisquel 7.0 is pretty much what a desktop Linux distribution should be in terms of usability, software selection and stability. I had pretty much everything I needed right after my install was completed. And I had the satisfaction of knowing that I was using free software the entire time I used Trisquel 7.0.

        I highly recommend that you check out Trisquel 7.0, even if you’re not a free software aficionado. It’s well worth a download. And once you get a taste of it, it may end up being your preferred desktop distribution.

      • CAINE Provides Sturdy Support for Forensic Specialists

        Eye candy and fancy screen effects have little place in the strictly business routine of forensic techs and IT pros. The CAINE and MATE combination contribute to the smooth interface and straightforward desktop. The default setting for full panel bar transparency blends it right into the desktop’s background. This further extends the uncluttered appearance of the desktop.

    • Screenshots

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: October 2014

        The council addressed a number of issues this month. The change with the biggest long-term significance was clearing the way to proceed with the git migration once infra is ready. This included removing changelogs from future git commits, removing cvs headers, and simplifying our news repository format. The infra and git migration projects will coordinate the actual migration hopefully in the not-so-distant future.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 21 Workstation Prerelease. Pure Awesomeness. Zero Exploitation.

          Why pay for recycled software bits when you can get it for free, every version release? That’s Zero Exploitation. Fedora continually refines its software technology as part of Red Hat’s R&D process and becomes part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux when mature.

        • Council Elections, Flock, Workstation Focus, Atomic, and Improving the Join Process

          We are in the “campaign season” (okay, “campaign week”) for the first general election for representatives for the new Fedora Council. (If you haven’t been following, see the Council charter on the Fedora Wiki. The “Coda” in that document should answer most of your questions, and if you have others, please feel free to ask them.)

        • FUDCon Managua 2014 Clousure

          Last day of FUDCon I tries to approach as many contributors to ask: What do you think was accomplished in this FUDCon? I used their input as part of the closure speech at the end of the convention. I improvised with a hand write notes. Here you have a more digested summary.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Governance: Empower It

            I was really saddened to see Jono Bacon’s post today because it really seems like he still doesn’t get the Ubuntu Community that he managed for years. In fact, the things he is talking about are problems that the Community Council and Governance Boards really have no influence over because Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth limit the Community’s ability to participate in those kind of issues.

            [...]

            Honestly, if this is the way Jono felt then I think he should have been going to bat for the Community and Ubuntu Governance when he was Community Manager because right now the Community and Governance cannot be inspirational leaders because Canonical controls the future of Ubuntu and the Community Council, Governance Boards and Ubuntu Members have very little say in the direction of the project.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.4

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.4, the fourth minor release of LibreOffice 4.3 “fresh” family, which is a stable release of the more advanced version of the software, and is targeted to users focusing on features. LibreOffice 4.3.4 contains over 60 bug fixes.

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • Pigs Flying, Popular Licenses, and LibreOffice 4.3.4

      Steve O’Grady today blogged about today’s popular Open Source licenses and how this has changed over time. According to his graphs borrowed from Black Duck, the various versions of GNU GPL is the most popular today. But O’Grady said Apache and MIT licenses have gained the most ground in the last five years because they are more permissive. He said, “What will be interesting to observe moving forward is whether these trends continue, or whether further corrections are in store.”

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Oculus VR’s mobile SDK, women in gaming, and more

      Hello, open gaming fans! In this week’s edition, we take a look at Gamebuino’s Arduino console, Oculus VR’s SDK for mobile release, women in gaming, and more!

    • The Open Science Peer Review Oath

      Open access is about making academic research more widely available, particularly when it is publicly funded. But there is a broader open science movement that seeks to make the entire scientific process — from initial experiments to the final dissemination of results — transparent, and thus reproducible. One crucial aspect of that complete process is peer review, whereby experts in a field provide advice about the quality of new research, either to editors prior to a paper being published in a journal, or more directly, by reviewing work publicly online.

  • Programming

    • The 15 Best JavaScript Charting Libraries

      It is practically impossible to imagine any dashboard without graphs and charts. They present complex statistics quickly and effectively. Additionally, a good graph also enhances the overall design of your website.

      In this article, I will show you some of the best JavaScript libraries for graphs / charts. These libraries will help you create beautiful and customisable charts for your future projects.

      While most of the libraries are free and open source, some of them provide a paid version with additional features.

    • DevAssistant 0.10.0 Released

      Dear friends of all things free software, DevAssistant is back with a new release! It has been over two months, and such a time would make you think that something big has been in the works. It has.

Leftovers

  • Boris Johnson’s Winston Churchill Looks an Awful Lot Like Boris Johnson

    Boris Johnson, as the subtitle of this book proclaims, is a firm believer in the “great man” theory of history. Not for him the subtleties of the complex interplay of historical forces and individual personalities. Subtlety is not Boris’s strong point. Winston Churchill alone, he writes, “saved our civilisation.” He “invented the RAF and the tank.” He founded the welfare state (although Boris gives David Lloyd George a bit of credit for this, as well). All of this, he argues, confounds what he sees as the fashion of the past few decades to write off “so-called great men and women” as “meretricious bubbles on the vast tides of social history.” The story of Winston Churchill “is a pretty withering retort to all that malarkey. He, and he alone, made the difference.”

  • Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam

    A boy from Coventry has become the youngest computer specialist in the world.

    Ayan Qureshi is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant’s exam when he was just five years old.

    Ayan, now six, whose father is an IT consultant, has set up his own computer network at home.

  • Science

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US mulls more CIA aid for Syrian rebels

      CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year

    • U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad
    • Obama Plans CIA Expansion On Anti-ISIS Covert Operations

      The Obama administration has been mulling plans to increase the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) involvement in providing support to moderate rebels in Syria, in an effort to boost U.S. anti-Islamic State operations, even as the Pentagon prepares to set up additional training facilities.

    • The Neocon Plan for War and More War

      A major test for President Obama is whether he will – in the face of the Republican midterm victories – submit to neocon demands for more wars in the Middle East and a costly Cold War with Russia or finally earn the Nobel Peace Prize that he got at the start of his presidency.

    • An Uprising Remembered: CIA Daughter on Anti-junta Polytechnic Anniversary

      On the occasion of the Athens Polytechnic Uprising against the Greek Junta, Leslie Absher, the daughter of a CIA operative stationed in Greece during the military dictatorship, remembers the events that brought down the regime forty one years ago Monday. Leslie arrived in Athens as a baby before the coup, brought there by her father, a young spy on his first mission. “There is much I’ll never know about his work in Greece but my love for him and Greece calls me to never forget this historic day,” she wrote to Greek Reporter describing her complicated relationship with Greece and her CIA dad.

    • Living in the shadow of the “angels of death”

      Last year a bomb dropped by an American drone hit the Rashid family’s pick-up truck in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar. Fourteen occupants, most of them women and children, were killed in the attack. Only four-year-old Aisha survived, losing a hand and sustaining severe injuries to her lower body, while nothing at all was left of her nose or eyes.

      When Aisha’s relatives learned of the attack, they rushed to the site – and found her there. A nearby hospital in Asadabad could however not do much for her. Aisha had lost not only her family, but also her face. At the time, NATO announced that only Taliban militants had been killed in the drone attack in Kunar. No mention was made of Aisha or her family.

      Civilian casualties branded as extremist perpetrators

      NATO’s statement came as no surprise. “Civilian casualties in remote areas of Afghanistan are not uncommonly described by the occupying forces as Taliban fighters. Incidents are often quickly forgotten,” says the Afghan journalist and political analyst Waheed Mozhdah.

      Ismael Zadran, an Afghan living in Germany, had to find this out the hard way. A few years ago his cousin Sadiq Rahim Jan, 21 years old at the time, was killed by a drone in the Afghan province of Paktia. Not only NATO, but also some Afghan mainstream media reported only a slain Taliban commander.

    • US drone strike kills 5 militants in Kunar province

      At least five militants were killed following a US drone strike in eastern Kunar province on Friday, local security officials said Saturday.

    • Can the World Avert a New Cold War?

      The West is charging off into a new Cold War with Russia under banners of hypocrisy, from charges of “expansionism” to complaints about disrespect for individual rights. This lack of balance could have grave consequences for the world, says former British intelligence officer Annie Machon.

    • War and Peace: Western Leaders Terrorizing the Mankind

      A “war of religion” is unfolding, with a view to justifying a global military crusade.

    • The Bases of War in the Middle East

      In the Persian Gulf alone, the U.S. has major bases…

    • Caught in conflict: women in Pakistan

      ‘We nearly died getting this story,” Alixandra Fazzina tells me calmly. The war artist turned award-winning photographer is flicking through the haunting images she took during her five years in Pakistan. Despite covering countries such as Somalia and Yemen – and being held hostage for four days by militiamen in Liberia – Fazzina says Pakistan is the most difficult place she has worked. And it is only now she has left that she can safely reveal many of the stories people told her.

    • In Rome’s Riots, Cries for Mussolini and Attacks on Refugees

      In Tor Sapienza, frustrated Italians are turning to urban warfare, attacking immigrants and police to push out the thousands of refugees streaming into their crumbling neighborhood.

    • Thailand’s refugees

      The Syrian crisis has taken crucial attention and resources from the Asia Pacific region, even as the number of unprotected refugees continues to grow.

    • Going to war: Not legal without Congress, but few seem to mind

      Few members of Congress seem to care that their own legal authority has been ignored. One who does, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) argues that President Obama must come to Congress to start a war and that he acted against ISIS without “true constitutional authority” since the country was not under attack at the time. ”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • There’s No Good Reason to Build Keystone XL

      No lasting jobs, no cheaper gas, and a chance to kill off one-fourth of U.S. farmland and maybe the planet. Why are both parties going all out to get such a crappy deal?

    • Climate change can’t be put on ice

      Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s assertion that he is “focusing on what we’re doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting” on growth and jobs, seems to play down the US-China agreement to take decisive action on CO₂ emissions warming the globe (“Climate: Abbott digs in”, November 14). That agreement clearly shows the Australian government is way, way short of what it has done so far and or proposes to do in the foreseeable future, with its piddling 5 per cent reduction of the 2000 CO₂ emission levels.

    • 7.1 quake hits Indonesia, causes small tsunami

      A strong undersea earthquake hit eastern Indonesia on Saturday, triggering a small tsunami and some panic but no casualties or major damage.

      The 7.1 quake occurred west of Halmahera island, which is about four hours’ flight from the capital, Jakarta.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • Appeals Court Finally Agrees To Rehear Horrible Ruling Over Actress’ Supposed Copyright In ‘Innocence Of Muslims’

      It’s been a while since we’d heard anything from the 9th Circuit appeals court concerning Garcia v. Google, the case in which actress Cindy Lee Garcia successfully went after Google for hosting the controversial Innocence of Muslims video on YouTube. Garcia is one of the actresses who claims she was tricked into appearing in the film, leading to death threats. Without doubt, her situation is not a great one to be in, but it doesn’t change the basics of copyright law, in which it has long been established that actors do not have a copyright interest in video and film projects they appear in… until Judge Alex Kozinski in the 9th Circuit appeals court suddenly reinterpreted decades of settled copyright law. Back in March, an unnamed judge on the court asked the court to reconsider the case, holding an “en banc” rehearing of the case with a full slate of judges (in most appeals courts en banc would be all judges, but the 9th circuit has so many judges that they limit it to Chief Judge Kozinski and 10 others). Back in April a bunch of folks — including us at Techdirt — filed amicus briefs asking the court to rehear.

    • China’s Porn Crackdown: No Extramarital Affairs or One-Night Stands

      The latest rules about pornographic content covers a bewildering array of sexual categories

    • Anti-Censorship Groups Tell Senate to Stop the ‘Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation’ Act

      A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act. The bill is allegedly aimed at thwarting human trafficking but in reality would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with clients, drive traffickers further underground, and potentially expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements.

    • Iran to have internet ‘smart filtering’

      Tehran already blocks access to popular websites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

    • As Indian govt plans a web filter, let’s see how Internet censorship works in Iran, China and Cuba

      The Internet censorship debate in India has been going on for some time now. But according to a latest report by Medianama, the Indian government is contemplating on using web filters to control the internet. One of the main triggers of this discussion on web filters is ban of pornographic websites and those sites which carry ‘objectionable’ content – a term which is open to interpretation.

    • Rubbing Out Internet Porn Won’t Be Easy for the Indian Government
  • Privacy

    • David Chavchavadze, CIA spy with Romanov roots, dies at 90

      He did much of his work in Berlin in the years after World War II and at the start of the Cold War. His assignments included recruitment of Soviet agents.

    • New NSA director rips critics, calls for ‘less simplistic’ national conversation about surveillance
    • Congress to tackle NSA reforms, government funding in waning days

      Although the GOP-controlled House and Senate elected earlier this month in the midterms is waiting in the wings, the 113th Congress is back from recess and still has the floor. The Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate will move on some critical agenda items and take up hot-button issues before it adjourns in December.

    • Rand Paul to oppose NSA reform bill

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won’t support an upcoming bill to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) without changes to strengthen it, an aide told The Hill on Friday.

    • Rand Paul Gives Thumbs Down to Weaker NSA Reform Bill

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) gave a strong signal today that he intends to try to keep surveillance and National Security Agency (NSA) reform in the news. His office has told beltway media that Paul will not support the Senate version of the USA Freedom Act, a legislative effort to scale back the massive expansion of surveillance against American citizens exposed by Edward Snowden. The problem is that the proposals have been watered down too much.

    • Rand Paul to oppose NSA surveillance reform bill
    • Cruz reiterates support for NSA reform bill

      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday reiterated his support for a National Security Agency reform bill slated to hit the Senate floor next week.

      Cruz is one of three Republican co-sponsors of the USA Freedom Act, which would end the government’s bulk collection of phone records. He called the legislation essential to rein in what he described as the Obama administration’s “extreme” position on U.S. privacy.

    • LA Times pushes NSA reform

      The Los Angeles Times is telling lawmakers in the Senate to get on board with the USA Freedom Act.

    • Freedom Act’s Advance Threatens NSA Court Cases

      Legal experts say passage of the bill, which would end the automatic bulk collection and in-house retention of phone records, may short-circuit lawsuits that claim the collection is illegal. That would deprive citizens not only the satisfaction of possible rulings that Obama and President George W. Bush ordered violations of their constitutional rights, but also head off Supreme Court review of a 35-year-old precedent the government says allows it to collect huge amounts of data provided by ordinary Americans to businesses.

    • 81% of Tor users can be de-anonymised by analysing router information, research indicates

      Research undertaken between 2008 and 2014 suggests that more than 81% of Tor clients can be ‘de-anonymised’ – their originating IP addresses revealed – by exploiting the ‘Netflow’ technology that Cisco has built into its router protocols, and similar traffic analysis software running by default in the hardware of other manufacturers.

    • AT&T stops adding Web tracking codes on cellphones

      AT&T Mobility, the nation’s second-largest cellular provider, said Friday it’s no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users’ smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers’ identities online.
      The change by AT&T essentially removes a hidden string of letters and numbers that are passed along to websites that a consumer visits. It can be used to track subscribers across the Internet, a lucrative data-mining opportunity for advertisers that could still reveal users’ identities based on their browsing habits.

    • First ruling on interception of legally privileged material awaited

      Following last week’s revelations at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) that intelligence agencies are intercepting the privileged communications between lawyer and client, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) is now considering whether intercepted legally privileged material has had a bearing on a sensitive and long-running case.

    • Make 2016 About Surveillance

      A lot has changed since Edward Snowden lifted the veil on the surveillance of millions of Americans. The NSA no longer enjoys an existence in the shadows, reform has been proposed in both houses of Congress, and public opinion overwhelmingly reflects a growing mistrust of the US government’s justifications for spying on its own citizens.

    • Privacy experts want UK national security boss to be honest, open

      “Given everything we’ve learned in the past 18 months, he chose not to address at all the very serious things that GCHQ stand accused of: blanket surveillance of the UK population with public knowledge and without parliamentary knowledge, [and] receiving warrantless bulk intercepts from the NSA on US and people around the world,” said Annie Machon, former MI5 intelligence officer and whistleblower.

    • Experts call for ‘return to human intelligence’ after Snowden

      The UK’s national security boss, Robert Hannigan, should come clean on surveillance and stop attacking technology companies, privacy experts have said.

      Intelligence agencies must use the debate sparked by Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations to overhaul their attitude to privacy and oversight, said the group speaking at Dublin’s Web Summit in November.

    • NY Times Urges News Sites To Embrace HTTPS/SSL… In An Article That Can’t Be Read Via HTTPS

      Earlier this year, Techdirt announced that it had gone over to HTTPS as a default to better protect everyone’s privacy on this site. As the Freedom of the Press Foundation recently pointed out, it appears that we’re one of only three media properties that do so, along with Muckrock and the Intercept. A few others have SSL, but not by default. But most don’t even have HTTPS at all.

    • The Snowden Effect on Privacy Attitudes

      More than 90 percent of the people who took part in the survey agree consumers have no control over their online information, and 88 percent understand it would be difficult to remove inaccurate information about them from the Internet. Eight out 10, the survey said, are aware of and concerned about advertisers and businesses taking advantage of what’s shared over social media.

    • Pierre Omidyar’s Weird Hiring Practices

      “To this day,” Glenn Greenwald told New York magazine recently, “I’ve never met Pierre in person.”

    • All Cameras Are Police Cameras

      The Sixth Wall will be made of intelligent dust which settles in the folds of your clothes and communicates your position and heart rate to orbiting satellites. London’s citizens will dream, and the images of their dreams will dance on the telescreens of Piccadilly Circus, and be found wanting.

  • Civil Rights

    • Ex-officer going to prison: ‘I’m the boogeyman’

      Darrell Beavers went to church with David Schofield, served on the Cincinnati Police Department and worked off-duty security jobs with him. Officer Beavers also patrolled the neighborhood where Schofield lives.

    • Sexual Relationship With A Minor, Theft Of Services And Destruction Of Evidence Nets Police Officer One-Year Prison Sentence
    • Cop Who Obtained Warrant To Take Photo Of Teen’s Erect Penis For Sexting Case Sues Teen’s Lawyer For Defamation

      One of the more remarkable intersections of law enforcement and sexting this year involved the Manassas City (VA) police department and a 17-year-old boy’s erect penis.

      Briefly: two teens — a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy — exchanged nude photos. Apparently, the boy went further, sending a nude video to the 15-year-old. The parents of the girl brought this to the police, who then sought to charge the 17-year-old with “possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography,” mainly because the law remains mostly “a ass” when it comes to teens sexting.

    • Mark Udall’s Open To Releasing CIA Torture Report Himself If Agreement Isn’t Reached Over Redactions

      As we were worried might happen, Senator Mark Udall lost his re-election campaign in Colorado, meaning that one of the few Senators who vocally pushed back against the surveillance state is about to leave the Senate. However, Trevor Timm pointed out that, now that there was effectively “nothing to lose,” Udall could go out with a bang and release the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report. The release of some of that report (a redacted version of the 400+ page “executive summary” — the full report is well over 6,000 pages) has been in limbo for months since the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to declassify it months ago. The CIA and the White House have been dragging out the process hoping to redact some of the most relevant info — perhaps hoping that a new, Republican-controlled Senate would just bury the report.

    • Doubt cast over US torture investigation as more CIA detainees come forward

      Lawyers for men allegedly tortured by the CIA say their clients were never interviewed as part of a major criminal investigation concluded in 2012

    • Sen. Mark Udall Contemplates Revealing CIA Torture Report
    • Los Angeles police using CIA software to track criminals, ex-cons

      New software used by the Los Angeles Police Department shows not only where crime is most likely to happen, but also tracks ex-cons and others likely to commit crimes. Civil rights groups are concerned over its use for entrapment and data collection.

    • LAPD’s CIA-developed computer fights crime, but not everybody’s happy about it

      Los Angeles police are increasingly relying on technology that not only tells patrol officers where crime is most likely to occur but also identifies and keeps track of ex-cons and other bad guys they believe are most likely to commit them.

      Police say the effort has already helped reduce crime in one of the city’s most notorious and historically gang-ridden neighborhoods.

    • FROSTED GLASS FALCONS AND OTHER GIFTS FOR YOUR FAVORITE CIA EMPLOYEE

      Qatar is the U.S.’ favorite rich relative, doling out 32 gifts worth a total of $100,568, mostly to the Air Force and the Defense Department. China gave 24 presents but it’s obviously cheap crap, adding up to just a measly $23,438. Afghanistan comes in third with 22, of which 16 are rugs. Iraq only gave the U.S. 8 things. Ingrates.

    • Is the U.S. really against torture? It can be hard to tell

      President Barack Obama brought the U.S. commitment against torture into sharper focus on Wednesday. For a president who prohibited torture as one of his first official acts, this shouldn’t be news. But it is.

      At issue is Washington’s interpretation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Seeking to exempt American abuse of detainees overseas, President George W. Bush had broken with his predecessors and claimed that the treaty didn’t apply outside the United States. This strained reading flew in the face of American values, the rule of law and the text of the 1987 treaty.

    • The US Says It Will Stop Using Torture … Mostly

      The Obama administration indicated on Wednesday that it will back away from a position held by the previous administration that claimed the United States is not obligated to abide by the UN Treaty Against Torture when operating on foreign soil. That’s the good news.

    • Philip Hammond: ‘UK could leave EU’ over renegotiations

      The UK must be ready to “stand up… and walk away” if it is unhappy with talks over its relationship with the European Union, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

      He told the Daily Telegraph agreement was possible on such issues as curbing EU migrant numbers into the UK.

    • Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

      The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

    • Hit and run is a crime in Florida — unless you’re a Florida State football player

      P. J. Williams totaled two cars and fled the scene. Cops gave him two tickets and didn’t ask if he’d been drinking

    • UK’s Home Secretary Says Terrorists Will Be The Real Winners If Country’s Cell Coverage Dead Zones Are Fixed

      The UK’s culture secretary wants to eradicate the nation’s patchy cell phone coverage. UK cell phone users aren’t able to switch towers on the fly — something residents of other EU countries (as well as the US) enjoy — but are forced to connect only with their provider’s towers.

    • Mexico: General Strike on November 20 for Missing Students

      The strike is scheduled to coincide with the national holiday commemorating the start of the Mexican Revolution.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Agrees With His Stance On Net Neutrality

      Comcast is one of two companies to have earned Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” title on more than one occasion (once in 2010 and again this year, 2014), and it looks like the company is lobbying for a third title. That is, unless there’s another explanation as to how the cable giant can claim (seemingly with straight face) that it’s in agreement with President Barack Obama for a free and open Internet.

      [...]

      Earlier this year, Netflix begrudgingly inked a multi-year deal with Comcast in which the streaming service agreed to pay a toll to ensure faster delivery into the homes of Comcast subscribers, who prior to the deal had been complaining of frequent buffering and video degradation when watching content on Netflix.

    • Behind Closed Doors, Ford, UPS, and Visa Push for Net Neutrality

      The corporate battle lines over the new federal rules for the Internet have been well established. Vocal technology startups have been leading the charge for muscular regulations for broadband access, and Internet service providers including Comcast (CMCSA) and Verizon (VZ) have been arguing loudly for more flexibility. Blue chip companies without obvious tech interests have kept a lower profile.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Perfect 10 Loses Yet Another Copyright Lawsuit, Once Again Losing To Giganews

        As we’ve noted in the past, Perfect 10 appears to be a company who’s entire reason for being is to set good precedents in copyright law, by filing ridiculous lawsuits and losing. So many important copyright precedents have come out of Perfect 10 cases, including ones on fair use and secondary liability. Some have argued (with fairly detailed explanations) how Perfect 10 is not a porn publisher at all, but rather a pure copyright troll that makes a living off of suing. While it seems to always lose in court, the problem is that some companies just pay up rather than fight. Back in 2011, we noted that Perfect 10 had sued Usenet provider Giganews. Earlier this year, the court smacked down Perfect 10 on a number of issues. And now, the court has done so again, handing a complete and total victory to Giganews.

IRC Proceedings: October 26th, 2014 – November 8th, 2014

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: October 26th – November 1st, 2014

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: November 2nd – November 8th, 2014

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

The Terrible Joke Which is Microsoft ‘Loving’ Linux: Nightmares With UEFI ‘Secure’ Boot (i.e. Windows Monopoly Imposed) Continue to Affect GNU/Linux Users

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reminder of Microsoft’s sheer hostility towards GNU/Linux and long-reaching sabotage of GNU/Linux installations

THE OTHER DAY we saw Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke speaking about Microsoft’s attempt to enter primarily GNU/Linux-oriented datacentres such as Rackspace’s. To Microsoft, especially these days, the goal is not just to dominate operating systems, APIs and file formats but also to possess all files (in so-called ‘cloud’ storage) and servers (so-called ‘cloud’ hosting). It’s all about control, e.g. surveillance on databases, site visitors, individuals’ files, passwords, E-mails etc.

When speaking about Microsoft “loving” Linux (a lie that we debunked here before) we should bear in mind that Microsoft views GNU/Linux in Azure as just another object to spy on, extort, tax, and ultimately control. The strategy is one of devour or command-and-conquer. This Linux.com article from the other day made some noteworthy points: “When a journalist asked about the absence of Red Hat, during the Q&A session of the same event where Nadella declared Microsoft’s love for Linux, Microsoft executives didn’t have any specifics. Nadella stepped in and vaguely said, “We’d welcome Red Hat in our cloud.”

“We don’t know what is stopping Microsoft from offering Red Hat, because both companies are not ready to talk about it. John Terrill of Red Hat sent me the following response by email, “While we can imagine that a partnership, which respects each party’s business model and open source, could be possible for Red Hat technologies on Azure, we are not able to comment publicly on the topic. Red Hat does have a partnering arrangement of substance with Microsoft – certifying and supporting Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on Hyper-V, and Windows Server running on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.”

“It’s unclear who is unwilling to work with the other, even if it makes no sense for either companies.”

No person should trust Microsoft for a whole load of reasons. We already know that Microsoft really hates GNU/Linux and only does things for it where these things are inherently detrimental to GNU/Linux. Several weeks ago Curry’s essentially prevented me from even replacing Windows with GNU/Linux without voiding the warranty on the underlying hardware (like keyboard or screen). I never found out who was behind this ridiculous policy, which consistently applied to hundreds of large stores across the UK (stores called “PC World”). Although they have changed their policy nationwide following my rants (I checked in the stores to ensure it’s truly as they’ve claimed it to be) this basically shows just how GNU/Linux-hostile Microsoft forces retail giants to become. Not only would they void the warranty of those who install GNU/Linux but Intel, Microsoft and OEMs also work together to make it very hard to install GNU/Linux on PCs. Here is a new UEFI nightmare story from a British writer:

Because this is a UEFI Firmware system, the first step is to wrestle with with BIOS and UEFI configuration. Every OEM is different in this area, and sometimes even different models from the same OEM are different. The critical questions are:

How to UEFI boot from a USB stick

How to (optionally) disable UEFI Secure Boot

How to (optionally) enable Legacy Boot (MBR)

Will changes to the UEFI boot configuration be retained

I know from experience with previous Acer systems that there are two things you have to do in the BIOS to prepare for Linux installation. FIrst, you have to change the “F12 Boot Menu” option to ‘Enable’, so that that you can press F12 during startup and get to the Boot Select menu.

Second, if you want/need to change the UEFI boot settings, you will first have to set a “Supervisor Password” in the BIOS configuration. Once the password is set, you can disable Secure Boot and/or enable Legacy Boot as necessary.

[...]

After the installation process completed, and before I rebooted, I checked the UEFI boot configuration (efibootmgr -v). It was correct, with “opensuse-secureboot” defined and first in the boot sequence list. But then I rebooted and… it booted Windows. ARRRRGGGHHHH! NO! Acer doesn’t do this kind of garbage, HP/Compaq does! I have two or three other Acer laptops around here, and the boot configuration is perfectly stable on them!

I rebooted and used F12 to get Boot Select, then selected openSuSE from there, and it came up ok. Then I checked the boot configuration again. Sure enough, the boot order had been changed back to have Windows Boot Manager first. Swine…

I rebooted again, and this time went into BIOS setup (F2). On the ‘Boot’ page, there is a ‘Boot priority order’ list, and “Windows Boot Manager” was right at the top of that list. There was nothing about “openSuSE” in the list, but there was a strange new entry for “HDD: WDE WD5000LPVX-22VOTTO”, which is absolutely as clear as mud… I didn’t recall seeing that entry when I was in the Boot menu the first time. I moved that item to the top of the priority list, crossed my fingers and rebooted.

If Microsoft loves GNU/Linux as much as it claims, why does it continue trying to complicate installations of GNU/Linux? People must ask such questions. The sad thing is that some in the Free software community are right now being bamboozled by facts-free charm offensives.

Patent Lawyers Worry About Section 101 in ‘Alice’ (and Other Patent News)

Posted in Apple, Law, Patents at 6:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A quick roundup of news of interest regarding software patents

THE SO-CALLED ‘Alice’ case has proven to be much more effective than Bilski because although In Re Bilski was sometimes used to eliminate a software patent here and there (examples exist) it happened nowhere as often as after ‘Alice’.

Dozens of law firms threw pieces of misinformation at the media shortly after the ‘Alice’ determination (we covered a large number of examples at the time), trying to deny that it had any impact on software patents. These were attempts at a self-fulfilling prophecy, but they were proven wrong. Now that ‘Alice’ is cited and used — successfully — in elimination of software patents in the United States the lawyers’ sites take another defensive approach such as this or that. Being lawyers’ sites, the headline “Section 101 Attack” (implying that the attackers are those who are against monopoly on algorithms) is not too shocking. They are trying to advise patent lawyers how to circumvent the new restrictions, with an introduction such as the following: “On November 3, 2014, in Cal. Inst. Of Tech. v. Hughes Communications., 2014 U.S.. Dist. LEXIS 156763 (C.D. Cal. 2014), Judge Mariana Pfaelzer penned the most thorough defense of software claims attacked under s. 101 that I have seen since State Street Bank. The opinion is also useful since it both continuously cites – and often distinguishes or explains Mayo—and because it is very critical of the analytical framework employed by the same court in McRO (Planet Blue) v Namco, a September decision on which I posted earlier. (A copy of this decision can be found at the end of this post.)”

If you are against software patents, then the patent lawyers view you as “attacking” them. Yes, it’s not those who monopolise and sue who are the attackers, but those who are trying to defend themselves. This wording is found in some of the highest tier legal papers, which probably shows just what level of contempt patent lawyers have for society at large.

Here is another legal publication writing not only about patenting software but also copyrighting it (applicable by default). It refers specifically to India, en ever-growing software giant where imperialistic lawyers (whose clients are rich multinationals) would just love to impose monopolies nf software (it’s usually non-Indian companies that can afford to file for patents and file lawsuits there, obviously against Indian people and businesses). India will hopefully never follow the trajectory of the US by embracing patents on algorithms.

Pay attention to this new Apple patent on a trivial software idea:

Apple has a new patent granted today by the USPTO (via AppleInsider) that details a method by which it can detect and keep track of mobile network dead zones via crowdsourced information. The technology is designed to give device makers and network operators a way to easily identify and counter low signal zones, by building out their network where it needs the most work.

Apple is increasingly becoming a software patents-wielding parasite, not a producing company. Thankfully, the US seems to be tackling the practice of patent trolling right now and Steph just got “a tip from an anonymous source that a certain company received a request from an NPE to permit disclosure of a license agreement to the FTC.”

We do not really believe that the FTC will be effective at tackling patent trolls, but at least it’s trying. There are signs of improvement and it’s not too delusional to allege or predict a wide-ranging patent reform, even with GOP majority.

Will Write for FUD (Against FOSS)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Black Duck rears its ugly head again, serving to show that it is in the business of changing perceptions and not in the information or analysis business

WHEN we see people so utterly desperate for a job they often hold banners that say something like “will [do something] for food”. That’s how we often feel about FOSS FUD firms, some of which come from Microsoft (created by people from Microsoft). The business model is simple; find people/companies (clients) who want to belittle or smear FOSS and then issue some glorified ‘research’ to ‘prove’ the clients’ allegations.

Sonatype has been using FOSS for a number of years in order to make money. It does not actually produce any FOSS but it sure likes to market itself (new example in IDG right now) by talking about FOSS, usually negatively. We have spent years collecting and giving to readers such examples from Sonatype and a lot more examples from Black Duck, which has strong links to Microsoft and has become a de facto FUD source against FOSS, especially copyleft. Here we have Redmonk propping up the copyleft-hostile agenda again and over at ITWire we found an article which indicates that Weinberg, formerly of LiPS Forum, is now among those who will “write for FUD”. As the author puts it, “Weinberg did not advocate for OSS in any way. But he pointed out that from a pragmatic point of view, one had to get used to seeing its use in the enterprise. It was therefore better to know the nature of the beast, he said. As an example he pointed to a statement made by Carl-Eric Mols, the head of OSS at Sony Mobile Communications, wherein Mols said that more than 80 per cent of the software used in Sony’s handsets was open source.”

This is where Black Duck comes in with its proprietary (and patent-’protected’) software to make scary claims about the risk of FOSS. The problem with this business model is that it is generally detrimental to FOSS and it monetises fear of FOSS — a fear which is being exaggerated by the likes of Black Duck.

Debunking Several Days of Never-Ending Lies About Microsoft and .NET

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: .NET is not “Open Source”, it cannot be forked (there remains patent threat), Visual Studio is still completely proprietary and it is expected to come to other platforms only because Windows has lost its dominance and Microsoft wants to perpetually control APIs (with software patents) and hence reign over developers

We correctly foresaw a barrage of misinformation about Microsoft and .NET and now it’s time to tackle it all. Very few journalists have been getting the .NET story right. Although they do exist, they have been massively outweighed and outnumbered by sheer misinformation. This post will hopefully be comprehensive enough to name those who got the story right and those who got it wrong. We will end with some truths and clarifications.

The signal (as in signal-to-noise ratio) was lost in a vortex of many Microsoft lies that got posted and reposted in the news this week (since Wednesday night); some were utter lies, but there were semi-truths in some cases. We probably ought to clean up the mess/web of lies after Microsoft spilled out PR and its minions happily relayed it to bamboozle journalists into calling .NET "open source" (many did exactly that). To be fair, there are definitely exceptions and there are some who got the story right, so we will give them credit and tell them apart rather than collectively refer to them all as though they serve the same establishment.

Let’s start with the simple facts. Microsoft has not had a change of heart; it uses publicity stunts. There are better yardsticks by which we can assess Microsoft’s intentions. Let’s see, for example, if Microsoft joins OIN (non-aggressive patent pact/collective) and stops assaulting Free software directly and by proxy. It just won’t happen any time soon and it is a point that Simon Phipps made in his somewhat belated article which states: “How does this affect Microsoft’s status in the open source community? The OSI Board (of which I am a member) welcomed Microsoft’s news as as “continued progress toward full embrace of open source” and there’s no doubt this, like the news about Linux support in Azure, signals great progress. We welcome each new initiative, but the rehabilitation process is not completed by any individual act or even by a sequence of them.

“To move beyond stage five of the journey to open source, Microsoft needs to take a holistic view and ensure every business unit of its famously divided company treats open source with respect. While Microsoft continues to tolerate sociopathy in the business units not yet embracing open source – such as the patent attacks on Linux community members by its patent portfolio group or the covert politics to undermine Open Document Format – it’s hard to treat the company with the full respect it believes it deserves.

“As the inevitability of open source gradually pervades Microsoft like Aslan’s breath, hope increases that the company will choose to act as a full member of the Linux community – for example, by joining OIN as a way to forswear patent attacks on open source community members. I sincerely hope Microsoft completes this journey.”

Phipps is being too optimistic and overly kind (perhaps he must because of his diplomatic role at OSI and because of his publisher), whereas Larry Cafiero uses a Nazi-era analogy (FOSS as Chamberlain) to negatively characterise this kind of optimism. He insinuates that unless Microsoft turns everything into GPL then it can “get the fuck out”. His post is relatively polite (unlike the headline) and it says: “One of the issues this week that has had the FOSS press all atwitter — literally and figuratively — and has had a lot of smart FOSS people uncharacteristically swooning is the fact that Microsoft is “open sourcing” .NET and other software (For example, .NET is released under the MIT license, whatever that may be).

“One subtext here, of course, regarding the misplaced euphoria by some begs the question, “Is Microsoft trustworthy?” The answer is clearly, “No. Absolutely not.” Despite the fact that Redmond has been playing nice with FOSS lately, we should not trust Microsoft any farther than former CEO and Stasi agent look-alike Steve Ballmer can throw a chair.”

He continues: “Let’s not forget — let’s never forget — Microsoft has reveled in their role as digital brownshirts since one of their many ill-conceived, all-conquering goals was to strangle FOSS and Linux in its proverbial cradle. It continues to this day, and for the foreseeable future, in patent shakedowns and insistence on locked-in interfaces no one else can use, among other digital inconsistencies aimed at providing only one option: theirs.

“So we’re just supposed to forget the fact that we were once considered a “cancer” by this company — letting bygones be bygones — solely because they say they “love Linux” and because they open-sourced some of their software under some obscure license?

“Seriously?”

One part-time booster of Microsoft says that Microsoft is now neglecting Windows, which lost its dominance in many areas. To quote his analysis: “Windows Phone users are used to waiting for Microsoft to deliver on its promises, but the company has been testing their patience recently. Microsoft has abandoned its “first and best on Windows” strategy in favor of cross-platform apps that are nearly always better on Android and iOS than their Windows tablet and phone counterparts. Office is the latest proof of a continuous trend that’s leaving Microsoft’s most-loyal Windows customers out in the cold.

“After shipping Office for iPad earlier this year, way ahead of a touch-optimized Windows release, Microsoft followed up with an even better version for the iPhone last week. While the initial Office for iPhone app, released last year, offered basic editing like its Windows Phone counterpart, the new app goes way above and beyond the functionality Microsoft ships on Windows Phone. Comparing the two almost feels unfair at this stage. Microsoft is working on new touch-optimized versions of Office for Windows tablets and phones, but the company won’t deliver them until Windows 10 is ready next year. It’s another period of waiting for Windows fans.”

That is just more vapurware talk, along the lines of another bit of spin (naming Vista 10 years before it even exists). This same vapourware about Vista 10 can be found in the post “With a new platform-neutral Microsoft, why go Windows?” (by Microsoft booster Mary Jo Foley), summarised thusly: “The days of counting on Microsoft to deliver first and best on Windows are gone. Will Windows 10 bring them back next year?”

Windows is becoming obsolete in the schools market too, so Pablo Valerio at UBM floats similar vapourware from Microsoft. They acknowledge that Windows is quickly going away, but then they start naming Vista 10 as if that vapourware will change everything. What it all shows us is that Microsoft becomes more receptive to the idea of cross-platform not because the company is suddenly nice but because Windows is rapidly losing market share. For Microsoft it’s merely a survival strategy. Microsoft would rather we all view it as goodwill, just as it tried to portray a driver release (under the terms of the GPL) as a deliberate act of goodwill when it fact it was a GPL violation that Microsoft was caught committing (hence it could go to court to compel Microsoft to do the same thing).

As we noted the other day, just after Microsoft deception’s campaign had started, the company opened not .NET but only parts of it. The headlines even in FOSS-leaning sites did not get this right most of the time, e.g. in this one example quoting Microsoft Peter as the source (with another inaccurate and misleading report). We’re mentioned in then 2nd comment there. “Any time there are these sorts of “open source” claims from Microsoft,” said one commenter, “just wander over to TechRights and see what Roy Schestowitz has to say. If there’s any doubt, he’ll set you straight.”

The lies were spread by bamboozled journalists or Microsoft boosters whom these journalists followed as their principal sources. Truth got lost early on and the lies now dominate the wire. It’s hard to challenge the message which was so broadly broadcast.

What we have here is an attack on Eclipse, which unlike Visual Studio is free software and wins in opinion polls over criteria like these of cross-platform and openness (or freedom). Self-serving acts are not goodwill and bringing to more platforms Visual Studio (which remains to be done and we do not know to which level of quality it will be done) is just spreading of malicious, non-free software.

Microsoft is doing a perception distortion campaign in order to reduce openness among developers, but as expected, lots and lots of misleading headlines (Microsoft PR) appeared in the news this week. It’s a shameful charade. It targets both developers and software users.

Consider the misleading claims from Microsoft booster Paul Thurrott that can percolate into less informed sites (less technical), including the British press that tends to be better than most. Many sites portray this as complete opening, whereas few say that it is core only, meaning that .NET is merely a mixture and thus still proprietary or “open core”. The .NET boosters and Bill Gates-funded papers mislead readers as usual, so the lies propagate and make it into decent sites that now make misleading statements in the British press, the Australian press, and plenty of north American sites. One British news site got it right, but many others did not, so it does not matter what is true, what matters is what developers think or feel. With help from poor journalism Microsoft has just fooled a lot of people.

We could go on and on collecting examples of relatively benign and not so inaccurate reports, but they are few and they are outweighed by falsehoods. The freeware nature of the tools makes them not Open Source as some sites online to claim but basically proprietary for other platforms. The South African press got it wrong and it is too late to correct all this. It’s a bit depressing to watch because whenever witnessing a lot of lies and almost nobody to counter them effectively (as in the days of the Microsoft-Novell patent deal) a lot of clean-up work remains to be done.

Some sites correctly paint this .NET nonsense as open core, but Microsoft sites and Microsoft-affiliated sites keep fighting against the truth. Even Microsoft Peter is relaying the lies from the Microsoft press release while pro-Microsoft ‘journalists’, as expected (Microsoft must be pressuring them to repeat the lie in order to change perceptions), put these lies in widely distributed newspapers. Microsoft's tool Dina Bass got it wrong and other writers in corporate media (full of Microsoft spinners with a long track record of it) do a great service to Microsoft. They rewrite the truth. A lot of readers will never know they’re being brainwashed.

There is something curious (but expected) if one looks who claims .NET is “open source”. Most of them are known Microsoft boosters. Microsoft lover Brian Fagioli is repeating the lie and an article by Sam Dean continues his tiring Nadella fawning.

“Facts don’t matter and journalism systematically fails. There is no fact-checking.”One Australian news site was clarifying that it’s more like “open core” and less inaccurate headlines at least say .NET is partly proprietary, hence proprietary, still.

The whole .NET nonsense from Microsoft serves to show the corporate media is as accurate as Microsoft minion de Icaza (one of the most widely cited source of misinformation here). Facts don’t matter and journalism systematically fails. There is no fact-checking.

Here is what a British site, the biggest news sites in the UK (for technology), wrote about this endlessly. Some of these articles are from known Microsoft boosters. They are advertising .NET. There are no disclosures. Here is the misleading headline from Microsoft booster Andrew Binstock. It’s high time for mass deception.

One of the best articles came from the Australian journalist Sam Varghese, who actually asked some real questions. Well, those who ask such questions often get the most flack because they’re actually doing their job. He recalled Silverlight and wrote that “some time back, Microsoft announced that Silverlight development would effectively end and De Icaza was left with a lot of code that was of no use. There was no beacon left to follow, no light in the sky to guide his way.” Now Microsoft can now hire/absorb Xamarin or alternatively dismantle it. It remains to be seen what actually happens.

Late on Friday (2 days later) we kept seeing poor reporting in the media, so not even two days of research were apparently enough for journalists to get the facts right. Here is a misleading headline from the rich people’s paper of glory. It is sad to see false claims perpetuated even by Jim Lynch, who is pro-FOSS. Some people do issue corrections in the comments, e.g. this comment at the bottom. The comment says “.NET Microsoft isn’t MIT. .NET is not Open Source” and it cites the article “Microsoft Legally Contradicts Itself”. The article says: “The PATENTS.TXT file contains Microsoft’s legally binding promise not to sue anybody for patent infringement if they use the code. Sort of. The problem is that the wording of the document opens a potential loophole that would allow Microsoft to sue a third party that took parts of the .NET code and built or included it into another application for patent infringement.”

This kind of point was also debated in Twitter, involving Microsoft minions and the head of the OSI. It shows that the patent mess remains and to highlight some key remarks, Carlo Piana (a FOSS lawyer) writes: “What about any patents MS claims (IIRC there are a few). MIT does not pass any through.” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) responds with: “Just as the Java patent story, the Microsoft patent pledge is not enough… the promise should be made to other .net implementations, not just the implementation they control.” Simon Phipps checked the details and confronted de Icaza over his misinformation, saying: “It appears to only protect use of ‘Covered Code’, not third-party .NET implementations… It is a covenant linked to the Git repo, not to the .NET specification… It also does not cover use of the code in anything but “a compliant implementation”… the language excludes subsetting and code repurposing.”

Yes, so much for “Open Source”! You cannot even fork it safely.

Here is what maddog wrote [via]:

Of course some people will point out some of the more recent things that Microsoft has done:

Microsoft has made money off “Open Source”. Taking technologies mostly from MIT or BSD licensed software, they took code written and contributed by other people and worked them into Microsoft products. They are not alone in this, and I do not “blame them” for doing it. They obeyed the letter of the law.

Threatening to sue other companies for patent infringement, but not willing to tell the Android/Linux community what patents they feel were being violated so we could avoid them…or dismiss them.

Contribute patches to the Linux kernel, but usually in the areas of hypervisors, to allow Microsoft’s hypervisors to work well on top of the Linux kernel….the same kernel for which they are blackmailing….er, ah, charging patent royalties.

As usual, people who accept Microsoft’s claims at face value are most likely going to find out that they have been misled. None of the above publications is likely to issue corrections, neither in-place or in a follow-up article. Microsoft has successfully made a falsehood be seen as “truth”. A lot of people will not be made aware of the dangers of .NET.

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