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Finding Database Software Without Back Doors

Posted in Database, Oracle, Security at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A survey of competition in the area of databases, with emphasis on Free software and on security

ORACLE, far more so than Red Hat, has been in bed with the NSA. Oracle’s very identity (its name) is that of a CIA project — a fact that many people either don’t know or are shocked to discover. Actually, a lot of VC funds for database projects comes from the VC arm of the CIA nowadays. There are decent alternatives to Oracle’s databases, such as PostgreSQL [1], NoSQL [2], various Open Source Database management systems [3], and also GPL-licensed contenders such as RethinkDB, which has just received a lot of funding [4]. Oracle, which grabbed the most popular GPL-licensed database (MySQL), is still facing strong competition [5] and these are just examples from the past month’s news, not going further back than that. Then there’s the market share of Microsoft in database. Microsoft is famously facilitating NSA snooping, so it seems safe to say that using any database from the top proprietary providers (Oracle and Microsoft) is foolish and irresponsible when security and privacy are important. Back doors are now a fact, they are not a speculation. The trust is done.

SkySQL and MariaDB now directly challenge MySQL [6], which Oracle has neglected for the most part since it took over Sun and broke it to bits [7,8]. Oracle’s record when it comes to running big projects is not exactly good anymore [9] (and suffice to say its build/clone of RHEL cannot be trusted), so it seems safe to claims that for security and privacy one should choose the primarily Europe-based — with offices in 10 European countries — SkySQL (or even PostgreSQL), not MySQL. One little cause for concern is that a board member of SkySQL “worked as a management consultant with Indevo AB, At Kearney Inc. and Booz Allen,” according to this page. Booz Allen is the infamous NSA contractor.

It’s interesting that only few people entertain the possibility that there may be NSA back doors in the databases themselves, and given the role that the CIA played (historically and at present) in databases development we should pay close attention to that.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. PostgreSQL 9.1 Advances Open Source Database Innovation
  2. How NoSQL will power the Internet of Things

    Open-source NoSQL databases such as Apache Cassandra are (and will be) key enablers of the Internet of Things.

    This is the view of Jonathan Ellis, CTO at DataStax, a company known for distributing a commercially supported version of the open source Apache Cassandra NoSQL Database Management System.

  3. Open Source Database Management Systems Gaining Traction
  4. RethinkDB grabs $8M to show its stuff against other NoSQL databases

    RethinkDB open-sourced the database under a GNU license in November 2012, and the community is 4,000 developers strong…

  5. Meet the Open Source Trio Primed to Topple Oracle

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of new databases. Several companies are offering relational databases that directly challenge traditional offerings from Oracle — databases that designed to store information in neat rows and columns on a single machine. And thanks to research papers detailing software built by Google and Amazon, we also have a slew of open source NoSQL databases — databases designed to store massive amounts of information across tens of hundreds of machines.

  6. SkySQL goes after Oracle MySQL with enterprise release

    SkySQL, the MariaDB MySQL fork company, isn’t just for open-source database management system (DBMS) experts anymore. With the release of its MariaDB Enterprise product, SkySQL is going straight for Oracle’s MySQL enterprise customers.

  7. The mixed fate of Sun tech under Oracle
  8. James Gosling grades Oracle’s handling of Sun’s technology

    The Java founder assesses how well Oracle has managed the technologies it acquired in the four years since it bought Sun

  9. Oracle’s Oregon Website Failure

    For now, though, Oregon is stuck with a very expensive white elephant and most of its residents will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act until 2015.


Drifting Away From Copyleft in Databases

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Databases which are Free/Open Source software (FOSS) are becoming less liberal/freedom-respecting while deceiving labels hide it

PostgreSQL, which is the principal challenger to Oracle in the enterprise, was never copyleft. Copyleft would need to be something like the GPL, which MySQL became famous and hugely popular for (the de facto database for almost every FOSS CMS). Right now, under Oracle's FOSS-hostile management, MySQL’s FOSS identity is at risk and it can ultimately destroy the project [1,2]. Some large companies already move to MariaDB. Apart from those two databases there are some Microsoft partners [3] pretending to embrace ‘open’ databases and some ‘mixed’ or ‘semi’ FOSS database providers [4]. Facebook, the Microsoft-backed surveillance company, claims to be using ‘open’ databases [5-9] and InfiniSQL, yet another contender, does not even call itself Open Source, just “open-source” [10-12]. There has been a real problem in recent years because in the area of databases many companies pretend to be FOSS but are definitely not. This dilutes the “Open Source” brand and confuses many people. It’s a very limiting and restricting trend. The “Big Data” hype has a lot to do with it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ MySQL users open up on Open Source

    Four out of five developers plan to migrate if MySQL becomes closed source

  2. MySQL needs to retain open source roots to keep developer base, survey shows
  3. Netflix unlocks the potential of AWS through open source

    Netflix has made available as open source many of its internally developed infrastructure management products. These include facilities for automatically scaling a service’s hardware footprint and resources, as well as software for monitoring and maintaining the resiliency of all the supporting infrastructure.

  4. Is NoSQL ready for enterprise primetime?

    There is lots of interest in NoSQL these days — at the very least from venture capital firms that are throwing money at the potential leaders in the market like MongoDB, Couchbase and DataStax.

  5. RocksDB – Facebook’s Database Now Open Source
  6. Facebook goes open source with its embedded data store
  7. Facebook releases open source code for RocksDB flash database
  8. Facebook goes open source with its workhorse embedded data store

    Continuing its practice of sharing internally developed software, Facebook has released as open source RocksDB, the embedded data store the company developed to serve content to its 1.2 billion users.

  9. Facebook’s latest open source effort: a flash-powered database called RocksDB
  10. New open-source database InfiniSQL aims for high performance at scale

    Some investors love backing ideas that could be the next big thing. Consider, for example, the rise of NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, which some market as something that scales easier than traditional relational (SQL) databases.

  11. The “infinitely” scalable InfiniSQL database
  12. An open source, infinitely scalable Relational Database Management System (RDBMS)

    InfiniSQL is a massively scalable relational database system (RDBMS), composed entirely from scratch (not built upon some other technology). There is reproducible benchmark data described on InfiniSQL’s blog proving that it can perform over 500,000 complex, multi-node transactions per second with over 100,000 simultaneous transactions—all on only 12 small server nodes.

To Oracle, ‘Community’ Means Paying Oracle Customers

Posted in Database, GNU/Linux, Oracle, Red Hat, Servers at 9:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Oracle continues to extend only its own distribution of GNU/Linux (which is a ripoff of another), leaving everyone else out in the cold

Oracle, the selfish company run by a selfish man (who has risen to power in part thanks to CIA help), just announced a new clone of Red Hat Linux 6.5 [1,2]. This clone is not free and it’s not about Free/libre software, it is about control (by Oracle). It’s merely a copy of Red Hat Linux 6.5 [3,4] and it has some Oracle-only ‘features’ [5]. Oracle didn’t make these, it bought these from Sun.

This attitude from Oracle is not surprising. Given the way Oracle just slapped OpenOffice.org at Apache (with little or nothing done to help) [6], leaving it for people to take from there [7] and to enhance [8] amid the decline of offline word processors [9], the treatment of GNU/Linux by Oracle is not shocking. Other than btrfs, what has Oracle really done for GNU/Linux? Almost nothing. Even btrfs is hardly promoted by Oracle anymore. Let’s face it. Oracle just does its own thing the proprietary way (trying to keep up with what’s shareable [10] and then adding its own private extensions at the top). To Oracle, Free/libre software is a rival [11] which it is only ever willing to co-opt in order to help sell its expensive proprietary software. When it comes to Free software, Oracle is a user, not a developer. btrfs needed to be licensed like the kernel it targets.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Send in the clones: Oracle, CentOS catch up to Red Hat Linux 6.5
  2. Linux Top 3: RHEL Clones Update as Linux Mint Gets a new Dash of Cinnamon

    This past week marked the final release of Linux Mint 16 codenamed ‘Petra’. So far, Linux Mint has been made available in two officials builds, one with the new Cinammon 2.0 desktop and the other with MATE.

  3. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 ships, but still no RHEL 7 in sight

    Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.5 has reached general availability following a six-week beta period, making it the first minor release of RHEL 6 to ship since version 6.4 in February.

  4. Fact sheet: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5

    The latest iteration of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (6.5) is now available, and it’s a serious contender to usurp all other platforms as king of the enterprise space. This particular release was designed specifically to simplify the operation of mission-critical SAP applications. The new release focuses on key enterprise-specific areas….

  5. Oracle integrates DTrace debugger into its Linux distribution
  6. Apache OpenOffice 4.1 to Bring Enhanced Accessibility Support

    The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce that it has successfully integrated support for the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) and IAccessible2 interfaces. Support for these interfaces enables screen readers and other assistive technologies to work with Apache OpenOffice, which in turn enables greater productivity by OpenOffice users who are blind or who have low-vision.

  7. Stakeholders and Remixes: the other names of true communities

    This year we had a workshop dedicated to LibreOffice migrations inside the 3ctor and I spoke about what was going on in France. I was however reminded of a very important notion during my various conversations with the audience. Free Software licences pass on several rights to the users. But these rights or freedoms, while essential, do not mandate how a Free Software project community should work. If anything, that would be quite out of topic and perhaps going against the very spirit of Software Freedom. Among these freedoms, two are implied that are of particular importance but often overlooked in regard of Free Software development projects: the right to fork and the right -as a user- to leave the software or the vendor/supplier who is providing you support and services on the FOSS stack in question.

  8. LibreOffice now has a built in XML-parser
  9. Word processors are no longer central to the computing experience

    Word processors are no longer central to the computing experience, but there are still good reasons to use them. The question is, how well do the work in today’s computing environment?

  10. Oracle Linux 6.5 and Docker
  11. Devil is in the details of Oracle-to-PostgreSQL migration

    EnterpriseDB execs have moved customers off Oracle, but contracts and app packages can tangle switch to PostgreSQL


Oracle Hates Free/Libre Software

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If an Open Source Product Gets Good Enough, We’ll Simply Take It.”Larry Ellison

Summary: A roundup of news about Oracle, which took and ripped apart many valuable Free/Open Source software (FOSS) projects

MATT ASAY, who sells FOSS databases (a disruptive force), points out [1] that “Oracle Still Hates Open Source Software” because, based on some reports [2,3], The United States’ Department of Defense is being lobbied by Oracle to avoid FOSS. Remember that Oracle has roots and connections with the CIA/NSA. This is an organisational position, not some opinion posted by an employee in some personal blog. Oracle’s current position on patents is also troubling.

As pointed out by some [4], VirtualBox is oddly enough one of the few FOSS projects which Oracle did not shoot in the back [5], maybe because it helps run proprietary operating systems. Most famously, Oracle chose to litigate with software patents over Java and pretty much abandoned OpenOffice.org, passing it to Apache at the end. Microsoft Office is widely loathed by technical people [6], so Oracle missed a real opportunity here. South Tyrol wants to be using ODF/LibreOffice [7] to avoid layoffs (through savings) while LibreOffice conferences [8] and workshops [9] show that despite SUSE stepping out of backing/support for this project (just like Oracle), FOSS is just too hard to kill. Too bad for Larry Ellison, who can’t just buy FOSS out of existence

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. News Flash: Oracle Still Hates Open Source Software

    Oracle wants the U.S. Department of Defense to believe open source costs more and is less reliable. Too bad the DOD knows better.

  2. Oracle tells the military to buy their products instead of using open source

    Oracle has never been shy about promoting its products. The Register is reporting today that Oracle is recommending that the military stay away from open source apps.

  3. Oracle says open source has no place in military apps

    Oracle has popped out a white paper that may well turn some heads, because it contains robust criticism of open source software.

    Titled “The Department of Defense (DoD) and Open Source Software” and available here as a PDF to those with Oracle accounts or here in Dropbox, the document’s premise is that folks in the USA’s Department of Defense (DoD) could think it is possible to save money if they “… avoid buying commercial software products simply by starting with open source software and developing their own applications.”

  4. VirtualBox 4.3 Lets You Run Many Cutting-Edge Platforms at Once

    It’s been interesting to watch which components of Sun Microsystems’ portfolio of products–many of which were open source projects–Oracle has chosen to embrace or abandon since its acquisition of Sun. One project that it hasn’t jettisoned is VirtualBox, which has just arrived in a new version 4.3. The popular hypervisor is now tuned to work with operating systems that have just arrived, including Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X 10.9 ( “Mavericks” ), and it’s also tuned to work smoothly with Linux distros. The new version also supports multi-monitor setups and touch interfaces conventions.

  5. VirtualBox 4.3 comes with New Multi-Touch Support, virtual cam and more

    Oracle announced the release of VirtualBox 4.3, this is a major release that comes with important new features, devices support and improvements

  6. Why Microsoft Word must Die

    I hate Microsoft Word. I want Microsoft Word to die. I hate Microsoft Word with a burning, fiery passion.

  7. Avoiding layoffs motivates South Tyrol province-wide switch
  8. Slides for my talk at LibreOffice conference
  9. LibreOffice Marketing Workshop Milano 2013 – an overview

    This year saw, among other conferences, the second marketing strategy workshop for the LibreOffice project. While a workshop’s slides tend to be rather short and relatively unimportant, I intended to publlish some feedback that’s on the Marketing Pad as well as my own impressions about the state of marketing activities in the project. My slides emphasized what was going wrong more than what was right but it was nonetheless useful to start the workshop on that basis.


Latest Disruptions in Databases Favour Free/Libre Software

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, Oracle at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The statue of liberty

Summary: Oracle/Microsoft domination in databases is eroding as new players that consider themselves to be “open-source” gain traction

Google is phasing out and moving out of MySQL [1,2], dealing a blow to Oracle [3] after Oracle sued Google (over Android). Oracle has had a lot to fear because of Free software. Oracle essentially shares Microsoft’s pain. PostgreSQL, in the mean time, has a new release [4] and MongoDB [5], one of the NoSQL databases [6,7], shows promise. These new trends in the databases market sure work in favour of Free/open source software because the main gainers here are — for the most part — at least partly Free software. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle are poised to lose and Red Hat et al. will gain.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Google quietly dumps Oracle MySQL for MariaDB

    Linux distributors have been moving from Oracle’s MySQL to its popular fork, MariaDB – and now Google is also moving to MariaDB.

  2. Google swaps out MySQL, moves to MariaDB

    ‘They’re moving it all,’ says MariaDB Foundation headman

  3. Oracle Losing Its MySQL Grip to MariaDB

    In 2010, when Oracle took control of Sun Microsystems, they became the minders of a host of open source projects that included OpenSolaris, Java, MySQL and OpenOffice. They’ve since quit developing OpenSolaris, although the project lives on as the forked OpenIndiana project; OpenOffice now belongs to Apache; Java, especially on the browser side, has been beset by a long list of security issues and MySQL has been forked by its creator into MariaDB.

  4. Open Source database PostgreSQL gets a new release

    MySQL, MariaDB and PostgreSQL are three major open source databases which dominate the market. According to Jelastic PostgreSQL is neck to neck with MySQL fork MariaDB and MongoDB.

  5. Create and save data with a MongoDB database

    Forget about joins and SQL and try NoSQL databases – specifically MongoDB, the leading example

  6. Couchbase Brings Open-Source NoSQL Database to the Mobile Form Factor

    NoSQL isn’t just for big servers anymore, as Couchbase Lite brings open-source database technology to the mobile form factor.
    Open-source NoSQL database vendor Couchbase is growing its portfolio from the server to mobile devices with its new Couchbase Lite initiative. Couchbase is also releasing a new server version as well, providing improved security and administration capabilities.

    Couchbase develops and sells an open-source NoSQL database that to date has been a server-deployed product. The Couchbase Lite effort changes that, providing developers with a native small footprint database that can run on either Apple iOS or Google Android mobile operating systems.

  7. Couchbase relaxes NoSQL derrière into mobile seats

    Database startup Couchbase has developed what it believes is the first NoSQL database for mobile devices, but why would anyone want such a thing?


The NSA ‘Violates’ Society Worldwide, But We Need to Fight It, Not Surrender to It

Posted in Database, Deception at 11:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

Summary: A roundup of the latest NSA violations and what they mean to us

GROKLAW wrote a heart-breaking post, but I do not share Pamela’s views when it comes to the response. When anonymous E-mail services decided to shut down it was supposed to protect the services legally and also protect the users’ privacy. With Groklaw it is an inherently different problem, so comparing the shutdowns is impossible. As early as 2006 or 2007 myself and others in Techrights advised Pamela to encrypt her mails (I sent her around 1,000 messages), but she declined. When it comes to setting things up to receive encrypted mail on her Apple Mac, that too was not embraced. So in a way, E-mail privacy cannot be truly blamed; not when you’re refusing to embrace privacy-preserving hooks which are fully facilitated. My wife and I donated to Groklaw some months ago, but this wasn’t enough to keep the site going.

In any event, several months ago (before the NSA leaks) we asked readers if we should increase focus on privacy. Techrights helped defeat Novell, Microsoft is now rather feeble (poor prospects), software patents are not quite spreading as quickly as we feared, and Linux is a victor through Android, with GNU and Free software becoming so commonplace that they are taken for granted and hardly even named anymore (they are definitely more widely used than ever before).

Once in a day or two we will try to summarise the latest NSA abuses, highlighting everything which readers ought to know about the Espionage Department which has bases all around the world, protecting the empire and surveying populations in secrecy (it has to remain secret because it’s illegal, alas with no accountability).

Today’s most troubling story shows that the war on Tor is advancing [1], banning IP masking under some circumstances. The NSA would absolutely love that, criminalising Web use that subverts surveillance.

The second bunch of articles proved that the NSA deliberately broke the law, with impunity of course [2-8]. Obama tried to hide it on their behalf [9-10]. Some “Hope”, eh?

FAIR TV covered some of the latest [11] and we also found the CIA approaching the NSA’s territories [12-13] (remember when IBM helped the Nazis put ‘barcodes’ on people after surveying them?).

The latest revelations are likely to change legal cases [14-15] and some fake “investigations” are being used by government in an attempt to suppress scrutiny from the outside [16-19]. Some ‘investigators’ are from the CIA. That sure inspires confidence. Interestingly enough, the New York Times predicted 3 decades ago that this would happen [20-23]. NSA employees correctly feel like they are above the law [24].

According to Snowden, the ‘Independent‘ is now ‘leaking’ on behalf of Britain’s (NSA’s) GCHQ and the United States, trying to subvert publication by The Guardian [25-29].

Politicians and plutocrats still try to evoke “9/11″ to justify the NSA’s abusive acts [30-31] while Julian Assange deals a blow to the Chairman of Google, Mr. Schmidt [32]. There are a couple more posts that deal with general issues (not news) [33-34] and pro-FOSS sites cover these matters, also addressing no news in particular [35-37].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. US court rules masking IP address to access blocked Website violates law

    But the verdict is probably far narrower in its implications that some believe. Still, it’s a troubling decision about a controversial law.

  2. The Trickle of NSA Revelations Now Includes Intentional Privacy Violations

    The giant jigsaw puzzle that is the NSA-led surveillance state had a few more pieces added on Friday, including the revelation that NSA analysts have intentionally violated privacy protections on multiple occasions.

    Despite repeated and adamant claims from the security agencies and members of Congress that any such violations have been accidental or technical, Bloomberg reports that’s not always the case.

  3. NSA analysts deliberately broke rules to spy on Americans, agency reveals

    US intelligence analysts have deliberately broken rules designed to prevent them from spying on Americans, according to an admission by the National Security Agency that undermines fresh insistences from Barack Obama on Friday that all breaches were inadvertent.

    A report by the NSA’s inspector general is understood to have uncovered a number of examples of analysts choosing to ignore so-called “minimisation procedures” aimed at protecting privacy, according to officials speaking to Bloomberg.

  4. NSA employees spied on their lovers using eavesdropping programme
  5. NSA officers ‘spy on love interests’

    NSA officers have been using agency tools to keep tabs on their partner or spouse for at least the past decade, according to a Wall Street Journal report Friday. The spying isn’t often, but is has been given its own code name, according to the Journal, ‘LOVEINT.’

  6. NSA admits rare willful surveillance violations
  7. NSA analysts ‘wilfully’ skirted policy to spy on Americans, agency admits
  8. NSA Admits: Okay, Okay, There Have Been A Bunch Of Intentional Abuses, Including Spying On Love Interests

    So, this week, we wrote about the NSA quietly admitting that there had been intentional abuses of its surveillance infrastructure, despite earlier claims by NSA boss Keith Alexander and various folks in Congress that there had been absolutely no “intentional” abuses. Late on Friday (of course) the NSA finally put out an official statement admitting to an average of one intentional abuser per year over the past ten years. The AP is reporting that at least one of the abuses involved an NSA employee spying on a former spouse.

  9. NSA report reveals some agents abused power, while Obama says improvements needed
  10. NSA Admits Abusing Spy Powers, Contradicts Obama, NSA Head, Members of Congress

    The National Security Agency (NSA) admitted today that some NSA employees have abused their power to spy on the American people.

    This statement contradicts President Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and National Security Agency head Army General Keith Alexander, who have all denied the NSA has abused its spying powers on Americans.

  11. FAIR TV: Snowden the ‘Spy,’ Stop-and-Frisk Factcheck, Student Loan Rates
  12. CIA Wrestles With Analytics Challenges

    While there is a lot of controversy these days about the amount of data that the National Security Agency and other intelligence groups are collecting, analyzing all that data in ways that make it actionable is still a major challenge, regardless of how omnipotent an organization is perceived to be.

  13. Amazon legal filing flames IBM’s ‘materially deficient’ CIA cloud

    Redacted document reveals seething hatred in spook cloud battle

  14. Ruling Reveals NSA Lies to Courts, Congress About Scope of Surveillance

    In an 85-page ruling handed down by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (commonly known as the FISA court) judge John D. Bates, the NSA was called out “for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year,” the New York Times reported on Thursday.

  15. Latest NSA revelations could help pending lawsuits

    On Wednesday, the Obama administration released three opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

  16. NSA Abuses of Spying Power Probed by U.S. Lawmakers

    The leaders of U.S. congressional intelligence committees said they want to probe the intentional abuses of surveillance authority committed by some National Security Agency analysts in the past decade.


    Most of the cases didn’t involve the communications of Americans, Feinstein said.

  17. Three Illusory “Investigations” of the NSA Spying Are Unable to Succeed

    Since the revelations of confirmed National Security Agency spying in June, three different “investigations” have been announced. One by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), another by the Director of National Intelligence, Gen. James Clapper, and the third by the Senate Intelligence Committee, formally called the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).

  18. White House picks names for NSA review panel, led by former CIA chief

    The White House has named its choices for the NSA review panel, charged with investigating data collection practices in the wake of the Snowden leaks. According to an ABC News report, the panel will be lead by Michael Morell, who served as acting director of the CIA until March of this year. Morell will be joined on the panel by legal scholar Cass Sunstein, State Department veteran Richard Clarke, and privacy advocate Peter Swire. The group plans to file an interim report to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in 60 days, followed by a full report to be filed by the end of the year. As per earlier White House statements, the panel will not officially report to Clapper, but file its findings directly to the president.

  19. Obama Appoints Four White House Insiders To NSA Review Panel

    Two weeks ago today, President Obama proposed a number of reforms to the NSA and FISA court in response to the Snowden leak. The reforms were largely cosmetic changes meant to give the illusion of real change, but there was one proposal that could actually do some good. He proposed the creation of an independent review board that would determine if the NSA ever overstepped its boundaries.

  20. The New York Times Predicted the NSA Scandal 30 Years Ago
  21. This Incredible Last Paragraph From A 1983 New York Times Article Predicted The NSA Scandal
  22. No laws define the limits of NSA’s power – David Burnham, 1983
  23. The silent power of the NSA, circa 1983
  24. NSA admits to some deliberate privacy violations

    Despite characterizations of domestic data-gathering as accidental, the agency says some of its analysts engaged in “willful violations” of legal restrictions.

  25. Exclusive: UK’s secret Mid-East internet surveillance base is revealed in Edward Snowden leaks

    Data-gathering operation is part of a £1bn web project still being assembled by GCHQ

  26. Four ways the Guardian could have protected Snowden – by THE NSA
  27. Edward Snowden: Guardian and Independent Row over NSA and GCHQ Middle East Leaks

    The Guardian and the Independent newspapers are embroiled in a row over the latter’s exclusive story which claims the UK runs a secret internet monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept data on behalf of Britain’s GCHQ and America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

  28. Snowden accuses UK government of leaking documents about itself in smear campaign

    This morning, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden responded, bluntly denying that Snowden had worked with The Independent and suggesting that the UK government intentionally leaked information in a smear campaign. “I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger,” said Snowden in a statement. While Snowden has revealed details of several surveillance programs, he has stopped short of describing anything as concrete as a base location.

  29. NSA leaks reveal UK passes ‘snoop-data’ through secret Middle East station

    London: The leaked NSA documents have brought forth another key element to the US’ mega ‘snoop-op’ suggesting that UK’s spy agency runs a secret internet monitoring station in the Middle East and passes the surveillance data through its channel and shares it with the US.

  30. The Defense of NSA Spying that Wasn’t

    Mueller vaguely cited “various programs,” giving them a retroactive chance of preventing “a part of 9/11.” But even this defense of post-9/11 powers is insufficient.


    That absence of foresight is a twin with retrospective assessments like Mueller’s, which fail to account for the fact that nobody knew ahead of 9/11 what devastation might occur. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, everybody knew what such an attack could cause, and everybody began responding to the problem of terrorism.

    Would Patriot Act programs have prevented at least a part of 9/11? Almost certainly not, given pre-9/11 perceptions that terrorism was at the low end of threats to safety and security. A dozen years since 9/11, terrorism is again at the low end of threats to safety and security because of multiplicitous efforts worldwide and among all segments of society. It is not Patriot Act programs and certainly not mass domestic surveillance that make us safe. Even Mueller didn’t defend NSA spying.

  31. NSA spied on Americans to prevent another 9/11 attack, Bloomberg reports

    About 10 times in the past decade, National Security Agency employees intentionally abused access to the organization’s surveillance systems to spy on Americans, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

  32. Google and the NSA: Who’s holding the ‘shit-bag’ now?

    So just how close is Google to the US securitocracy? Back in 2011 I had a meeting with Eric Schmidt, the then Chairman of Google, who came out to see me with three other people while I was under house arrest. You might suppose that coming to see me was gesture that he and the other big boys at Google were secretly on our side: that they support what we at WikiLeaks are struggling for: justice, government transparency, and privacy for individuals. But that would be a false supposition. Their agenda was much more complex, and as we found out, was inextricable from that of the US State Department. The full transcript of our meeting is available online through the WikiLeaks website.

    The pretext for their visit was that Schmidt was then researching a new book, a banal tome which has since come out as The New Digital Age. My less than enthusiastic review of this book was published in the New York Times in late May of this year. On the back of that book are a series of pre-publication endorsements: Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Michael Hayden (former head of the CIA and NSA) and Tony Blair. Inside the book Henry Kissinger appears once again, this time given pride of place in the acknowledgements.

  33. US publishes revealing review on NSA surveillance

    Surveillance conducted by the NSA under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated ‘the spirit’ of federal law, the ruling found.

  34. This NSA Twitter Parody Account Is Both Hilarious And Upsetting

    When the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence launched its Tumblr account and accompanying Twitter feed two days ago, it was a little hard to believe that transparency initiative would truly shed light on the inner workings of the country’s spy programs. As with many of the recent National Security Agency developments, an online parody was born. And it’s pretty good, if not a bit unsettling.

  35. The End of the Internet…
  36. Paranoia Optimization for Our Modern Times
  37. Groklaw, Domestic Surveillance and the True Measure of Risk


Microsoft + Oracle = NSA Surveillance (e.g. Espionage) on Servers

Posted in Database, Microsoft, Oracle at 8:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Proprietary software giants love to spy


Summary: Proprietary software from the dominant database players (which recently got together) is expected to further violate privacy

After a recent interview with Larry Ellison it is no longer secret or just mere speculation that he is an NSA proponent (Oracle’s founders and the business have a renowned CIA-assisted/subsidised past), but what’s noteworthy is Microsoft’s view, which based on the company’s relationship with the NSA is more than happy and even eager to strengthen the NSA. How would China feel if it knew all those facts*? It is already investigating some US companies like IBM over privacy intrusions and it should know that HP has back doors in its storage servers (caught red handed).

Oracle recently got closer to Microsoft, which helped devour Java and add NSA surveillance to it (on the ‘cloud’). It is being noted by IDG that:

The new Microsoft-Oracle partnership benefits both companies, as Oracle gets access to Azure and Microsoft can finally license Java. Will the deal have any effect on either company’s enterprise customers?

Anyone who runs a program or a GNU/Linux distribution on Microsoft’s ‘cloud’ should expect NSA surveillance. But it’s not like this would bother Larry Ellison. More and more people will, over time, realise that the PATRIOT Act made it risky to host with US companies (or US-made software) anywhere, respective of the datacentre’s location (the Internet is global).
* Having just spent 2 hours at a Chinese superstore, it seems evident that we in the West increasingly come to depend on China for everything, rather than the other way around. The US and UK governments are openly worried right now about dependence on Chinese hardware which could facilitate back doors.


Blackboard Does to Moodle What Oracle Does to MySQL

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, Oracle at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Blackboard logo

Summary: Patent litigation, de-emphasis on freedom etc. now a common trick for dismantling FOSS projects as they emerge

With a licensing fiasco and other scandals abound, MySQL is hardly treated so favourably these days. Oracle‘s megalomaniac CEO (God complex like his best friend Steve Jobs) warned a long time ago that if some FOSS competition gets good enough, then he will just buy it. He bought several such products/projects and also started attacking FOSS in court, using patents of course. Recently he also joined hands with Microsoft. The real contender these days is free/libre software, not any particular brand. Few people will challenge this claim because of Android, Firefox, Apache, the GNU toolchain and so on (Microsoft is already trying to crush or subvert Apache from the inside, making it just another Windows/SQL Server ‘app’). The main point, however, is that one way to challenge FOSS is spurious litigation, potentially SLAPP, and another is buyout. Just look what Microsoft recently did to Barnes and Noble.

“The real contender these days is free/libre software, not any particular brand.”A few days ago we found this article about Microsoft’s friends at the Washington D.C.-based Blackboard, who infiltrated and disrupted the good FOSS project known as Moodle (I installed it on my site and experimented with it earlier this year)

The article asks: “How does one compete against FREE? That’s an interesting question for Blackboard, a company which creates learning management systems (LMS). Blackboard previously engaged in buying up and either dismantling or integrating the competition into its own products–such as Elluminate, Prometheus, or WebCT–but open source alternatives like Moodle and Sakai present a different issue.”

“The main point, however, is that one way to challenge FOSS is spurious litigation, potentially SLAPP, and another is buyout.”This has indeed been disturbing, We wrote about it before.

“In the meantime,” says this article, “officials at Blackboard, Moodlerooms, and NetSpot paint a rosy picture with a “statement of principles” that commit to keeping the OSS development alive. So far, there is no word on what may occur if a value conflict arises between Blackboard and Moodle, and there is no indication if there will ultimately be a split in the development community as happened after Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems forked LibreOffice from OpenOffice. Informed of some pending corporate strategies, Moodle creator Martin Dougiamas shows cautious optimism for positive synergies resulting from more interrelation between Blackboard’s products and the two companies it purchased.”

Blackboard is trying to do here what other proprietary software giants did and it can result in reduced community support for the FOSS side, helping to strengthen a proprietary agenda.

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