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Links 18/7/2017: Sparky 5.0, Krita 3.2 Beta, Mageia 6, Slackware Turns 24

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Bitfury launches open source enterprise-grade blockchain framework ‘Exonum’
  • Bitfury launches enterprise Bitcoin-anchored blockchain software framework

  • Nokia’s Gorti: Open source represents opportunity

    The head of Nokia’s software business is very much a believer in open source, which might come as a surprise to some considering the telecom vendor’s deep ties to proprietary software.

    Of course, “open source does not mean free,” said Bhaskar Gorti, president of Applications & Analytics at Nokia. “Open source, in fact, if anything, is a great opportunity for us to increase our R&D velocity.”

    Many open source components exist in the world—but most of them have been built for a generic IT environment, not a telco grade, and that’s what a lot of people are looking to get from Nokia. VMware and Red Hat are among its partners.

  • Yandex open sources CatBoost, a gradient boosting machine learning library
    Artificial intelligence is now powering a growing number of computing functions, and today the developer community today is getting another AI boost, courtesy of Yandex. Today, the Russian search giant — which, like its US counterpart Google, has extended into a myriad of other business lines, from mobile to maps and more — announced the the launch of CatBoost, an open source machine learning library based on gradient boosting — the branch of ML that is specifically designed to help “teach” systems when you have a very sparse amount of data, and especially when the data may not all be sensorial (such as audio, text or imagery), but includes transactional or historical data, too.

  • A design firm is on a quest to create contemporary, open-source fonts for Indian scripts
    Besides providing a drastically different aesthetic experience from website to website, it can also help readers identify the brands they trust, and the news they can rely on. But in an online world overwhelmingly dominated by the English language, India’s many regional languages make up a miniscule part of the available content. So, their scripts rarely receive the kind of attention that the English script does.

  • Digitization puts the focus back on open source solutions, says Talend

    With a rising volume of data arising from mobile, social, cloud and IoT sources, the demand for real-time data integration solutions is growing worldwide and India is no different. Digital transformation is another interesting phenomenon that has made business prioritize the data-driven insights more than ever before.


    The company projects itself as a next generation open source alternative to the incumbent proprietary solutions vendors such as Informatica, Oracle, SAP and IBM. It offers enterprises open source integration solutions that are either free to download and use under GPL or Apache open source licenses or subscription-based.

  • Events

    • OpenSuSE Conference 2017 Nuremberg, Germany
      The event has grown and I felt a relaxed yet productive atmosphere when entering the venue. Just a few minutes after I arrived I hooked up with interesting people with even more interesting discussions. It was very nice to get together with all the Free Software friends I made over the last years. It was also pleasent to see the event becoming bigger and bigger. I take that as a sign that our community grows although it might also just be consolidation of events.

    • Fedora and GNOME at the Marine
      Our local Linux community “LinuXatUNI = Fedora + GNOME” have received an invitation to do a talk regarding Linux security at the “THE MARINA OF WAR OF PERU”.

    • Closing the GNOME Peru Challenge 2017
      It’s been three months since a group of students from different universities decided to learn more about GNU/Linux in a local community. This idea started while LinuXatUNI had been organized and powered by Fedora and the GNOME project.

  • Oracle

    • ZFS Is the Best Filesystem (For Now…)

      ZFS should have been great, but I kind of hate it: ZFS seems to be trapped in the past, before it was sidelined it as the cool storage project of choice; it’s inflexible; it lacks modern flash integration; and it’s not directly supported by most operating systems. But I put all my valuable data on ZFS because it simply offers the best level of data protection in a small office/home office (SOHO) environment. Here’s why.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.1 OS Just Around the Corner as Last Scheduled RC Sees Light of Day
      The first point release of the FreeBSD 11 operating system is about to be unleashed very soon as developer Glen Barber just announced the release of the third RC development milestone.

      FreeBSD 11.1 was in development for only a month, during which it received three Beta and three RC builds that users could download and test out on their personal computers to report bugs or any other issues. And now that the third RC is out, it looks like it might also be the last one for this cycle.

    • OPNsense€® 17.7 Release Candidate 1
      For more than two and a half years now, OPNsense is driving innovation through modularising and hardening the open source firewall, with simple and reliable firmware upgrades, multi-language support, HardenedBSD security, fast adoption of upstream software updates as well as clear and stable 2-Clause BSD licensing.

    • [Old] Building a BSD home router (pt. 6): pfSense vs. OPNsense

      A little overview: In this post I will give you some background information, compare the appearance / usability of both products and then take a look at some special features before giving a conclusion.

    • TrueNAS X10: iXsystems' open source storage contender

      All iXsystems arrays run the OpenZFS file system with at-rest data encryption, inline compression and deduplication, replication and delta-based snapshots.

    • Add vmctl send and vmctl receive

      this is *paused* migrations, not live migrations.

    • LLVM Gets New Scheduler Data For Sandy Bridge, Other Intel CPUs Coming

    • IBM z14 Announced, Support Added To LLVM Clang
      This morning IBM announced the z14 mainframe that is much faster than its predecessors and offers full encryption capabilities.

      The z14 reportedly offers 10% greater performance-per-core over the z13 series and around 30% greater performance overall than this previous series. The z14 CPU also has new instructions, including for SIMD, and offers much greater encryption performance and potential.


    • GCC vs. Clang Compilers On The Intel Core i9 With Clear Linux
      For those curious about the GCC versus LLVM Clang compilers with Intel's new Core i9 7900X, earlier this month I had ran some compiler benchmarks on this high-end processor.

      I simply forgot to post these GCC vs. Clang i9-7900X benchmark results earlier, but here they are for those interested. The tests were done with the performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution.

    • New Features Coming For Glibc 2.26
      Given our recent articles of Glibc enabling a per-thread cache for malloc and Fedora 27 will use glibc 2.26, you may be curious about some of the other features coming to this next version of the GNU C Library.

    • A brief history of GnuPG: vital to online security but free and underfunded
      Most people have never heard of the software that makes up the machinery of the internet. Outside developer circles, its authors receive little reward for their efforts, in terms of either money or public recognition.

      One example is the encryption software GNU Privacy Guard (also known as GnuPG and GPG), and its authors are regularly forced to fundraise to continue the project.

      GnuPG is part of the GNU collection of free and open source software, but its story is an interesting one, and it begins with software engineer Phil Zimmermann.

      We do not know exactly what Zimmermann felt on January 11, 1996, but relief is probably a good guess. The United States government had just ended its investigation into him and his encryption software, PGP or “Pretty Good Privacy”.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Apache discontinues use of Facebook code libraries
      San Francisco, July 18 (IANS) US-based open-source community Apache Foundation has said it will not use Facebook’s ‘BSD-licensed’ code for any of its new software projects for legal reasons.

      The foundation banned the use of libraries, frameworks and tools covered by Facebook’s open-source ‘BSD-plus-Patents’ license in any new projects, The Register reported on Tuesday.

      “No new project, sub-project or codebase, which has not used Facebook’s ‘BSD-plus-Patents’ licensed jars are allowed to use them,” Chris Mattmann, Legal Affairs Director, Apache Foundation, was quoted as saying.

    • Apache says 'no' to Facebook code libraries
      The Apache Foundation has declared that none of its new software projects can include Facebook's booby-trapped BSD-licensed code.

      The foundation's legal affairs director, Chris Mattmann, said over the weekend that libraries, frameworks and tools covered by Facebook's open-source-ish BSD-plus-Patents license should not be absorbed into any new projects.

      "No new project, sub-project or codebase, which has not used Facebook BSD+Patents licensed jars (or similar), are allowed to use them," Mattmann wrote. "In other words, if you haven't been using them, you aren't allowed to start. It is Cat‑X."

    • Apache Bans Facebook’s License Combo

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Big Pharma Buys Into Crowdsourcing for Drug Discovery
      Huntington’s disease is brutal in its simplicity. The disorder, which slowly bulldozes your ability to control your body, starts with just a single mutation, in the gene for huntingtin protein. That tweak tacks an unwelcome glob of glutamines—extra amino acids—onto the protein, turning it into a destroyer that attacks neurons.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Jisc futures: does business struggle with the concept of open access?
        Openness should be the defining characteristic for collaboration in the 21st century, and the values and practices underlying successful business-university-government collaboration should be shot through with collaborative principles.

        The underlying platform is obvious: the internet, worldwide web, 5G, unlimited data, and artificial intelligence (AI) are meshing together at speed to create unprecedented capacity for openness. But there is a serious glitch in the technology, a persistent snag in the force, a cacophonous noise in the system. Namely, the creators of openness are habituated to closedness. They are tribal and insular creatures: they are us. And we must be overcome.

      • New models for quality journalism from Wikitribune to crypto tokens
        Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is embarking on a new online venture that the rest of us can only hope succeeds: Creating a new business model for quality journalism.

        To counter the flood of digital fake news, Wales, whose founding of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia stands as one of the shining successes of the Internet era, has announced plans for a for-profit, crowdfunded news website offering stories by journalists and volunteers working together.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Design and produce 3D printed, custom breast prosthetics
        As the market for 3D printers has moved from sophisticated, experienced designers into the mass consumer market, individuals are saving substantial money with pre-designed, DIY products made on 3D printers. These opportunities are poised to increase due to the Free Open Source 3D Customizer, a libre, 3D model customizer that anyone can use to create their own 3D printed designs.

        To demonstrate how the software works and the possibilities that it creates, I'll show how breast cancer survivors and others can use the Free Open Source 3D Customizer to design and produce 3D-printable external breast prosthetics.

        But first, a recent history lesson.

  • Programming/Development

    • C++20 Feature Talk Heats Up At Latest C++ ISO Meeting
      Herb Sutter has once again provided a nice recap of the latest ISO C++ standards meeting that just wrapped up in Toronto.

    • Go support in KDevelop. GSoC week 6 & 7. Launching!

    • Rcpp 0.12.12: Rounding some corners
      The twelveth update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp landed on CRAN this morning, following two days of testing at CRAN preceded by five full reverse-depends checks we did (and which are always logged in this GitHub repo). The Debian package has been built and uploaded; Windows and macOS binaries should follow at CRAN as usual. This 0.12.12 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, the 0.12.8 release in November, the 0.12.9 release in January, the 0.12.10.release in March, and the 0.12.11.release in May making it the sixteenth release at the steady and predictable bi-montly release frequency.

    • The 10 easiest programming languages to learn
      When it comes to breaking into a career as a developer or adding a new coding language to your skillset, certain languages are easier to pick up than others, according to a new report from WP Engine.

      WP Engine surveyed 909 developers across the US. California, unsurprisingly, was home to the greatest percentage of programmers (14%), while states including Florida, New York, and Texas had a high volume of residential programmers. Nearly 70% of the programmers surveyed were men, and 30% were women.

    • A Modern Day Front-End Development Stack
      Application development methodologies have seen a lot of change in recent years. With the rise and adoption of microservice architectures, cloud computing, single-page applications, and responsive design to name a few, developers have many decisions to make, all while still keeping project timelines, user experience, and performance in mind. Nowhere is this more true than in front-end development and JavaScript.

      To help catch everyone up, we’ll take a brief look at the revolution in JavaScript development over the last few years. Next, we’ll look at the some of the challenges and opportunities facing the front-end development community. To wrap things up, and to help lead into the next parts of this series, we’ll preview the components of a fully modern front-end stack.

    • Go language soars to new heights in popularity

      Go, Google’s open source, concurrency-friendly programming language, has soared to new heights with developers, cracking the top 10 in the Tiobe index of language popularity for the first time.

      With an all-time high rating of 2.363 percent, Go ranks as the 10th most popular programming language in this month’s index, ahead of languages such as Perl, Swift, Ruby, and Visual Basic. The Tiobe Programming Community index assesses language popularity using a formula based on frequency of searches for the languages in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Baidu, and Wikipedia.


  • George A. Romero, Father of the Zombie Film, Dies at 77
    His low-budget body of work, which included 'Night of the Living Dead' and 'Dawn of the Dead,' creeped out audiences for decades. George A. Romero, the legendary writer-director from Pittsburgh who made the 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead for $114,000, thus spawning an unrelenting parade of zombie movies and TV shows, has died. He was 77.

    Romero, who put out five other zombie movies after a copyright blunder cost him millions of dollars in profits on his wildly popular first one, died Sunday in his sleep after a battle with lung cancer according to a statement from Romero's producing partner Peter Grunwald to the L.A. Times. Romero's family confirmed his death to the Times as well.

  • 5 Weird Things I Learned By Purging Pop Culture From My Life
    Saying "I'll get to it soon" when someone recommends a new show, movie, or 15-book fantasy series has taken over as my number-one social white lie, pushing "Yeah, we totally should start a podcast" into second place. I'm never going to watch or read half the shit I want to, and I'm never getting to your recommendation. The reasons for this are mostly obvious. I'm older, I have more responsibilities, I don't have as much free time as I once did -- all true, to an extent. But the reasons I'm losing my former rigor mortis grip on pop culture go a lot deeper than that. The thing is, they didn't start making themselves known until I cut movies, shows, and every other entertainment distraction out of my life in a desperate attempt to get to bed before dawn. Here's what I learned by doing that ...

  • Hard to communicate with other teams? Check out these tips
    When teams in the same organization—or even across organizational boundaries—start to collaborate, they will most likely realize that not all of their goals align. The IT team, for instance, might not have the same criteria for success as the sales team. Different teams have different benchmarks, even if the teams are part of a larger organization (as in the case of relationships between a developer team and an operations team).

  • Science

  • Hardware

    • Radiohead hides ZX Spectrum proggie in OK Computer re-release
      Rock deities Radiohead have snuck a program for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum into a re-release if their seminal 1997 album “OK Computer”.

      Dubbed “OKNOTOK”, the re-release can be had as €£100/US$130/€120 boxed edition that includes three vinyl records, books galore and “a C90 cassette mix tape compiled by us, taken from OK COMPUTER session archives and demo tapes.”

      The Spectrum app resides – natch – on the C90 cassette, as that medium was the dominant way of storing Speccy programs and data. Accounts of the cassette's track list suggest it opens with a track named “Zx sprectrum symphony” but that the application is listed as “Ok Computer Program” and is the last track on side B.

    • Avery's laws[1] of wifi reliability

      Replacing your router (or firmware) almost always fixes your problem.

      Adding an additional router almost always makes things worse.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Paul Ryan Doesn’t Love Free-Market Healthcare; He Loves Giving Money to Rich People

      The New York Times is again spreading the absurd myth that House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans want a free market in healthcare. While it is very helpful to the Republicans to imply that they are trying to advance some grand principle, as opposed to just giving money to rich people, it is a lie on a par with climate denialism.

      There are no government-granted patent monopolies in a free market. As a result of these government-granted monopolies, we will pay more than $440 billion for prescription drugs this year. These drugs would likely cost less than $80 billion in a free market. The difference of more than $360 billion a year is a bit less than 2 percent of GDP, more than seven times as much money as is at stake in the Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cuts. (Those cuts cover a decade, this is a single-year figure.)

      The same story applies to medical equipment. MRIs are cheap without patent protection.

    • Temporary Compulsory License For Antiretroviral Drug Upheld By German Court
      The German Federal Supreme Court in a decision drawing significant attention on 11 July upheld a temporary compulsory licence granted for the HIV drug Isentress (X ZB 2/17). The antiretroviral drug, based on raltegravir, has been the object of a prolonged court fight between Japanese drug company Shionogi and its US competitor Merck.

      Merck since 2008 sells Isentress on the German market. It is used for treatments of HIV patients to reduce the amount the virus cells in the body, while increasing the number of CD4 (T) cells.

    • WHO Study: Most Countries Have Ability To Reach Universal Health Coverage By 2030
      A new study by the World Health Organization finds that most countries will have the technological and the financial ability to reach universal health coverage in the next 13 years, according to authors.


      The number of US$274 billion a year is described as a “progress scenario,” while an “ambitious” scenario in which health system targets are reached would cost US$371 billion, according to the study. That ambitious scenario would save some 97 million lives and significantly increase life expectancy, it says.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Mosul – Worse than Srebrenica
      In Srebrenica the cowardice and bureaucratic blinkers of a group of Dutch officers were shameful. But Mosul is the equivalent of the Dutch having fought alongside the attackers then pretended not to notice anything at all was happening.

      There is also another great difference in western culpability. In the Balkan Wars the Serbs were the “enemy” of the West – NATO even bombed them – so justified mainstream media outrage was screamed at us. In Mosul, those perpetrating the massacre are on “our side”, so you will never hear much of it. The deliberate conflation of Sunni tribesmen defending their homes against their traditional enemy, with the separate forces of ISIS, aids this lie.

      The greater irony is of course that in Syria the UK and US forces are operating on the opposite side of the same conflict. There the Sunni jihadists, with precisely the same ideology and the same financing as ISIL and before Mosul was cut off sometimes the same physical people, are our allies. There is no distinction of the remotest importance in beliefs, funding or operational methods between the jihadists who were controlling Mosul and those who were controlling Eastern Aleppo.

      Yet, despite the glaringly obvious intellectual paucity of the position, the devastation of Mosul by western backed forces was described as a “liberation”, whereas the precisely analogous devastation of Eastern Aleppo by Syrian government forces was described as a… “devastation”.

      Still more astonishing, the Western media in co-ordinated fashion played up fears of a massacre in Eastern Aleppo, whereas in fact no massacre took place. In the event, so concerned were the Syrian government (of which I do not generally approve) to refute allegations of intended massacre, they allowed many of the actual jihadists to bus out to Raqqa, where they are fighting again today.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How Climate Change Denial Threatens National Security

      Nothing they said, however, was all that new. In fact, the Department of Defense has known about, and sometimes planned for, the security threats created by climate change for well over a decade.

    • Is Putin funding anti-fracking groups? Republicans think so — and so did Hillary Clinton

      One person who appears to believe that the Russians are interested in stopping oil and gas extraction via fracking, in fact, is Hillary Clinton herself. In a private, paid speech delivered in Canada on June 18, 2014, the former secretary of state denounced “phony environmental groups” she claimed had been created by Russia to oppose fracking.

    • Report: Draft of DOE baseload study says wind, solar don’t threaten reliability
      On Friday evening, Bloomberg reported that it has seen an early draft of a study from the Department of Energy (DOE) concluding that renewable energy like wind and solar are not a threat to the reliability of the grid at present. The study was commissioned at the request of Energy Secretary Rick Perry.


      The draft also apparently says that, even though baseload plants are being retired, that doesn’t translate to reliability issues. “The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards,” the draft allegedly says. “Grid operators are using technologies, standards and practices to assure that they can continue operating the grid reliably.”

  • Finance

    • How VA Reform Turned into a Fight Over Privatization

    • When government contracts become corporate welfare

      Another cause for concern is that FirstNet’s proposed solution comes with extremely limited transparency. From the beginning, Congress granted FirstNet with an exemption related to public scrutiny (major transparency rules 47 USC 1426(d)).


      As transparency also begets accountability, it’s no surprise that today, after 15 years of planning and layers upon layers of committees, it’s nearly impossible to understand exactly what the FirstNet-AT&T solution is offering and how the federal government will deliver on its promises to the states.

    • Idaho law lets your boss sue you if you get a better job

    • Noncompete Pacts, Under Siege, Find Haven in Idaho

    • Ericsson Earnings Slump Tests Investor Patience With CEO’s Plan

    • Shock report reveals food prices could soar by nearly a quarter after Brexit
      Food prices could soar by nearly a quarter and supermarket standards “decline abruptly” due to the Government chaos over Brexit , a new report warns today.

      A major academic study by experts at the University of Sussex says eye-watering tariffs could hit a third of our food supplies after we leave the EU in 2019.

      And it warns bungling Ministers still have no plan to replace the vital EU regulations that maintain the quality of our supermarket products, with just 20 months to go until Brexit.

      Expert Prof Tim Lang slammed those Tories backing a hard Brexit, saying: “A food system which has an estimated three to five days of stocks cannot just walk away from the EU, which provides us with 31% of our food.

    • Brexit's toll on foreign policy: Losing our reputation day after day
      At a key moment in Othello, one of Shakespeare's characters exclaims: "I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." Right now you could mount the words on a plaque outside the Foreign Office.

      For people, reputation establishes a legacy after they die, and delimits the amount they can achieve while still alive. For countries, it determines not only global standing, but their entire economic and political ecosystem.

      The problem with reputation speaks to Brexit's broader irony: we don't have much control over it. That is, we can move to influence the perspective of others, but ultimately they will reach their own conclusions. Just as we can't force countries to trade with us, we can't force others to like us, respect us, fear us or think we're powerful when we're not. Foreign policy, and influence in foreign affairs, depends on how much other countries rate us and think we matter.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Government 'Cyber Troops' Manipulate Facebook, Twitter, Study Says

      Governments around the world are enlisting "cyber troops" who manipulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to steer public opinion, spread misinformation and undermine critics, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.

    • The Stink Without a Secret
      After six solid months of co-ordinated allegation from the mainstream media allied to the leadership of state security institutions, not one single scrap of solid evidence for Trump/Russia election hacking has emerged.

      I do not support Donald Trump. I do support truth. There is much about Trump that I dislike intensely. Neither do I support the neo-liberal political establishment in the USA. The latter’s control of the mainstream media, and cunning manipulation of identity politics, seeks to portray the neo-liberal establishment as the heroes of decent values against Trump. Sadly, the idea that the neo-liberal establishment embodies decent values is completely untrue.

      Truth disappeared so long ago in this witch-hunt that it is no longer even possible to define what the accusation is. Belief in “Russian hacking” of the US election has been elevated to a generic accusation of undefined wrongdoing, a vague malaise we are told is floating poisonously in the ether, but we are not allowed to analyse. What did the Russians actually do?

      The original, base accusation is that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC and Podesta emails and passed them to Wikileaks. (I can assure you that is untrue).

    • The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
      From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since the end of World War II. However unwittingly, Trump is ensuring the accelerated collapse of American global hegemony.

    • Rupert Murdoch could be about to turn the UK into a scene straight out of 1984
      Rupert Murdoch could soon be able to “control people’s access to the internet, TV, digital radio and emails.” And, like something out of the George Orwell novel 1984, the boss of Sky News and The Sun could use his power to influence the political thinking, and ultimately the voting behaviour, of more than 13 million people.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New Zealand Airports Customs Officials Performing 'Digital Strip Searches' Of Travelers' Electronics

    • EFF, Access Now, CDT, and OTI Fight Back Against “Secret” Search Warrants
      Can the government stop you from finding out it’s been looking through your private Facebook content as part of a “secret” investigation that’s not actually secret? That’s the question raised by an alarming case pending in the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals. Facebook has described the investigation as "known to the public," and the timing and venue match the January 20th, 2017 Presidential Inauguration protests (known as “J20”), the investigation of which is indeed quite public. But even if the warrants pertain to another investigation, the government should not be allowed to impose gag orders with respect to any information that is already publicly known.

      Last week, EFF led a group of civil society organizations that included Access Now, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and New America’s Open Technology Institute in filing a brief demanding that the court apply a stringent constitutional test before enforcing gag orders accompanying a number of secret search warrants. We argued that the First Amendment rarely if ever allows gag orders in such cases, where the government seeks to limit public scrutiny of high-profile and potentially politicized investigations.

    • Payment Processors Are Profiling Heavy Metal Fans as Terrorists
      If you happen to be a fan of the heavy metal band Isis (an unfortunate name, to be sure), you may have trouble ordering its merchandise online. Last year, Paypal suspended a fan who ordered an Isis t-shirt, presumably on the false assumption that there was some association between the heavy metal band and the terrorist group ISIS.

      Then last month Internet scholar and activist Sascha Meinrath discovered that entering words such as "ISIS" (or "Isis"), or "Iran", or (probably) other words from this U.S. government blacklist in the description field for a Venmo payment will result in an automatic block on that payment, requiring you to complete a pile of paperwork if you want to see your money again. This is even if the full description field is something like "Isis heavy metal album" or "Iran kofta kebabs, yum."

      These examples may seem trivial, but they reveal a more serious problem with the trust and responsibility that the Internet places in private payment intermediaries. Since even many non-commercial websites such as EFF's depend on such intermediaries to process payments, subscription fees, or donations, it's no exaggeration to say that payment processors form an important part of the financial infrastructure of today's Internet. As such, they ought to carry corresponding responsibilities to act fairly and openly towards their customers.

      Unfortunately, given their reliance on bots, algorithms, handshake deals, and undocumented policies and blacklists to control what we do online, payment intermediaries aren't carrying out this responsibility very well. Given that these private actors are taking on responsibilities to help address important global problems such as terrorism and child online protection, the lack of transparency and accountability with which they execute these weighty responsibilities is a matter of concern.

    • California's Top Newspapers Endorse Broadband Privacy Bill
      Broadband privacy? Say what? That was probably what you were asking yourself in March when you read about Congress’s vote to repeal privacy rules for your Internet provider. If you were paying attention—and you should in an era where free press, voter privacy, and other constitutional rights are being challenged—you quickly realized that what Congress did. It sold out your right to keep your browsing history and personal information private so the cable companies can sell it and make even more money off of you than they already do. Nice, right?

      Luckily, many states, including California, have stepped up to the plate for you. They have introduced bills that give back to you the right to control how your private information is used by the companies that control the Internet pipeline into your home. In California, lawmakers in Sacramento are considering a bill that would reinstate those privacy rules, requiring Internet providers to get your permission before they can profit off of your personal information.

      Silicon Valley should rally behind Chau’s AB 375 and ensure online privacy protections for all Californians —San Jose Mercury News
    • Australian PM Calls for End-to-End Encryption Ban, Says the Laws of Mathematics Don't Apply Down Under
      "The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia", said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today. He has been rightly mocked for this nonsense claim, that foreshadows moves to require online messaging providers to provide law enforcement with back door access to encrypted messages. He explained that "We need to ensure that the internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law." It bears repeating that Australia is part of the secretive spying and information sharing Five Eyes alliance.

      But despite the well-deserved mockery that ensued, we shouldn't make too much light of the real risk that this poses to Internet freedom in Australia. It's true enough, for now, that a ban on end-to-end encrypted messaging in Australia would have absolutely no effect on "bad people", who would simply avoid using major platforms with weaker forms of encryption, in favor of other apps that use strong end-to-end encryption based on industry standard mathematical algorithms. It would hurt ordinary citizens who rely on encryption to make sure that their conversations are secure and private from prying eyes.

    • US finalizing plans to revamp cyber command
      After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation's military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America's ability to wage cyber war against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials.

      Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency.

      Details are still being worked out, but officials say they expect a decision and announcement in the coming weeks. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter so requested anonymity.

    • White House voter commission publishes names, numbers of worried citizens
      Shortly before the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is set to have its first meeting on Wednesday July 19—which will be livestreamed here—the controversial committee published hundreds of pages from concerned citizens about the group’s work. In some cases, the White House released citizens’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses, seemingly without their knowledge.

      However, a spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the group, indicated that releasing such personal information was ok.

      "These are public comments, similar to individuals appearing before commission to make comments and providing name before making comments," Marc Lotter, press secretary to the vice president, told Vox on Friday. "The Commission’s Federal Register notice asking for public comments and its website make clear that information ‘including names and contact information’ sent to this email address may be released."

    • Trump's Pick For FBI Head Sounds A Lot Like The Guy He Fired When It Comes To Encryption
      Trump's pick to head the FBI -- former DOJ prosecutor Christopher Wray -- appeared before the Senate to answer several questions (and listen to several long-winded, self-serving statements). Wray's confirmation hearing went about as well as expected. Several senators wanted to make sure Wray's loyalty lay with the nation rather than the president and several others hoped to paint him into a Comey-bashing corner in order to belatedly justify Trump's firing of his (potential) predecessor.

    • Australia's Prime Minister is a goddamned idiot

      The goddamned idiot continued, "I’m not a cryptographer, but what we are seeking to do is to secure their assistance. They have to face up to their responsibility. They can’t just wash their hands of it and say it’s got nothing to do with them."

    • Talk to your teen about Snapchat Ghost Mode, and track their time

      Snapchat’s fancy new feature is called the Snap Map. It’s like a funky GPS locator for all your kids’ Snapchat friends. When they first activate it, it asks if they want to share their location with all of their friends, some of their friends, or keep it private with “Ghost Mode.” Far-too-trusting teens may be tempted to let the whole world know where they’re hanging out, but parents know better. It might be useful for twenty-somethings trying to find a party on a Saturday night, but why does the world need to know where your teen is spending the afternoon — or even weirder — where they live?

    • Facebook putting ads on all its platforms for revenue: Report

      According to a report in ReCode, Facebook has determined that it can't put more ads into users' feeds without harming their experience.

    • Facebook Says Rape Threat Against Ex-Muslim Activist Doesn’t Violate Standards

      Namazie is a political and secular activist like me, and I too have experienced similar problems with threats, but this issue with Facebook is something that affects everyone. I’ve reported hundreds of death threats to Facebook, and dozens to Twitter, and have never received a satisfactory conclusion. I’ve also been banned for posting nothing more than a quote from the Bible or the Qur’an. Crazy, isn’t it?

    • Hundreds flock to Sandy to talk online privacy

    • Spying vs cyberwar: US state hackers will split from NSA to conduct 'offensive' operations

    • Trump will create independent military cyber command that won't answer to the NSA – so he can wage digital war against ISIS and other enemies

    • US Cyber Command may be splitting off from the NSA

      It sounds as though the United States' Cyber Command will break off from the National Security Agency and be more aligned with the military in the future. The move would "eventually" cleave Cyber Command from the intelligence-focused NSA and instead align it more with the military, according to the Associated Press. "The goal is to give Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA," AP reports. The NSA's core task of intelligence gathering sometimes is at odds with military cyber warfare operations, hence the proposed separation. Prior to this, the two had clashed on getting intel from Islamic State networks (the NSA's task) and attacking (Cyber Command's).

    • US to create independent military cyber command
      After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation's military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America's ability to wage cyberwar against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials.

      Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency.

    • HTC U11 becomes first phone with Amazon Alexa hot-word support [Ed: Amazon, the CIA's Webmaster, is converting more devices into always-on listening devices]
      HTC has been promising Amazon Alexa integration for its newest flagship, the U11, since before it hit the market. Two months after release, it has finally arrived. U11 customers can now download the HTC Alexa app to enable the feature.

      This isn't the first Android phone with Alexa integration (that honor goes to the Huawei Mate 9), but it's the first smartphone to have always-on, hot-word support for Amazon's digital assistant. This allows you to say "Alexa" at any time and have the phone wake up and respond, basically turning it into a portable Echo. You can also trigger Alexa by mapping it to the U11's pressure sensitive side button or by just tapping the app icon.

    • Indian ISPs Continue Futile Effort To Prevent Subscribers From Using Decent Encryption

      The global war against privacy tools, VPNs and encryption continues utterly-unhinged from common sense, and the assault on consumer privacy remains a notably global affair. Reddit users recently noticed that India's fifth largest ISP, YOU Broadband, is among several of the country's ISPs that have been trying to prevent customers from using meaningful encryption.

    • Australia Considering New Law Weakening Encryption

      Never mind that the law 1) would not achieve the desired results because all the smart "terrorists and drug traffickers and pedophile rings" will simply use a third-party encryption app, and 2) would make everyone else in Australia less secure. But that's all ground I've covered before.

    • IBM acquired millions of medical records for their “Watson” AI: an incredibly multifaceted privacy story

      IBM acquired the detailed medical records of 61 million Italians, as reported on this site by Glyn Moody. This is a largely underreported story that doesn’t not just need more exposure, but more discussion: I believe it’s one of those stories where the future will show this was the correct thing to do, even though it violates every principle of liberty at the time.

    • Appeals court OKs secrecy of FBI national security data requests

      A federal appeals court is giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation a big boost when it comes to secretly investigating national security affairs. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld federal rules prohibiting companies from promptly disclosing to customers that the FBI is demanding a user's private data with a National Security Letter (NSL).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Aggressive Anti-Union Campaign at StoryCorps

    • While Attacks in Israel Make Headlines, Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Ignored
      Israeli officials have cut off electricity to almost 2 million Gazans for all but three or four hours a day—in conjunction with nominal Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has cut funding for Gaza’s electricity in an effort to punish his political rivals in Hamas. The Gaza Strip, which remains under effective Israeli control despite the 2005 withdrawal of Israeli troops, requires 450 megawatts daily, but since June has received only around 150 megawatts per day. The power cuts, according to UN humanitarian coordinator Robert Piper, severely undermine “critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors,” and have created a “looming humanitarian catastrophe.”

    • Texas Republicans take aim at liberal cities
      Republicans who run Texas are increasingly targeting laws passed by cities and counties with so-called preemption measures, bills that would restrict a local government's power to pass laws regulating certain industries or setting policy. It is part of a national trend in which Republican legislators are moving to preempt local governments, on issues ranging from minimum wage laws to immigration enforcement and even the use of plastic bags at retail establishments.

      Supporters say the preemption laws are meant to create a consistent set of laws around a state. Opponents say it is a way for conservative legislatures to overrule more liberal city governments, at the cost of local control.

      "Part of it is motivated by our urban communities that are very blue and Democratic and have different ideas about the environment and workers rights. I think it's just offensive to Republican leaders," Gina Hinojosa, a Democratic state representative whose district includes the core of downtown Austin, said in an interview in her Capitol office.

    • Police missing terrorist tip-offs because of cuts, says former Met chief
      A former Metropolitan police commissioner has waded into the political row about the impact of austerity by warning that potential terrorist tip-offs are being missed because of cuts in police numbers.

      Paul Condon, who headed the Met from 1993 to 2000, said the reduction in the number of frontline officers had left the police close to breaking point.

      Since 2010, when Theresa May became home secretary, the number of police officers has decreased by 20,000. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Condon did not mention the prime minister, but he did cite this figure, which has become most associated with her watch as home secretary.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast says it should be able to create internet fast lanes for self-driving cars

      Comcast filed comments in support of the FCC’s plan to kill the 2015 net neutrality rules today. And while pretty much everything in them is expected — Comcast thinks the rules are burdensome and hurt investment, yet it says it generally supports the principles of net neutrality — there’s one telling new quirk that stands out in its phrasing: Comcast now says it’s in support of a ban on “anticompetitive paid prioritization,” which is really a way of saying paid prioritization should be allowed.

    • Vodafone tells users to lobby for domestic roaming

      In a blog on its site, VHA has asked readers to send a letter to their MP to free up funds from the USO for improved mobile coverage and to declare domestic roaming.

    • We Must Keep the Internet Free and Open. EFF, Tech Giants, Startups and Internet Users Tell FCC: Don’t Sell Out Net Neutrality To Appease ISPs
      AirBnB, Amazon, ACLU, Google, Etsy, Y Combinator Among Organizations Standing Up To Government Plan To Let ISPs Block Content, Charge Fees for ‘Fast Lanes’

      San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a broad coalition of user advocacy groups and major technology companies and organizations joined forces today to protest the FCC’s plan to toss out net neutrality rules that preserve Internet freedom and prevent cable and telecommunications companies from controlling what we can see and do online.

      Without net neutrality, Internet service providers (ISPs) can block your favorite content, throttle or slow down Internet speeds to disadvantage competitors’ content, or make you pay more than you already do to access movies and other online entertainment.

    • The mere existence of the Net Neutrality debate is a symptom of a much, much deeper rabbit hole

      The problem is that politicians in the United States and some other places are giving communications monopolies and tax breaks to entrenched legacy industries – telco and cable – which have an enormous strategic incentive to prevent the Internet from ever reaching its potential, but pretend to embrace it.

    • The FCC Needs Your Quality Comments About Net Neutrality Today
      If you count just by numbers alone, net-neutrality activists have succeeded in their big July 12 push to get citizens to file comments with the Federal Communications Commission. As I write this, it looks as if 8 million or more comments have now been filed on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back the expansive network-neutrality authority the commission asserted under its previous chairman in 2015.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • 3D Printing Patent Landscape
      The field of 3D printing has been growing rapidly for years. It has applications in many areas of life and the economy, such as healthcare, aerospace, and parts replacement. 3D printing also reshapes supply chains and democratizes manufacturing. Fueled by this growth, 3D printing-related patent filings are trending upward.

    • Copyrights

      • 60,000,000 Clicks for Copyright Reform
        “We built Paperstorm as a fun (and mildly addictive) way for Internet users to learn about and engage with a serious issue: the EU’s outdated copyright laws,” says Mozilla’s Brett Gaylor, one of Paperstorm’s creators.

        “The Parliament has a unique opportunity to reform copyright,” says Raegan MacDonald, Mozilla’s Senior EU Policy Manager. “We hope this campaign served as a reminder that EU citizens want a modern framework that will promote — not hinder — innovation and creativity online. The success of this reform hinges on whether the interests of these citizens — whether creators, innovators, teachers, librarians, or anyone who uses the internet — are truly taken into account in the negotiations.”

        Currently, lawmakers are crafting amendments to the proposal for a new copyright law, a process that will end this year. Now is the time to make an impact. And we are.

        Over the last two months, more than 100,000 Internet users visited They sent 12,000 tweets to key MEPs, like France’s Jean-Marie Cavada, Germany’s Angelika Niebler, and Lithuania’s Antanas Guoga. In total, Paperstormers contacted 13 MEPs in 10 countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

      • DMCA takedown removes River City Ransom Underground from Steam
        River City Ransom Underground was removed from Steam late last week, part of an unfolding legal drama surrounding a composer who has been directing DMCA copyright-infringement takedowns at games she says don't have the rights to her music.

        Conatus' Andrew Russell, one of the developers of River City Ransom Underground, said in a short statement that "we are aware that RCRU is down on Steam. We have contacted Valve's copyright department, and will let you know when access is restored." But composer Alex Mauer confirmed to Destructoid that the removal was the result of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act request she made against the title.

      • Movie Studios Wipe Pirate Site Homepages From Google Search

        Over the past two weeks, dozens of pirate streaming sites had their homepages stripped from Google's search results. The removals are triggered by a series of targeted takedown requests sent by the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, which acts on behalf of several major Hollywood studios.

      • YouTube: Why musicians are angry at world’s most popular music streaming service [iophk: "RIAA not actual musicians"

      • Why musicians are so angry at the world’s most popular music streaming service

        A recent economic study commissioned by YouTube found no value gap — in fact, the report said YouTube promotes the music industry, and if YouTube stopped playing music, 85 percent of users would flock to services that offered lower or no royalties.


        The dispute boils down to what YouTube pays for songs.

      • EU copyright reform goes from bad to worse

        For example, the “snippet tax” would require commercial sites that quote even tiny portions of online press publications to pay a licensing fee for each one. Given the way social networks constantly quote and cross-link information, that’s clearly absurd. And yet the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee of the European Parliament has come up with a cunning plan to make it even worse. It wants the snippet tax to apply to physical publications as well as digital ones:

      • Village Roadshow Invests $1.5m in Anti-Piracy Technology Company

        Australian entertainment giant Village Roadshow and its co-executive chairman have invested AUS$1.5m in a company developing anti-piracy technologies. Linius Technologies holds a patent which allows for the virtualization of video files, enabling the modification of streaming content on-the-fly and the viewing of secure "ghost files" on users' devices.

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