11.07.20

Biden Won The US Election, But the Challenges Ahead Have Only Just Begun

Posted in Action at 12:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We all need to pressure Biden quite soon (but not too soon)

Biden won

Summary: We need to remind people that Biden is no champion of freedom (now that he almost officially won the election and it’s hard to imagine anyone taking it away from him)

THE OTHER day (before the election) we said we’d refrain from blasting Biden until after his campaign more or less secures the outcome (which we correctly foresaw).

Civil rights activists oughtn’t celebrate too soon. Biden isn’t left-leaning, he’s no populist and when it comes to “tech rights” (like privacy or sharing) he’s no champion at all. He was in fact one of the worst his party had to offer (at the time of the nomination race).

“Contrary to myths, Trump did not stop wars (it’s merely an illusion) and he helped bank[st]ers/billionaires far more than Obama even did (even after the Bush era financial meltdown).”Over the next few days we’re going to formulate what we think ought to happen next in terms of activism; to prevent Biden ‘campaigning’ for the plutocrats who sponsored him (the likes of Donald Trump) we need to constantly remind him that his constituents and people who went out to vote for him (risking COVID-19 infection, unless the ballots were sent from home) shouldn’t be let down the way many were let down by Obama/Biden, paving the way to Trump and 4 years of Trumpism (basically loads of corruption and a crimes galore).

Look backContrary to myths, Trump did not stop wars (it’s merely an illusion) and he helped bank[st]ers/billionaires far more than Obama even did (even after the Bush era financial meltdown). The country is deep in debt (exceeding GDP) while the likes of Bill Gates see their wealth soaring (they pocket bailout money). Microsoft too was bailed out by Trump… as though it deserved billions in cash infusions, unlike people who became homeless and hungry (some had become so infuriated by this institutional abandonment and voted Trump in a “protest vote”).

Anyway, in order to better understand why Biden isn’t trustworthy (except compared to Trump, a low standard to compare anyone to) consider his strong ties to the RIAA, which is currently assaulting Free software together with Microsoft.

09.02.20

We Still Need More Stallmans

Posted in Action, Free/Libre Software at 12:13 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

RJCD
Photo sources: Daniel Pocock, Richard Stallman, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange

Summary: For Free Software to free everyone, more will have to be done to spread both greater technical proficiency and greater advocacy for what (Bruce) Perens now calls the “differently-technical”

Activists are not born or bred as such. At some point in their lives, they experience (often first-hand) some injustice which they decide is important enough to stand against. As they were not activists previously, they often lack experience or know-how, which they find along the way.

For rms, it was the injustice of non-free computing, and the preservation of a culture. Computing was largely a free endeavour, which gained fetters of NDAs and eventually copyright restrictions and low-quality patents. (Software was not copyrightable in the United States until 1980).

“For Free Software to free everyone, more will have to be done to spread both greater technical proficiency and greater advocacy for what Perens now calls the “differently-technical”.”Although sometimes painted as elitist, because it was an effort that requires a technical skill, it is fairer to say Free Software was an anti-elitist effort, because it works to keep this technical act from being locked up by monopolies and the rich and powerful. This does not mean we don’t benefit from trying to put this power (and its benefits) into the hands of everyone. In principle, this is what Free Software has always worked to do.

For Free Software to free everyone, more will have to be done to spread both greater technical proficiency and greater advocacy for what Perens now calls the “differently-technical”. Although I dislike overly politically-correct terminology (because it becomes a distraction from real progress, and is frequently condescending), I think Perens does a fair job justifying his use of the term. If you work as a scientist at CERN and don’t know how to code or install Fedora (many at CERN already do), then you are most certainly a “technical person” regardless.

“Often in the rush to add features, people forget to maintain the things that already work well and are relied on.”With that said, I was expecting a much more difficult process for installing OpenBSD. I didn’t even read how to do it (beyond skimming the downloads page). But then I’ve used dd before, haven’t I?

I don’t think we just need to put friendly layers on top of everything though, we also need to keep everything “hackable” (not in the security sense of the term, but in the sense of remix and easy access to the system for experienced users). Often in the rush to add features, people forget to maintain the things that already work well and are relied on.

OpenBSD (the system I’ve paid the closest attention to recently) is happy to break things that don’t work and aren’t relied on, but they treat the system as an entire thing — and the best things they kill often make their way to places where they can be salvaged and maintained independently. They are not (unlike the corporations interfering with GNU/Linux) constantly destroying “their own” (our) ecosystem, nor (unlike said corporations) trying to control things outside of their own development.

“For many years (debatably, Perens is doing a good job of laying bare some of the failures involved) corporations involved themselves with our movement at an arguably safe distance.”New FSF president Geoffrey Knauth may support rms, I am told he does, but he does not support our freedom. On the contrary, he will (I believe) continue to drag the entire FSF further away from freedom. This is not about purity, it is about staying independent of corporate corruption. Calling that “purity” is both cynical and misses the point. For many years (debatably, Perens is doing a good job of laying bare some of the failures involved) corporations involved themselves with our movement at an arguably safe distance. They had opportunities to make trouble, but they were not really “in control” of what we did.

FSF classic

Today, we have the opposite: they are not fully in control of what we do, but they are more than a potential corrupting influence — they dictate too much of the process (through “donations”, through corruption and bribery and even censorship) and they manipulate even more than they control. Almost nobody is fighting this — but it would be terribly unfair to say nobody does at all.

Let me be 100% clear about my opinion of the new FSF: it will not fight against these problems — it is part of these problems. Geoffrey Knauth will not fight against these problems, he was the one handling the bribe money!

“We have loads of evidence, but the effort of reaching a level worthy of the word “proof” is frankly, an ongoing process against a tech press that also takes money from the organisations in question.”Now, before Roy has to deal with a lot of paperwork over that remark, let me clarify it immediately — what I am NOT saying is that the new FSF President was necessarily “aware” of, let alone played an active role in the bribing of the FSF. Rather there are a few things WE are already aware of:

1. The FSF was corrupted, at least for a while (I do not believe it will recover and I’ve said that many times. I think it is even naive to believe it will recover).

2. There were corporate interests (sponsors) involved, and money involved and / or favours done. We have loads of evidence, but the effort of reaching a level worthy of the word “proof” is frankly, an ongoing process against a tech press that also takes money from the organisations in question.

“Both science and actual justice (however rare these wonders may be) have in common a willingness to look at issues from opposing or different angles (often not just two) for those situations where the truth is elusive or a bit complicated.”Even Perens himself talks about this these days (why doesn’t rms or Knauth?). Perens co-founded the organisation that was a conduit for all this corruption — but he has often turned around and criticised it for doing so. (More about this later).

3. I am not aware of ANY DIRECT role Knauth played in any of this. If I were, I would have already said as much. Rather, we know that GitHub has played a role, and sadly, the president of the FSF is an active GitHub user.

4. It is POSSIBLE (to be fair) but real work to believe that as treasurer, Knauth had no awareness of what was going on. The benefit of the doubt has to be present, because if we want fairness for rms and Assange (who a lot of people don’t like), then we also have to bestow people we don’t trust or like with the same — at least sometimes. This does not extend to organisations who have spent decades lying and stabbing us in the back. For those, we should know by now that they can’t be trusted.

And that’s really part of why all this needs to be said — we are asked to TRUST people who SUPPORT those who have spent years lying to us and exploiting us. Sorry, but that’s a pretty obvious deal-breaker, especially when we can already connect such compromises to the ousting of rms and the destruction of the FSF.

“This article is an endorsement of some of the things Perens has said, it is NOT an endorsement of Perens.”So I am most certainly NOT saying that Knauth was aware, let alone party to the corruption going on. But if he wasn’t even aware of it, that’s kind of sad — maybe the sort of thing you should resign over (as Perens did) rather than be promoted after. Maybe I don’t know anything about what a treasurer does, and someone else can explain this better. I know of one incredibly pedantic person in IRC who would probably keel over if he stopped playing Devil’s Advocate, and this is another opportunity for him to be useful.

Both science and actual justice (however rare these wonders may be) have in common a willingness to look at issues from opposing or different angles (often not just two) for those situations where the truth is elusive or a bit complicated. But in general, P.R. and the so-called “media” tend to be more interested in playing off a certain angle than finding the truth.

“So you have LibrePlanet, ousting rms with the help of the GNOME director’s signature — you have members of the GNU Project trying to convert the project to be able to oust and cancel both contributions and Direction by the same sort of means; conflating a couple of (very) minor interruptions by an organisation’s founder with a “lack of safety”…”So to be perfectly clear, I’m not confident that Knauth played an active role in the corruption, but I’m MOSTLY confident he will not play a significant role in reform. In short, he is TODAY’S FSF president — where the organisation (even rms himself, for different and nearly understandable reasons) responds to ongoing corruption with soundbites and glitz, cashing in on trust built over the years not unlike Mark Shuttleworth waving away the question of whether Ubuntu is worthy of root access on your computer by saying “you’ve always trusted us before!” It really doesn’t answer the question.

This article is an endorsement of some of the things Perens has said, it is NOT an endorsement of Perens. He is saying that a single organisation isn’t the answer — I applaud this, and he is saying that he doesn’t want to admin it — I applaud that as well. Perens knew for years that OSI had a plan to oust rms, and when he was ousted, the methodology was not entirely unlike the original plan. People went ahead anyway, and what’s happening with the GNU Project is a combination of That Plan and Microsoft’s continuing efforts to take over what THEY call “Linux”.

So you have LibrePlanet, ousting rms with the help of the GNOME director’s signature — you have members of the GNU Project trying to convert the project to be able to oust and cancel both contributions and Direction by the same sort of means; conflating a couple of (very) minor interruptions by an organisation’s founder with a “lack of safety” (and ESR thought they would conflate Free Software with terrorism — NO, Mr. Raymond, thanks to your plan to oust rms, they conflate SPEAKING OUT OF TURN with terrorism! Now you can crown yourself King of the SJWs! Don’t like Molly? It’s your own bullshit that CREATED her!)

“So while Geoffrey Knauth and the Fake FSF (Free GitHub Foundation) keeps turning Free Software into Open Source, and Microsoft keeps turning Open Source into proprietary software (even working to change the OSD itself!) Knauth is the captain of a ship going nowhere.”And what will the FSF do? Save the GNU Project? NO! They will make it impossible to fight the encroachment of Microsoft and GitHub, they will wave their hands and say “blah blah Freedom” but their ACTIONS won’t fit their words.

That’s exactly what Open Source is.

So while Geoffrey Knauth and the Fake FSF (Free GitHub Foundation) keeps turning Free Software into Open Source, and Microsoft keeps turning Open Source into proprietary software (even working to change the OSD itself!) Knauth is the captain of a ship going nowhere.

And THAT is exactly why we need more Stallmans.

“Even Nat Friedman, Miguel de Icaza, Stormy Peters. GNOME is NOT on our side, it has not been for ages.”We need more Stallmans because the FSF won’t provide freedom or fight for US.

We need more Stallmans because GitHub is a MONOPOLY. The presence of other small companies does not make GitHub not a monopoly — there were always other companies besides Microsoft. What makes Microsoft a monopoly is the way that it can buy and sell practically anybody.

Anybody? Even Nat Friedman, Miguel de Icaza, Stormy Peters. GNOME is NOT on our side, it has not been for ages.

So will Geoffrey Knauth help fight the co-opting of Free Software?

No.

Will the FSF help fight the co-opting of Free Software?

No.

Does the FSF stand for your freedom?

“Why did the FSF sell out rms (and with him, all of us)?”Not really. Anybody can say they stand for your freedom. But when people actually do, you can see what happens — When rms stands up for us even when other sell out, you see what happens. When Assange stands up for a Free Press even when the press itself has sold out (to the costs of hundreds of thousands of lives or more) you see what happens. When Chelsea Manning and Debian/FSFE’s Daniel Pocock stand up, you see what happens–

They get attacked by the very people who benefit from what they do.

But why?

Why did the Guardian and the Intercept sell out Assange (and with him, all of us)?

Why did the FSF sell out rms (and with him, all of us)?

Why did Debian and FSFE sell out Pocock (and with him, all of us)?

Why did the United States government attack Chelsea Manning?

“The Guardian and the Intercept, the FSF and Debian, the FSFE and even the USA have all become ruled by the people with Money — they do NOT care about your freedom. They are doing it for the money.”In all of these instances, there were people speaking up — they were ultimately speaking up FOR US and therefore (very arguably) in a way that should be commended by the so-called Press, the FSF, Debian and the FSFE, as well as the U.S. government.

Why did the opposite happen? The sponsors.

The Guardian and the Intercept, the FSF and Debian, the FSFE and even the USA have all become ruled by the people with Money — they do NOT care about your freedom. They are doing it for the money.

It is this corruption that leads to unnecessary wars for profit, hiring politicians with cushy retirement packages, corrupting so-called not-for-profit organisations by increasing their not-for-profit budget so they can afford more glitz and P.R. bullshit at the expense of their actual mission — which amounts to DEEDS, not P.R.–

The press can be bribed (Techrights has explained this in great detail and continues to show people examples) and every example here of someone being cancelled, persecuted and censored was mostly about Money and Power.

“Corruption like this ruins people’s lives, not only incidentally but deliberately, as good people stand in its way.”For rms it was the companies looking to attack Software Freedom who provided the corrupting influence. For Pocock it was probably Google (he has published details about Google corrupting both Debian and FSFE). For Assange and Manning, we may have to guess? But illegal and unnecessary wars come from those who profit from wars — wealthy dictators and wealthy corporations that make war into a business, rather than about defense.

This corruption has destroyed both the FSF and the country it started in. It has probably destroyed Debian, but I haven’t cared about Debian since 2015 and Daniel Pocock has far more to say about them than I do. It certainly helps explain why Debian got so corrupt that I no longer care — I was a passionate supporter of Debian until about 2015.

Corruption like this ruins people’s lives, not only incidentally but deliberately, as good people stand in its way.

Geoffery Knauth does NOT stand in its way, and that’s just one more reason the FSF will not come back.

But people like rms CREATE things like the FSF. When people eventually figure out that the FSF won’t be saved, they will stop trying to save what has fallen to corruption and instead work to create new things that serve similar purposes.

“I get that not everybody who supports rms supports Assange, not everybody who supports Assange supports Pocock.”After all, rms did NOT try to save the hacker culture as it was — he created something new instead.

One thing that is still worth trying to salvage is the GNU Project, because it would be a setback to lose the true flagship of Free Software (GNU > FSF, really).

The problem is that the GNU Project has also fallen to corruption — people attacked Stallman’s website to try to fake his resignation, they have had ongoing coups (plural) to try to oust him from GNU even after he was ousted from the FSF, and the people trying to do that ARE ABSOLUTELY BULLSHIT. I don’t care if it includes Neil McGovern and the President of the United States — as recent history proves, corruption means any unqualified asshole with the right connections can find a seat of power and authority.

Just like Bill Gates.

If that’s your measure of who to trust, we desperately need a new one.

I get that not everybody who supports rms supports Assange, not everybody who supports Assange supports Pocock.

“So this is less about the victimisation of the people mentioned — and more about the deeds that led bad people to attack them — as well as the corruption necessary for that to take place systematically, and the people who profit from the upheaval and culture of intimidation and control it is designed to create.”I don’t think Pocock is even going to lead anything. Nor likely will Manning.

Rather, all of these are prominent activists, and although they could use more support, they have the support of many of us.

Because when nations and organisations stop caring about freedom, PEOPLE still do. Not always enough people, but it would be terribly unfair to say it was nobody.

You could easily add to this list a certain activist who takes inspiration from Pamela Jones, and they would fit in the picture. But it would be seen as self-serving in an article published here, so it goes without saying.

This is less, I might add, about the victimisation of the people mentioned. Anybody, good or bad, can become a victim. But some people victimise good people to make them look back, while others paint bad people as victims to make them look good. It isn’t proof either way.

So this is less about the victimisation of the people mentioned — and more about the deeds that led bad people to attack them — as well as the corruption necessary for that to take place systematically, and the people who profit from the upheaval and culture of intimidation and control it is designed to create.

“It is worth fighting for the GNU Project, but if we fail then it is worth recreating it as much as possible — whether by moving the pieces into a new project or starting similar projects, or probably both.”There will be more Stallmans, however rare they are at such scale. There will be many more activists, and when they find organic, grassroots ways to work together as true volunteers (not serfs being exploited as cheap labour by corporate sponsors) then they will add up things even greater than we have achieved so far.

It’s probably more a question of whether it’s in the near future or the more distant future.

But there’s very little question as to whether the FSF will truly lead that fight.

It won’t, it can’t — it lost when it gave up on rms (and us). Nobody is going to buy the Guardian and make it what it used to be.

They’ll just start a new publication.

The GNU Project is also a publication, of a sort — it is published, it is available to the public and even under a public license.

It is worth fighting for the GNU Project, but if we fail then it is worth recreating it as much as possible — whether by moving the pieces into a new project or starting similar projects, or probably both. (Note that HOW we do this matters a great deal; if we do it on GitHub or if we make lack as much autonomy — from corporate takeover — as the current GNU Project under the new FSF, it doesn’t really solve anything).

“I think it is FAR more likely, given all that I know and have experienced first-hand, that Pocock is a whistleblower — not the opportunist Debian and FSFE now paint him as.”You can attack rms, you can attack Assange and Manning, you can do the same to Daniel Pock. The accusations against him were so vitriolic, and the claims he made dovetailed so much with what was going on in other situations (like Debian) that I spent literally day after day going over his mailing list and blog, looking for reasons to believe that either he or Debian / FSFE were full of shit. I was as sceptical as I could manage to be.

It’s true that if accurate, Pocock’s claims would support many other things we knew — but if they were not, they wouldn’t help us at all, really. So I tried very, very hard to be impartial. I didn’t just read his work, I pored over it. And I looked for a way it could be untrue.

I have long supported his work, because I believe it is valuable. It’s possible I was mistaken, though I am not the only person vetting his findings — there are people with more experience (and sheer volume of work) doing the same as I did. I think it is FAR more likely, given all that I know and have experienced first-hand, that Pocock is a whistleblower — not the opportunist Debian and FSFE now paint him as.

And that says loads about Debian, not much about Pocock — except that he has fielded all of this abuse, not unlike rms has, to stand for something.

“That makes people like Pocock and Chelsea Manning a different sort of hero — not always leader, just a vital actor.”Not everybody who does this sort of thing will become the sort of leader that rms is. Daniel Pocock may not alone inspire the thousands upon thousands that rms has.

However, this is not just about inspiration — activism is work, it is deeds. It involves making important decisions for yourself, before you can advise other people.

Pocock then, is extremely useful not just for the work that he does, which is extremely valuable — but also as an example of how someone can show us how to stand up to bullies, how to stand up to corruption, how to work for freedom EVEN when the organisations that claim to fight for us are actually failing us.

RMS matters more than the FSF — not because he is rms, but because he created things like the FSF and the GNU Project. Yes, he had loads of help, but it really doesn’t take anything away from that help to say he created both the FSF and the GNU Project.

Most of us will not create either the FSF or a GNU Project, but what we can do is stand up for freedom whether they continue to or not.

That makes people like Pocock and Chelsea Manning a different sort of hero — not always leader, just a vital actor.

But most importantly, a vital actor who (like rms) does not let a corrupt organsition stop them from fighting for freedom.

That’s the sort of hero we need the most of right now. We need leaders too, but even more than we need leaders, we need people who demonstrate integrity, even when it is uncomfortable.

“We need leaders too, but even more than we need leaders, we need people who demonstrate integrity, even when it is uncomfortable.”The FSF can be Safe Space for corporate corruption, while WE stand for our OWN freedom. But it would be nice of course, to have some organisations that stand with us too. The important thing is to not let those organisations push us around, just to please their sponsors.

Sorry, FSF, FSFE — you can’t fight for us AND sell us all out. That one is truly either / or. I just don’t care if Knauth “supports rms”. All the people who betrayed us claim to support us too. All the people handing the entire Free software ecosystem to Microsoft claim to support us.

Thanks, but no thanks. We have these people who still stand for something, who still make certain that the truth makes it from those who censor to a public that has the right to know. And until there are more, they will have to do.

“All the people who betrayed us claim to support us too. All the people handing the entire Free software ecosystem to Microsoft claim to support us.”I’d rather have ordinary people who (still) stand for my freedom, than even the highest-budget organisation in the world pretending to care. That’s something that money just can’t buy.

I’ll put this thought out there, for those who want to be a leader like rms:

Maybe it was inevitable for the FSF to use him the way they did. I’m not saying the other founders were in on it, only that maybe 501(c)3 not-for-profit orgs are simply too weak (by virtue of the rules they must adhere to) to prevent this sort of takeover from ultimately happening.

That doesn’t absolve the people who participated in the ousting, nor is there necessarily a better way on paper (for-profit organisations have mountains of their own problems — and a 501(c)3 is probably better than those are, even if they are eventually doomed to be taken over).

The only real safety the truth has — when you think about it, the truth in time becomes the only safeguard against corruption — is that some people take risks to make it known when everybody else has decided to “play it safe”.

“The only real safety the truth has — when you think about it, the truth in time becomes the only safeguard against corruption — is that some people take risks to make it known when everybody else has decided to “play it safe”.”Free Software revolted against corruption and power, and now some GNU developers and Debian “leaders” act like rms and and Pocock are “revolting” individuals.

But they ARE “revolting” against lies and corruption and treachery — and that’s exactly why they’re of value to us, but not (anymore) to these organisations and backstabbers.

Nice words like the U.S. Constitution (which the Bill of Rights amends and becomes part of), the Debian Social Contract, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights serve a purpose after the organisations and states that “own” them have abandoned them — they provide a measuring stick against which we can compare the corruption and political decay we now face.

“There is no inconsistency — liars continue to lie, money continues to corrupt.”They are the promises that were made, and the promises we can now say were undoubtedly broken. You can’t patch up that kind of betrayal with fancy animations or new t-shirt designs. Debian and FSFE cannot repair that with just words and promises. Neither can the FSF. Those promises have lost their currency and their value — don’t ask us, don’t promise us — SHOW us what your organisations can do.

We know that isn’t much, now that your sponsors have pushed you to attack us — proving to all that they own you.

Your empty promises make no sense at all, FSF. How do you propose to stand for OUR freedom, when you have demonstrably committed to fettering both yourself and the very best of your own people — without so much as a decent explanation, or any sign of remorse?

The FSF on blah blah blah “freedom”: SUPPORT US! HELP us Fight for YOU.

The FSF on its role in stabbing rms AND his supporters in the back: “…”

“And people who actually stand for your freedom continue to suffer, while everybody who plays it safe (only at a cost to the best, as well as the rest of us) gets a fucking promotion.”You stand for nothing. You develop for Microsoft. And you can’t (you won’t!) defend your own founder’s freedom — let alone ours. You work with FSFE, even though they do more to tarnish your image than rms ever did.

There is no inconsistency — liars continue to lie, money continues to corrupt. And people who actually stand for your freedom continue to suffer, while everybody who plays it safe (only at a cost to the best, as well as the rest of us) gets a fucking promotion.

That’s not really fighting for our freedom, though — for that, we still need more Stallmans.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

08.07.20

Our Collective Privacy is Under Unprecedented Attacks and Privacy is Now Conflated With Bad Hygiene, Not Just Criminality

Posted in Action at 12:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Are people who value their privacy a public health hazard? Masks are more effective and they actually enhance privacy.

Pauly's Grandma has the hot fire meme: Trust 'Hey hi' to organise your life; That's my bloody data!

Summary: At warp speed the “War on cash” or “War on anonymous transactions” is moving ahead; now that COVID-19 infects a lot of people we’re led to assume that mass surveillance saves lives not because of counter-terrorism but because of contact-tracing or whatever (in practice it’s hardly effective, but it’s conditioning people to give up any remnants of their privacy)

THE latest article (or two) by figosdev speaks of malicious devices such as listening devices — a subject we’ve long spoken about. People’s privacy is under attack, even more so during ‘COVID-19 era’ with quarantine and lock-downs.

Last week the BBC published “Coronavirus card payments: Bakery manager sacked for accepting cash” (there were follow-up articles like this one). Two days ago I experienced something similarly awful. My wife and I were turned away by two coffee shops (in a row) for insisting on paying with cash (we have cards with us, but can people not have a simple drink anonymously anymore?). They also try to push people to install “apps” (malware), either for tracking or for ordering (or both). I never saw such a thing before. Suddenly… twice in a row, on the same day, 10 minutes apart. Two years ago I heard about a Raspberry Pi shop (down south) bragging about being “cashless”, but not this. Not coffee shops

“They also try to push people to install “apps” (malware), either for tracking or for ordering (or both).”Need I install an “app” (or carry a so-called ‘phone’) just to order a drink? What has society come to?

A manager of another coffee shop (who accepts cash and also uses a plain old calculator for billing, along with pen and paper) later explained to me that those other shops are dishonest; they’re nowadays exploiting the pandemic to save money associated with cash handling while claiming that retaining no cash ‘on site’ would also discourage break-ins. We spoke in length about it and it was very insightful. Don’t fall for the claim that ‘cashless society’ would somehow discourage crime. It harms the homeless who beg for change, it’s really bad for senior citizens, and it harms people who are already poor and marginalised (unable to even open a bank account). This is class warfare.

“It’s about saving money on cash handling.”The idea that cash payments are ‘dirty’ and not acceptable for health reasons is also misunderstood. There is this lie; it’s shaming people who pay with cash while glorifying those who do not as “Smart” (for giving away their identity when they absolutely don’t need to). It’s about getting as much surveillance as they can get. It’s not about health. In many places that now reject cash they give food with their hands, cook the food with their hands etc. The notes and coins are not the biggest risk. It’s about saving money on cash handling. Counting coins, notes and getting armed officers in special vehicles to pick them up isn’t free. It’s also about advertising, e.g. through “apps” that follow one around. It’s supposed to result in brand loyalty while in practice alienating so many. See the reactions in the BBC reports. That’s rather telling…

Once (or if) more shops are pushing against payments with cash they’ll try to force people to use machines and “apps”; they try to get customers to replace tellers/cashiers and then they’ll moan that there are “no jobs left…”

“So-called ‘cashless’ society is not something to strive for; it’s not smart.”This is not about hygiene at all. It’s mostly about outsourcing/offloading the service to the customers. In shops that sell groceries they call it “self service” (checkout done by oneself, probably with a machine that many people’s hands already touched, so out the window goes the tale about “hygiene”).

The most painful thing about what happened two days ago is that even a place that we liked (for years) now refuses to deal with cash. There are no fallbacks offered/available. It used to be a good place to drink or dine, but now they’re rude, they try to get people to use an “app”, and they totally refuse to accept any cash payment (they almost give a dirty stare if you try). They basically discriminate against people; hey, might as well deny disabled people service because that doesn’t suit their business model. Because it is “too much trouble…”

You know something is wrong when all you want to do is order something to drink (like morning tea) and if you don’t have a bank account and carry a card that reveals your ID, then they just simply won’t serve you and then get all smug and rude. So-called ‘cashless’ society is not something to strive for; it’s not smart. Over the years I’ve written endlessly about checkouts with no members of staff (RMS spoke about it even longer than I have), public transport that refuses to deal with cash and now — because of one crisis — they’re introducing another colossal crisis. Those who stand in their way they’re portraying as a risk to public health. The “what have you got to hide?” line is turning into “why are you killing people?”

05.29.20

What Happened to Docker is a Cautionary Tale About the Not-So-New Microsoft

Posted in Action, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Puuure E.E.E.vil

Two Lucifer: New Microsoft

Summary: It’s hardly shocking that Docker collapsed (mass-scale layoffs) after the company had gotten close to Microsoft and got rid of its very own founder (a Red Hat veteran) while the software is being killed off/co-opted by Microsoft (all over the news this week; we’ve omitted links by intention as it’s only puff pieces, no investigative journalism anywhere); we only ask one thing: is anyone paying attention and, if so, what are the lessons learned?

11.29.19

5 Out of 6 EPO Workers Vote for a Strike as Quality (and Validity) of Patents Continues to Fall

Posted in Action, Europe, Patents at 4:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By all means go on strike, as things will only exacerbate otherwise (for all of us)

Graph extrapolated from the EPO
Graph extrapolated from the EPO’s own numbers

Summary: Examiners are being pressured to grant illegal patents (e.g. software patents ‘dressed up’ as “AI” or “hey hi”), leading to erosion of the job’s integrity and damage to the reputation of European Patents

THINGS have not improved at the European Patent Office (EPO) since António Campinos hopped on the saddle and the penthouse of Battistelli. One can argue that things got even worse (compared to 2018) and quality of European Patents is quantifiably and verifiably worse. The EPO sometimes calls software patents just “software patents” (no made-up buzzwords) and gets away with granting these.

“The EPO sometimes calls software patents just “software patents” (no made-up buzzwords) and gets away with granting these.”Will workers be going on strike again? Judging by these results, it’s very much possible. A strike ballot was initially planned in summer, but Campinos managed to buy some time. Well, not anymore. “There was a strike ballot in Munich today,” Märpel wrote on Thursday night, having “learned that 83% of staff voted in favour of the strike. Märpel wonders what is next.”

That’s about 5 out of 6 people, under an intimidating atmosphere, as we noted when the protest/demonstration was covered in the media. As we put it a fortnight ago, “EPO management in Rijswijk tried hard to prevent workers from protesting on their free time (lunch break), reaffirming that same old belief that nothing is changing at the EPO and nothing will change without truly disruptive action…”

Well, disruptive actions may be about to begin. Suffice to say, EPO management won’t say a word about these. It never does. It pretends no issues exist. That’s their “official policy”. Sometimes they drown out the media with puff pieces to dilute the signal with noise, as happened earlier this month (we wrote several articles to highlight this).

“Sometimes they drown out the media with puff pieces to dilute the signal with noise, as happened earlier this month (we wrote several articles to highlight this).”So what does Campinos have to show after nearly 1.5 years at the Office? What has he? What was accomplished?

“Four patent applications are filed worldwide every minute,” the EPO bragged yesterday. As the patent maximalists are so mentally detached, they probably think each of these applications is some major invention rather than a ploy of large companies (evergreening, slight modifications etc.) and it’s interesting to see the EPO so openly bragging about patent applications’ pace rather than merit/quality. “We could write a script to generate more than that on just one computer,” I told them, citing the likes of SCIgen, which isn’t even new.

Benjamin Henrion asked: “How many PPS (Patents Per Second) can it generate to flood the system?”

“EPO brags about 0.07 patent applications per second today,” I replied, and “I assume WIPO considers each of these to be sacred… China already games WIPO with a torrent of low-quality patents and amid decline in numbers (in other countries) Gurry and his criminal colleagues (this is well documented) are happy to accept this gaming…”

“China is perhaps the only large country that formally allows software patenting…”Maybe we can call this “patent doping!”

Henrion took note of this tweet which quotes: “China nominated a candidate to head the WIPO [...] The Chinese bid poses a challenge for the United States, which has been pushing to contain China’s rise as a technological superpower…”

China is perhaps the only large country that formally allows software patenting and Henrion noted that the EPO lies about it, arguing that “Computer programs is the only item of the list that is not clickable, plus spreading lies about business methods and software being patentable in the US” (citing the EPO’s E-courses). There’s a screenshot there. We’ve included it at the bottom, knowing that Twitter plans to eliminate millions of legitimate accounts some time very soon (including dead people’s accounts).

EPO's E-courses

EPO management (the likes of Campinos and Grant PolPott) likes to use buzzwords such as "hey hi" (machine learning) to disguise algorithm as something else, something unique. They also overuse the term because “hey hi” can generate patent applications and maybe granted patents [1] (there’s a tendency to conflate this with something else as the confusion contributes to the agenda of patent maximalists).

In [1] below there’s a new article about it, mentioning the EPO’s overdue decision on the matter.

“If the patent playground is a playground of those who profit from litigation (not actual scientists), whose agenda will be promoted and how will laws be shaped? In whose favour?”It’s no secret that the ‘European’ Patent Office uses such buzzwords and lies to let itself grant illegal software patents in Europe [2] (new article about it, albeit behind paywall) and Karl Barnfather (Withers & Rogers) continues to reaffirm what we’ve long said about media coverage regarding patents. It’s composed directly or indirectly by law/litigation firms, not journalists. It’s quite a crisis.

If the patent playground is a playground of those who profit from litigation (not actual scientists), whose agenda will be promoted and how will laws be shaped? In whose favour?

“Have you seen the new Espacenet? It’s got new features & functions,” the EPO wrote yesterday.

“The discussion forum is a dead zone,” I told them, “so one can guess not many people use Espacenet (why would they? These searches make one liable with treble damages)…”

“Well, “mock oral proceedings” are becoming routine, just like the real thing (where every trial is a mock trial, as justice does not exist).”“Trade marks can add value to #patents and extend protection beyond the life of a patent,” the EPO added. They’re basically marketing EUIPO. Trademarks are symbols and names. So what the EPO says is akin to fusion of totally unrelated laws. In practice many businesses resort to evergreening if they want patent perpetuity.

The EPO then said: “We’re running a seminar where you can take part in mock oral proceedings designed to let you experience a variety of events in real time, in a variety of roles, with the support of a tutor.”

Well, “mock oral proceedings” are becoming routine, just like the real thing (where every trial is a mock trial, as justice does not exist). We’ll say more about it in our next post.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Can artificial intelligence systems patent their inventions?

    Throughout history, innovation has been the result of direct human intervention that creates a technical solution to a practical problem. For hundreds of years, nations around the world have sought to incentivize innovation by giving inventors the right to protect their creations with patents. Recently one legal team has pressured patent offices around the world to answer one question: Can patent protections be extended to inventions developed by technology, not humans?

    Late last autumn, patent applications were filed with the UK Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office on behalf of an artificial intelligence inventor known as “DABUS,” which creates new ideas by altering the interconnections among a set of neural networks in the system. Once those ideas are generated, a second set of neural networks analyzes them to reinforce any that are novel or useful. DABUS is the invention of Dr. Stephen Thaler, President and CEO of the St. Charles, Missouri-based neural networking firm Imagination Engines.

    [...]

    At the origin of the legal team filing the patent applications on DABUS’s behalf is Dr. Malte Köllner, Head of Dennemeyer’s Frankfurt office. He instigated an international attorney team to submit patent applications on behalf of DABUS in Great Brittain, Germany, Europe, Taiwan, Israel and the US, as well as a PCT application. The idea to file patent applications listing an AI inventor was born in the Frankfurt office following a discussion on the topic with patent attorney Markus Rieck and Ryan Abbott, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey. Dr. Köllner said that filing these patent applications was the right way to get patent offices to consider how they will address the growing issue of innovation from AI platforms. “If the court finds some solution, that is fine, but it should not simply ignore the fact that machines are inventing,” Dr. Köllner said. “We are beginning a debate and inviting both patent offices and courts to decide on how to deal with this issue. This is a question whose time has come.”

    [...]

    Over at the EPO, a decision on the fate of the DABUS patent applications is expected on November 25.

    Eventually, patent offices around the world will have to find a solution how to handle this new phenomenon that AI is contributing to inventions. “It is an international discussion, and it will be interesting to see how different countries will come up with different solutions,” Dr. Köllner said.

  2. New European Patent Office guidelines protect AI and machine learning ‘inventions’

    Withers & Rogers Karl Barnfather examines the European Patent Office’s ‘Guidelines for Examination’, which took effect on 1st November

11.05.19

SUEPO Organises Hague Protest — Second EPO Protest in a Fortnight, Targeting the Portuguese Embassy in The Hague

Posted in Action, Europe, Patents at 11:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUEPO Hague Protest

Summary: Second EPO protest in two weeks. Tomorrow it’s the turn of the Dutch branch and the strategy is applying pressure to pertinent governments (seeing that the EU isn't lifting a finger).

THIS was inevitable. António Campinos has been as bad as Battistelli and in some aspects even worse (e.g. staff cuts). So staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) has had enough; the frustration will ‘spill over’ to the streets of The Hague on Thursday.

“The only surprise is that it didn’t happen a lot sooner.”The protest is formally announced here (thanks to pointers from Twitter [1, 2]), not in SUEPO’s main page (“Central”). Here’s the original [PDF] leaflet shown above and our local copy [PDF] of it. European media is not covering this stuff (not anymore). That does not mean that it’s not happening; that also does not mean that EPO management won’t be paying attention. Here’s the text of the leaflet:

The European Patent Office (EPO) is in a deep crisis.

Since the receipt of the first European patent application in June 1978, the EPO has become a leader in the worldwide patent world, and a driving force in European economic integration. Indeed, the European Union has entrusted the EPO with the administration of the European Unitary Patent, once the legislation enters into force. It is the only European Organisation that is not only self-financing, but also generating revenue for the member states.

EPO crisis
However, since 2013 the EPO has been experiencing a prolonged crisis, the worst in its history.

The core of the problem is that decisions are made without proper consultation of all stakeholders, which include staff and their representatives. Worse still, any voice of dissent is actively quashed; there have even been instances of violations of fundamental rights, none of which would have been tolerated by the authorities of the members states or in other European institutions. For years, the members states have turned a blind eye to the abuses.

Then, as of 1 July 2018, the Administrative Council appointed a new President of the EPO, Mr António Campinos (of Portugal), with the explicit task of restoring social dialogue. Sixteen months into his presidency, little has changed. While Mr Campinos has proved more adept than his predecessor at providing fig leaves for his administration, Staff is still subjected to prevarications. As before, Staff is not consulted in any meaningful way in matters directly affecting their working conditions, health and livelihood. As before, Staff is subjected to the abuses of officials appointed by the previous administration, and which Mr Campinos has deliberately chosen to keep in place in spite of their track record.

We, the largest staff union of the EPO, are less than impressed with Mr Campinos’ own track record and choice of collaborators.

We demand that the governments of the Member States take up their responsibility and ensure that the EPO is run according to their mandate.


The European Patent Organisation (EPO) is an intergovernmental organisation created by the European Patent Convention (EPC) signed in 1973. It comprises 38 member states, including Portugal, which sit on the Administrative Council, the supervisory body of the EPO.

The EPO employs about 7000 multilingual, highly educated staff members.

About half of all staff are members of the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO), which represents their collective interests.


Failure to discharge this duty is likely to have deleterious effects on the ability of the EPO to fulfil its tasks, which in turn will likely affect negatively the interests of industry and governments across Europe.

Portugal is the country from which Mr. Campinos comes. As such, Portugal has a particular responsibility in the current situation.

To raise awareness about this, SUEPO

- has already held a demonstration in Munich, on 23 October, and
- will be holding a demonstration in The Hague on 7 November, at 12:00.

Given the special position held by Portugal, we will also march by the Portuguese Embassy in The Hague.

We call on all members states, patent applicants and patent attorneys to give this matter the attention it deserves.

SUEPO Executive Committee, local branch The Hague

The only surprise is that it didn’t happen a lot sooner. SUEPO has, in our assessment, been very courteously patient with Campinos. And Campinos did not actually deserve such patience.

08.29.19

Linux Foundation Swag, Corrected Edition

Posted in Action, GNU/Linux at 12:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As featured this morning

Linux Foundation cases

Summary: Photos from the Linux Foundation event that’s said to have been “crashed” (law-abiding dissent)

CAUGHT UP with these tweets this afternoon. They’re about a week old, but they’re still very much relevant as they explain something we’ve alluded to several times since last week.

Referring to paid tweets from Jono Bacon (whose work is endorsed by Microsoft, the company he endorses for money):

Sooner or later more people will understand what the Linux Foundation really is (it’s not what it claims to be, not anymore).

02.17.19

Techrights’ Priorities Over the Years

Posted in Action, America, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or why we’ve dropped most coverage about US patents and patent cases

Priority

Summary: An old priority of ours, eliminating software patents in the United States, is no longer quite so relevant because such patents are perishing in US courts, with or without outside intervention such as activism

THIS site is turning 13 later this year. It started by focusing on Novell, but then it increasingly focused on Microsoft and GNU/Linux (related to Novell). Around 2010 we turned almost all our attention to software patents — a natural extension of our coverage regarding Novell’s patent deal. The common theme has all along been preserving the freedom of Free software although software patents pose a great threat also to proprietary software developers. So we’re generally for the interests of programmers, no matter if their code is publicly shared or not. Software development oughtn’t necessitate an army of lawyers and should not involve reading hundreds of thousands of patents. It’s beyond impractical and such patents aren’t even necessary, unlike copyright law.

“…we’re generally for the interests of programmers, no matter if their code is publicly shared or not.”Invaluable information about internal European Patent Office (EPO) affairs came through to us in 2014, perhaps based on our track record covering abuses at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and to a lesser degree the EPO (we hadn’t criticised the EPO much before that, except when it came to software patents in Europe). Seeing that António Campinos is not changing anything for the better, and moreover seeing that the SCOTUS precedence (notably Alice) secured 35 U.S.C. § 101 — something that the USPTO cannot change and CAFC as well as ITC must respect — a couple of months ago I decided to mostly drop USPTO coverage, which occupied entire weekends (all my time), turning again to GNU/Linux and Microsoft with the newly-availed time. Seeing that the UPC is rapidly dying (running out of time), several months ago we began also focusing, yet again, on software patents in Europe — a subject increasingly covered by Florian Müller as well. We used to be vocal critics of his writings, but things have changed since. He no longer takes money from Microsoft.

The EFF has, in our view, become somewhat alarmist lately. It says there's a comeback of software patents in the US and belatedly bemoans Iancu (we did so when the warning signs became apparent, based on what he had done and said in prior years). This morning we saw some articles from the patent microcosm (days-old posts) claiming that Iancu tries to pressure courts/judges/politicians to help him bring back software patents, but he lacks the authority to do this. He merely discredits the Office, that’s all. We’re still monitoring the matter and will leap back on the saddle if the danger materialises. It has not happened, at least not yet. Based on the latest figures from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the PTAB-hostile Anticipat (against inter partes reviews (IPRs)), decisions involving 35 U.S.C. § 101 still rise in number. Various tweets from patent maximalists are still obsessing over PTAB overturning examiners’ decisions, usually against software patents and only in rare cases (notable exceptions) the other way around. So there’s definitely no turnaround and the silence in many blogs speaks volumes. Some of them openly express pessimism and defeatism. Let it be so.

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