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08.22.14

Microsoft is Still Preying on British Taxpayers, Playing Politics

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some news from the UK showing how Microsoft uses politics to extract money out of taxpayers, irrespective of their preferences

AS one who works with the British public sector, I personally happen to know some of Microsoft’s very dirty (if not criminal) tricks. There are all sorts of ways by which one games these systems, especially by “lobbying” (to put it politely) those who make decisions. I have heard stories and also seen incidents, some of which I cannot share publicly. Microsoft simply refuses to play by the rules. To obey the law is some kind of a joke to Microsoft. Tomorrow we will give examples from Chile and Germany, but today we’ll focus on the UK.

Microsoft just loves to exploit British taxpayers. The UK is a relatively rich country that is most notorious for its excessive spendings on public IT. It is no wonder that Microsoft worked so hard to impede ODF adoption in the UK.

Microsoft is now trying to impose its surveillance ‘cloud’ (proprietary software with NSA access) on British transportation. How amazing is that? They label lock-in “modernisation”:

MICROSOFT HAS TEAMED with British internet systems installation company Telent and IT consulting company CGI in a bid to modernise London’s tube network using the Internet of Things (IoT).

Announced in a UK government blog post, the partnership will look to modernise the London Underground monitoring systems, which oversee critical rail assets with data from thousands of devices and sensors, by integrating Microsoft’s Azure Intelligent Systems Services software.

Why does the British government continue to throw away so much money, giving it to foreign companies with such a poor privacy record that they resemble moles with back doors and espionage tendencies? Local SMEs could do far better. This should be causing outrage, but there is apathy.

The NSA’ partner wants to conduct mass surveillance in London’s Tube and technical problems are sure to come. Just see LSE. Look what Microsoft had done to it before it moved to GNU/Linux.

A reader asks: “Is this just a bid or has a contract been signed?”

The article above merely links to a Microsoft marketing-esque blog.

In other news from the UK, some euphemistically-named “Microsoft Ventures” (for “the children” of course, just like the Microsoft- and Bill Gates-bankrolled Intellectual Ventures) is preying on children when not spying on them. Interestingly enough, this was posted under “Politics” by the Microsoft-friendly Condé Nast.

“Microsoft will provide funding, mentorship and workspace through its London startup accelerator, Microsoft Ventures. It will also develop a dedicated open skills badge for iDEA,” says this report. Got that? Open. Yes, lock-in is “open”.

When will Microsoft finally get out of the UK and stop pretending that it helps “the children” and “modernisation”? Lock-in in sheep’s clothing is all it is, and adding insult to injury, this is mass surveillance on British travelers (not a choice) and children who must attend schools.

08.19.14

After Microsoft’s Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich’s lead

IT has been quite a while since we last saw such an ugly propaganda effort by Microsoft. Looking carefully at where the propaganda started or came from, we can be pretty sure that Microsoft’s disgraceful and unethical PR agencies are not passive. They are exploiting non-news and something of little significance to make it sound as though something pretty big is happening. They want the public to believe, yet again, that Munich’s migration (which saved a lot of money and was defended by officials repeatedly) is a failure. Microsoft did this many times before and even tried using bribes, bogus ‘reports’, proxy attacks etc. We covered dozens of examples over the years. Munich is dangerous to Microsoft because it sets an example; it shows how a whole city can completely abandon Microsoft and do a lot better thereafter, not just for privacy/autonomy/security reasons but also for technical reasons, not to mention all the local jobs this creates (economic gain).

Microsoft Peter played a role in the propaganda, as one ought to expect. He did, however, reveal that Microsoft bribery against Munich (just like in Norway) seems likely. Microsoft likes to offer facilities in exchange for political favours. We showed how it was done before in numerous countries which were planning too abandon Microsoft. To quote Microsoft Peter: “Microsoft announced last year that it was moving its German headquarters to Munich. This move is planned to take place in 2016. While Reiter was involved in the deal that precipitated the move and describes himself as a “Microsoft fan,” he says the criticism of LiMux is unrelated.”

Everything is related. People don’t compartmentalise their minds like this.

The above is not news; we saw that almost a month ago and reports (English) about it were numerous. “One single *opinion* is causing all the articles,” a reader told us. It was true back then and it is true this week. We must remember that this is not even a new thing, as the German press covered it almost a month ago and the only new thing is Microsoft’s amplification and distortion of the opinion. The Microsoft propaganda machine kicked off; that’s what’s “news”. As we continued to observe the news over the past 24 hours we found that the propaganda pieces came mostly from Microsoft fan sites, all cheering for Microsoft and inciting against Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux. Microsoft must be very afraid after China and Russia announced their plan to abandon Microsoft, so Microsoft ‘fan’ sites (or veiled marketing sites) do their thing, distort the facts, and then post “corrections” (after pressure from readers perhaps). Here is one Microsoft fan site that corrected its propaganda piece by stating: “While the deputy mayor of Munich seems to suggest in the article that the government will strongly consider a return to Windows, it appears a final decision to move from the Linux OS has not yet been officially determined.”

Exactly, there is no news. There’s just some old opinion of one person. But don’t let facts get in Microsoft’s way. Here is the Microsoft-bribed Ed Bott (one of the worst Microsoft boosters, but one who enjoys a platform of CBS and therefore enters “news” aggregation) disseminating the propaganda to a large audience. He has not even corrected his errors yet. The propaganda remains standing the editors let it be.

For now, we are done collecting examples of this Microsoft propaganda output. It’s not news and it’s not about Munich. A deputy mayor is not Munich and his opinion does not have so much weight. He is not a technical person.

It is rather clear that a lot the propaganda about Munich originally came to the English-speaking press from people like Ed Bott (backed by Microsoft) and brought to wider attention in the CBS propaganda network. Prior to that it was possible to find incorrect reports (probably not bad translations) which dared not say that Microsoft is bribing officials again (Microsoft already tried to pay Munich to abandon its Free software project).

The first article we saw about this (in English) came from Geek.com [1] and cited this article in German. An automated translation states: “End of 2013, the Munich City Council had to switch from Windows to Linux declared to be successfully completed and announced the regular operation of Linux systems to nearly 15,000 jobs.”

OK, so what’s the fuss? The migration is complete, people are generally happy (no nightmare stories in the press), and only shoddy marketing groups like Gartner (which recommends Windows on Microsoft's behalf) continue to badmouth the migration behind closed doors, as we covered numerous years ago. Also behind closed doors, HP attacked Munich’s migration with a report (this was uncovered a couple of years ago), reminding us that HP is only pretending to be competing with Microsoft. As this rebuttal to a piece from the chronically Linux-hostile Verge reminds us, HP too is among the factors antagonising GNU/Linux:

First of all dear, The Verge, it is *not* a Chromebook Killer, because you need to understand what a Chromebook is before calling a low-end laptop with an OS no one wants as a killer laptop.

Now coming back to the news: HP is supposedly working on a low-cost Windows 8.1 laptop which will be sold for $199. It seems like ‘netbook v2′ strategy of Microsoft to hurt Linux. This time it’s not going to happen as we have a heavyweight like Google and not smaller Canonical.

I already regret buying an HP mouse yesterday afternoon. Recalling how HP tried to derail Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux (secretly) should be another reminder of the many US-based forces aligned to destroy an escape from Microsoft, the NSA, the back doors, and PRISM. Munich would have to be insane to go back to Microsoft knowing everything it knows about Microsoft and the NSA, as well as the NSA’a attacks on Germany (espionage).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. 10 years later, Munich may dump Linux for Windows

    A few years ago, Linux sites were buzzing that the city of Munich, Germany was going to kick Windows to the curb and roll out a Linux-based OS on all their government desktops. […]

Update: Munich has fired back at what it claims to be false reports:

Munich city council demonstrated to the world that an organisation employing thousands could ditch Windows and move to Linux and free software.

When the project finished late last year about 15,000 staff at the German authority had been migrated to using Limux, a custom-version of Ubuntu, and OpenOffice.

But is the council’s move to open source about to be scrapped in favour or returning to Microsoft?

No says the council, in spite of numerous reports to the contrary. Suggestions the council has decided to back away from Linux are wrong, according to council spokesman Stefan Hauf.

He said the council’s recently elected mayor Dieter Reiter has instead simply commissioned a report into the future IT system for the council.

“The new mayor has asked the administration to gather the facts so we can decide and make a proposal for the city council how to proceed in future,” he said.

“Not only for Limux but for all of IT. It’s about the organisation, the costs, performance and the useability and satisfaction of the users.”

The study, being conducted by internal IT staff at the council, will consider which operating systems and software packages – both proprietary and open source – would best satisfy this criteria. The study is not, as has been reported, solely focused around the question of whether to drop Limux and move back to Windows, he said.

08.11.14

Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents, Site News at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EU too is besieged by corporations

EU

Summary: A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens’ interests

Some well-meaning people still focus on patent trolls, not on software patents. The world’s largest corporations engage in a coup or an occupation against policy-makers and it shows. This includes some who purport to be supporting FOSS, fair competition, etc. Melanie Chernoff, the Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, says that “North Carolina says ‘no’ to patent trolls”. To quote the article published this afternoon:

North Carolina became the latest state to take a stand against patent trolls when NC Governor Pat McCrory signed a new law last week aimed at preventing bad faith assertions of patent infringement. Patent trolls (more officially called “patent assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities”) are known for sending very vague letters, with often meritless claims, to other businesses in the hopes of extorting a settlement to avoid the nuisance of a lawsuit.

But this is not the thing to strive for. The real (core) issue is patent scope and even those who spend all their time diverting attention and/or arguing about “trolls” (front groups CCIA with its lawyers who are funded by giant corporations) increasingly — however rarely — recognise the issue of scope while still trying to shift attention to “trolls”.

The other day The Economist, widely recognised for its pro-Big Business agenda, published this article titled “Patents that kill”. To quote some of the relevant parts:

IN 1742 Benjamin Franklin invented a new type of stove, for which he was offered a patent. Franklin refused it, arguing in his autobiography that because “we enjoy[ed] great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.”

[...]

The pharmaceutical industry makes the best case for patents (and makes the most of patents when they are approved). Medical research and development (R&D) is costly. Moreover, although a patent application must be filed straight after a drug discovery, clinical trials necessary for drug approval may take several years. This shortens the effective life of the patent. As three economists argue in a recent paper this causes problems. In order to prove the efficacy of a drug, pharmaceuticals have to match the length of a clinical trial to the expected survival time of the patients. A clinical trial for patients with metastatic prostate cancer lasts only three years compared to an 18-year-long trial for those suffering from a milder, localised prostate cancer. Since a typical patent is in force for 20 years, firms only have two years of effective patent length left to commercialise a new drug against localised prostate cancer.

Here we deal with an issue that has nothing to do with patent trolls but with patent scope.

Dealing with the issue of European approach towards software patents, Glyn Moody put the words of some British patent lawyers in a frame of mind that assures us Europe is assimilating to the US (and USPTO), not the other way around. To quote Glyn Moody: “It would be easy to assume that the European Patent Office (EPO) stands in the same relationship to the European Union as the USPTO does to the United States, but that’s actually wide of the mark.”

There is corporate control of the USPTO, which is operating against the interests of US citizens (except the top 1% perhaps). The lawyers’ blog has apparently produced “a great piece, but its gentle humor exposes a serious point about the EPO: it is literally above the law.

“That emphasizes once more that the unitary patent system has been decoupled from the normal legislative and democratic processes of the European Union, and thus will be under no obligation to take heed of the economic interests of the European citizens.”

We are soon going expose corruption at the EPO, based leaks from a source which is pursuing encryption at the moment.

Moody continues: “There is no precedent in the political history of modern democracies where important property issues affecting the economic sustainability and development of a country, and the proprietary rights and business prospects of its people, were conclusively and exclusively taken by a judicial body at supranational level. A democratic policy-making process for the determination of patents as objects of property exists, of course, in all countries of the world, including the US, whose system the UPC tries to imitate. The difference is that the US unified patent system does not escape democratic control, and the economic policies that it serves are widely debated by legislators, judges, economists, lawyers and industry players, all of whom are residents of the same country.”

Finally, says Moody: “It’s still early days for the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, so it’s not yet clear how the new system will work, and how serious the problems will be. The danger is that Eponia might turn out to be not so much a quaint oddity in the European political landscape as a dangerous rogue state with serious negative consequences for the region’s businesses and citizens.”

The system is out of control at the moment. It gets worse as patents expand in terms of scope (especially in Europe but also in other continent) while the US merely makes baby-steps in the opposite direction, while much of the effort is being diverted towards “trolls” (small abusers), of course at the behest of large corporations, as usual in US politics as per the modus operandi.

07.16.14

Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keys

Summary: Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests

Several nations have already moved away from Microsoft or expressed intent to do so within months if not years. It is not just China anymore but also Russia and amid a spying scandal in Germany it makes sense for Germany to do the same along with much of Europe, for reasons we explained some days ago. Nobody can trust a backstabbing ‘ally’ and companies which facilitate surveillance at its behalf (Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle and so on).

Vista 8 is a banned by the Chinese government and this new article reminds us that “The German government has always been militant in matters of data protection. In 2013, it warned consumers against using Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system due to perceived security risks, suggesting that it provided a back door for the US National Security Agency (NSA).”

Microsoft’s very special relationship with the NSA has cost a lot and layoff are coming to Microsoft (more on that in our next post). Now that the British government tries to get away from Microsoft there is lobbying going on and the government tries to hide it. “in March,” wrote Glyn Moody, “I asked about industry lobbying against ODF in UK. I’ve heard nothing, now asked for formal review FOI”.

Moody’s request to Cabinet Office was covered here before (Moody must have learned from experience) and the latest can be found here:

Dear Cabinet Office,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

I am writing to request formally an internal review of Cabinet
Office’s handling of my FOI request ‘Open document formats’.

The response to my request is long overdue; by law, under all
circumstances, the authority should have responded by now. No
official explanation has been offered for this delay.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o…

Thank you for your help.

Yours faithfully,

Glyn Moody

Why do UK authorities cover up Microsoft lobbying against standards? I warned their staff about such lobbying months ago.

As Moody later pointed out, “my FOI request is nearly 4 months old now…”

How obscene is that? He even wrote a whole new article about it, stating:

So GCHQ is able to to search through the UK’s entire Internet stream to find all the vaguely bad things there, but the Cabinet Office is unable to locate a few specific emails on its own servers.

Moody also says “they send PDFs that are *scans* of documents – I had to re-type the excerpts in my post…”

The CIA famously uses this tactic to discourage publication and other forms of dissemination. They’re embarrassed, they have something to hide.

07.13.14

Cronyism at Play: European Hostility Towards Free/Libre Software Despite Espionage and Moles

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Europe continues to be held hostage with back doors, lock-in, and massive payments to foreign powers, despite evidence that these powers are destructive and hostile

EUROPE has an odd relationship with foreign powers in north America or with corporations that are based there and subsidise the politicians. Rather than seek autonomy, there seems to be a collusion which, among some things, leads to back doors in computer systems in France, Britain, and Ireland (to name just a few examples from western Europe). These back doors are controlled by and made accessible to the United States. This is an absurd situation which we wrote about several times in past years. There is no real sovereignty, not in the digital sense anyway. Only Free software with local companies to maintain and support it can ever guarantee self determination, which is why Europe should really have moved to Free software (entirely) a long time ago.

According to this article, the proprietary software lobby is trying to pressure Cabinet Office to get off its current course, which includes promotion of standards such as ODF. Cabinet Office has been the target of lobbying, usually behind the scenes. Here is Maude’s response to this lobby:

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has hit back at claims that Cabinet Office policy was responsible for recent IT problems at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Now watch what Maxwell says: “Government CTO Liam Maxwell agreed that poor procurement practices were at the root of the problems in BIS and DECC.

“Speaking to ComputerworldUK, Maxwell said: “The procurement was not done properly.”

Misplaced accusations are being used to discredit Cabinet Office, insinuating bad conduct. Shame tactics are turning technical considerations into politics.

Dr. Moody, who is still waiting for Cabinet Office to obey his FOIA request about the lobbying, argued the other day that the EU has an “Anti-Open Source Approach to Procurement”. This might actually go further up (higher level). The FSFE says that “The European Commission has recently renewed its commitment to a proprietary desktop and secret file formats. The Commission is refusing to get serious about breaking free from vendor lock-in, and is ignoring all available alternatives. In doing so, the EU’s civil service fails to practice what it preaches.”

Or as Moody put it:

In recent posts, I’ve looked at the increasing use of open source software by governments in countries as diverse as China, Russia, India and Germany. Here I want to contrast those moves with the continuing failure of the European Commission to embrace free software – with huge costs for European citizens as a result, to say nothing of lost sovereignty.

Now that Germany finds moles inside its government departments [1-47] (some sources say there might be a dozen) it is probably time for Europe to actually foster an industry based around Free software. China is close to banning Apple (not just Microsoft) products [48-62] and is now blocking parts of Facebook [63] as part of its extensive censorship policy [64], citing national security-related reasons.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. US agent arrest reveals gap between Obama and secret service

    The arrest of at least one American agent infiltrated the secret services in Germany, one of the closest allies of the United States, hinders the relationship between the two countries and reveals ignorance, by President Barack Obama, the actions of their own spies.

  2. CIA Officer Expelled From Germany Is Not The First
  3. U.S. Out of Germany
  4. Alleged CIA Spy in German May Have Worked for Russia All Along
  5. The Moscow Times: Alleged CIA spy in German may have worked for Russia all along
  6. Germany kicks out top US spy over espionage claims
  7. Obama and the CIA—who runs Washington?
  8. Opinion: Wake up, Washington
  9. ‘The Americans have humiliated us again’

    Germany’s expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin in a spy row with the United States has found widespread support in the country.

  10. Germany Calls For ‘Honest Foundation’ In Relations With U.S.
  11. NSA Spying on Germany
  12. Op-Ed: U.S. German spy scandal — less obvious problems for NSA
  13. What’s a Little Espionage Among ‘Friends’?
  14. Germany Confronts US On Spying, Demands Answers
  15. Obama Fails to Reach Out to Merkel Over CIA Expulsion
  16. US committed ‘grave political error’ with spying
  17. When the CIA keeps the president in the dark

    When President Obama spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Ukraine last week, there could have been an awkward moment prompted by the arrest the day before of a double agent allegedly working secretly for the CIA within German intelligence. At least there likely would have been, had Obama known about the arrest or the undercover spy to begin with.

  18. Germany’s Merkel reiterates U.S. spying unacceptable

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that Germany and the U.S. had different ideas on intelligence and that Germany will be “persistent” in delivering the message that U.S. espionage against a close ally is unacceptable. Her comments, in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF to be aired Sunday, came two days after Germany told the CIA station chief in Berlin to leave the country amid a German investigation of two government employees suspected of spying for the U.S.

  19. We are not in Cold War any more, says Merkel as spy row grows
  20. US double standards exposed in Berlin spy row

    A few years before he died in 2006, the former East German spy chief Markus Wolf, known as “the man without a face”, told me about the qualities he looked for in the agents his spies recruited in the West. Status was a poor indicator of effectiveness, he said, and secretaries and doormen were among the most valuable recruits. Political ideology was the best reason for passing secrets to another country but money and vengeance were good motivators too.

  21. Germany may have to tolerate NSA spying, says key Merkel aide
  22. John Kerry Lands in Vienna to Iron Out ‘Deep Differences’ in Iran Nuclear Talks

    On the sidelines of the talks, Kerry will also meet his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss recent spying allegations.

    Berlin has recently asked the CIA station chief to leave the country over snooping charges.

  23. Kerry arrives in Vienna for Iran nuclear talks
  24. Germany checking for more CIA moles in its intelligence agency
  25. More than a dozen US spies infiltrate German ministries, says Bild

    The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has recruited more than a dozen spies in several German government ministries, according to the Bild am Sonntag tabloid paper.

  26. Expulsion of top spy a ‘wake-up call’ for US
  27. German spies clamor for counter-espionage funding

    The discovery of US spies in Germany’s intelligence service and Defense Ministry has sparked outrage. Now German spies are calling for a boost in funds and staff directed toward counterintelligence.

  28. Merkel angrily blasts U.S. over new spying allegations

    Angela Merkel made her feelings toward Washington clear in an interview on German broadcaster ZDF today, reports Reuters.

    “We are not living in the Cold War anymore,” Merkel said. “We should concentrate on what is essential.”

    Germany’s government told Berlin’s CIA station chief to leave the country on Thursday, in the wake of new allegations of U.S. spying in the country. Of two suspected spies discovered by German officials, one reportedly worked for German foreign intelligence, while the other operated within the country’s defense ministry.

  29. Expulsion of US spy chief was inevitable
  30. Germany says expulsion of US spy chief was inevitable
  31. German spy agency searches for more moles after US breach

    BND president orders analysis of agency’s communications for irregularities, and foreign minister to meet John Kerry

  32. Serving two spymasters
  33. Germany plans to overhaul partnership with US
  34. Germany eyes overhauled US partnership in talks on spy row
  35. NSA Spying On Germany – OpEd
  36. What’s A Little Espionage Among ‘Friends’? – OpEd

    Germany, after all, has a powerful economy — one that, driven as it is by a strong manufacturing sector and a solid trade surplus, including with the US, in many ways is much stronger than the US economy. Germany has no need to worry about any risk of US trade sanctions, the way most countries do that consider trying to stand up to the US. Nor does Germany need to rely on the US military for protection. The country faces no threat from any direction. (As anti-war activist David Swanson puts it in his column US out of Germany, “Protection from Russia? If the Russian government weren’t demonstrating a level of restraint that dwarfs even that of the Brazilian soccer team’s defense there would be full-scale war in Ukraine right now. Russia is no more threatening Germany than Iran is preparing to nuke Washington or the U.N. is confiscating guns in Montana.”)

  37. Germany tells top U.S. spy official to leave the country
  38. Germany: Expulsion of U.S. spy was necessary
  39. Germany should offer political asylum to Snowden
  40. Spy scandal jeopardizes negotiations on free trade area between EU and US

    The spy scandal that has burst out in Germany jeopardizes negotiations on creating a free trade area between the EU and the USA, Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection of Germany Heiko Maas believes.

  41. German FM, press applaud expulsion of CIA chief
  42. German Chancellor Expels CIA Station Chief

    In an unprecedented move between allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered the CIA station chief in Berlin to leave the country or be forced out, reports the Washington Post.

  43. Germany calls on US to stop spying after expulsion order

    German politicians on Friday called on the United States to stop all spying activities against Germany and to work together to revive bilateral ties on the basis of honesty.

    This latest German plea follows Thursday’s expulsion of the U.S. intelligence chief in Berlin.

  44. Germany Said to Review ‘No-Spy’ Buying Rules Amid U.S. Row
  45. Report: Germany turned down US spy deal
  46. Suspected German spy was in contact with friend at State Dept – US officials
  47. German suspect was in contact with State Dept not US spies: officials

    German defense official under investigation for alleged spying was in contact with a US State Department officer rather than American intelligence agencies, raising questions about whether any espionage occurred, US officials familiar with the case told Reuters yesterday.

  48. China Calls iPhone National Security Threat
  49. China Calls iPhone A National Security Risk
  50. Chinese TV says iPhones are a threat to national security
  51. Chinese state media calls iPhone a security threat
  52. China calls the iPhone and iOS 7 threats to national security
  53. Apple’s iPhone poses national security threat, China says
  54. Chinese state-run media say Apple’s iPhone is a threat to federal security because it can track and time-stamp the locations of its users
  55. iPhone’s location tracking is a security threat, says China state media>
  56. China Says iPhone Location Tracker Could Expose State Secrets
  57. Apple iPhone Labeled “National Security Concern” in China>
  58. Apple’s iPhone branded a ‘national security concern’
  59. China Labels iPhone a Security Threat
  60. Chinese state broadcaster flags iPhone as security threat
  61. Chinese Media Terms Apple’s Location Tracking as Security Threat

    Mainstream Chinese Media has termed Apple’s iPhone as a national security threat. The state owned CCTV has reported that the location tracking feature in iPhone could collect data about location of the users.

  62. Now Chinese state TV says iPhones are a threat to national security
  63. Instagram becomes latest victim of Chinese censorship

    After blocking Google and its services in China in June, China’s internet censors blocked the popular networking app Line and Yahoo’s photo-sharing platform Flickr on July 1, the day of massive democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong on the 17th anniversary of the territory’s return to China. Instagram, the online photo and video sharing platform owned by Facebook, has now undergone a similar fate, reports Duowei, an outlet run by overseas Chinese.

  64. Are Hong Kong’s pan-democrats censoring opposing views by public figures while they blast censorship themselves?

06.29.14

Arguments Persist Over Whether Software Patents Died in the US Whilst European Patent Law is Quietly Assimilated to US

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep clean

Summary: Continued discussion about the meaning of the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling and what it means to programmers all around the world, not just patent lawyers who seek to monopolise and tax software development

THE recent SCOTUS ruling on patents ended software patent scope where it reaches "abstract ideas" (whatever exactly it means, as no criteria were specified or even a test). The ruling left room for patent lawyers to exploit (pretending nothing has actually changed). We have demonstrated, based on dozens of analyses from patent lawyers, that lawyers’ responses are quite consistent, ensuring only that people still come to them to patent algorithms.

Here is another new analysis from Dykema Gossett PLLC, saying that “Litigants involved in current or future litigation over software patents will want to study the claims at issue to assess their vulnerability under the framework laid out in Alice Corp. While patent eligibility of any particular software claim will remain a case-by-case, fact specific inquiry, at least now there is some guidance by which to conduct that inquiry.”

“Basically, the corporate media is now a platform by which lawyers ‘report’ to the public on a decision in which they have vested interests.”Dr. Glyn Moody looks at the glass as half full, celebrating the fact that the SCOTUS is at least recognising that there are limits to software patents. He also, however, bemoans Europe moving in the opposite direction. To quote Moody: “I’ve written a number of times about the curse of the “as such” clause in Article 52 of the European Patent Convention, which has allowed software patents to creep in to Europe by the backdoor. In the US, which has a far more liberal attitude to patenting everything under the sun, there has been a cognate problem, whereby patent applications have been made on a abstract/trivial idea simply by appending “using a computer” to make it novel. At long last, the US Supreme Court has addressed this issue.”

“European Unitary Patent system will work means that there is no independent court to which appeals can be made – only an appeal court within the new patent system itself. That lack of an external check is an extremely dangerous feature – and one that the European Union may well come to regret.”

The European angle is interesting as the EU’s position on software patents has been gradually morphing/assimilating to the US position.

Here is America Online (AOL) giving a ‘report’ (not analysis) about the SCOTUS ruling. Guess who wrote it. That’s right, AOL treats ‘IP’ groups as journalists now, boosting their position, which is what we foresaw and worried about. The article begins with the following promotion: “Michael Gulliford is the Founder and Managing Principal of the Soryn IP Group,a new breed of patent management and advisory company that provides a host of patent-centric services to a select group of innovators.”

“The great majority of patent trolls use software patents, so rather than speak about stopping trolls we need to concentrate on patent scope.”Basically, the corporate media is now a platform by which lawyers ‘report’ to the public on a decision in which they have vested interests.

Here is an analysis from Davies Collison Cave, separate from the press (legal sites host these). It says: “To be eligible for a patent in the US, a computer implemented invention will probably now need to provide a technological improvement, solve a technical problem or effect some improvement in technology or a technical field. It will certainly need to involve more than simply implementing an abstract idea on a generic computer.

“Whether it was intentional or not, the US Supreme Court may have introduced into US law technical contribution requirements similar to those of European patent law.”

Yes, so the US is moving closer to EU patent law while EU patent law is moving closer to US patent law, which includes software patents. There seems to be some kind of dangerous convergence here. We need to fight hard to stop it.

Here is another new analysis from Stinson Leonard Street LLP (another patents firm):

Software patents vulnerable: use of a computer is “not enough”

[...]

This decision will likely be cheered by technology companies with patent portfolios directed to more sophisticated inventions that go beyond computer-implemented business methods. However, software patents directed to general business processes, such as those that involve the performance of well-known financial transactions on a computer, may be in jeopardy of being invalidated.

That basically sounds like the “as such” nonsense that we have in Europe and to some degree in New Zealand as well. This is not good. This might mean that spurious patent litigation (over software patents) can soon break out of places like the Eastern District of Texas, where stories like this one are being reported by the patent trolls-obsessed:

A controversial patent that has been used to wring millions of dollars in settlements from hundreds of companies is on the verge of getting shut down.

US Circuit Judge William Bryson, sitting “by designation” in the Eastern District of Texas, has found in a summary judgment ruling (PDF) that the patent, owned by TQP Development, is not infringed by the two defendants remaining in the case, Intuit Corp. and Hertz Corp. In a separate ruling (PDF), Bryson rejected Intuit’s arguments that the patent was invalid.

Notice the type of patents they are using. The great majority of patent trolls use software patents, so rather than speak about stopping trolls we need to concentrate on patent scope. Here is Steven W. Lundberg (highly vocal proponent of software patents [1, 2, 3]) boosting software patents again (as if nothing has changed) and several other patent boosters like Fenwick & West LLP and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. Perhaps they view all this as an opportunity (in the long run) to file their patents in yet more continents, making even more money by taking away from society and tying the hands of programmers.

Timothy B. Lee is a little more optimistic than us. He says that “the Supreme Court might kill software patents” and here is why:

Last week I argued that the Supreme Court’s widely anticipated ruling in the case of CLS v. Alice wasn’t the knockout blow software patent opponents had been hoping for. The Supreme Court struck down the specific patent at issue in the case, but it was vague about when, if ever, other software patents were allowed.

Reading commentary on the case has made me more convinced that software patent owners should be worried.

In a nutshell, the Supreme Court said two things: you can’t patent abstract ideas, and merely implementing an abstract idea on a generic computer isn’t enough to turn it into a patentable invention. The big question is: what’s an abstract idea?

The patents the Supreme Court struck down last week and in a 2010 case called Bilski v. Kappos were extremely abstract. In essence, both patents took an abstract business strategy — like holding money in escrow to prevent either party to a deal from backing out — and claimed the concept of implementing it on a computer. In both 2010 and 2014, the Supreme Court said that wasn’t enough for a patent.

Some software patent supporters, like former Patent Office director David Kappos, have concluded that the decision leaves most software patents unscathed. But the respected patent scholar Robert Merges, a software patent supporter himself, is not so sure.

David Kappos is not credible because he worked both for the patents-greedy USPTO and for IBM, one of the most aggressive patent-rattling companies and leading lobbyist for software patents, even in Europe. The argument we made some days ago is that all software patents are — by definition almost — abstract. Unless there is a working implementation to be patented, all that the application allude to are ideas, barely any function at all.

What it boils down to is this; if a judge was competent enough to tell the difference between pseudo code, programming, UML etc. (which is unlikely, especially in clueless, biased and corrupt courts like CAFC), then every software patent would be deemed “abstract”, hence invalid. To construct a legally-cohesive argument along those lines might require a lawyer. Are there any “good” patent lawyers out there?

06.14.14

US Patent System May Inevitably Be Coming to Europe While Patent Reform Attempts in US Crushed

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The US is not even trying to truly reform patent policy and Europe is preparing to ‘import’ (through globalisation/treaties/etc.) this atrocious policy, based on new reports in the British press

WE shall slowly return to covering patent issues, for they are certainly becoming a huge subject again, especially in light of renewed Apple lawsuits/aggression, corruption in the courtrooms (blindly favouring al patents), and distraction by the media (we covered all three just two days ago), not to mention software patents (and patent trolls) in Europe becoming a huge issue because EU patents may soon follow US criteria for acceptance. “New EU rules have been created which allow the judgments of new unified patent courts (UPCs) to have legal effect from early 2015,” says The Register. This is great news for trolls and also for patent lawyers who wish to see patent scope expanding.

Mr. Mark Bohannon (Red Hat lobbyist) has written a couple of articles in the past week. In them, Bohannon focuses on trolls (not the real issue) and also expresses little or no hope for imminent change in the US patent system. To quote: “Late last month, as you’ve likely read by now, the US Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) abruptly pulled consideration of a legislative patent reform package from consideration. For this year, at least, the prospect of addressing abusive patent litigation through Congressional action is on ice.

“The move by the Committee disappointed, even outraged, a broad coalition working for legislative reform.

“Reaction came not just from many in the technology and Internet innovation sector, which have been at the forefront of reform efforts. Consumer and civil society groups (EFF, Engine Advocacy, Public Knowledge) voiced deep concern.

“Reflecting the wide swath of the US economy that is affected by abusive patent litigation, the view of many in the mainstream of American business was that the SJC “chose special interests over jobs on main street.” Retailers noted that “withdrawing the patent reform bill is a victory for patent trolls.” They were joined by restaurant owners, home builders, credit unions, hotels and lodges, the gaming industry, and the online travel industry, just to name a few.”

The problem, however, is not “abusive patent litigation”, it is patent scope. It sure seems like even if a patent reform was passed in the US, it would be beneficial to large corporations but hardly help the public. In other words, not only is there no sign of improvement in the US; even if the said reforms were to pass, not much would have changed. The real solutions are totally off the table. This system is inherently rigged, probably beyond repair, which is why we started focusing on limiting its reach (e.g. to Europe) rather than fixing it before it spreads.

06.03.14

Newcastle Pays for Back Doors From Microsoft Rather Than Procure Freedom-respecting Software From Local (British) Companies

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 10:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Newcastle wraps itself in shackles for the next three years

Newcastle

Summary: The latest example of the British public sector snubbing local software companies, instead bringing malicious software from abroad (land of economic and political espionage) via a local proxy (reseller)

Three years ago I traveled to Newcastle in order to configure GNU/Linux servers there; I was surrounded by a Windows-dominated environment and a systems administrator who was only skilled enough to handle Microsoft stuff. The sad thing is that in the public and private sector in the UK there is a lot of software with NSA back doors, including (and primarily) Microsoft software.

According to this news report, the latest Newham-style nonsense has spread to Newcastle, with cost analysis totally ignoring the worth of security and autonomy. To quote the article: “Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has chosen to renew its enterprise agreement with Microsoft rather than opt for cloud-based service provision or open source products.”

Well, cloud-based services usually mean “surveillance-friendly” or “surveillance-ready”, so these are not the real alternative anymore. The article continues: “The deal, for the provision of software assurance and server licences through a certified reseller for the next three years, replaces the council’s previous five year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement which expired on 31st May 31.

“The renewal, which commenced 1st June, will ensure that the corporation’s desktops and servers can be used and updated within legal requirements.

Why choose spyware and why not explore Free/Open Source software? Well, the article says: “Having considered options such as subscription-based agreements, cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) provision and open source products, which are already in use by the council for its anti-virus and email filtering systems, Newcastle-under-Lyme decided it was better to renew its existing agreement – expected to total £263,284 in costs over its three-year lifetime.”

This does not even seem to cover support. They have just paid for spyware to go inside their server room/s, negatively affecting many British citizens. Did they even consult the public at all? As Munich has demonstrated, nobody needs Microsoft in the public sector; all it does it spy on everything and everyone.

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