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07.26.14

FUD Entities Entering the FOSS World

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Symantec enters the AllSeen Alliance and Sonatype is once again trying to claim great insecurity in FOSS due to software licensing

THE surveillance-oriented AllSeen Alliance has welcomed Microsoft and other patent aggressors (such as Red Bend Software) into its ranks. Now we discover that Symantec, which has been disseminating FUD about GNU/Linux, joins this Alliance, as revealed by the Linux Foundation a couple of days ago. To quote: “Symantec is an AllSeen Alliance Community Member, one of the world’s largest software companies and a leader in security, backup and availability solutions. Roxane Divol, SVP Product and Services Acceleration Group for Symantec, shares why the company decided to join the AllSeen Alliance and how they plan to contribute to AllJoyn for a connected experience that will change the Internet of Things.”

Well, Symantec, like some other companies, has been making money from creation of fear, putting aside its Microsoft connections and history of hostility towards Linux and FOSS. Symantec is one of several.

There are those who cover a “legal” security angle (they call their licensing FUD ‘security’, as per a deceiving headline from some weeks ago). Some of those are well linked to Microsoft (e.g. OpenLogic and Black Duck) and another such player is Sonatype (it targets Microsoft’s proprietary software and .NET developers). We covered its FUD quite recently, after we had observed Sonatype’s FUD reports from last year. Watch the gross misuse of the word “suspected” to insinuate that many organisations don’t comply with FOSS licences. As if proprietary software licences are always obeyed, without leading to assaults from the BSA et al. It is not so hard — let alone expensive — to comply with FOSS licences.

07.20.14

Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Security at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dan Goodin

Summary: The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples

SEVERAL days ago several people told us about this article from Matt Asay. Ignoring the issues with proprietary software (EULAs, back doors, etc.) the article makes the bizarre claim that “we’re living in a post-open source world”, as if Free/libre software does not matter anymore. One reader told us that Asay had been “trolling for Black Duck“. Well, looking at the licensing strategy of Asay’s current employer, this position is easy to explain.

Unfortunately, however, the problem is this case is what Red Hat staff called “Asayroll” (troll) and we often call Mac Asay (he does not use FOSS himself). He used to be a fan of the GPL but then turned against it. Black Duck is just one among several data points he uses to bash the GPL now. Other data points (at least two) were partly Microsoft-funded as well; they’re good at hiding it. It’s information war, striving to change perception and kill the GPL with words.

It is not a surprise that Asay attacks the GPL and this is actually IDG’s second article in just about a week which attacks the GPL, citing Microsoft-connected entities. They must be terribly afraid of copyleft, or maybe their clients (like Microsoft) are doing lip service.

In other FUD, Dan Goodin with his provocative images continues to attack FOSS security, focusing all his attention on bugs in FOSS rather than back doors in proprietary software. “Researcher uncovers “catastrophic failure” in random number generation,” he says. Well, actually, in LibreSSL there is much better randomness than in Intel’s hardware-’accelerated’ RNGs (which are likely facilitating back doors by keeping entropy low) and proprietary software, which uses weak (by design) encryption. “Dan is the Security Editor at Ars Technica,” says the site, which really says a lot about where Condé Nasty (owner of Ars Technica) stands on security. It only trash-talks FOSS and GNU/Linux. This is systematic bias, usually by omission.

In more relevant news, watch the article “Embedded Windows XP systems targeted by new Chinese malware”. It says:

“It is exceedingly hard to protect against malware when it ships pre-installed from the factory. The average business, even a large enterprise, simply isn’t set up to perform this kind of due diligence on incoming hardware with embedded systems, whether it’s Windows, Linux or another platform. If an organisation wants to ensure privacy for itself and its customers, it must bear the cost of security somewhere in the supply chain, whether that’s in increased cost of a higher assurance supplier, or in post-purchase testing,” he explained.

Why is Linux dismissed as an option? Windows has back doors, so it can never be suited/deemed suitable for financial transactions. Why insinuate that this kind of issue is inherent (to the task)?

They should call out Windows and Microsoft’s connections with the NSA. which in is in turn connected to US banks. No country other than the US can ever trust Windows for use in ATMs. That’s a fact.

We are disappointed to see incomplete, biased, vengeful ‘reporting’ with agenda tied to companies/friends/employers of the writers/publishers. This is not journalism. It’s trash talk disguised as “news”.

07.13.14

Pro-Microsoft Spin in Microsoft-Funded News Networks

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Satya Ballmer
Satya Ballmer

Summary: The rogue media (misinformation) campaign of Microsoft benefits from networks which have been paid by Microsoft over the years

TECHRIGHTS has been disturbed to find some of the corporate media actively participating in Microsoft PR campaigns such as 'Scroogled', paralleling a campaign to portray Microsoft as a privacy and Open Source champion. We have already named some of the networks which routinely do this, such as CNET (part of CBS), whose chief editor Charles Cooper seems to have become a Microsoft mouthpiece by proxy (see another recently-covered example from him).

Other Microsoft-paid networks whitewash Microsoft and play along with the perception management which comes with the alleged change of leadership (Microsoft’s real leaders are behind the scenes and they have hardly changed; neither has the strategy). These “useful idiots” of Microsoft — people who are willingly being bamboozled by the PR campaign — continue to cause great damage that pundits can only try to counter. The Nadella PR is just about as lame as the NSA’s PR, e.g. dressing up the new NSA chief in whites (white knight?) — not blacks — as some kind of a branding strategy which dissociates him from Keith Alexander et al. (men in dark suits),

“…some of the Microsoft-linked media is trying to indoctrinate the public and make as many people as possible love or respect Microsoft.”The PR offensive sometimes makes in into decent sites like Phoronix, which gets it wrong on occasions (see the comments on [1], an article which was published only days ago). Last week an article titled “Open-Source Software: Bad For Non-Profit Organizations?” [article now removed for being an entrapment/marketing] got published by Michael Larabel, only to be slammed in the site forums, where subscribers expressed disappointment. Larabel got bamboozled by a proprietary software pusher who argued that FOSS is bad for charities. As Larabel put it: “For non-profit organizations, open-source/free software might not actually be the best solution according to a director at a non-profit software solution provider.”

This is the type of lie we hear from Microsoft when it imposes proprietary spyware on all sorts of NGOs, which it would later extort for licensing fees, limiting their capacity for activism and spying on them (we covered this in past years and gave numerous examples).

In summary, some of the Microsoft-linked media is trying to indoctrinate the public and make as many people as possible love or respect Microsoft. It’s a shame that some of the spin leaks into Linux-friendly sites (Google hostility, software licence FUD, ‘death’ of GNU/Linux), so we probably need to highlight the existence of the misinformation campaigns.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Manjaro Linux Developers Experience A Mass Exodus [Updated]

    It seems all of the Manjaro Linux developers might have parted way with the distribution’s development except for the project leader.

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?

07.10.14

The Effect of Corporate Media Bias: FOSS Demonisation and Microsoft Openwashing

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A set of very recent examples where the corporate press produces FOSS-hostile articles (or pro-Microsoft articles) by citing biased sources of convenience

Nowadays, and especially in the past few months, those of us who exhaustively scan news feeds (as Techrights has done for nearly a decade) would be seeing a relatively new angle for attacking FOSS. After Microsoft had tried using copyrights with SCO as well as patents through all sorts of proxies (and directly) Microsoft-linked groups, including Black Duck, generated more licensing FUD while monetising it (two birds, one stone). Here is the latest example from the news. It is a classic ‘script’ and it is hosted by IDG, which also offered some Black Duck staff (the one cited here) permanent blog space (a very FOSS-hostile blog). The angle, in short, is inherently anti-GPL, claiming that enterprises are afraid of it. Another Microsoft-linked firm, OpenLogic, used and disseminated the same talking point. These are FUD agencies and this is their purpose — to help marginalise FOSS and produce FUD, creating a warped debate in all kinds of events, surveys etc. that they organise. Very nasty. They actually make money from this.

“These are FUD agencies and this is their purpose — to help marginalise FOSS and produce FUD…”Here is another new example. Acting as if one bug in the code of OpenSSL is somehow so Earth-changing for FOSS as a whole, the corporate press is trying to keep the word “Heartbleed” in the headlines [1, 2]. We wrote about this some days ago and highlighted the insidious connection to Microsoft. This is just another angle of FUD: the security angle. Now that Windows XP is not supported (or not being patched) Microsoft needs to create the illusion that FOSS is “equally insecure”, or something along those lines. And this FUD works. We have seen the effect. I see the effect all the time.

Now, watch another such piece of news-flavoured FUD. Python is now the most popular introductory teaching language at top U.S. universities, according to ACM, but the Microsoft-friendly media emits licensing FUD from a familiar source of FOSS FUD, WhiteSource. Adrian Bridgwater, with his mixed history on FOSS (often FOSS-hostile), wrote in Microsoft-friendly media the headline “43% Python Open Source Libraries ‘Potentially Risky’”. This sounds like security FUD, but it’s actually licensing FUD. To quote:

The study suggested that a large percentage of the libraries are under restrictive licenses. The repercussion here may be that while many Python programmers report substantial productivity gains, the use of open source Python components introduces new challenges.

The so-called ‘study’ comes from WhiteSource, which has a consistent track record of attacking FOSS.

This is the type of trash that dominates the press these days. Who is funding those ‘studies’ and why is it so fashionable to attack FOSS using made up (or merely perceived) risks? These questions are largely rhetorical.

Condé Nasty’s Wired has meanwhile produced yet another openwashing Microsoft piece, nicely disguised with a teasing headline (“Watch Steve Ballmer Mock Linux While Dressed as The Matrix’s Neo”). It would have readers believe that Microsoft is now a friend of FOSS. This site has been doing this for a number of years now, as we repeatedly pointed out before. The new owner seems to have an agenda very different from the original owners’. Wired turned into something suspiciously weird under Condé Nasty’s management.

Wired turned into something suspiciously weird under Condé Nasty’s management.”As we showed before, there are gullible CIOs like Jos Creese who seem like the target audience for this. IDG even has a site called CIO. Facebook too has an openwashing campaign going on (we recently showed more examples of that) and openwashing has been effective at stopping government migrations to FOSS. The British press offers some responses to this trend, include this new article which says:

And Creese isn’t alone in his attachment to Microsoft. Alan Shields, architect team manager at Cambridgeshire County Council, says: “It is incredibly difficult to get away from the stranglehold of Microsoft products, and we are planning to reinforce this by entering into an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft later this year.”

Other British press goes further with another FOSS-hostile piece from Adrian Bridgwater. To quote parts of it:

Mike James on i-programmer isn’t happy either.

James bemoans the reticence, caginess and ok then downright old stubbornness Microsoft has exhibited over its refusal to open source VB6.

VB6 (or Visual Basic 7) is programming language and IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that dates back to the heady CD-ROM centric days of 1991.

Today the Visual Basic 6.0 Resource Center is mainly focused on selling your migration and “upgrades from” than championing that which was once much loved.

James bemoans the fact that Microsoft “killed” VB6 but now refuses to open source the language despite the firm’s “warmth” for open source.

What warmth?

This rather bizarre piece from Adrian Bridgwater, who has a history of being soft on Microsoft, does not quote any Microsoft critics but only Microsoft boosters who want a little bit more from Microsoft. It is overall a very one-sided article, where the opposition (‘balance’) is basically also in favour of Microsoft (both the pros and cons are Microsoft-friendly). It is a Fox ‘news’-style debate, biasing the hypothesis and pushing for a particular, preconceived outcome, openwashing Microsoft with a list of talking points and then citing a Microsoft booster, Dr. Dobbs' Andrew Binstock (i-programmer is also pro-Microsoft and .NET/Mono, as we last noted very recently). Binstock is the Microsoft-boosting editor of Dr. Dobbs (with history of whitewashing Microsoft crimes), who is now ‘pulling a Scroogle’ as well. It is essential to remember that Dr. Dobbs too changed management not too long ago. It’s not at all what it used to be.

The final message we wish to get across is that the media is full of FUD and filled with FOSS-hostile articles. Many of them are easy to explain when knowing the background of the authors, the firms that they cite (often Microsoft-linked), and the agenda of the publisher, which is often designed to favour proprietary software (the advertisers). If these pieces of FUD are not being highlighted and challenged, then there’s risk that there will be perception of no opposition to them, hence they must be “true”.

07.05.14

Publicly-funded NHS Would Enjoy Symbiotic Relationship With Free — as in Freedom — Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Public services should use Free/libre software

Medical equipment

Summary: Some of the latest attacks on FOSS and how these relate to the uprise of the affluent (seeking to privatise everything which is public and profit by domination over the state)

WE NOW KNOW and have evidence to prove that proprietary software is used for spying. The NHS should be especially moved by this as privacy in the health sector (patients’ data) is a sensitive matter. Some nations shrewdly move their health sector over to Free software, assuring security, privacy, and domestic control over function, not only data. It ought to have become abundantly clear that the NHS cannot secure patients’ data with Microsoft because both GCHQ (domestic) and NSA (foreign) use Windows back doors and can dig ‘dirt’ on people, even medical ‘dirt’ (with which to punish or marginalise people). New evidence [1-5] teaches us that even GNU/Linux users are specifically targeted (all they have to do is just casually step on a Linux-centric domain name), so this has nothing to do with national security (or even espionage) and everything to do with domination over society.

There is this report right now about Microsoft struggling to get money out of the NHS, which is incidentally adopting more and more FOSS (I know this because of my job). To quote The Register:

Microsoft is finding out that it doesn’t always pay to play nasty with large government customers: NHS procurement bosses are telling authorities and bodies to hold firm against a wave of licensing compliance threats.

As exclusively revealed by The Channel last week, Microsoft wrote to all 160 healthcare bodies across England in early June to warn them they had until the end of the month to cough up for extra licences, via the discounted PSA12 framework, or be charged private sector prices to settle their bills.

Someone new at TechDirt had the following take on it:

As is the case almost every time you let a subscription lapse, the entity on the other hand will cut you a deal just to get you back on the ledger. And like everyone else everywhere, the government — even with all its [well, not really its] money and power — is no different. Microsoft delivers bold pronouncements and dire warnings and the NHS hits the “remind me later” button and goes back to what it was doing.

For [corrupt 78278 agencies like the IRS faulty proprietary software may have worked well] (hiding evidence of misconduct), but the NHS cannot afford this. Sometimes loss of data causes loss of many lives. And speaking of the IRS, it should really tax the rich more, not run after the poor. The rich should contribute more towards services such as the NHS (the US does not have an equivalent yet).

The IRS seems to have gone totally rogue and its attack on FOSS could open the floodgate to trouble. The IRS recently signed a Microsoft deal/contract (we covered it at the time) and now it is making FOSS-hostile decisions which were not made before. This is reminiscent of the FOSS-hostile BBC (also taxpayers-funded), which was made this hostile after many executives from Microsoft UK had taken positions of power over there and Bill Gates paid the BBC numerous times.

“The public sector, and especially the NHS (for high impact on lives), must gradually move to Free/libre software.”Mr. Robert Pogson says that “IRS Attacks FLOSS” and asks: “When will the beast of bureaucracy figure out what it’s left and right hands are doing? I think this is a case where Obama should immediately sign an executive order declaring FLOSS organizations are charitable, educational, and scientific organizations contributing to the public good, rich or poor, a huge net benefit to society. Read the GPL! Is there anything not charitable about it?”

The rich are waging war on the poor, war on public healthcare (welfare of the poor), and war on citizens-funded media (sources of information for the masses), not just Free software that’s often developed by and for the less privileged (financially). While most of these are beyond the scope of this site, it is worth noting the role of FOSS and the impact on it.

The public sector, and especially the NHS (for high impact on lives), must gradually move to Free/libre software. It is imperative because of obligation to taxpayers and also autonomy/security.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. More NSA Fallout, Linux Time Warp, and the Ultimate OS

    In tonight’s news, the Linux Journal publishes more on the NSA surveillance of Linux users and the Electronic Frontier Foundation throws in their thoughts too. Wired.com has a look back at Linux including a funny video. And finally, Gary Newell asks if you want to help fund the ultimate operating system.

  2. Linux Journal is under NSA survillance as ‘extremist’ forum

    If you ever visited websites such as the Tor Project’s home page and even Linux Journal, there is a good chance that the National Security Agency (NSA) added you to its surveillance list. Well, this is according to top-secret source code for the NSA surveillance program called X-Keyscore.

  3. NSA targets Linux Journal as ‘extremist forum’: Report

    The NSA is targeting the Linux Journal as an “extremist forum” and flagging its readers as ‘extremists’, according to source code leaked to German public broadcaster, ARD.

  4. Are you an extremist?

    Since the news broke yesterday that we are an extremist publication according to the NSA, we at Linux Journal have thought a lot about what that might mean to our readers.

    I am one of our readers, and I know many of our readers personally. That said, I can certainly describe many of us as “extreme” in a variety of ways. We’re extremely passionate about our hobbies and professions, extremely excited by innovative technology, and extremely supportive of the open source software community. So maybe we are extremists.

    With these things in mind, we thought perhaps our readers might like to join us in letting our extremist flags fly by “stamping” your online profile pictures with our Linux Journal reader extremist seal of approval.

  5. Dear NSA, Privacy is a Fundamental Right, Not Reasonable Suspicion

    Learning about Linux is not a crime—but don’t tell the NSA that. A story published in German on Tagesschau, and followed up by an article in English on DasErste.de today, has revealed that the NSA is scrutinizing people who visit websites such as the Tor Project’s home page and even Linux Journal. This is disturbing in a number of ways, but the bottom line is this: the procedures outlined in the articles show the NSA is adding “fingerprints”—like a scarlet letter for the information age—to activities that go hand in hand with First Amendment protected activities and freedom of expression across the globe.

07.03.14

US System Manipulated to Financially Punish Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“My background is finance and accounting. As a socially conscious venture capitalist and philanthropist, I have a very good understanding of wealth management and philanthropy. I started my career in 1967 with the IRS as a specialist in taxation covering many areas of the tax law including the so-called legal loopholes to charitable giving. […] However, the Gates Buffet foundation grant is nothing more than a shell game in which control of assets for both Gates and Buffet remain the same. […] The only difference is that the accumulation of wealth by these two will be much more massive because they will no longer have to pay any taxes.”

The Gates and Buffet Foundation Shell Game

Summary: The Yorba Foundation is denied tax exemptions while the world’s biggest thief, who increases his wealth by lobbying and investing under the guise of ‘charity’, receives tax exemptions

THIS is a major story that, unlike some stories (e.g. the No-IP takeover scandal which we’ll cover soon), has not received sufficient press coverage. The other day in our daily links we included a link that my wife had found and was made rather furious by. We linked to the original just hours after it was published (in June) and it took days until some sites — small sites — covered it very briefly. Susan Linton said: “The top story in today’s Linux news is the IRS denial of nonprofit status for Open Source projects.”

This was hardly the top story. It didn’t receive much attention and it took days for it to get any press coverage at all. Here is what Boing Boing wrote only yesterday:

In a disturbing precedent, the Yorba Foundation, which makes apps for GNU/Linux, has had its nonprofit status application rejected by the IRS because some of projects may benefit for-profit entities.

Will Hill said that there is “[a]n interesting comment from a lawyer on the pluss“:

If ICANN can be a 501(c)(3), and pull in around $400,000,000 in 2013 while benefiting pretty much every intellectual property protection agent in the world, I don’t see how someone who produces code that they give away for free can be refused similar status.

Thankfully, this issue has been getting some more coverage in some technology news sites very recently [1,2], but nothing else as far as we can tell. Apparently it’s OK for an investment and Microsoft lobbying body to get tax exemptions (that’s Gates Foundation), but it is not okay for a bunch of programmers who work without a salary to receive tax-free donations. This is how US ‘justice’ works, apparently. Rich people pay next to nothing to their government and diligent poor people are portrayed as some kind of “parasites” and forced to pay part of the meager donations they receive to the government.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. IRS Rejects Non-Profit Status For Open Source Organization, Because Private Companies Might Use The Software

    Last year, as the IRS scandal blossomed over the IRS supposedly targeting “conservative” groups for extra attention concerning their non-profit status, we noted that the IRS had also been told to examine “open source software” projects more closely as well. We found that to be a bit disturbing — and it appears that for all that focus on the scandal, the IRS hasn’t quite given up on unfairly targeting open source projects. The Yorba Foundation, which makes a number of Linux apps for GNOME, has been trying to get declared a 501(c)(3) non-profit for over four years now… and just had that request rejected by the IRS for reasons that don’t make any sense at all. Basically, the IRS appears to argue that because there might be some “non-charitable” uses of the software, the Foundation doesn’t deserve non-profit status, which would make it exempt from certain taxes (and make donations tax deductible).

  2. IRS policy that targeted Tea Party groups also aimed at open source projects

    The IRS denied a proposal to grant 501(c)(3) status to Yorba, a nonprofit organization that develops open source software for the Linux desktop. In a blog post yesterday, Yorba spokesperson Jim Nelson disclosed the full text of the IRS rejection letter. He fears that IRS policy has evolved to broadly preclude nonprofit open source software developers from obtaining 501(c)(3) tax exemptions.

06.28.14

Microsoft E-mail Infrastructure a Sure Way to Lose Access to E-mail, Lose Messages, and Get Abused

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Mail, Microsoft at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bush daughters

Summary: How the increased reliance of proprietary software for E-mails breeds abuse at the higher levels while hurting those who are vulnerable

COMPANIES and individuals who rely on Free software for their E-mail needs rarely lose any mail. The protocols, the software and the failovers are generally robust. They are well tested and widely used. There is usually redundancy built in and the costs of this redundancy is low.

When one relies on Microsoft for E-mails one can end up in prison and deported, as this recent case taught us. Microsoft’s E-mail infrastructure is ripe for surveillance abuses even by Microsoft itself. Blunders relating to lost mail often trace back to Microsoft and it’s too easy to see why. Any business that uses Microsoft for storing and relaying E-mail is settling for an office is almost as bad as Microsoft Office. It boggles the mind; why do people put such trash in offices? It’s a Trojan horse to communications. Most mail filtering and antivirus products are used specifically to tackle Microsoft issues (zombie PCs and Windows malware). Free software overcomes many of these complications and it is more efficient, economic, and robust.

“Free software overcomes many of these complications and it is more efficient, economic, and robust.”The other day offices that rely on Microsoft for mail came to a standstill. Any office that “relies heavily on Microsoft Outlook,” as the article put it, was unable to get anything done. “LOL,” wrote a reader of ours, “rely and Microsoft in the same sentence”.

This reader previously drew our attention to the way Microsoft’s broken mail software saved the Bush family from embarrassment (deleting evidence). Spot the pattern here. Here is another new report about Microsoft mail going down pretty badly and staying down for a whole business day. “In outages this week,” says the Microsoft-friendly site, “Microsoft’s online Exchange service was down for nine hours, crippling Office 365 and hosted Outlook accounts across North America and Mexico, just after its unified communications service also crashed.”

Microsoft’s hosted services can only be as reliable as the underlying software, which is simply not reliable. Why would anyone at all want to use hosted Microsoft services? Downtimes are just too frequent and we used to cover them regularly. Watch a Microsoft-affiliated site (Fool.com) thinking that Ubuntu users will give Microsoft their files for hosting. Only a fool would do that, or one whose goal is to have the files spied if not altogether lost.

Then subject of lost E-mail is very hot at the moment because of stories relating to the IRS and NSA, Microsoft’s special ally for well over a decade. Here is some of the latest:

During a hearing held yesterday by the House Oversight Committee, Committee Chairman Darrel Issa said that it was “unbelievable” that the IRS had lost the e-mails of former IRS official Lois Lerner. While Congressman Issa is not generally ignorant on tech issues, he’s clearly not familiar with just how believable such a screw-up is.

“A retention policy designed to ensure that mail is lost” is what our reader called it. Maybe they too used Microsoft, but it is hard to tell for sure. IRS recently signed a big Microsoft deal, so it is a Windows shop (we covered this at the time, only months ago).

The bottom line is, Microsoft’s E-mail infrastructure breeds abuse. It is easy to claim that some “computer crash” (read: Windows issues) made evidence of crime disappear and when one who is vulnerable uses Microsoft for mail it is clear that those in power will be able to retrieve a lot to be used against the individual. Proprietary software tends to work against its users and in favour of the software ‘masters’. E-mail is a great example of this.

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