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Links 14/2/2015: End of Google Code, Split of Google+

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • New Role At WiPro
    I’ve news. Starting today, I will be working full time in a new role. I’m now a Director at the global consulting firm WiPro in their Open Source practice, advising both customers and implementation teams on open source issues concerning software selection, community engagement, license compliance and more. You’ll find me at a variety of conferences and events, and I’ll continue to write for InfoWorld and others.

  • SageTV to go open source (four years after Google acquired the media center/DVR software)
    SageTV was a cross-platform media center application and digital video recorder tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. I say “was” because Google acquired the company in 2011 and used the technology for its Google Fiber TV service.

  • 4 tips for breaking into an open source community
    My two biggest dreams growing up were to be either a firefighter or a space explorer. Though I didn’t get to do either of those things, I satisfy the former via being a volunteer in prevention with Cal Fire, California’s state fire department, and the latter by reading everything I can get my hands on about space—both fiction and non-fiction.

  • 3 key elements that define every open source project
    Open source has come a long way in the past 30 years and is entering the consciousness of most modern cultures. When thinking of open source projects, people categorize them several ways: governance structure, type of product platform, programming language, utility, technical details (language written in), industry sponsored or fully independent, and more.

  • 5 ways to answer questions the open source way
    Are we, as a group, more interested in enforcing a specific set of behaviors, or are we more interested in fostering a culture of respect, collaboration, and participation? To view interlocutors as "offenders" ensures the former. I'm much more interested in the latter.

  • Why open source works
    Trying to explain why open source works, you can of course point to the Cathedral and the Bazaar by Erik. But the kernel development process shows it happening 'in real time', every day, and that's a major reason why I so enjoy reading the weekly LWN.

  • 5 ways to answer questions the open source way
    Eric Raymond's How to Ask Questions the Smart Way was published in 2001 and has been very popular ever since. It gets referenced on my local Linux User Group mailing list with some frequency (usually alongside an admonishment to stop top-posting). To be sure, it contains a lot of good advice for how to perform research, how to frame a question, and what salient information is generally a minimum required to solicit help.

  • Algorithmia aims to be the open source app store for algorithms and APIs
    A startup fresh out of private beta offers a three-way intersection between machine learning, the API economy, and open source developers' need to monetize their creations.

    Algorithmia, which launched privately last year, allows users to build algorithms, make them available as a Web service, and monetize them.

    The service can be used in two basic ways: either by calling algorithms available in the system via its REST API (with examples provided), or by writing and submitting the algorithms to be used. Each algorithm has its own interactive console page, so they can be tried out directly on the Web without needing to write and implement code. Many of the algorithms are original creations; others are implementations of existing software, such as a tokenizer based on Apache OpenNLP.

  • Google is using Microsoft's TypeScript to build Angular 2, its open source mobile development platform

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Releases Open Source Masche Forensics Tool
        Mozilla has released an open source memory forensics tool that some college students designed and built during the company’s recent Winter of Security event.

        The new tool, known as Masche, is designed specifically for investigating server memory and has the advantage of being able to scan running processes without causing any problems with the machine. Masche runs on Linux, OS X and Windows and Mozilla has posted the code on GitHub.

      • Mozilla Firefox 36 Adds HTTP/2 Support, Pinned Tile Syncing, and More
        Mozilla, in the latest version of its Firefox browser has introduced support for the newly finalised HTTP/2 network protocol along with other features. Firefox 36 is currently only available for Windows, OS X, and Linux desktop systems.

      • WebRTC requires Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) starting in Firefox 38
        Today, we are announcing that Firefox 38 will take further measures to secure users’ communications by removing support in WebRTC for all DTLS cipher suites that do not support forward secrecy. For developers: if you have a WebRTC application or server that doesn’t support PFS ciphers, you will need to update your code.

      • Unreal Engine 4.7 Binary Release Includes HTML5 Export
        With the launch of Unreal Engine 4.7, Epic Games has added the ability to export to HTML5 as a regular part of their Windows binary engine releases. One of the world’s most advanced game engines is one step closer to delivering truly amazing content right in your browser. With this addition, developers will be able to create content in Unreal Engine 4.7, immediately compile it to the Web, and launch it in their browser of choice with the click of a button.

      • Firefox 36 Gains HTTP/2 Support, Fixes Critical Vulnerabilities
        Mozilla's Firefox 36 debuts with support for HTTP/2 protocol as well as 17 security advisories for vulnerabilities that have been patched in the open-source browser.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Apache Tajo Update Offers Open, Relational Big Data Warehousing Solution
      Now here is an interesting open source project that has been flying under the radar: The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), which stewards more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, announced the availability of Apache Tajo v0.10.0, the latest version of the advanced open data warehousing system in Apache Hadoop.

  • Databases

    • An open source database for realtime applications
      To learn more about RethinkDB, we caught up with Slava Akhmechet. Akhmechet is the founder of RethinkDB, the company with the same name as the open source project. Before founding RethinkDB, he was a systems engineer in the financial industry, working on scaling custom database systems. He is currently a PhD student on leave from a program in Computational Neuroscience at Stony Brook University.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross
      Stross is a long-time Linux user who only uses Word because the publishing industry expects he will. But he's not alone in loathing the necessity to do so: fellow UK science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds says the application "drives me to distraction."

    • Review: LibreOffice 4.4 raises the bar
      The developers behind LibreOffice, the free and open source productivity suite forked from OpenOffice, have sweated and bled to advance the toolkit over the past couple of years. The effort has paid off: It’s a no-brainer to recommend LibreOffice over OpenOffice, thanks to Libre’s consistent release schedule and the increasingly polished quality of the product.

      Now for the bigger question: Can you recommend LibreOffice in the same breath as Microsoft Office? The short answer: Maybe. To its credit, LibreOffice 4.4 handles old- and new-school Microsoft Office documents better than ever before -- no small feat considering how prohibitively complex such documents can be. If you plan on using LibreOffice as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office, know that document compatibility is still a roll of the dice -- but with each revision LibreOffice is improving the odds.

  • CMS

    • New Joomla release warrants second look for CMS deployments
      Joomla! is a highly-extendable content management system (CMS) licensed under the GNU GPL written in PHP that readily scales from small websites to large projects. Joomla was designed with extensibility in mind -- a wide variety of extensions are available for the needs of the audience. Importantly, Joomla can be easily adapted to a wide variety of use cases, including as for a corporate intranet, as an e-commerce platform, or for web presence and information, as is the case for the Guggenheim Museum website, which runs on Joomla.

  • Business

    • Open-Source Solutions As A Business Model
      Increased interest in privacy issues – particularly in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region – is driving interest in new software security solutions. This has combined with a change in attitude towards open-source solutions to create an opportunity for businesses.

    • Why Every Company Should Be Thinking Open-Source, But Many Still Aren't

    • Why we ditched our legacy framework for Symfony
      If eZ Systems isn't a name you’re familiar with, allow us to introduce ourselves: eZ is a commercial open source software vendor. We provide a content management system (CMS) and platform known as eZ Publish, which will soon be known as eZ Platform. eZ serves as a foundation for digital businesses, providing value-added solutions on top of our open source CMS platform.

  • Funding

    • Why Open Source Freeriding is a Good Idea
      Are you cheating if you download open source software without paying for it? Recently, Linux distribution elementaryOS angered users by implying that you are -- an opinion that is hardly new, but no more valid than the last dozen times anyone voiced it.

  • BSD


    • GNU ccd2cue 0.4 released

    • GNU Guile-SDL 0.5.2 available
      GNU Guile-SDL is Guile plus SDL. Simple, no?

    • The Boundary Between Hardware And Software
      Running free gate patterns on FPGAs could potentially be a useful method for making digital devices that are free at the circuit level. However, to make FPGAs usable in the free world, we need free development tools for them. The obstacle is that the format of the gate pattern file that gets loaded into the FPGA is secret. Until recently there was no model of FPGA for which those files could be produced without nonfree (proprietary) tools.

    • Watch Your Freedom (Because Apple's Not)
      At Apple's "Spring Forward" press event on Monday, March 9, the electronics company expounded upon its plans to release a smartwatch and revealed updates to its MacBook computer line, among other announcements. Underneath their focus on "innovation" and "design," however, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other participating speakers neglected to address growing concerns about the proprietary software and Digital Restrictions Management technologies distributed with its products and services, which only serve to extend the company's oppression of computer users and their freedoms.

    • GNU Guix recruits for GSoC
      This year again Guix participates in the Google Summer of Code under the umbrella of the GNU Project.

    • GNU ccd2cue 0.5 released

    • March 2015, “Community Choice” Project of the Month – GnuCash
      For our March “Community Choice” Project of the Month, the community elected GnuCash, an easy-to-use personal and small-business finance manager with a checkbook like appearance. The GnuCash team shared their thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

  • Project Releases

    • Kodi (XBMC Media Center) 14.2 RC1 Released with a Bunch of Fixes
      The Kodi development team has announced the immediate availability for download and testing of the RC (Release Candidate) version of the upcoming Kodi 14.2 media center software for GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Apple TV, and Raspberry Pi. This release brings a bunch of fixes that aim to improve the stability of the application on all supported platforms.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Greens Put German Foreign Affairs On The Hot Seat Over FLOSS

    • German Greens ask Foreign Affairs to amend way
      The Greens in the German parliament want the Foreign Ministry to revert back to open source software solutions on its workstations. The ministry in 2010 abandoned its open source desktop strategy, pressured by staffers struggling with interoperability problems. The Greens are now asking the ministry to justify the proprietary licence costs it has made since then.

    • Should governments develop their own software?
      Is the alternative that every government agency bear the cost and effort of writing its own software? Clearly this doesn't make much sense either. As often happens when an economic arrangement becomes impaired over time, cutting out the middleman solves the problem—the middleman here being for-profit enterprises that manage the production and costs of vital software systems.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Vapor Contributes Open Data Center Runtime Environment to Open Compute Project
      At the Open Compute Project Summit this week, startup Vapor announced a new open-source specification designed to help manage data center environments.

    • Connect globally, educate openly: Open Education Week 2015
      Open Education Week (OEW) is an annual, global event and will take place this year from March 9-13, 2015. The event aims to raise awareness and celebrate achievements of the global Open Education Movement.

    • A new home for OpenStack user groups, DBaaS as a stack of pancakes, and more

    • Apple releases ResearchKit, Linux adopts a code of conflict, and more

    • OpenSpecimen streamlines management of biospecimen data
      Access to high-quality human biospecimens such as blood, saliva, plasma, DNA, and RNA is integral to developing a better understanding of diseases and advancing molecular technologies, clinical trial research, personalized medicine research, and clinical practice.

    • Open Data

      • WANdisco Joins Hadoop Open Data Platform Alliance
        Recently, we've been covering the Open Data Platform, recently announced by Pivotal, which is shaping up to be very influential in the Hadoop and Big Data market. Now, WANdisco, a provider of continuous-availability software for global enterprises working with Big Data, has announced that it has joined the Open Data Platform (ODP) Initiative. WANdisco has patented technology that enables Hadoop availability across data centers that can be very far apart, while also securing data.

      • What open data really means for government
        I recently attended the Triangle Open Data Day (TODD) conference at North Carolina State’s campus in Raleigh, an event sponsored by Code for America. On the surface, the open data movement is about getting local, state, and federal government to publish data in a way that citizens can use it. This means publishing reports, spreadsheets, and other documentation online -- and it scales to mean publishing data sets with APIs, so applications all over the place can build upon and extend those data sets.

    • Open Hardware

      • What's in a name: The battle for the soul of Arduino
        That was the question many Italians were asking recently when reports appeared in local media that Massimo Banzi, co-founder and high-profile figurehead for the popular open hardware project, was stepping down from managing the initiative. The lead was to be taken by Federico Musto, CEO of Dog Hunter, an Internet of Things company that had previously contributed to Yun, a family of wi-fi products that combine Arduino and Linux.

  • Programming


  • ​BitTorrent Sync 2.0: For all your business file-sharing needs
    There are endless ways to share files between devices. Some of them are complex, ftp and Network File System (NFS). Some, such as Apple Bonjour and Windows Homegroup, work with only a few operating systems. Still others, like Dropbox and Google Drive, require you to use a cloud. Then, there's BitTorrent Sync 2.0, which is easy to use, works with most devices, and doesn't use a cloud.

  • Why Google+ is splitting into photos and streams

  • Google+ officially splits into Photos and Streams

  • The death of Google+
    So I got up very early this morning after suffering through the night with a new oral sleep apnea appliance. I haven’t gotten much sleep so I’m a bit bleary-eyed as I write this post. Anyway, I checked my email as I usually do and found a note from a friend mentioning that something had happened to Google+.

  • Why CTOs must design for developers right from the start
    In today's integrated world, no software can stand on its own. So CTOs need to create APIs right from the start — and consider developers as they would end users. That advice comes from Uri Sarid, CTO at MuleSoft, which helps organizations connect data, applications, and devices. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on the importance of interoperability.

  • Science

  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Cyberweapons Have No Allegiance
      ...NSA has worked to ensure that anyone can use packet injection to hack into computers.

    • #AskHamas Twitter campaign backfires on Gaza group
      Initiative by Palestinian terror organization to ‘introduce itself to the world’ met with mockery

    • American social media companies wage war on ISIS
      On Sunday, an image circulated showing Islamic State supporters allegedly threatening Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter, in retaliation for the social network engaging an escalating war against the militant group.

    • Funny How Russian Propaganda, US Free Press Produce Exact Same Mood Swings

      The "anti-Western anger" has been "fed by the powerful antagonism on Russian federal television channels" since "Putin cranked up the volume after protest movements in late 2011 and 2012, which he blamed on the State Department."


      Funny thing, though–the anti-American sentiment in Russia is pretty much a mirror image of anti-Russian sentiment in the United States, which has likewise risen to record heights since polling began roughly 25 years ago.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Julian Assange case: Sweden U-turn on questioning
      Swedish prosecutors have offered to travel to London to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over sex assault allegations.

      Prosecutors had previously insisted on questioning Mr Assange in Sweden, after seeking his arrest in 2010.

      Mr Assange denies the assault claims and has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.

    • Swedish Prosecutor Opts to Interview Julian Assange in London
      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spent nearly three years in an Ecuadorian embassy in London in an effort to avoid both charges from the United States regarding the dissemination of classified information as well as a nearly five-year investigation that alleges Assange committed sex crimes in Sweden. With the statue of limitations in the latter case set to expire this August, Swedish prosecutors hope to travel to London to interview Assange in the near future in a last-ditch effort to decide whether to pursue charges.

    • The George W. Bush email scandal the media has conveniently forgotten
      Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

    • Most Agencies Falling Short on Mandate for Online Records
      Audit checked 165 federal offices, found only 67 with updated and populated online libraries; Some 17 "E-Star" agencies disprove common excuses of cost and disability compliance

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Gov. Rick Scott’s ban on climate change term extended to other state agencies
      No one told Bart Bibler not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” during his six months on the job at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

      Then, on March 4, he walked into a Florida Coastal Managers Forum, a teleconference with representatives from other state agencies.

    • Senator Whitehouse Exposes ALEC Climate Change Denial
      This week, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), took to the Senate floor to call upon America to “wake up” to the damaging effects of climate change denial and the fossil fuel industry funding received by groups that promote it, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate bill mill that has been pushing a destructive agenda of climate change denial.

    • Getting Media to Take Climate Threats Seriously? There's a Snowball's Chance
      Inhofe (R-Ok.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, took to the Senate floor recently to try to debunk what he called the "hysteria on global warming" by holding a snowball. While the Washington Post editorialized that the performance was a "national embarrassment"–despite the paper having columnists on staff who make similarly absurd arguments (FAIR Blog, 3/3/15)–NBC's Meet the Press (3/1/15) had a different reaction to Inhofe's performance.

    • Roundup Found In 75% of Air and Rain Samples, Gov. Study Finds
      A study conducted by US Geological Survey scientists found traces of the Monsanto Corporation’s Roundup herbicide in 75% of rain and air samples tested. The study, “Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007,” appeared in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, in 2014.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • China wants Silicon Valley's encryption keys: Good business, or get out?
      China wants the encryption keys from U.S. technology companies as part of a counter-terrorism law. The draft law leaves U.S. tech giants with two options: Play ball or get out.

    • Meet the free encryption app that promises to put your privacy first
      The Cryptocat developer's new team aims to get easy file and message encryption into everyone's hands, which could give Gmail and Dropbox (and the NSA) a run for their money.

    • Silent Circle targets enterprise users with 'world first' privacy ecosystem
      Encrypted communications provider Silent Circle has raised approximately $50 million in a funding round aimed at pushing the company forward in the enterprise market.

    • Privacy defending Blackphone 2 and Blackphone tablet announced
      Silent Circle, the Swiss manufacturer of the super-secret Blackphone, has announced a second in its line of secure handsets for the masses along with a seven-inch tablet running its own PrivatOS 1.1 and a suite of new apps for business.

    • Hacked Fridges Aren’t the Internet of Things’ Biggest Worry
      As we start to connect more and more of the things in our lives to the web—from our cars to our to thermostats to our barbecue grills—it’s hard not to worry about those things being hacked. No one wants their toaster to become a spambot, after all.
    • Disappointing: Google Not Yet Requiring Phone Makers To Encrypt By Default
      Well, this is disappointing. Back in September, we were happy to see both Apple and Google announced that their mobile platforms would be encrypted by default (for local storage, not for data transmissions), which has kicked off something of a new round of Crypto Wars, as law enforcement types have shoved each other aside to spread as much possible FUD about the "dangers" of mobile encryption (ignoring that they also recommend mobile encryption to keep your data safe).

    • Jolla Partners To Build Secure Version Of Its Sailfish Mobile OS
      Another security-focused development in the European mobile space: Finnish mobile startup Jolla, which develops the Sailfish mobile OS and its own brand mobile hardware, has just announced it will be partnering to create a “security hardened” version of the platform, called Sailfish Secure.

    • MWC: Jolla pitches Sailfish Secure OS as Europe's only safe mobile option
      FINNISH MOBILE PHONE FIRM Jolla is working with partners to bring a toughened version of its Sailfish OS to a range of hardware.
    • Thought Komodia/Superfish Bug Was Really, Really Bad? It's Much, Much Worse!
      With each passing day, it appears that new revelations come out, detailing how the Komodia/Superfish malware is even worse than originally expected. If you don't recall, last week it came out that Lenovo was installing a bit of software called "Superfish" as a default bloatware on a bunch of its "consumer" laptops. The software tried to pop up useful alternative shopping results for images. But in order to work on HTTPS-encrypted sites, Superfish made use of a nasty (and horribly implemented) "SSL hijacker" from Komodia, which installed a self-signed root certificate that basically allowed anyone to issue totally fake security certificates for any encrypted connection, enabling very easy man-in-the-middle attacks. Among the many, many, many stupid things about the way Komodia worked, was that it used the same certificate on each installation of Superfish, and it had an easily cracked password: "komodia" which was true on apparently every product that used Komodia. And researchers have discovered that a whole bunch of products use Komodia, putting a ton of people at risk. People have discovered at least 12 products that make use of Komodia.

    • AT&T's $30 'Don't Be Snooped On' Fee Is Even Worse Than Everybody Thought
      Last week we noted that while AT&T has been trying to match Google Fiber pricing in small portions of several markets, it has been busily doing it in a very AT&T fashion. While the company is offering a $70, 1 Gbps service in some locations, the fine print indicates that users can only get that price point if they agree to AT&T's Internet Preferences snoopvertising program. That program uses deep packet inspection to track your online behavior down to the second -- and if you want to opt out, that $70 1 Gbps broadband connection quickly becomes significantly more expensive.
    • Why I’ve Chosen To Go With Private Internet Access
      Some people have noticed I’m writing for a VPN service, and having my regular commentary on liberties presented by that VPN service: by Private Internet Access VPN. Seeing my previous stance on advertising, I think it merits some explanation why I’m choosing to associate with a service brand.

    • The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection”
      Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.
    • UK surveillance legislation not fit for purpose, lacks transparency.

    • We Now Know The NSA And GCHQ Have Subverted Most (All?) Of The Digital World: So Why Can't We See Any Benefits?
      First, that the recent attempts by politicians to demonize strong encryption look like an attempt to cover up the fact that most digital systems are already vulnerable using one or more of the techniques that have been revealed over the last year or two. That is, the NSA and GCHQ can probably access most digital content stored or transmitted in any way -- either because the encryption itself or the end-points have been compromised. Even standalone strong encryption systems like PGP -- thought still to be immune to direct attacks -- can be circumvented by breaking into the systems on which they are used.

      Perhaps the dark hints that encryption could be banned or backdoored are simply part of a cynical ploy to present such an appalling vision of what could happen, that we gladly accept anything less extreme without complaint. In fact, the authorities have no intention of attempting anything so stupid -- it would put all online business at risk -- because they don't need to: they already have methods to access everything anyway.
    • Twitter starts tracking phone numbers to prevent its worst users from creating new accounts
      Weeks after The Verge published internal memos from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in which he said "we suck at dealing with abuse," the company is rolling out new tools to reduce harassment on the service. Under the changes, users who receive temporary bans may have to verify an email address or a phone number to resume using Twitter. (Other users can be banned permanently.) Email addresses are relatively easy to obtain, but phone numbers are harder — and by checking phone numbers against a list of banned users, Twitter could be able to keep more abusers and harassers from creating accounts.

    • Senator Asks FCC To Explain Its Involvement In The Proliferation Of Stingray Devices
      Despite the feds' best efforts to keep IMSI catchers (Stingray devices, colloquially and almost certainly to the dismay of manufacturer Harris Corporation, as they head to becoming the kleenex of surveillance tech) a secret, there's still enough information leaking out around the edges of the FBI's non-disclosure agreements to provoke public discussion.
    • Facebook's Colonies
      But aside from ideals and growth markets, the report highlights a tension inherent to the question of access: When Facebook sets sail to disconnected markets, what version of the internet will it bring?

    • Evidence Copy Of 'CitizenFour' Needs To Be 'Locked Up' Claims Plaintiff Suing Snowden, Filmmakers For Billions
      The billion-dollar lawsuit against the producers of the Edward Snowden documentary CitizenFour rolls on, gradually unraveling as it does. Since we last covered the story (where the United States of America was added as an involuntary plaintiff -- a plaintiff since forcibly removed by the court), a lot has happened. For one, CitizenFour won an Oscar for Best Documentary, something that can't be sitting too well with Horace Edwards and his legal representation, which sought to have the film removed from consideration during the early days of this lawsuit.

    • Report Says UK Citizens Must Give Up Right To Privacy Because 'Terrorism', Reveals Huge Secret Government Databases
      And that's it: basically, the ISC is saying that all that is needed is a bit of a legal tidying-up. In terms of more detailed recommendations, the report suggests that the abuse of interception powers should be made a criminal offense -- currently it isn't -- and that a new category of metadata called "Communications Data Plus", which includes things like Web addresses, needs slightly greater protection than "traditional" telephone metadata.

  • Civil Rights

    • John Brennan’s Careful Dodge of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Abuses
      In his appearance as the Council on Foreign Relations today, a woman with Human Rights Watch listed (starting at 56:30) a number of abuses our “partners” in the fight against ISIL engage in, including,

      The ABC report of egregious abuses committed by some of Iraq’s elite military units Iraqi militias carrying out ISIS like atrocities Beheadings and violent attacks on journalists in Saudi Arabia

      She then asked, “How do you think Iraqi Sunni civilians should distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys in this circumstance”?

    • NYPD caught red-handed sanitizing police brutality Wikipedia entries
      This wouldn't be the first time we've seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won't be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD's entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for "building community trust and justice" with the nation's policing agencies.

    • Edits to Wikipedia pages on Bell, Garner, Diallo traced to 1 Police Plaza

    • Consumers unaware that EU rule offers 2-year product guarantee
      A little-known EU law could force vendors to stand behind their products for up to two years -- instead of the one year warranty typically offered. Each year the Finnish consumer authority receives thousands of complaints about warranties for electronic devices.

    • Wyoming Governor Vetoes Asset Forfeiture Bill, Because Asset Forfeiture 'Is Right'
      With the abuses of asset forfeiture being loudly publicized, there has (finally) been some legislative pushback against these abusive programs. Wyoming's legislators -- hoping to institute asset forfeiture reform -- ran into pushback themselves from the state's governor, who vetoed the popular bill (which passed out of the Senate with an 80-9 vote) when it hit his desk.

    • U.S. Govt Files For Default Judgment on Dotcom’s Cash and Cars
      After a U.S. court ruled that Kim Dotcom is not entitled to contest the forfeiture of his assets because he is a "fugitive" facing extradition, the government has just tightened the noose. In a filing before the same court yesterday, the U.S. requested a default judgment to seize the assets of Dotcom, his co-defendants, and their Megaupload empire.

    • Judge John Facciola On Today's Law Enforcement: I'd Go Weeks Without Seeing A Warrant For Anything 'Tactile'
      We lost one of the "good guys" when Magistrate Judge John Facciola retired late last year. Facciola was a leading figure in the small -- but important -- "Magistrates' Revolt" that emerged in the wake of the Snowden leaks. Multiple times the government approached Facciola for a signature on overly-broad warrants seeking the entire contents of a phone or an email account, only to find the judge unwilling to help it pack for its fishing trip.
    • Floridians, Help Us Stop Your State From Outlawing Anonymous Websites
      Floridians, we need your help to stop a dangerous anti-anonymity bill. This week, the Florida state legislature is considering a bill that would make it illegal to run any website or service anonymously, if the site fits a vague category of “disseminat[ing]” “commercial” recordings or videos—even the site owner’s own work. Outlawing anonymous speech raises a serious First Amendment problem, and laws like this one have been abused by police and the entertainment industry.

    • Are Your Devices Hardwired For Betrayal?
      It's an interesting time to be a computer security researcher. Last week, Kaspersky Lab released a report about a new family of malware from an entity they called "The Equation Group". The report demonstrated for the first time that firmware-based attacks, previously only demonstrated in lab settings, have been used in the wild by malware authors. This should serve as a wake up call to security professionals and the hardware industry in general: firmware-based attacks are real and their numbers will only increase. If we don't address this issue now, we risk facing disastrous consequences.
    • American atheist blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh
      A prominent American blogger of Bangladeshi origin has been hacked to death with machetes by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, after he allegedly received threats from Islamists.

      The body of Avijit Roy, founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog site – which champions liberal secular writing in the Muslim-majority nation – was found covered in blood after an attack that also left his wife critically wounded.

    • But for the video…
      He was not only arrested, he was also charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor. A prior drug charge on his record meant he was potentially looking at decades in prison. Seven witnesses backed up the police account that Dendinger had assaulted Cassard.
    • Why Is This Man Still in Jail?
      Philadelphia cops put Tony Wright away for a brutal crime he didn't commit. DNA tests have exonerated him.

    • Investigative Journalists Chart Redacted Histories of Guantánamo Detainees
      Less than one quarter of the 119 detainees named in the US Senate Intelligence Committee 2014 report on the CIA’s secret torture program are actually housed at the Guantánamo Bay military prison.

      Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism recognized just 36 individuals originally sent to Guantánamo after CIA interrogations. Of these, 29 remain as of January 2015.

    • LAPD, Media Rush to Judge Skid Row Victim While Insisting Public 'Not Rush to Judge'
      A phone video of a homeless man who goes by the name Africa being shot and killed by the LAPD went viral Sunday night. The video was raw, the outrage on display from those watching the killing unfold in real time, palpable.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP: Transatlantic trade deal text leaked to BBC
      A leaked draft of what the European Union wants excluded from a new trade deal with the United States has been obtained by the BBC.

      The document describes itself as the EU's "initial offer" in negotiations over the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).

    • Congress Is Poised to Introduce a Bill to Fast Track TPP so It's Time to Act Now
      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks are stalling while the White House assures its trading partners that this secret trade agreement won't be amended when it comes back to Congress for ratification after the President signs the deal. That's why the Executive is scrambling to get its allies in Congress to pass Fast Track. If they succeed, the U.S. Trade Representative can block remaining opportunities for the examination of the TPP's provisions by lawmakers who could ensure that this secret deal does not contain expansive copyright rules that would lock the U.S. into broken copyright rules that are already in bad need of reform.

    • Copyrights

      • Reminder: Fair Use Is A Right -- And Not 'An Exception' Or 'A Defense'
        This week is Fair Use Week, according to the Association of Research Libraries, and that's as good a time as any to remind everyone that it's wrong to refer to fair as merely a "limitation or exception" to copyright law -- or merely a defense to infringement. It is a right that is protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has regularly referred to "fair use" as a "safeguard" of the First Amendment, allowing copyright law to be compatible with the First Amendment. As such, it seems bizarre that fair use is not seen as the default, rather than the other way around. If we are to protect the First Amendment, and not allow for speech to be stifled, at the very least, we need a greater recognition of the importance of fair use in guaranteeing that the First Amendment's principles of free speech are allowed to thrive.

      • US Court Rules That Kim Dotcom Is A 'Fugitive' And Thus DOJ Can Take His Money
        Back in November, the DOJ argued that it should get to keep all of Kim Dotcom's money and stuff because he's a "fugitive", which is a bizarre and ridiculous way to portray Kim Dotcom, who has been going through a long and protracted legal process over his potential extradition from New Zealand (though he's offered to come to the US willingly if the government lets him mount a real defense by releasing his money). Dotcom's lawyers told the court that it's ridiculous to call him a fugitive, but it appears that Judge Liam O'Grady didn't buy it.

      • Paypal Cuts Off Mega Because It Actually Keeps Your Files Secret

      • Under U.S. Pressure, PayPal Nukes Mega For Encrypting Files

        After coming under intense pressure PayPal has closed the account of cloud-storage service Mega. According to the company, SOPA proponent Senator Patrick Leahy personally pressured Visa and Mastercard who in turn called on PayPal to terminate the account. Bizarrely, Mega's encryption is being cited as a key problem.

      • ‘Destitute’ Kim Dotcom Begs High Court For Millions

        Kim Dotcom was in court today pleading for access to his seized assets. A reportedly "destitute" Dotcom asked for the release of US$152,000 a month for living expenses and as much as US$3m for legal fees. The Megaupload founder said if funds aren't forthcoming, living in a mansion may no longer be an option.

      • Copyright Monopoly Fraudsters Need To Go To Jail With Heavy Damages
        It shouldn't even be controversial. If you're lying about holding a copyright monopoly to something, you're infringing on that work's distribution, and should suffer the same penalties as any other infringer does today.

      • People make politics: The Pirate Party on why it's crowdsourcing its manifesto
        THE PIRATE PARTY UK is steadily increasing its position in the political spectrum, aided perhaps by the actions and behaviour of the big three parties.

Recent Techrights' Posts

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[Meme] Unified Patent Troll
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Over at Tux Machines...
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