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Startpage Has Been Delisted, But it Ought to be Blacklisted

Posted in Deception, Search at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Startpage hypocrisy

Summary: Startpage has just warned its fans (I am a former fan) of what Startpage itself covertly became months back

YOU CAN’T make this stuff up!

More irony?

Startpage tweeted: “What does the internet know about you? Companies are amassing your data — like food orders and Airbnb messages — and selling the analysis to clients. Here’s how to get a copy of what they have on you. cc: @nytimes @kashhill https://nytimes.com/2019/11/04/business/secret-consumer-score-access.html”

Does Startpage try hard to distract from what it did? This is at least the second time in a week!

“I wonder how people can find out what information Startpage’s new owner/investor System1 has on them,” one reader of ours joked, noting that “Startpage is now officially de-listed by http://privacytools.io,” as explained in this blog post by an admin:

We reached out to System1 CEO Ian Weingarten for an explanation. We received a very general response that did not address key questions.

Seemingly prompted by our ongoing concerns, Startpage released a public letter addressed to us from their CEO, and hosted a Q&A on their Subreddit to try and explain the situation. While some of our questions were answered, we noted that the company seemed to be evasive, essentially restating information from a previously published blog post or posting the same response to different questions. People had to really dig to get answers and puzzle all information together, instead of getting a clearly explained and comprehensive answer from the start. Requests for clarification to some important questions went ignored.

Because of the conflicting business model and the unusual way the company reacted, claiming to be fully transparent but being evasive at the same time, we have no choice but to de-list Startpage from our recommendations until it is fully transparent about its new ownership and data processing.

From what we’ve been able to gather, one should assume the worst; their reluctance to clarify means that they prefer uncertainty and confusion over reality itself. Moreover, they’ve already admitted who put the finger in the pie. It’s System1, laughably disguised as ‘Privacy One Group’ and connected to banks.

Facepalm Bear: We sold to a surveillance company because we value your privacy


Microsoft ‘Borrows’ the Linux Brand

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So Microsoft ports some proprietary thing to GNU/Linux. And then you realise it doesn't even run natively on GNU/Linux. But the media will advertise this proprietary thing using the 'Linux' brand.

Summary: With help from the likes of the Linux Foundation Microsoft continues to misuse and ‘dilute’ the Linux brand (and registered trademark)

Meanwhile in California

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 5:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Are you telling me that Microsoft agreed to obey one law and then painted that as Microsoft fighting for privacy?

Summary: News from California is being spun by Microsoft this week, owing to weak journalism that’s more like PR than journalism

Privacy-Centric Services and Even Drupal/Acquia Defect to the Camp of Mass Surveillance

Posted in Deception, Search at 5:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Defective by defection (or when good things suddenly become bad)

Defective traffic light

Summary: In search of money [pun intended] companies and services that are supposed to respect their customers and users turn out to be doing the opposite; this merits research and public discussions

SINCE we started covering the issue of privacy online we’ve received a number of pointers that led to further articles (this page has our most recent search-related posts in Techrights) and hours ago we discussed in our IRC channel Swisscows — a site we hadn’t heard of before (the IRC logs will be published tomorrow). Swisscows appears to have been discussed among privacy-conscious people and we meanwhile study a number of services that were sold (ownership changed) to potentially privacy-violating hands that engage in large-scale surveillance; that’s their business model.

“What does the new owner of Acquia plan for Drupal itself?”Yesterday we also saw this alarming page about the latest Acquia pivot towards surveillance capitalism — the second such move that we saw in recent months. The first move predates Acquia being sold and it’s disturbing because this is the company behind Drupal, which powers many millions of sites and thus impacts what code/extensions they run. I spoke to the founder of Drupal about this. Whether he controls Acquia or not is a matter of debate, but following the passage of ownership (about a month ago, Vista Equity Partners took over the whole thing!) he’s likely just some salaried employee there. If Drupal’s ‘parent’ company has gone rogue, then people deserve to know about it. This company also provides services such as hosting to a lot of companies, including Red Hat (e.g. OpenSource.com). Will it spy on visitors and pass on the data? After the buyout it’s in hands that will likely pursue nothing but ‘monetisation’; it’s the surveillance business. “Acquia Lift,” the text said yesterday, “a key component of the solution and the only personalization tool optimized for Drupal, is now available as a no-code application to help marketers easily optimize customer experiences, the company said.”

This isn’t the first such move and it worries me more to see them going even further in this direction. What does the new owner of Acquia plan for Drupal itself? Myself and others who are vocal privacy proponents confronted Drupal’s founder over it, but it clearly didn’t end there. The company that they’re liaising with writes blog posts such as “How to Legally Spy on Your Website Visitors” and its “Privacy [sic] Policy” looks a lot like that of System1 'apps'.

And speaking of System1, the deeper we look, the more intrigued we become. It’s a massive company, but it is not well known. It probably prefers it that way.

We’ve meanwhile also asked (twice even): Does anyone know how much System1 owns of Startpage? Maybe all of it. Startpage won’t say! They’re totally hiding it!

“Why is it that spying companies pick up everything that’s left without harm and why is it that sales of this kind are allowed?”“Note that Startpage has refused to answer ownership questions and has not been completely transparent in some answers,” a reader told us. “Plus, its somewhat hidden blog post about the sale/investment was rather cagey and could lead people to believe System1 only bought a smidgen of Startpage via the Startpage Holding company. (Because new holding company directors took office in December 2018 who are associated with System1, it’s more likely System1 bought it out completely or bought a majority.) This does not necessarily mean Startpage/System1 is spying on people.”

“Do I trust new owner/investor System1 to champion privacy? No. Not at all. All you have to do is look at the products System1 pimps as privacy and security products. They talk a good game, but the privacy policies tell the story. Plus, System1 is one of the largest pay-per-click companies in the world. Would you trust a pay-per-click behavioral advertising company with your personal information? Hell no! Not without ongoing oversight.”

Why is it that spying companies pick up everything that’s left without harm and why is it that sales of this kind are allowed? Will money/greed corrupt everything?


Microsoft’s Abduction of the Voice of Its Opposition Highlights the Urgency of the Movement/Campaign to Delete GitHub

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Saying that Microsoft speaks for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is like saying that prisons speak for inmates

We speak for FOSS. Because we control proprietary software GitHub.

Summary: Microsoft understands that by entrapping FOSS and GNU/Linux inside proprietary software platforms like GitHub and Azure it can utilise the false perception that it somehow speaks on behalf of both (whilst attacking both)

THE situation we’re in is borderline depressing. I speak every day with fellow writers and some tell me that 2019 was the worst (ever) year for Free software. We don’t need to give a detailed list of all the bad things, do we? Shutdown of publishers is one thing that hurts them very personally, but beyond that look what happened to Mr. Linux and Mr. GNU (Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman). We barely hear them anymore. Instead, as we’ve just mentioned in some older Daily Links, Microsoft employees now speak for Linux Foundation projects. We caught this example yesterday and we were barely shocked, knowing that the Linux Foundation-funded and Microsoft-connected media can barely distinguish anymore. We wish we were kidding, but here’s Dice ignoring all FOSS projects that Microsoft does not control. That was a few days ago.

“…the Linux Foundation is corrupt in the sense that it doesn’t operate according to its mission statement.”In our view, the Linux Foundation is corrupt in the sense that it doesn’t operate according to its mission statement. Far from it. It’s outsourcing almost everything to Microsoft, it is speaking for Microsoft (sometimes Microsoft speaks for the Foundation) and it is worth noting that Foundation-funded and Microsoft-connected sites (e.g. SDxCentral) read from the same script; one might joke that they even have a joint marketing department now. We’re not alone thinking along those lines! More and more people agree with us and even say a rename to “Microsoft Foundation” would be in order. They’re becoming like the same entity. They promote Azure along with Microsoft puff pieces that appear in mainstream media. These are published by Microsoft-connected people (the company has loads of media ‘moles’); almost half the articles they write are Microsoft puff pieces. Linux.com has been turned into something similar.

“More and more people agree with us and even say a rename to “Microsoft Foundation” would be in order. They’re becoming like the same entity.”One might want to interrupt us and say, “BUT THAT’S THE OLD MICROSOFT!! THEY HAVE CHANGED!!!”

Hmmm… no, sorry.

As recently as this year they still leverage bogus software patents (likely invalid due to 35 U.S.C. § 101, but the USPTO grants these anyway) to blackmail OEMs that distribute GNU/Linux. It’s even taking them to court. It’s suing! This year!

Since we’ve just mentioned how Dice is ignoring all FOSS projects that Microsoft does not control, let’s look at how widespread a phenomenon this has become. It’s truly troubling and it’s why days ago we set up a detailed “Delete GitHub” wiki page.

“As recently as this year they still leverage bogus software patents (likely invalid due to 35 U.S.C. § 101, but the USPTO grants these anyway) to blackmail OEMs that distribute GNU/Linux. It’s even taking them to court.”As we mentioned in some older Daily Links, Mac Asay, a Microsoft apologist who had pursued a job there (he admitted this in his personal blog), wants us to think FOSS developers only count or exist if they’re slaves of Microsoft at a proprietary software platform, GitHub [1, 2]. Remember that Asay is the person who initially brought Microsoft to OSI (Groklaw very vocally and vehemently opposed this) and over the past few years he wrote countless articles with headlines like “Microsoft is top Open Source contributor,” always citing only GitHub as a ‘source’ (Microsoft had planned to buy GitHub for almost half a decade and had ‘shelved’ its projects there in preparation). Nowadays, if one checks OSI’s sponsors page one finds Microsoft listed three times — more than any other company. It’s listed several times as “GitHub” as well (and yes, GitHub is proprietary software, so what does that say about OSI’s values?)

As we explained some weeks ago, in response to persistent media lies No, Microsoft is Not an ‘Open Source Company’ But a Lying Company (all the core products are still proprietary software, even GitHub itself — the very ‘asset’ Microsoft keeps bragging about as ‘proof’ that it “loves Open Source”).

“The infamous line, “Microsoft loves Linux,” is generally regarded as a joke among actual users of GNU/Linux.”The irony of all this isn’t entirely lost. FOSS people are generally well educated and they can see past the lies (or “PR”, to put it less bluntly).

The infamous line, “Microsoft loves Linux,” is generally regarded as a joke among actual users of GNU/Linux. They know what Microsoft means by "love" in this context.

But let’s focus for a bit on what Microsoft hopes to accomplish; to put it most concisely, it wants to control its own opposition.

“But let’s focus for a bit on what Microsoft hopes to accomplish; to put it most concisely, it wants to control its own opposition.”Look at what Microsoft, via GitHub, published this past week, both directly and indirectly. Here are Microsoft-friendly publishers ranking programming languages based on Microsoft’s own data. So Microsoft, which bought an almost monopolistic control over narrative of its idealogical counterpart (Free software), now ‘lectures’ us on which languages are ‘cool’ and which ones are not. Sometimes it does the same regarding licences (Microsoft dislikes copyleft and projects that adopt copyleft generally reject Microsoft). In this particular example (among many more), Business Insider Singapore speaks of “The 10 most popular programming languages” and many readers will take that as some sort of ‘bible’, assuming Microsoft now decides in ‘popularity contests’; who appointed Microsoft as ‘judge’? JAXenter also published “Python outranks Java for the first time”

The missing part? Oh, yeah… that’s just based on one Web site/company, Microsoft.

Let’s ask TechJuice what it thinks about “open source projects” in Pakistan; does the author truly believe that Microsoft now speaks for its very opposition, FOSS, because of its FOSS-hostile takeover of proprietary software (GitHub)?

“No GitHub? Then you don’t exist! Some employers actually judge job applicants that way. As we showed in the past, some people cannot attend an event or receive a discount (for attendance) if they don’t have a GitHub account! Being a client of Microsoft is apparently a prerequisite now.”It doesn’t take brilliance to see that GitHub lets Microsoft construct Microsoft-centric propaganda and pressure/force developers to hand over all their code/work to Microsoft (to “count” or become “visible”). No GitHub? Then you don’t exist! Some employers actually judge job applicants that way. As we showed in the past, some people cannot attend an event or receive a discount (for attendance) if they don’t have a GitHub account! Being a client of Microsoft is apparently a prerequisite now.

Let’s look what media in Australia said some days ago [1, 2, 3]. IT Brief and Technology Decisions published a whole bunch of nonsense, such as “Australia is 12th largest open source user outside US” and “Australia 13th largest user of open source in the world Australia is the 13th largest user” (the headlines say nothing about it being limited to Microsoft data).

This is nonsense. It is a lie. It compels us to accept that every FOSS project that is not 100% controlled by Microsoft does not exist and does not count. It’s a real problem! This is what Microsoft paid for. It is all about control.

“It compels us to accept that every FOSS project that is not 100% controlled by Microsoft does not exist and does not count.”Not far from Australia, or over in Singapore, we see similar propaganda. Is Singapore proud to learn that, according to Microsoft, the very opposition of Microsoft grows, but only or mostly on Microsoft’s proprietary digital colony? Because that’s what GitHub is. That’s a landgrab. The aim is to take control of their opposition.

Do these corporate writers realise what they’re doing here? They’re doing PR for Microsoft. Watch the new headline “Helping build secure software is of utmost important to GitHub,” reminding us that TechRadar is not a news site. It’s a click-baiting PR site and now it’s lying for Microsoft which puts back doors in virtually everything it makes (upstream and downstream). Microsoft's GitHub 'values' your security so very much that it didn't help Canonical investigate what had happened with its GitHub hosting. Does Microsoft employ the highest proportion of people who lie for a living? Or Exxon among other oil giants? Close call…

Microsoft now indirectly confirms that its back doors for the NSA are killing people. The pro-Microsoft Analytics India Magazine (lots of GitHub puff pieces there) finds a way to associate Microsoft back doors for NSA (in secret code) with “Open Source”. The headline says “This Open Source ML-Powered Tool Is The Real Deal As Microsoft Confirms BlueKeep Attack”

“Does Microsoft employ the highest proportion of people who lie for a living?”The real news is that back doors of Microsoft are backfiring and it is not Microsoft paying the price for that.

Sadly, as a result of the above, when people search for news about “Open Source” they often receive news from and about Microsoft instead. Surely The INQUIRER realises that GitHub is proprietary software owned and controlled by a proprietary software giant, right? So why publish headlines like these? This is like Exxon speaking ‘for’ climate activists…

And wait. It gets worse.

Days ago we saw — yet again — how Microsoft used so-called ‘Visual Studio Code’ or just “Code” (a component used for openwashing of proprietary software, Visual Studio) to get people entrapped in a proprietary surveillance platform, Azure. Microsoft-connected media published this in several domains with different headlines (e.g. in Business Insider and then in Business Insider Singapore). The headline is so promotional and long: “Here’s why 8.5 million users love Visual Studio Code, the free software that’s helping Microsoft win over programmers in the cloud wars with Amazon…”

Sounds more like a marketing campaign, but this was the actual headline!

“The real news is that back doors of Microsoft are backfiring and it is not Microsoft paying the price for that.”With Microsoft boosters like Bort, Business Insider merely reaffirms its bias here. It has long employed dedicated Microsoft boosters, as does TechCrunch, which published this puff piece about proprietary software, Visual Studio (Linux.com did the same, owing to its editor being a huge fan of Microsoft). The author, Frederic Lardinois, is a Microsoft booster we’ve long taken note of (track record and all; he’s promoting Microsoft’s proprietary software under openwashing veneer all the time). His colleagues are also former Microsoft people. Literally people who came from Microsoft. This kind of bad journalism spreads further into traditionally “Linux-centric” publishers. Yesterday we saw Slashdot ‘advertising’ Microsoft proprietary software under the “Linux” section. Slashdot has not improved under Logan’s leadership. It barely even touches GNU/Linux or “news for geeks”; rebrand to “news for Microsoft” soon? That’s just joining a PR campaign that even some Microsoft-loving ‘FOSS’ sites participate in. Apparently, right now in 2019 “FOSS” means proprietary software from Microsoft.


Some people might actually say that. “MICROSOFT LOVES OPEN SOURCE NOW!”

“Remember that based on internal Microsoft documents the management has long spoken about outsourcing the attack on FOSS to external entities (the likes of SCO).”Oh, does it?

Or does it merely pretend to? While keeping all its own stuff proprietary and merely exploiting some ‘free code’ to make its proprietary stuff?

Remember that based on internal Microsoft documents the management has long spoken about outsourcing the attack on FOSS to external entities (the likes of SCO). We covered this many times in the past.

Oh, look! What have we got here? Days ago the Microsoft-funded tabloid (ZDNet) was used to FUD “Open Source” and discourage people from adopting it (or to instead take back-doored proprietary software like Microsoft’s). This is happening every week. These people also slander Richard Stallman and censor Microsoft-hostile articles (even after they’re published). Generally speaking, ZDNet is not a news source. It is advertising and it is libeling people. The chief editor works closely with Microsoft and its “experts”; they even do podcasts together.

“Microsoft has far too much control these days over the “Open Source” message; it’s like the ‘VIP’ at the OSI, it has the most control at the Linux Foundation (it literally hosts most of the Foundation’s projects!) and even the media narrative is shaped by Microsoft and its proprietary software offspring, GitHub.”This isn’t unique to ZDNet obviously. Another example is the Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS site Security Boulevard, which still reposts anti-FOSS FUD for the Microsoft-connected Black Duck and for WhiteSource (which co-authors papers with Microsoft).

This is the kind of stuff that appears when one looks for “Open Source” news; a lot of it is negative (open source being a security risk, the licences being “viral” and so on). And yes, the ones who are behind these claims work or have worked for Microsoft.

Microsoft has far too much control these days over the “Open Source” message; it’s like the ‘VIP’ at the OSI, it has the most control at the Linux Foundation (it literally hosts most of the Foundation’s projects!) and even the media narrative is shaped by Microsoft and its proprietary software offspring, GitHub.


Think Tanks, Bristows, ‘Simmons’ and ‘Birds’ Can Only Ever Lie to Us About the Dead Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t listen to the likes of Bird & Bird and Simmons & Simmons; they’re the very reason this abomination exists in the first place

A clump of feathersSummary: The UPC is a dead bird, but lobbyists of the litigation giants would have us believe otherwise, in “In-depth Analysis” which is anything but (it’s just propaganda with the veneer of officialism)

THE Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) is doomed. It has been doomed for a while. Nothing has changed. Some words from groups that call themselves “think tanks” have no concrete bearing. It’s just about perception-shaping. PR stunts, to put it bluntly…

“Team UPC’s pleadings border or verge on the comical.”But OK, we get it… Team UPC got a little excited some days ago. Can it use such “think tanks” to bamboozle the general public? Maybe even some high-profile judges in Germany? Maybe politicians across Europe? The opposition to the UPC only grew over time (at least five European governments now oppose it at one level or several levels).

Team UPC’s pleadings border or verge on the comical. They lie so often and so recklessly and when called out on it they run away! Don’t expect them to actually debate their position as they very well know their arguments are weak/invalid.

We’re rather disappointed that someone invited them (Bristows LLP at least) to a pro-FRAND event — an invitation they used for perceived legitimacy by tweeting: “Should component makers receive exhaustive licenses? Pat Treacy joins a panel discussion at @FOSSpatents conference in #Brussels – 12 Nov…”

That’s in a few days. @FOSSpatents retweeted this only because he had been mentioned. I already spoke to him about why inviting these people is bad karma. He pro-actively tried to defend this decision. They’re always lying at IP Kat and they’ve turned that blog into a pro-FRAND, pro-patent trolls farce. Here’s her colleague, Edward Nodder, with the UPC propaganda — the first blog post in a very long time; he is again pushing the malicious UPC, with help from IAM’s parent/patent company.

Bristows amplifies some blog post entitled “European Parliament publishes research paper on how Brexit may affect UPC” and of course Bristows just twists whatever came out of there. It’s a think tank, not the European Parliament, which merely published it. In their words: “The European Parliament (EP) published on 5 November 2019 a research [sic] paper EU Patent and Brexit, an “In-depth Analysis” which considers how Brexit may affect the proposed unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) system. It was requested by the EP’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) and commissioned, overseen and published by the EP’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.”

It’s more JURI than European Parliament per se. “Not very deep,” Benjamin Henrion rightly called it. “They barely scratched the surface.”

It’s short and shallow. “EPO have their lobbyists in Brussels,” Henrion reminded me, so we view this ‘study’ as lobbying disguised as “research”. We have legitimate reasons to view and to treat it that way. Thankfully, some people have already responded to it. Critics find lots of issues.

“JURI outsourced a report on Unitary Patent status,” Henrion wrote, “while they should have looked at the actual constitutional complaints. Parliament said in 2012 “(i) the Contracting Member States can only be Member States of the EU” which solves the UK Brexit question https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2019/596800/IPOL_IDA(2019)596800_EN.pdf …”

Later they get worried about more 'brexits'. Why have they outsourced and to who exactly? Take a wild guess!

In reality, the Parliament needs to arrest people (some of the people in the EPO’s management committed actual crimes), not push illegal treaties.

As Henrion added: “New European Parliament report written for JURI, which does not address any of the legal questions, just trying to push it through. Cost of litigation will be higher for defending SMEs, in an already expensive system #upc https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2019/596800/IPOL_IDA(2019)596800_EN.pdf …”


Even some people in the litigation sector don’t disagree. One of them said [1, 2]: “The problem, and I agree with you on this, is that the UPC might be used by large firms to threat or crush SMEs, regardless of the merits of the case, just playing on the costs. It is a risk. In my opinon the schedule of court fees needs a revision. [...] 1st instance ruling, Italy: average total costs according to my experience 25k-35k / peak 30k-40k. Thus, considering the high court fees of the UPC, the UPC system would be ok only in comparison with the case of multiple litigations in multiple jurisdictions. Otherwise not…”

He spoke to me as well; he’s relatively reasonable and it’s not the first time he admits those things; he doesn’t parrot the general Team UPC ‘bible’…

The UPC is clearly an attack on SMEs, just like the EPO is. At times even Team UPC admitted this (that it had lied about SMEs).

“They need to scrap the whole thing because it was written for, and by, litigation firms and their lobbyists whose largest clients aren’t even European and are monopolists,” I told the person above (not named in respect to him; he might receive flak from Team UPC).

Bristows perhaps decided that the above wasn’t sufficient propaganda for the zombie UPCA. So within hours it also published “Dutch parliament approves amendment of national patent law to implement UPC system” and apparently paid to buy some more audience (almost nobody reads their blog, which is technically broken a lot of the time). “The Netherlands has ratified the UPC Agreement (depositing its instrument of ratification in September 2016),” they admit. So this is hardly news but, as they recently admitted to the Financial Times, an attempt to give an illusion of “progress”.

Typical Bristows!

Later they wonder why they’re being ridiculed. WIPR, boosted by Team UPC and quoting Team UPC (e.g. Simmons & Simmons), soon followed with propaganda in its site and in Twitter. Team UPC then quoted Team UPC from this ‘report’: “Kevin Mooney, partner at Simmons & Simmons in London, said that the UK government’s message on the UPC has been consistent. “I don’t think there are mixed messages at all,” Mooney said.”

Liar! Liar liar!

If one examines actual comments from people who aren’t in Team UPC and haven’t crafted this monster, the lies very soon become evident. But they’re suppressing comments, as we pointed out over the years. They’re rigging the public debate by outright censorship.

WIPR is only quoting Team UPC but not actual people impacted by UPC because this site is trashy propaganda that spikes real journalism! (I’ve heard stories about them)

Team UPC is also linking to Bristows, so it’s basically an echo chamber [1, 2] like this: “The paper „notes that the UK’s ratification of the UPCA [..|] sends a <somewhat mixed message>; eg, the UPCA provides for respect of EU law’s primacy & reference to the CJEU [...], yet the UK has stated that it wishes to leave the EU’s single market and the CJEU’s jurisdiction.“ …”

One prominent proponent of the UPC wrote: “The same reasoning applies to Germany as well. UPC system can be expected to be rather complex and expensive, in particular for SME‘s.”

“SMEs were at no point involved,” I responded to him and Henrion said: “German government and its Ministry of Justice also had to provide a study on the impact of UPC on SMEs. It is still time to request it, on last page: “There is no compliance burden for the economy, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.” https://stjerna.de/files/Unipat_BMJV&GG.pdf” (citing the recent paper from Stjerna).

Another UPC watcher responded: “Are you sure about that, @EP_ThinkTank? If the EPO refuses an application, no european patent is granted, no unitary patent can be born and the UPC has no review power over the EPO refusal.”

There’s a screenshot in there. I reminded him that the EPO breaks its own laws; it would be insane to trust it with courts. “Kluwer Patent blogger” (probably Bristows) then did another propaganda piece that said:

The jurisprudence of the Court of Justice for the European Union is not excluding the possibility to allow a non-EU Member State forming part of the UPCA. This is one of the conclusions in ‘EU Patent and Brexit’, a research paper which was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs and commissioned, overseen and published by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs. The report was published on 5 November 2019.

All the comments refute this piece, which is little but so-called ‘unitary’ (whose?) patent propaganda.

Also, as usual, the signal is only in the comments, not the (likely-by-Bristows) original ‘article’, which would be self-promotional spin that resembles what Bristows’ posts elsewhere. Notice that first comment, which made it past the strict moderation (they often censor UPC critics):

Astonishing! Despite representing by far the most lightweight analysis that I have ever seen of the impact of Brexit upon the UPC, the report is presented as an “in-depth” analysis.

It adds nothing to the discussion to state that “the jurisprudence of the CJEU is not EXPRESSLY excluding the possibility to allow a non-EU Member State forming part of the UPCA”. This merely reflects the fact that the CJEU has never been asked to opine on that point. Therefore, at a very minimum, any serious legal analysis would have gone on to consider whether there are any other reasons (such as the sections of Opinion 1/09 dedicated to discussion of the Principle of Sincere Cooperation) to interpret Opinion 1/09 as IMPLICITLY excluding the participation of a non-EU Member State.

The absence of any such discussion means that a more appropriate description of the report is a representation of currently prevailing POLITICAL (as opposed to legal) views within the European Parliament. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the conclusions in the report will be relied upon by supporters of the UPC as representing some sort of conclusive evidence of the absence of barriers to the UK’s continued participation. Forgive me if I remain unconvinced.

What other comments were posted there and possibly censored? It’s hard for UPC critics to have voice themselves, except perhaps in orphaned “tweets”. The litigation team of Big Pharma (Rose Hughes) posted a loaded and misleading headline (phrased as a question, to which the answer would characteristically be “no”).

So what we have here is an outsourced “European Parliament Think Tank” and the EPO/litigation think tank IP Kat. Team UPC is seemingly everywhere, rigging the debate or pushing to ruin Europe for lawsuit euros and patent trolls. Hughes wrote:

The European Parliament Think Tank has issued a paper on the question of whether the UK can remain a member of the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) in a post-Brexit world. The cautious conclusion of the paper is that “it seems not per se legally impossible that the UK can stay within the UPCA [UPC agreement], even when not an EU Member State”. The problem of the UK’s continued membership of the UPCA arises from the fact that, when the UPC was conceived, nobody envisaged the UK unilaterally deciding to leave the EU.

The EU paper outlines the issues contributing to the uncertain future of the UPC and the potential involvement (or not) of the UK in the UPC project going forward. These include the reluctance of Germany to ratify the agreement before Brexit and the unclear position of the UK Government on whether the UK still wishes to be a member of the UPC (and thereby subject to the jurisdiction of the CJEU).


The UK Government’s position is that the UK wants to “take back control” of its laws by leaving the jurisdiction of the CJEU. However, the UK Government has also ratified the UPC agreement (UPCA). According to the UPCA, the UPC will apply EU law and decisions of the CJEU will be binding on the UPC. Therefore, as things stand, if the UK continues to be a member of the UPC post-Brexit the UK will continue to be under the jurisdiction of the CJEU.

No comments when we first checked. Were some deleted? We’ve already proven that they delete UPC-hostile comments. Got to control the narrative, right? For the “greater good” (of litigation).

Later on two comments showed up; one said: “The paper does not mention that under Art. 1 UPCA only EU member states can be part of the UPC!
Moreover, the paper confuses the origin of the European patents with their validation states: in Italy there are twice more European patents in force than in the Netherlands…”

Another comment said: “The Lexico dictionary gives the following meaning for esoteric: “Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest”. I find it difficult to see how Ms. Hughes’ use of the word can be criticized.”

So comments aren’t buying what Hughes is saying; remember who she works for.

Anyway, not much to see here, except another charm offensive from Team UPC and a think tank grossly overselling a ‘study’.

The EPO’s Management is Trying Really Hard to Distract the Media From EPO Unrest (and It Has Been Partly Successful)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We’ve only seen two media reports and both are in Dutch (which not many people can see and read)

Hague EPO protest

Summary: We take a look at the profoundly bad situation at the EPO (examiners unable to do their job properly because of rogue leadership); we also reexamine how media covered — or rather refused to cover — this urgent issue

OUR previous post ended by citing Léon Dijkman’s question about patent quality with emphasis on the USPTO and EPO (we have more on that in our daily links; other publishers have covered that but they only focused on the US).

When the European Patent Office becomes even worse than the US Patent (and Trademark) Office you know something is amiss. Law firms say that it’s nowadays easier to get software patents in Europe than in the US (after 35 U.S.C. § 101); this was said when Battistelli was in charge and nothing has improved under António Campinos. Examiners are well aware. Examiners complain. They’re rightly concerned about it. The EPO is becoming the patent equivalent of so-called ‘diploma mills’. Those are ticking time bombs.

Some examiners were courageous enough to put their job at risk just so that Dutch (and hopefully international) media will pay attention to EPO affairs. One small publisher covered the protect, as we mentioned two days ago (see protest photo above). Found via SUEPO was also this article from Rijswijks Dagblad. To quote the Dutch text: “Rond de 600 medewerkers van het Europees Octrooi Bureau in Rijswijk hebben bij de Portugese ambassade in Den Haag gedemonstreerd tegen de president van hun werkgever. Dat meldt Omroep West op haar website. De Portugese president António Campinos, wordt verweten dat hij ondanks toezeggingen niet met het personeel in gesprek wilt.”

There will probably be translations available soon.

Almost half of EPO workers (in that site) went to protest against their employer. Brave people! Campinos will hopefully start getting ‘the picture’; the staff doesn’t want him. Soon afterwards came this anonymous blog post about the protest (we can only guess who wrote it because it’s quite detailed and fair). Here are some portions from “Protest in The Hague against deteriorating working conditions at the European Patent Office”:

Back to sad old days at the European Patent Office. Last Thursday, hundreds of EPO staff members protested outside the Portuguese Embassy in The Hague against the lack of justice and deteriorating working conditions at the EPO. They are also concerned about the way the management is pushing for reforms without proper consultation of staff representatives.

It was the first time a protest was held in The Hague under the presidency of EPO president António Campinos, who has the Portuguese nationality. Last month, a demonstration was organized in Munich around the meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee.


Protesters in The Hague told the regional public broadcaster Omroep West that Campinos has failed to restore the social dialogue with staff members. One of them said: ‘This is because the team around the president is still the same. So even with a new president nothing changes.’ He or she only wanted to speak on condition of anonymity with Omroep West: ‘There is a culture of fear at the EPO. Even giving this interview makes me feel uncomfortable. If I am recognized on photos, this will surely have consequences at work. So we don’t want such photos to be published.’

Staff are particularly concerned about plans of the EPO to cut costs which, according to the Office, is inevitable for the long-term financial sustainability. This conclusion is based on the 2019 Financial Study, carried out by Mercer and Oliver Wyman. The aim of the study was ‘to identify to what extent funded and unfunded benefits in 2038 are covered by pension assets or available cash surplus’. The conclusion: the ‘Financial Study 2019 indicates a coverage gap in all but the Optimistic scenario in 2038 (…). As a crucial next step, potential measures should be identified which the EPO management can consider to close the gap and ensure financial sustainability of the Office. Suitable measures are required to reduce the benefit funding gap, increase the available cash surplus or deliver on a combination of both’.


Despite the criticism, the management seems determined to go ahead as planned, and has reportedly found an innovative way to hear what staff members think should be the way ahead. Instead of discussing measures with staff representatives in the CSC or the SUEPO, as would seem the most logical way in this highly complex issue, all staff members have received individual requests to tell the team managers which of the ten proposed measures to cut costs they would prefer. They can file their answers to their managers next week at the latest. It is only after this exercise that four representatives nominated from amongst elected LSC and CSC members are invited to discuss the proposals with four members of the senior management team.

“On board of the Titanic,” the first person to comment, dropped in the following shocking figure:

Just heard that a huge number of newcomers joined the EPO Academy for examiners in October in The Hague: FIVE.

For youngsters working at EPO makes no sense: a repetitive work to be performed under very unhealthy time/production pressure and no attention to quality, a career with no perspective of personal development, under 5 years’ contracts with no guarantee of permanent employment and all this with the risk of being fired within a click of fingers at HR’s discretion: what a surprise that this does not the masses any longer.

Some of the work is being outsourced to private companies. Also, the salaries have become so appalling that one can barely pay the rent with them! We covered one such job in The Netherlands back in autumn.

“SPatel,” the next commenter, said that the European Patent “Office is a monopolist”:

Management has no interest in consulting Staff Representatives.
As SRs work hard to understand the topics thrown at them within the short time given to them (reading the “Financial Study” requires a bit more than a week, understanding it, the methods used, where the numbers came from,… a lotlonger, yet Staff Representatives have done an excellent job in dissecting the “study” within such a short time), but the president wants to confront SR with “faits accomplis”. Budget and Finance Committee has already given the go ahead. The president already started telling staff members that now his hands are bound, as the member states representatives have voted yes on the set of measures. And he wants to divide staff, by telling staff representatives that staff has voted in favour…

There is no gap!

The EPOffice is a monopolist, the “concurrents” mentioned in the financial study as reason why fees cannot be increased cannot issue European Patents, they issue National Patents. To get the same coverage, the fees via the national routes would exceed the route via the EPOffice by far, without any assurance that you would get the same coverage in all of the states you’d actually choose to request a National Patent….

These are the real voices of real people, not corporate media or a bunch of law firms in the EPO’s pockets (or vice versa). There’s lots more of that in IP Kat comments right now. The subject? Patent quality. Seeing how the IP Kat moderators sometimes nuke comments (individual or entire threads) when these comments upset EPO management, we’ve decided to reproduce these and highlight some bits. Some of these comments are posted by attorneys (based on their posting history) and the general consensus is that quality is a real and growing issue. Here’s one comment:

There is no doubt that EPO Examiners are presently under more productivity pressure than 10 years ago, and that has led to increased impatience with applicants, whilst at the same time Boards of appeal are less likely to reconsider the entire case de novo to give the applicant a fair second opportunity. In my experience Examiners are less helpful in explaining what scope of claim could be allowed, and they often adopt quite a negative mindset which is difficult to change. Sometimes it is clear that EPO Examiners are learning the sorts of tricks that opponents use in formulating very imaginative objections. Sometimes I think Examiners see it as some sort of argument, especially when they start refusing to allow amendments or raise entirely new unsearched matter objections for new amendments. That did not happen 10 years ago where things were much more friendly and cooperative, and Examiners did not use their discretion in such a forceful way. I would therefore say that the EPO has become a less friendly and more legalistic. In my experience it rarely grants claims which are too broad, but it does struggle with complicated cases which would require more depth of understanding and necessarily more Examiner time. However I suspect Examiners just don’t have that extra time to give, and so in this respect standards have slipped.

By “Quality, what do you expect” the following comment was posted:

It would be interesting to see how many patents are revoked or severely limited in oppositions before the EPO on the basis of documents which were not found during the initial search. No need to wait to see what happens in national courts. The latency time of those results is much too long.

That some examiners have after 10+ years never or very rarely refused an application does not show that quality is their prime concern. It is easier to grant by closing both eyes than to write a refusal. The points are all what matters!

When the former president boasts about the fact that under his tenure 82% more patents have been granted, and that the present one wants an increase of production of 20% any discussion about quality is quite rhetoric.

Given the time/action which is allowed to examiners, you cannot expect wonders. The new recruitment policy, and the departure at a more and more young age of experienced examiners will certainly not improve quality. But the rules of modern management are merciless, and the pseudo managers of the EPO are proud of their ideas.

The problem is that management dwells in so-called positive user satisfaction surveys, whereas the audit figures tell a different story, see the quality report above. Simply dwelling on past glory is not enough. If in the past, the EPO was renowned for its quality, present management is satisfied if the quality is considered better than that of the USPTO.

And in order to gain support from the AC, the present management gives a quite apocalyptic picture of the financial situation! That the premises underlying the new financial study are anything but reasoned or reasonable is a matter of fact. What do you expect?

MaxDrei (attorney) said, “EPO Quality Managers? Presumably they decree that no patent ever issued by the EPO should ever be revoked by a court, post-issue, for added matter.”

Read the whole thing:

What is “quality” depends on who you ask. Consider, for example, the “quality” of management, within the EPO, of amendments made after filing of a patent application.

An Opponent would say that the EPO is right to be ultra-strict. An Applicant would say that in being so strict, the EPO is wrong.

So what about a “neutral” observer, say, a judge who hears consolidated infringement/validity cases. That judge would presumably say that the EPO is at an optimal level of quality under Art 83, 84 and 123(2) when it accurately mediates between “fair” protection for Applicant and “reasonable” certainty for everybody else.

And EPO Quality Managers? Presumably they decree that no patent ever issued by the EPO should ever be revoked by a court, post-issue, for added matter. Which presumably dictates, in consequence, a FAILURE of quality standards at the EPO, through the loss of any balance between fair protection and reasonable legal certainty.

Or, to put it another way, how can it happen that the established case law of the EPO requires Applicant to prove a negative, and to a “beyond any doubt” level of proof, namely that the requested prosecution amendment does NOT add matter. What sort of “quality” does that case law force?

Derek Freyberg then said the following (highlight) falsehood:

1. In my general experience, both US PTO and EPO examiners are competent, motivated, and helpful.

But the EPO system has a major advantage over the US system when an applicant encounters an intransigent examiner. If the US examiner is a primary examiner, there is essentially no review of that one person’s action short of appeal unless that action is so outrageous that management can be persuaded to intervene. In the EPO, examination is by a three-person panel, so that even if the lead examiner is difficult, his/her colleagues may well keep extremes in check.

Also, it’s possible to compare allowance rates for US examiners, through websites such as BigPatentData (though that is a subscription site) or the now no-longer-updated Examiner Ninja. If you look at a particular art unit (examining area), you may well see allowance rates varying by a factor of two between examiners. This should not be the case – these examiners are, more or less by definition, handling highly similar applications, randomly assigned, and the allowance rates should be similar. The US PTO has been very poor in dealing with this. The EPO examining division system seems to avoid this again by the use of three-examiner panels.

I’d like to see the US PTO make a concerted effort to review examiner statistics and try to “level the playing field” for applicants, so that your chances of allowance are not so dependent on the examiner you get. Three-person panels are almost certainly a non-starter, though.

2. One should use caution when comparing invalidation statistics between the US and Europe (or essentially anywhere else).
In the US courts, patents are statutorily presumed valid and invalidation requires proof of invalidity by the “clear and convincing” standard. CAVEAT: the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in inter partes reexaminations applies the looser preponderance of the evidence standard.
But, as I understand it, almost everywhere else, there is no presumption of validity, and so a patent can be more easily invalidated.
So a higher invalidation rate in Germany, say, than in the US does not to me necessarily imply that EPO patents are getting weaker.

Such EPO apologists quickly received a response: “I do not want to take your illusions away, but the notional three men examining division only exists on the paper.”

This response is a lot better:

Dear Derek,

I do not want to take your illusions away, but the notional three men examining division only exists on the paper. Once the first examiner has signed, and there was no oral proceedings, there is little chance that the second member or the chairman will say anything against the decision taken by the primary examiner. If they would do so, they could be faced by retaliation by the primary examiner in their own cases. It is a sort of equilibrium between the various interests, the prime interest of each and every examiner being that the production targets are achieved.

Under ISO 2000 there has been a procedure called “CASE” in which divergences between the members of the division have to be recorded. There is no surprise that the result of CASE is that nearly 100% of the files are considered showing no defect whatsoever. Some directors/team managers have asked not to reach the level of 100% and to record some divergences, as it is not plausible that there are barely any problems, when the audit shows that conformity has reached a low level of ¾ of the “products”.

The new VP1 is pushing the introduction of a “Collaborative Quality Improvement” scheme, with the aim to force the divisions to discuss and record the discussions between the members of the divisions before granting a patent. As such the aim is to be fostered, but the downside is that the time and efforts spent on those discussions will not be rewarded at all. At the EPO the pilots work always very fine, but after roll-out, reality hits and the results are far from the expectations. This was the case with CASE (sorry for the pun).The “Collaborative Quality Improvement” scheme will be rolled out office wide. The result is foreseeable like for CASE.

In case of oppositions and of oral proceedings in examination, there is a better chance of collaboration between the members of the division. But there is no guarantee. In principle, all members see the annex to the summons, but it is not infrequent, that on the day of the oral proceedings the division has, after careful examination, a different opinion. This is not bad as such, and to be encouraged, but the work should not be done on the day of the oral proceeding, but well in advance. Reward for this preliminary, but important work, nil! This way of doing is legal, but goes to the detriment of the parties.

In the early days of the EPO, the aim was “Applicant friendliness”. With the present production pressure, this aim has become obsolete. What matters now is “Production friendliness” so that the nth plan of the upper management is fulfilled so that they obtain the bonus they think they deserve.

The media in Europe and elsewhere did not mention “Collaborative Quality Improvement”; we were probably the first to write about “Collaborative Quality Improvement”, which is an Orwellian misnomer.

Derek Freyberg also mentioned “invalidation rate” and people were quick to respond; As mentioned in previous articles (based on staff representatives) and in the following comment: “The most compelling evidence is the EPO’s own quality report from 2018.”

The EPO's response was to scuttle those responsible for that. Now read the following comment:

The most compelling evidence is the EPO’s own quality report from 2018. Once you have delved through the extensive timeliness and user satisfaction data you find the following:

Figure 36: Percentage of patent grants found compliant by quality audits (page 41)
2016 – 85.4%
2017 – 84.7%
2018 – 76.6%

This shows that in 2018 there was a startling drop in the quality of patents granted by the EPO. According to the EPO’s own data almost one in four patents that it granted in 2018 were not of suitable quality. That is astounding. The EPO seems almost to gloss over this data despite it being, to my mind, the most important aspect of patent examination. It prefers to focus on customer satisfaction and timeliness as measures of quality.


Notice that massive collapse during Campinos’ first year in Office? On Friday the EPO tweeted: “Some of the initiatives we will be working on in the upcoming years focus on expanding the choices available to applicants when it comes to the timing of the patent grant process.”

As if timeliness is what applicants are after; what good is a patent that’s invalid and bogus? Irrespective of timeliness?

Here’s a new comment from Peter Smith (maybe a fake, generic name):

Bad patents that are wrongly granted always attract the most attention. However, to get a rounded view of the quality of examination, you also need to consider good patent applications that are wrongly refused. I find this is a particular problem in US prosecution, where some intransigent examiners seem to see it as their role to come back with successively less plausible objections until the applicant runs out of patience or money.

One way to iron out individual inconsistencies would be to compare rates of grant / refusal / number of examination reports between different examiners working in the same technical field, if that is not already done.

That would not account for potentially worse applications coming in, conjoined with buzzwords like “hey hi” (AI); the EPO nowadays openly invites and welcomes bad applications. We wrote about that before. The EPO follows the ‘Chinese model’ (check how many patent applications are filed there each year!).

European media should be absolutely ashamed of itself for the way it covers — or does not cover — EPO failures and corruption. I’m through getting upset about it, at least personally, having become accustomed to it by now. It is, to my knowledge or in my mind, a form of complicity. It totally destroyed my perception of media’s ability to hold corrupt officials accountable. They keep telling us how in countries like China the press is controlled by the government or won’t criticise authority. As if here in Europe’s we’re so much better off…

Guess what?

Over the past days we’ve reviewed press coverage very closely. We wanted to see who (if anyone) writes about the above issues and the protest. The findings weren’t out of the ordinary.

Days ago the EPO was retweeting puff pieces from its propaganda partner IAM, spreading lies EPO paid for. “Study released by the @EPOorg sheds light on the growing sophistication of smaller businesses seeking protection for their inventions,” said the tweet. They more or less copy-pasted what the EPO paid for. The truth is that they intentionally harm SMEs, but as recently as Friday (yesterday) we saw “SME” tweets from the EPO along with the #IPforSMEs hashtag. Responding to the EPO’s Friday “SME” tweets, Benjamin Henrion wrote: “When you are hit by a patent troll, investment is threatened, and you face the risk to see your product ban from the market. Your propaganda is always going in the same direction…” (with #IPforSMEs at the end)

The EPO writes those junk #IPforSMEs tweets every day or every other day for at least a year if not a couple of years. The mere volume of this nonsense makes it too overwhelming to confront. The old saying goes, repeat the lie or keep flinging crap at the wall; eventually something might ‘stick’.

The above propaganda from IAM (cited by the EPO itself, having dealt with the EPO, so it’s a back-rubbing exercise) was soon followed by more promotion by IAM’s parent company. These want to broaden this propaganda’s reach and there’s more of the same on the same week. Then, shortly afterwards, World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) again unmasked itself as an EPO mouthpiece, just like IAM. It’s truly ridiculous, but we’ll quote from it in a bit…

They’re taking EPO-sponsored words at face value. It’s grotesque; it is a form of journalistic misconduct and WIPR wasn’t always like that, but staff changed and objectives are restored (the site exists to serve patent maximalists).

Of course, as usual these days, no investigation is needed. No fact-checking. Nothing…

As noted twice on Thursday morning and afternoon, the EPO overwhelmed the media with puff pieces. This, we believe, is how it prevented media from paying enough attention to EPO protests (2 protests in two weeks). 5 press releases were issued in 2 days, resulting in puff pieces from press outlets such as the Khmer Times, copy-pasting the EPO’s text and the photos it supplied. It was hard to find anything about protests. A day after the protest this thing was published (warning: epo.org link). In respect to the dead we won’t name the person, but the EPO is an opportunistic liar, as its managers are claiming to ‘own’ people whom they merely reward (i.e. give EPO money to, for PR stunts!), like a Nobel price winner and now this dead scientist. They actually use an old lady as some kind of trophy! Disgusting! It’s almost like they dance on her grave to say, “look over here! Look away from protests! We own this dead lady because months ago we gave her gifts!”

Now, doing back to WIPR, its piece was terrible for a lot of reasons. It was even worse than IAM’s. It cites Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) — a front group of patent trolls — as a source. That was days after the EPO’s press release entitled “EPO and LESI hold first conference on the importance of IP to high-growth firms”; at the Web Summit Campinos pushed the famous lie; countries that are rich have ‘strong IP’. Reversal of cause and effect? Didn’t bother him to think that maybe countries that are already rich have this ‘IP’ thing. The press release was entitled “EPO underlines importance of IP protection at Web Summit”.

If we set up a thousand law firms in Kenya, would the country suddenly become affluent?

Of course not.

This is all that WIPR had to say about the EPO this week:

European SMEs are reliant on the European patent system and have used it to successfully commercialise two-thirds of their patented inventions, a new report has said.

The report, compiled by the European Patent Office (EPO), was presented to SMEs and tech company representatives at a conference held in Dublin on November 4 and 5.

The conference, organised in conjunction with the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI), focused on the value of IP to high-growth firms.

According to the EPO, it drew 300 “high-level” participants, mostly from tech companies, start-ups, and SMEs.

And that’s it! That’s all WIPR had to say! A megaphone of lies from EPO management and their trolling allies, LESI!

Congrats to SUEPO on managing to get any press coverage at all (even if just in Dutch). The EPO’s budget has clearly been exploited to bribe the media, hire lawyers to bully the media (including myself, several times in fact), and push an agenda explosively detrimental to Europe. We’ll touch on that in our next post.

Startpage Shows Sheer Hypocrisy After Selling Out and Betraying Privacy (Corrected)

Posted in Deception, Search at 2:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Startpage’s tweet of irony

Startpage's tweet irony

Summary: After more than half a decade of using and advocating Startpage I’ve come to realise it’s a spying operation and Startpage hopes nobody will notice

TECHRIGHTS is now older than 13 years; at no point did the site focus on privacy as a topic to cover, except in Daily Links (or sometimes the privacy violations at the European Patent Office (EPO)). But the more we cover it, the more people come forward with pointers, observations and analyses. So deeper we dive! Because a lot of companies out there turn out to have lied all along about their privacy stance. It’s just grotesque.

“I’m finding other privacy-focused companies are being sold/invested in by U.S. companies,” one reader told us, alluding to several recent articles of ours. “This points out why it is so important that we ask companies questions about their ownership and data processing. We cannot simply assume that our favorite privacy services remain unchanged…

“Another favorite of mine, Wire, was reportedly sold this summer — which is strangely curious for reasons I cannot say. I’m looking into it.”

“…the more we cover it, the more people come forward with pointers, observations and analyses.”And now Startpage has the audacity to (re)post the above from this article: “Why did this Chinese company purchase Grindr when they couldn’t expand it to China or get any Chinese benefit from it? Did they really expect to make money, or are they in this for the data?”

Didn’t Startpage do something similar? It went to bed with System1, which is an appalling employer (judging by online reviews by employees) that used to be called something close to what it does: “Brain Juicer.”

They rebranded/renamed to the somewhat generic “System1.”

One what? What system? How vague…

[Correction: A reader has pointed out that there’s “a TOTALLY SEPARATE COMPANY called System 1 Group PLC or something like that — formerly BrainJuicer. I don’t believe it’s related to the U.S. System1. System1 is terminology used in marketing, which is why many companies use the term and why there’s more than one similar name. Here’s more on “types of thinking” that most likely influenced the names of these behavioral ad companies. So System 1 thinking sways us emotionally — which is why so many companies, marketers, advertisers go for that. They don’t want us to think through things logically and take time because it might cause us to make more rational choices — and perhaps not spend $.”]

We believe they’re like a ‘lesser’ Cambridge Analytica and still investigate the matter. They’re selling data and — as we've noted yesterday — they pretend to be a privacy company. That’s the very opposite of what they are, so it’s a good decoy.

“We believe they’re like a ‘lesser’ Cambridge Analytica and still investigate the matter.”Also interesting, according to that above reader, is the way “that Startpage is asking about reasoning behind another company’s investment when it won’t answer questions about the System1 investment in Startpage.”


On goes the reader: “What’s really strange is how many people seemingly aren’t aware of the System1 purchase and the scandal over the mysterious “Privacy One Group Ltd.” I see people visiting the @startpagesearch Twitter feed — people I know who care about privacy and would never use Startpage if they knew Startpage wasn’t answering questions about how much was purchased by a pay-per-click company — retweeting as usual.”

The chief/founder of Startpage attempted to recover from our coverage; but all he had to offer was non-denying waffle; nowhere did he refute what we wrote.

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