Proprietary operating systems are demolished by Snowden’s valuable leaks that exposed and/or confirmed more back doors
Summary: China bans Apple’s operating systems (just like Microsoft’s) while Apple retreats on it litigation strategy from 2010, showing perhaps where Microsoft is heading now that it is suing Samsung (as Apple did some years ago)
Back doors in Windows are nothing new, but the media does not discuss them too often (unlike iOS back doors). Earlier this week, according to this report, “IT security firm Kaspersky Cyber security firm Kaspersky [...] claimed it has detected an old, widely known vulnerability that was used in a cyber attack to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme in some versions of Windows platform across 19 million computers, including in India.”
“Countries that the US does not like would be utterly irresponsible to still deploy and use proprietary software from the United States after all that.”The press seems to have quickly move on, without ever connecting it to material from NSA leaks showing Microsoft complicity with the NSA. Countries that the US does not like would be utterly irresponsible to still deploy and use proprietary software from the United States after all that.
China has already banned Windows and Russia moves away from x86 (hence no Windows). China is now banning Apple operating systems as well. Is Russia next? They’ve asked Apple and SAP for source code, having silently kicked Microsoft out (by moving to ARM).
According to this report from China, Microsoft is asked to obey the law it so often ignores (it is said to be bribing Chinese officials and engaging in other serious crimes). The report says: “Microsoft isn’t exactly welcome in China nowadays. The company and the government have many issues between them. The software company is believed to be guilty of breaching Chinese antitrust rules.
“Microsoft was told not to obstruct the antitrust investigation by Chinese regulators by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).
“Special investigations by the Chinese government are common these days. It seems the SAIC only wants to make sure Microsoft isn’t doing anything that is against the law.”
China seems to be on a mission to isolate itself from the world, at least in terms of technology. After banning Windows 8 on government PCs and raiding several of Microsoft’s offices in China as part of an anti-trust investigation, Chinese officials have now prohibited to purchase of several Apple products for government use.
China will instead use Linux-based platforms. Some are AOSP forks.
We have often written about how software patents feed trolls and tax innovation. We’ve pushed for patent reform in Congress, in the courts, and at the Patent Office. While new legislation has stalled (for now), reformers have won significant victories in the courts. Of these, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank may be the most important. In this case, the court issued a landmark decision cutting back on abstract software patents.
He is explicitly talking out against software patents — something which they have not done in a while at the EFF. Even a Microsoft booster like Bill Snydercould support this with an article titled “The battle against stupid software patents is on”. We will cover patents in more depth in the next post, █
Posted in Apple at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Summary: Net Applications (Apple- and Microsoft-funded) makes a misinformation comeback, Apple retreats from some Samsung litigation battles, and Microsoft dives deep into it
A couple of days ago we noticed that an editor had a headline changed from “Android users MORE ACTIVE than iOS fanbois for the first time” to something else. This report about numbers from “Net Marketshare” (part of Net Applications) coincides with contradictory reports like this from the Gates-friendly press (among others), titled “iOS Users Seven Times More Active Than Android Users, Suggests Net Applications”. These cite Net Applications, which is partly funded by Apple. There are some contradictions and reports about this are generally confusing. It’s not clear what they are measuring and based on past years, Net Applications is mostly a propaganda agent. This Apple-affiliated firm is saying something which makes Apple sounds more favourable than Android (common trick like citing buyer spendings, something about security — not absolute sales — and so on) because Android has the lion’s share of the market and it’s impossible to deny it’s unstoppable growth. Perhaps Apple paid Net Applications some more money to produce propaganda. Their pie charts are widely disgraced and recognised as inaccurate, misleading, and biased by design (improper data).
Anyway, Android is perpetually being smeared by both Apple and Microsoft. Apple had sued Samsung using patents and Samsung recently hit back at Apple using a case against software patents. Apple now retreats. “In a totally unexpected move,” writes SJVN, “Apple and Samsung, who’ve fought patent wars around the globe, agreed to drop all their cases outside of the US.”
Microsoft too had just sued Samsung. This was covered by the Microsoft-friendly press first (including BBC, as we noted the other day) and coverage has thus far been shallow. They just can’t call “racketeering” what clearly is racketeering. It oughtn’t be too shocking, except if one considers how close Microsoft and Samsung have been over the year (including UEFI restricted boot collaborations). “Apparently Secure Boot is blowing up on Windows too,” tells us Ryan in the IRC channels. “People upgrading their graphics card report their computer won’t boot up again until they disable secure boot, restart the system, install the signed drivers for the new card, and then they can turn secure boot back on.”
Maybe they should just stick to Free software, abandoning both Apple and Microsoft. The future is free/libre and no amount of misinformation can successfully deny it anymore. █
Summary: News about raids in Microsoft China mostly lacking when it comes to background, context, and information about Microsoft’s crimes in China
THE WORLD is moving away from Microsoft. It starts with countries like China, which makes its own hardware (as well as much of the world’s), and then there’s Russia, which abandoned x86 (Wintel) and will make its own chips on which only GNU/Linux will neatly fit. We covered all that earlier this year and it’s clearly not just rhetoric; these things are already happening as the wheels are in motion. Microsoft is desperate to keep up with the changes, but Wintel is like an order of magnitude more expensive than Linux with ARM. It’s game over. Android is dominating many areas, along with its derivatives or other Linux-based operating systems.
Not content to blow both feet off with a shotgun, Microsoft is going for the kneecaps now by blackmailing it’s customers. If you are still dumb enough to use Windows, you are about have your wallet shaken down by Microsoft in a familiar yet still unwelcome way.
We don’t feel the need to sugarcoat this much because the company’s behavior is so blatant and uncaring it is almost staggering. Worse yet the victims, that would be almost all Windows users, have only themselves to blame because the pattern has been well laid out for years now. Microsoft has been unapologetically blackmailing users for years, anyone who bought one of their products in the last few years should have known better.
China has an issue like this; even in the UK the NHS has faced similar issues and is constantly being pressured by Microsoft, as we showed some weeks ago. Office (online) and Windows (the platform for Office on the desktop) are both banned by the Chinese government now.
Leading Chinese media, the New York Times (trend-setting in the US) and BBC (trend-setting in the UK) covered this and have ended coverage by now, so we saw no urgency to point out the news immediately (unlike some bloggers), only to add some background information which has been omitted by the media. A year after Microsoft came under investigation in the US (over allegations that had bribed Chinese officials) it got a visit from Feds, so what is the likelihood that these raids are at least partly related to criminal activity? Microsoft bribery in China is nothing new; it’s how Microsoft does business and the investigation dealt with numerous countries in which Microsoft was alleged to have bribed officials. The BBC says:
Microsoft has confirmed that officials from China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce – the body responsible for enforcing business laws – have visited some of its offices.
Microsoft Corp’s biggest reduction in company history could cost China more than 1,000 jobs, analysts warned on Friday.
Apple too is laying off employees, 200 people in fact, so let’s not treat Microsoft alone as the problem. Moreover, based on today’s (and yesterday’s) news [1-7], Russia may be close to banning or kicking out Apple and SAP, due to the fact that their software is secret (proprietary) and thus cannot be trusted. █
Russia has suggested that IT-giants Apple and SAP disclose their source codes to Russian state specialists in order to clear up information security issues after the chain of spy scandals undermined trust in foreign products.
Summary: New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest ‘journalists’
Apple has made many headlines recently because of its back doors and Microsoft has made many headlines recently because of its massive round of layoffs (almost 20% of the staff). Both companies are proprietary software companies and they have a lot in common.
Techrights is disturbed to have found continued distortion of the facts. “Microsoft might finally be committing to open source” is a new article (reprinted here) which says: “Microsoft is known for keeping its programming secrets to itself. But under CEO Satya Nadella, the maker of proprietary behemoths like Windows and Microsoft Office is starting to show up in the world of open-source software, whose code is public for anyone to see, borrow from and tinker with.”
No, this is fiction. This is the fairly recent PR strategy that tries to associate the new CEO with FOSS, even though he continues using patents to attack FOSS and is running blatantly dishonest attack ads against FOSS products, especially Google’s. If Microsoft brings proprietary software to Android, for instance, this has nothing to do with FOSS. Quite the contrary in fact; it is about contaminating FOSS with proprietary spyware. The puff piece continues: “Late last year Microsoft finally made itself an account on Github, now the de-facto platform that software writers use for sharing and working on open-source code. “Microsoft has changed as a company and is becoming more open in the way that we collaborate with others,” the account’s description reads.”
Wow! Microsoft “made itself an account on Github”! Imagine the heroic act! I already have two accounts on Github, one for my job and one for my personal projects. The article goes on and makes all sorts of softball claims, pretending to be giving Microsoft the sceptical treatment.
Here is another silly new article, pretending that a proprietary NSA-accessible platform called Azure has “Open Source Partnerships”. It then cites the Microsoft proxy/mole “Microsoft Open Tech” by saying: “Microsoft Open Tech (MS Open Tech), a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, has added two new partnerships under its belt. Announced during the ongoing O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Oregon, they have teamed up with Packer.io and OpenNebula.”
This proxy has done nothing FOSS-like. It just wants to devour FOSS by putting it under a proprietary platform with surveillance. OSCON and O’Reilly have once again shown themselves to be soft on Microsoft. Based on the amount of press coverage this has received [1, 2], one might say that Tim O’Reilly keeps giving Microsoft an effective propaganda platform. Microsoft has paid him for this, ensuring that a proprietary surveillance platform gets coverage in a supposedly FOSS-centric conference.
But let’s not focus only on Microsoft. Misreporting is often seen when it comes to Apple, the most hyped-up company in the world. It’s all about perception and branding. One author’s bias (he is a “Mac”-branded PC user) can be found in this supposedly FOSS-centric site. He says that “Apple is a beloved company in the open source community,” but based on our experiences, this is patently false. There is other promotional language there, including: “Despite being one of the most well run technology companies ever, Apple has a surprisingly complicated relationship with open source. Ironically, Apple is a beloved company in the open source community, but, now more than ever, it needs to hear the call to become more open. I’ve also always noted here on OStatic that many open source enthusiasts favor the Mac over Windows systems. That’s no surprise. Apple’s culture closely aligns with many open source principles, though its culture certainly isn’t totally open.”
“Apple’s culture closely aligns with many open source principles”?
In what universe?
There are other large companies that try to openwash themselves these days. We recently covered HP’s publicity stunts and here we have another, pretending that defanging one’s software patents is somehow an act of becoming “Open Source” (Tesla uses this type of propaganda).
A man from HP, speaking about OpenStack, says that “just as we indemnified Linux 15 years ago, we are doing exactly the same thing now.” Well, indemnification does not achieve much. Why acquire software patents in the first place? Why has HP been so hostile towards GNU/Linux, including in Munich? Why is HP hiring so many executives from Microsoft? Why is HP lobbying for software patents?
The bottom line is that many companies (if not all) want to be seen as “open”, but most of them are faking it. For the press to play along with their marketing/PR ambitious is worse than irresponsible; it is reckless. █
Now, given the inherent corruption in the USPTO (serving corporations, not public interests) we were not too shocked to see Philip Johnson almost becoming its new head. It’s the outcry from some corporations — not from the public — that must have stopped his appointment. It’s corporations that still call all the shots and some hypothesise that resistance to him came from the technology/high-tech sector as opposed to pharmaceutical giants. They vote with their money in the White House (e.g. withdrawing funds or bribing politicians under the guise of campaign ‘contributions’). Previously, a man from IBM, David Kappos, ran the USPTO and unsurprisingly promoted software patents (IBM lobbies for them even in Europe and New Zealand).
Philip Johnson is Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. He is also a representative member of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, the leading trade group opposing patent reform this past year.
And now he’s rumored to be next in line to be the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
What we need is someone who understands the problems with patent law, especially when it comes to software patents. Some are pointing to the fact that David Kappos, the previous director of the Patent Office, was from the tech industry, so the next one has to come from pharma or biotech. This push does a great job of highlighting the fact that one single patent system shouldn’t apply to technologies as different as pharmaceuticals and software. In any event, the nominee to head the Patent Office shouldn’t be the face of opposition to patent reform that was championed by the White House, passed by a majority of the House, and supported by a considerable proportion of Senators.
Thankfully, as Ars Technica put it, “The White House has reportedly put its chosen nomination for head of the US Patent and Trademark Office on ice.”
The Mukt called Philip Johnson “patent extremist” and added: “The Obama administration was about to repeat the mistake it made by picking Tom Wheeler as the head of FCC. The administration was planning to hand over USPTO to Phil Johnson, a Johnson & Johnson executive who is a strong opponent of any patent reform in the country. Johnson actually played a pivotal role in the death of the patent reform bill this May.”
We still don’t know who will fill the seat formerly occupied by the software patents booster. Just because one patent extremist is not approved by the White House does not mean that a different patent extremist can’t take this place. We need to keep watching and praising/criticising, as appropriate, the decisions made by the White House. Corporations that sank billions of dollars in campaign ‘contributions’ (bribes) have a much louder voice than ours (collectively). They also get privileged access into private meetings in the White House, offering their ‘consultation’ (lobbying). █
Summary: Apple continues to misuse patents as a tool of competitive advantage, relying in part on a biased US corporations-run system (USPTO and ITC) or courts (CAFC)
AS WE SHOWED earlier this month, the US patent office has been exceptionally friendly towards Apple, not the Korean giant, Samsung. The USPTO (and by extension ITC) is one of those pseudo-public institutions that are run by US corporations, not impartial actors. Those are are friendly towards Apple have financial reasons to be like that.
It was very recently reported that Apple patents ideas that relate to stuff which already exists from Samsung but not from Apple. Since the patent system checks what’s already filed rather than what exists in the world/market, this type of abuse is allowed. Apple is basically allowed to patent what the rivals have (and have not patented), then copy the rivals and block their products (e.g. ITC embargo on imports). Watch this ITC war that Apple started. It’s failing badly, but it is still unjust. “Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.,” says this report, “on Friday agreed to drop their appeals of a patent-infringement case at the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that resulted in an import ban on some older model Samsung phones. Samsung has been seeking to overturn the ban, while Apple was trying to revive other patent claims it had lost. The import ban will remain in effect, according to a filing with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Last month both companies blamed each other for their inability to reach a global settlement. Appeals of district court cases between Apple and Samsung are still pending.”
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is a corrupt sham. It should cease to have any impact on law and it is highly predicable (barely surprising) that it let Apple make all this mess. As one respectable site put it, Apple’s patent wars may in fact be “a Marketing Strategy”, pretending that Apple invented everything despite its founder’s admission that it copies a lot from other companies. To quote the analysis: “The latest battle in the three-year long Apple-Samsung patent saga concluded few weeks ago. In contrast to previous litigation between the two tech-giants—which revolved on the overall look of the phones—this case focused around autocomplete, tap-from-search and slide-to-unlock software. Despite the technical nature of these innovations, there are a few broad managerial lessons that have emerged from this prominent patent case.”
Further down it says: “The Apple-Samsung patent war illustrates how patent litigation has impacts that go far beyond stopping a specific firm from copying a particular technology. This narrow view overlooks the effect it has on brands, and on other competitors not named in the suits. In considering their own IP strategy and in responding to litigation, managers can benefit from thinking more broadly about patent wars and recognizing their multiple effects.”
Apple is a shameful embargo company that copies others, then tries to ban them. Apple relies on an inherently corrupt and biased legal system in the US. Those who have not yet chosen to boycott Apple should think about what Apple does to innovation and fair competition. Remember that all those devices that Apple fights against are based on Linux. █
“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
Summary: Apple is reportedly trying to start a new wave of patent attacks on Android/Linux — a plan which failed after misconduct at the legal system had been made publicly known
The USPTO not only lost the ability to protect its reputation; this long-lost reputation or credibility loss is bound to get worse because scope is expanding and the number of approved patents is rising, to the point where almost every application is successful at one point or another (e.g. after resubmission). Recent numbers showed just how bad it was getting all around.
There is a good new article where a conflict of interest has led to a judge stepping down, proving perhaps that in the area of patents we rely on people in gown ideologically deciding on stuff with their dogma and vested interests.
The USPTO’s conflicts of interest (e.g. profit from patents) and conflicts of interest in the courtroom (e.g. Jury moles) may be beneficial to Apple at one stage or another, but if justice prevails one way or another (eventually), then Apple’s war on Android will always fail miserably at the end. █
Summary: Smartphone kill switches, which by definition require remote control of systems, turn out to be Trojan horses that reduce security by facilitating crackers (not just government-sanctioned crackers)
AMID lots of advocacy and inane promotion of kill switches (claiming that they were “against theft”) we repeatedly called them back doors, which is technically what they are.
Now that “Apple”-branded phones get hijacked by crackers we are reminded that these back doors (incorporated by design) are nothing but trouble and for Apple iPhone ‘users’ who don’t know it yet, Snowden released evidence to show that iPhone (more than other phones) has NSA back doors. It’s no coincidence that Obama was barred from using iPhone. Back doors (and so-called “kill switches”) are now being exploited by crackers who try to use ransom for profit. Microsoft’s NSA back doors are equally problematic, but in this post we will focus just on Apple. As iPhones are being “frozen” by crackers demanding ransom we should again ask ourselves, is it really safe to let so-called ‘security’ agencies acquire back doors? Should anyone other than the physical user have access granted to the system and subsystems? These are the questions which motivated the Free Software Foundation to battle against DRM, proprietary software, and for privacy, freedom, etc.
According to the corporate press: “It appears that the hacker [sic] … has managed to exploit the Find My iPhone feature which can track and remotely lock stolen devices. Users have been told to send ransoms of between $50 and $100 Australian dollars (up to £55) to a PayPal account in order to have their devices unlocked.”
Watch CBS (which Apple pays) trying to relay the Apple ‘damage control’. Apple tells users to change passwords as if back doors can be circumvented by choice of passwords. Apple should apologise to (and compensate) users for helping to build back doors that are now falling into the hands of non-government crackers. The kill switch is the ultimate weapon against people whose phones have back doors. It’s not about thieves and security; it’s the ability to destroy/switch off phones at protests and other venues, of course in the interests of “national security”. So much for security, eh? █