“Along with many other computer scientists, I would like to ask you to reconsider the current policy of giving patents for computational processes.
“There are far better ways to protect the intellectual property rights of software developers than to take away their right to use fundamental building blocks.
“I find a considerable anxiety throughout the community of practicing computer scientists that decisions by the patent courts and the Patent and Trademark Office are making life much more difficult for programmers. ”
Summary: The ugly side of patent systems with little or no quality control, including the resultant chaos, as demonstrated in the United States and soon in China too
THE epidemic of patent trolls in the US is a result of the USPTO granting patents on software as if doubling the number of grants can somehow be achieved while maintaining quality. A lot of patent trolls don’t even need to be challenged in courts (which would likely invalidate these patents in this post-Alice era), primarily because their victims — companies and individuals whom they prey on — are too poor to afford many months (if not years after various appeals) in a court of law, thus would rather settle by paying ‘protection money’ to the troll/s. Now there’s a ‘Mafia economy’, motored by the broken US patent system.
Apple, by contrast, can afford to go to court with trolls and based on this new report from Reuters:
A federal judge has rejected another bid by Apple Inc to get rid of a mobile phone patent that a U.S. appeals court said should not have been knocked out of a lawsuit filed by licensor MobileMedia Ideas LLC.
In a ruling on Monday, U.S. District Judge Susan Robinson in Wilmington, Delaware, refused a motion by Apple and its O’Melveny & Myers attorneys to rule on summary judgment that Apple does not infringe the patent or that it is invalid.
Even right here in Europe, despite resistance from the public, patent trolls are already a reality. Over at IAM, patent lawyers now report on patent trolls in Europe (the Openwave troll a.k.a. Unwired Planet, a notorious patent troll of Ericsson). It’s a case that’s based in the UK rather than Texas and as the lawyers put it: “In 2014 Unwired Planet asserted six of its European patents against the defendants, Huawei, Samsung and Google, which were acquired from Ericsson, in both the United Kingdom and Germany. To date, the judgments for three technical trials in the United Kingdom have been handed down. This article examines the third technical trial. After the technical trials have been completed in the United Kingdom, assuming that the proceedings continue, there will be a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND) trial to decide on the licensing dispute.”
“Now there’s a ‘Mafia economy’, motored by the broken US patent system.”What can be seen here is how a once-practising (and successful) company has turned into a patent aggressor, even if the aggression is carried out by proxies/shells/satellites/trolls. It’s highlighting a trend (see IBM for example) and it is highly relevant in light of the news about Yahoo, which got hijacked by Microsoft several years ago. IAM looks at the vocation of its patents, noting: “As a point of comparison he highlighted AOL’s sale of a portfolio to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2012 and raised the possibility of a consortium bid a la the Nortel auction. Of course, comparing the value of patent assets today with those of 2012 is a bit like comparing the value of your Florida condo in 2009 with what you paid for it in 2006. You quickly end up with two very different numbers.”
Remember what we wrote about Microsoft’s buyout of the patents from AOL (after some preying). Microsoft is one of the worst patent aggressors out there, but it typically hides behind shells. IAM believes that China too might be interested in Yahoo’s patents, noting: “Could, for example, a company looking to grow aggressively in the US that wants the freedom to operate in a notoriously litigious market be interested? The Chinese internet giant Alibaba might fit that bill and others may not want it to get what Yahoo has. That could drive the price up, but even then it’s hard to see how the portfolio goes for $4 billion.”
“It’s a broken system and it will lead to a broken economy where only rogue elements and super-rich actors stand to gain.”To quote an article just published, China patent “quality of the protection is so poor that a flood of litigation is bound to result.”
“Experts expect flood of litigation as a result of huge numbers of Chinese patent filings and poor quality protection,” noted the author in Twitter. As we wrote here many times before, one thing that China has in common with the US is low patent quality, as the goal is quantity, irrespective of the merit/novelty of an application. It’s a broken system and it will lead to a broken economy where only rogue elements and super-rich actors stand to gain.
Remarking on the value of Yahoo’s patents, another person thinks that it may or may not be in the billions (with a B, not an M) and patent maximalists, citing IAM and the latter, e.g. Daniel Ballard and J Nicholas Gross, whom we mentioned here before (not favourably), say “think these [are] generous + assume perfect monetization of these assets-which is impossible in current judicial climate” (probably Alice).
“Whenever Microsoft attacks Android/Google with patents it acts (towards Linux) like a wife beater being seen by an alibi ‘in the action’, then stating calmly “it’s nothing personal, don’t mind what you’re seeing here!””The term “perfect monetization” means litigation and extortion. They make it sound so legitimate with their euphemisms, don’t they? Just like IAM…
There are other patent boosters who wrote about it. They also cited the Murdoch-owned tabloid and criticised it as follows: “The New York Post reported this week that Yahoo’s patent portfolio could be worth up to $4 billion, as the company is currently seeking bidders in an auction for its core businesses. While the company has not explicitly discussed a separate patent sale, the value of the patent portfolio is likely to be a key factor in any ultimate sale price.”
Our main concern is that a Linux foe like Microsoft might try to take these patents, just like it took Novell’s. Remember that at least twice (just recently) Microsoft was abusing Google/Android/Linux with patents. That’s many times so far this year. Whenever Microsoft attacks Android/Google with patents it acts (towards Linux) like a wife beater being seen by an alibi ‘in the action’, then stating calmly “it’s nothing personal, don’t mind what you’re seeing here!” █
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Microsoft uses its money to interfere with and/or take over the competition
“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”
“I’m going to f—ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f—ing kill Google.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
Summary: Microsoft’s war on GNU/Linux and against Google is still alive and well, and Microsoft uses its money (what’s left of it) in an effort to get its way and basically undermine (or E.E.E.) the competition
According to this second-hand report from Sam Dean about Microsoft's DCOS buddies, “Microsoft has been rumored to have had its eyes on owning the company” (company behind DCOS, which is proprietary). 8 months ago we wrote about the real reason Microsoft veterans were investing in Mesosphere.
“8 months ago we wrote about the real reason Microsoft veterans were investing in Mesosphere.”What we basically deal with here is another Xamarin, again funded by people from Microsoft, only to be the subject of Microsoft acquisition (or attempted acquisition) later on. Microsoft actually did try to take over DCOS and make it its anti-GNU/Linux proxy. It’s half way there now because there are financial strings now. Dean cites a Microsoft booster (Matt Weinberger) as saying that “Microsoft is investing millions in a $1 billion startup that rejected its acquisition offer” (the headline).
To quote Weinberger: “Last year, reports emerged that Microsoft tried to buy Mesosphere, a hot cloud computing startup, for $150 million, only to get shut down.”
“What we basically deal with here is another Xamarin, again funded by people from Microsoft, only to be the subject of Microsoft acquisition (or attempted acquisition) later on.”So that’s a fact. At Mesosphere they ‘just’ took Microsoft money and hence strings, so it’s clear whose agenda will be served. EEE against GNU/Linux must be noted here. To quote further: “Mesosphere is announcing a new $73.5 million “strategic” investment, led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and with Microsoft listed as a “significant participant.””
It’s time to treat Mesosphere as a Microsoft proxy; little less, only more.
In related news, Microsoft is killing Yahoo again. Yahoo is not totally dead yet; it’s now run by a lady from Google, so the company apparently needs to die or be hijacked again by Microsoft. Microsoft Peter (Peter Bright) and Swisher make it abundantly clear that Microsoft is still a predator, not a real company. Based on Microsoft Peter’s article: “After Microsoft’s failed bid to buy Yahoo, the two companies signed agreements that would see Microsoft providing both search technology and advertising to Yahoo. While the terms of this deal have changed, with Redmond losing its exclusive arrangement last year, Yahoo nonetheless remains an important partner. Bing’s market share continues to grow each quarter, and Yahoo’s use of Bing search results is a key part of this success. [note: that’s a Microsoft lie/revisionism from Peter Bright]
“It’s time to treat Mesosphere as a Microsoft proxy; little less, only more.”“Redmond is keen to protect this important deal. Offering a private equity firm a billion or two in cheap financing would enable the company to preserve this partnership, while being substantially cheaper than buying the company itself. In spite of its previous interest, sources within Microsoft tell Swisher that it has no interest in buying Yahoo this time around. Companies that are interested are believed to include AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, along with a number of private equity firms.”
The New York Times, having come up with an eye-catching headline (unlike the spin from Microsoft Peter), says the “Entire Yahoo Board Would Be Ousted”. This sounds like the same thing which Microsoft did with Icahn almost 8 years ago.
“This sounds like the same thing which Microsoft did with Icahn almost 8 years ago.”The spin from Microsoft Peter says “Microsoft said to be wanting to help out Yahoo buyers with its own cash”; iophk responded with “if you twist the word ‘help’ enough.”
Another reader of ours laughed and wrote in IRC “mafia “help”” (hey, maybe they can send in Icahn again!).
Raiders, proxies, corporate coups — a Microsoft specialty. Maybe they’ll actually become a technology and software company one day. We covered in great detail what Microsoft had done to Yahoo! in the past in order to convert it from a third (or second) contender in search engines into just another ‘department’ of Microsoft. Microsoft did the same thing to Cyanogen (now a Trojan horse against Android/Google), Nokia, and it also ‘helped’ Novell (only to see the company dying within a few years, as expected, leaving the patents to Microsoft).
“…Microsoft is unmistakably still going after Yahoo after killing the vast majority of it.”Looking at another report about this, titled “Microsoft Tells Possible Yahoo Buyers It Would Consider Backing Bids With Big Bucks”, Microsoft is unmistakably still going after Yahoo after killing the vast majority of it.
It “looks like Yahoo is selling out,” said Mark in our IRC channels earlier today, adding that “they are looking to sell their core business; I’d say they are on the way out in any case; they lost what… 4 billion dollars last year?”
“Microsoft is the touch of death to almost everything…”
#techrightsThis is like classic Microsoft revisionism, however, e.g. for one to claim Yahoo was all along down and still going down (or that Microsoft tried to save them and help them). They were doing reasonably well before 2008 (like Nokia or Novell) and they do extremely poorly now; Microsoft’s intention has a lot to do with it. That’s like saying Novell failed in spite of Microsoft or that Microsoft tried to rescue Novell.
XRevan86 notes that “moving to Bing for Yahoo! was a total disaster.” It was indeed; it was a one-way relationship that destroyed the very core of Yahoo! and turned it into a vassal of Microsoft. There was no way back after that. The company was in a freefall.
“Microsoft is the touch of death to almost everything,” Mark concluded. █
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Microsoft is herding the masses back to Microsoft
Summary: Microsoft is trying to gain an ‘Edge’ in the game by preventing people from getting the Web browsers which they actually want to use — all this while publicly pretending to have ended its anti-competitive abuses
AT THE beginning of this week we saw openwashing of “Edge” (the “Blue E” by another name) in Microsoft propaganda sites (1105 Media) and among Microsoft boosters like Microsoft Peter. This was mentioned even in Phoronix and Ogg’s Monty wrote that “to be fair, this isn’t as fantastically unlikely as some pundits have been saying. After all, MS does own an IP stake in Opus.”
Microsoft adopts VP9, Opus, Ogg and Vorbis because it has to (the Web has these media formats all over it, including in high-profile sites such as YouTube), not because it is playing nice or anything like that. The same goes for implanting a driver for the proprietary Hyper-V inside Linux, which necessitated GPLv2 for the driver itself (after Microsoft had been caught violating the GPL).
“Edge” is a bunch of nonsense (rebranding of IE) for Vista 10, which is so anti-competitive that Mozilla openly complained. Don’t let Microsoft use this catchup with VP9 et al as a publicity stunt. As this new article serves to remind us this week, “Microsoft is trying to persuade users to keep Edge, the company’s new browser that replaces Internet Explorer, when they search for “Chrome” or “Firefox” on Bing.
“The discovery, made by VentureBeat, shows that users who use Edge in Windows 10 to search for other browsers get a small message that says: “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10″ with a link to a page explaining why.”
Well, welcome the ‘new’ Microsoft. It uses one monopoly to illegally gain another. █
“…[Windows 98] must be a killer on shipments so that Netscape never gets a chance…”
–Former Microsoft Vice President James Allchin in an internal memo
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Summary: The media should blame Microsoft, not Marissa Mayer, for what’s going on (and has been going on for 7 years) at Yahoo!
HAVING essentially killed Nokia and Novell by infiltrating them and taking control of them, Microsoft would like to have history rewritten. This is true also when it comes to Yahoo!, which Microsoft systematically killed from the inside and Yahoo! is now trying to push away to regain some independence.
Watch Marissa Mayer receiving heat for laying off a lot of Yahoo! staff. How about blaming those who induced this destruction in the first place? Microsoft has deliberately destroyed a lot of companies over the years, causing many people to become jobless and for their projects/work/code to be abandoned. To Microsoft, this is the strategy, which is why Microsoft layoffs are great news; they provide an opportunity for some other (law-abiding) companies to turn up and provide jobs to the unemployed engineers/programmers.
To repeat what Mayer has done, she made it possible for Yahoo! to altogether terminate the search ‘deal’ with Microsoft in 6 months. As one site put it: “The two companies have amended the terms of the Search and Advertising Sales agreement whereby the agreement could be terminated any time on or after October 1. The term of the deal was 10 years from its commencement date, February 23, 2010.”
Microsoft did to Yahoo! what it had done to Nokia, although the attack on Yahoo’s sovereignty in many ways and by several years predates the latter. The reason Mayer needs to lay off a lot of staff (no matter how she puts it or announces it, there’s no easy way!) is Microsoft’s abusive attacks on the company. As one article put it, “Yahoo! missed Wall Street’s revenue and profit forecasts as slight growth in its online advertising businesses was outweighed by higher payments to websites that send readers to the site. ”
Here is how Wall Street media put it: “Yahoo! Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer outlined plans to explore options for the company’s stake in its Japanese division, heartening investors dismayed by another report showing disappointing sales and profit.”
As with every ‘partnership’ in which Microsoft is involved, only one party benefits. It’s no wonder Yahoo! is going broke. The sooner it quits Microsoft and restores/bolsters its search teams, the faster it will manage to get out of this hole. Mayer inherited a total mess wherein Yahoo! is contractually committed to carry water (traffic) for Microsoft; it seems like she has been trying her best (since February) to escape this mess by all means necessary.
Appalling revisionism says that Yahoo! was failing before Microsoft attacked it and the same is being said about Nokia. This horrible case of misplaced blame is an insult to history. █
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Summary: Mozilla receives another reminder of the threat of depending on Microsoft for search
YESTERDAY’s various news reports indicated that Microsoft’s heavily biased ‘search’ had collapsed. This had a knock-on effect on the Microsoft-occupied Yahoo because it had foolishly outsourced its search and essentially became dependent on Windows kludge from another company. Now that Mozilla’s Firefox search is dependent on this Windows kludge from a notorious PRISM company that works with the NSA (one that does not even fight back), expect it not to function sometimes. This should be a wake-up call for Mozilla. To quote the report from the British press (citing another source): “Microsoft and Yahoo!’s search engines may hold much smaller portions of the market, which is dominated by ad giant Google, but folk still noticed when the services went dark for a short period on Friday.
“This should be a wake-up call for Mozilla.”“Reuters, citing a person briefed on the outages, reported today that the search engines went titsup after Redmond mistakenly deployed a dodgy code update on its servers.” █
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The fall of the Gecko (Mozilla)
Summary: Mozilla is letting Microsoft manage users’ data in Firefox, including keystrokes in the address bar
TECHRIGHTS has published plenty of pro-Mozilla and pro-Firefox articles over the years. Speaking for myself, I have posted literally thousands of pro-Firefox links over the past decade as I viewed Firefox as the software that rescued the Web from Microsoft’s monopoly and iron grip. It was Firefox that had Web developers cease their Internet Explorer-only mentality (or dogma). It is with deep regrets that I have to revoke my support for Firefox, not just because of its treatment of Eich, the company’s pro-DRM apologists, the ads, and now the privacy compromises. This post is an accumulation of a fortnight of sad news about Mozilla. The saddest thing is that Mozilla does not view this as sad news, or at least doesn’t want the public to view it that way.
Let us agree that the relationship between surveillance and ads is a close one, but one must not be treated as interchangeable with the other. This post is not a rant about ads, which to be realistic is truly a growing business model, especially on the Web. That alone is not the problem. This post is also not provocation or trolling but the expression of genuine concern for a project and a company I have loved and wish to still love (if they rectify their act, despite the seemingly irrevocable nature of some recent moves).
Ads are not the main problem with Mozilla, even though it sure helps discredit Free software projects like Fedora, so Fedora is planning to dump Firefox (except if one installs it from the repositories). Free software does not go well with ads (Linux Mint received flak for a controversial approach to such a business model), so it is not too shocking that Fedorans are unhappy with the move. This serves to show that Mozilla’s appeal to advertisers is in fact backfiring. They’re losing market share that way. As Internet News put it, “Fedora Linux [is] Set to Abandon Firefox over Advertising Issue”. Not everyone has a problem with ads, especially when these can be blocked. As one pro-GNU/Linux and BSD site put it: “That Sponsored Tiles program from Mozilla, which I first wrote about in Mozilla to sell ads in Firefox browser via the Directory Tiles program, has gone live.”
One might have to download a cutting-edge build to see it. Again, it’s not the ads that we’re worried about.
Putting aside the fact that spies use ads for surveillance (a good example might be something along the lines of Angry Birds), the NSA sure works very closely with Microsoft. It’s a strong relationship that goes back to the 1990s. A lot of people, perhaps influenced by Microsoft’s massive (multi-million) anti-Google PR campaign, look the other way and accuse only Google of privacy violations in search, E-mail etc. There is news right now that says Google allows privacy for a fee (or at least removal of privacy-infringing ads). It’s a substitute for the ads business model. To quote the Romania-based SoftPedia: “Google is always looking to diversify its online advertising policy and you might think that there is little left to do in this regard. It appears that Google has found yet another way to monetize ads, both for itself and for the website, but this time the power rests in the users’ hands.”
That is actually a good thing, no matter how Microsoft’s anti-Google PR tries to spin it.
Then comes the news about Mozilla breaking up with Google despite the fact that “Mozilla gets more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google” (which was a good thing, as it helped fund Free software).
One longtime Firefox observer wrote that “Firefox maker remains ‘utterly confident’ as revenue growth sputters”. What are they so confident about? Firefox has been Google-reliant for quite some time; it’s no secret. To remove that reliance one needs to find hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (or otherwise shrink considerably). What other than selling out to the “devil we don’t know” (or the devil we do know in the case of Microsoft) can possibly achieve that? Thunderbird already sold its users out in that horrible way by linking to Microsoft (“Bing”) just before Mozilla abandoned Thunderbird development. Firefox is now going down a similar route, putting aside attempts to raise donations (now in Bitcoin form, too). According to this article, Mozilla was really loaded with money up until now. A reader of ours asked us: “What is the money spent on? Not Thunderbird or Firefox, obviously.”
Marketing, or perhaps even face-saving projects, used up much of the budget, not important projects (with PGP support) such as Thunderbird. As Mozilla had hundreds of millions of dollars coming in, the old excuses about not maintaining Thunderbird because people use GMail (PRISM) are utter nonsense. Yes, when Mozilla stopped Thunderbird development (with easy-to-use PGP support through Enigmail) it said people were moving to to hosted mail (PRISM/NSA), naming GMail by name. Guess who bankrolled Mozilla at the time…
Either way, the problem with the move away from Google is that Mozilla now actively helps a sworn enemy of FOSS and GNU/Linux (ignore the PR nonsense about Microsoft “loving” Linux and other such self-serving lies that we debunked last month and earlier this month). In addition there’s the privacy factor, but it’s not the main point. “Why Mozilla is scared of Google” was one headline of interest and the respective article said: “For the last 10 years, Google has had that business almost entirely to itself. Every time you make a search through that bar, Google makes a little bit of money from ads and passes a piece of that money on to the browser through AdSense’s revenue sharing deal. That adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars for companies like Mozilla, but the money can produce some strange incentives. Google’s making a browser too, and it may not want to support Chrome’s competitors forever. Suddenly, the short-term money starts to look like a long-term liability.”
But Microsoft makes a Web browser too. There’s no point using “Chrome” as a reason for Mozilla to fear Google but not Microsoft, which makes the much worse and standards-hostile Internet Explorer that Windows imposes on PC buyers. Chrome is at least based on Free software (which Chormium is), whereas Internet Explorer is purely proprietary. Firefox can reuse code from Chrome.
According to this article, things are getting worse with the shift to Microsoft because Mozilla now lets Microsoft log keystrokes in the address bar (see the screenshot). How ridiculous is that (even if that behaviour can be disabled)? Very sad.
One pundit says that “despite losing Google as its cash cow, Mozilla isn’t dead yet”, noting: “Its Google advertising contract was coming to an end. With 90 percent of Mozilla’s income coming from Google, it was far from good news. With the contract ending in November, and no reason for Google to renew the deal with its Chrome Web browser success, things were looking dark as an overcast, moonless night for Mozilla.”
So what? Moving to Microsoft (through Yahoo) is not independence, it’s even worse than before. Mozilla cannot assert independence by becoming dependent on Microsoft and the NSA through Yahoo. Microsoft is not “Choice and Innovation” (as Mozilla tries to frame it), it’s espionage and blackmail (with patents). The company’s head said: “In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence”
That’s a joke, right?
Yahoo is now just a front end of “Bing” (in the US, where the Mozilla deal was signed for), so we might as well just speak about Microsoft here, not Yahoo (the covert façade). If Mozilla continues to sell out its users, now by diverting users’ searches to Microsoft (via Yahoo) like Canonical tried several years ago, then we as users need to speak out. The boosters of the monopolist, people like Microsoft Peter, sure love this deal. It is good for Microsoft.
It’s Not About Yahoo, It’s Microsoft
Mozilla has clearly learned nothing about Ubuntu’s mistake with Yahoo — a mistake that was realised later and the plan undone. As Lirodon put it in our IRC channels, “Microsoft’s Yahoo-branded front-end of Bing is going to be Firefox’s new default search engine,” but we do not see enough people willing to chastise Mozilla over this. Microsoft only (by default) is not “multiple-search-partner” as LWN put it, and this should be rather clear. Putting aside the DRM, the ads and other controversies and scandals, this is quite serious and merely the latest step. It is just one among other misguided decisions that turned a once-awesome company into a one that compromises and even abandons principles, hopelessly thinking it would help it gain market share rather than the very opposite.
Sam Dean wrote about this deal and recalled that Mozilla “has historically gotten more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google, to the tune of $300 million recently, in exchange for search placement in the Firefox browser. That has completely changed, and now Mozilla has struck a similar five-year deal with Yahoo.”
5 years being stuck with Microsoft. And they probably cannot even revoke this deal. It’s similar to the 5-year (since 2006) Microsoft-Novell deal (also irrevocable, despite huge amounts of criticism). Some years ago Mozilla put some pressure on Google by flirting with the idea of a Microsoft deal. Can Google perhaps still save Mozilla from this horrible dependency? Press reports make that seem unlikely and few articles even point out that Yahoo is a relay for Microsoft (US searches done purely by Microsoft, meaning that Yahoo search is essentially just “Bing” in the US), after a corruptions parade and a corporate coup. Those who are implying that Google is in Yahoo because of the CEO (see the sneaky remarks about the CEO) must not have followed recent events closely enough. To quote one take on this:
It had been reported that Google and Mozilla were still negotiating on renewing their deal, but apparently that has failed (in the U.S) at least. No word (yet) on how much the Yahoo deal is worth to Mozilla, but it’s likely a good deal for Yahoo.
No, for Microsoft. Yahoo searches in the US are Microsoft’s business.
Christine Hall wrote:
There’s just one teeny-tiny little problem. For the last several years, Yahoo has been obtaining its search results from Bing, owned by Microsoft, with no indication this will change. I’m not exactly sure how the Microsoft/Yahoo deal works, but you can be sure that some money goes to Redmond each and every time a search is done via the web portal, something that many FOSS supporters might find unacceptable.
She is right. If only more people got this story right, perhaps there would be an uproar big enough and Mozilla would cancel the Microsoft (through Yahoo!) deal. Tell Mozilla what you think; get this mess undone before it’s too late and even incorporated into new stable releases. █
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Image by Will Hill
Summary: Another warning about Duck Duck Go, the so-called ‘search engine’ which actually relays results from Microsoft on top of Amazon-hosted servers
THE search engine that people routinely use is a very big deal. It’s a big decision. People tend to throw around clues about medical conditions they are having, technical issues, names of people they are stalking, political views and so much more. Now we are getting yet more proof that people’s searching habits may also, in fact, lead to their assassination or character assassination some day in the future, even decades from now. Leaderships change over time and so do rules or regulations (this is often referred to as “turnkey tyranny”). Just look what Japan and Germany did 75 years ago, killing (executing) millions of people based on broad profiling. Read about Sook Ching (肃清) for example.
Giant octopus grasping the Earth (with its teeth on top of North America, implying perhaps domestic spying and more) is a logo that recently came from the NSA itself, as hard as it may be to believe (seen at the top right, unaltered). We already know, based on Snowden’s heroic actions, that the NSA is very much connected to the CIA’s drones strikes and US citizens are among the targets. We post many links about these issues because they’re enormously important.
Sadly, many people believe the false promise of privacy at Duck Duck Go. The illusion of privacy is worse than no privacy at all because it gives people a false sense of security that leads them to doing what they otherwise would not.
Now that some FOSS sites foolishly promote Duck Duck Go (or affiliated services) we wish to remind readers that for several clear reasons Duck Duck Go is a sham when it comes to privacy. We have already explained why. We wrote about this several times before and Will Hill put together some of the arguments against Duck Duck Go.
Michael Hayden (former head of both the CIA and the NSA, who laid the ground for much of the existing policy) says that “we kill people based on metadata”. This means all sorts of things. They are using people’s search phrases and other shallow things (perhaps browsing habits, not just phonecall records) as long as these are compact to store and analyse (data-mine). As storage gets cheaper and resources for computation grow (thanks to an Amazon deal), the more they collect from more people. Dossiers gathered by automated profiling are used to predict or assess people’s thoughts, even when they might be studying/researching things (e.g. looking up Hitler-related stuff for curiosity, not for support). This can also be used to justify murder of civilians by drones after they are killed (justification by alignment of so-called ‘evidence’ after the act).
Hayden’s remarks were noted in our latest daily links and are now going quite viral on the Internet. The same correlation that says drone assassinations are driven by ‘metadata’ was noted some months ago in The Intercept, based on a source other than Hayden, so even though Hayden is a pathological liar, herein we have some corroboration.
Don’t give the NSA ‘dirt’ with which to paint you a “bad person” worthy of death, smearing, etc. The NSA uses data for espionage, so it needn’t have to do anything with national security, just national interests (meaning corporations’ interests). Every single person has, at one point or another, searched the Web for some phrase that may be interpreted by an outsider as suspicious, especially if context gets removed. Duck Duck Go is a dangerous search engine to be using at the very least because it’s hosted by Amazon, which received $600,000,000 from the CIA to help keep every bit of data (mass surveillance) forever. █
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Summary: Litigation by proxy still a hot trend, where Microsoft is the supplier and parasites like Vringo are the executioners
WELL, we sure saw it coming. We have followed Vringo for years, especially after Microsoft/Nokia passed it some ammunition that hits Google where it hurts. Microsoft even paid Vringo.
We are by no means going to defend Google Search, which is horrible surveillance (so-called ‘replacements’ like Duck Duck Go are even worse in some ways), but the point worth making here is that Microsoft and its proxies continue to hassle Google. Here is Joe Mullin’s report  on the latest development. It’s a shame that Microsoft’s role is hardly emphasised. Our Wiki has a more complete chronology of it. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Vringo is a tiny company that purchased some patents from Lycos, an old search engine, in 2011 and then used those patents to sue Google. In December 2012, Vringo won $30 million in a jury trial, but that was far less than the hundreds of millions it was seeking.
Today, Vringo got the payout it was looking for: a 1.36 percent running royalty on US-based revenue from AdWords, Google’s flagship program. US District Judge Raymond Jackson had already ruled last week (PDF) that the AdWords program, which was tweaked by Google after the Vringo verdict, wasn’t “colorably different” from the old infringing program. He gave Google and Vringo one last session to hammer out a royalty rate, and when they couldn’t, he went ahead and set it (PDF)—at almost exactly the rate Vringo was seeking.
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