Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 11/8/2017: Atom 1.19, LLVM 5.0 RC2

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • These two millennials are taking over the world with open source

    That was the case of 23-year-old Mackenzie Burnett, product manager at container infrastructure software organisation CoreOS, and 24-year-old Dan Gillespie, software engineer also at CoreOS.

    Burnett graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2015 with a double degree in International Relations and Government & Politics.

  • Liferay puts new sting in open source web developer tools
    If there’s one technical expression likely to induce nausea in most industry watchers it is (arguably) digital (or user) experience.

    Sometime even written as User eXperience (UX), this term is thankfully absent from TechTarget’s Computer Glossary pages, yet still, it exists.


    Despite the initial UX fluffiness, Liferay is admirably open source and the firm has now introduced a dedicated Liferay Developer Relations team, a new Liferay Community website and a new Liferay Community instant-chat vehicle to make it easier for the open source community to engage.

  • What are some solid options for open source API management tools? [Ed: usually connecting to proprietary things]
    Created by Mashape, Kong acts as a management layer for all your APIs. It sits between the microservices that contain the API agents and the load balancer that routes requests across all APIs. Powered by Nginx, Kong excels at distributing API tasks, whether on premises or in the cloud. It can be set up in a single or multi-data center environment and is compatible with any modern infrastructure stack.

    Based on plug-ins, Kong is easy to extend and has ready-made plug-ins for many popular services. For example, it can be used to manage and invoke Amazon Web Services Lambda functions, and monitoring data can be sent to a monitoring tool, like Datadog, or a logging service, like Loggly.

  • DLT, Hortonworks Forge Open-Source Analytics Tech Partnership; Shaun Bierweiler Comments [Ed: surveillance industry]
    DLT Solutions and Hortonworks have teamed up to expand the adoption of open source-based analytics platforms designed to help federal agencies and other public sector institutions perform data analysis and management operations.

  • 4 open source tools that got my startup off the ground
    When I started my first company, money was tight. We had a small office and a couple of computers, but not much else. I'd done all my cost planning without even thinking about business licenses and software costs. I know it was a mistake, but it can be easy to treat these sorts of things as an afterthought.

  • Events

  • CMS

    • How to create a blog with AsciiDoc
      I work daily with content management tools and support documentation writers whose preferred markup language is AsciiDoc. It has a simple syntax, but enough features to keep even a hardcore documentation nerd happy. AsciiDoc allows you to write documentation in a more natural way and mark it up cleanly for presentation on the web or as a PDF. This got me thinking, "Wouldn't it be handy to be able to maintain a website purely with AsciiDoc?"

      After some googling and chatting with colleagues, I found Hugo, a publishing platform that can transform articles written in Markdown or AsciiDoc into usable content for the web. It is a very feature-rich platform, with a rich language for working with templates and theming, and it's a lot of fun to work with.

      One big advantage to me is that Hugo doesn't require a database to support a blog site with plenty of functionality. The pages are rendered in HTML, so sites are blazingly fast and very easy to maintain. It even comes with its own server, so I can test my site while I work on it. As long as your server can deliver HTML, you're good to go.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Docker Is Said to Be Raising Funding at $1.3 Billion Valuation
      Business software company Docker Inc. is raising fresh funds, valuing the company at $1.3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

      The latest influx of $75 million, which is expected to close by the end of the month, will help fuel Docker’s newest push to win business customers and finally monetize its free open-source tools popular with developers worldwide. Part of the funding will go toward building a sales and marketing team for corporate clients, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters. The valuation would represent a marginal increase from the $1 billion it was ascribed when it last raised money in 2015.

  • BSD

    • Initial ARMv8.3-A Support Added To LLVM
      Initial enablement of the ARMv8.3-A architecture changes are now in place for the LLVM compiler infrastructure.

      The ARMv8.3-A update to the ARMv8 architecture include features pertaining to pointer authentication, nested virtualization, advanced SIMD complex number support, improved JavaScript type conversion support, changes to the memory consistency model, and an ID mechanism support for larger system-visible caches.

    • [llvm-dev] [5.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 2 tagged

    • LLVM 5.0 RC2 Released
      The second release candidate has been tagged for the upcoming LLVM 5.0 release.

      Hans Wennborg wrote that there are still "a bunch of open release blockers", but many patches have been merged since 5.0 RC1 so he is hoping for some fresh testing.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration


  • Science/Tech

    • Is it wrong to let my child play on my smartphone?

      My children were both early talkers and they interact fluently with others. I notice other things. When they’ve spent too much time on the phone, they are more bad tempered with each other and irascible with me. They show less interest in non-screen based toys and games. And when I try to take the screen away from them, they behave – there’s no other way to put this – like addicts, screaming, grabbing for it and dissolving into meltdown.

    • Growing up alongside tech

      It’s not that my views of tech have changed too much — it’s that they’ve changed very gradually. Teasing out and explaining any one particular change is tricky when it happened invisibly over the course of 10+ years.

      I think a better framework for this is to consider how my relationship to tech has changed. It’s gone through three pretty distinct phases, each of which has strongly colored how I feel and talk about technology.

  • Hardware

    • Gigabyte AB350N-GAMING WiFi: An Ideal Mini-ITX Ryzen Motherboard For Linux
      For those drawn by the performance of AMD's Ryzen processors for its performance/value and thinking about building a Kodi/HTPC media box for the living room, a Steam Linux gaming PC / DIY Steam Box, or just want a small form factor PC, Gigabyte's AB350N-GAMING WiFi is a mini-ITX motherboard that plays fine with Linux and offers a lot of functionality for its small size.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Alex Jones’ Infowars supplements are overpriced, mundane vitamins—watered down
      Jones’ wildly popular supplements, sold on his site, are nothing more than humdrum vitamin blends that have little-to-no data supporting touted health benefits—basically the same as the vitamins found in any pharmacy or health store, according to independent lab testing. But there are two key differences: the far-right talk show hosts’ supplements are far more expensive and they tend to be weaker than garden-variety supplements. Reminiscent of the extensively watered-down treatments used by homeopaths, Jones’ supplements were often diluted such that even if those vitamin and herbal blends did offer some health benefits, the doses would likely be too small to be effective.

      That’s all according to an independent lab analysis performed on several of the supplements by Labdoor, a San Francisco-based lab that tests dietary supplements. The analysis was done at the behest of BuzzFeed News, which reported the results late Wednesday.

    • Scientists de-bug pig genome in preparation for farming organ donors
      Researchers used the latest gene editing technology to deactivate 25 remnants of ancient viruses, called porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs), that had embedded in the DNA of a pig cell line. Pig genomes are rife with lurking PERVs, which threaten to emerge and infect humans. But with a genome wiped of active viruses, the researchers produced 37 piglets that are PERV-free. The creation of those clean little porkers, reported Thursday in Science, is progress toward using pigs as human organ donors, the researchers say.

      “Our study highlighted the value of PERV inactivation to prevent cross-species viral transmission and demonstrated the successful production of PERV-inactivated animals to address the safety concern in clinical xenotransplantation,” the authors concluded.

    • Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
      Since its creation by Congress 25 years ago, NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary has been vital to the protection of humpback whales, being the only place in the United States where these majestic cetaceans reproduce. Scientists estimate that up to 12,000 whales—more than half of the North Pacific humpback population—return to Hawaiian waters from November through May to breed, calve, and nurse their young. No one knows exactly how long humpback whales have been mating and reproducing in the islands' warm, shallow waters, but narrative reports from whalers document seeing them as early as the 1840s.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday

    • Password guru regrets past advice
      Bill Burr had advised users to change their password every 90 days and to muddle up words by adding capital letters, numbers and symbols - so, for example, "protected" might become "pr0t3cT3d4!".

      The problem, he believes, is that the theory came unstuck in practice.

      Mr Burr now acknowledges that his 2003 manual was "barking up the wrong tree".

    • Salesforce “red team” members present tool at Defcon, get fired
      At Defcon in Las Vegas last month, word rapidly spread that two speakers—members of Salesforce's internal "red team"—had been fired by a senior executive from Salesforce "as they left the stage." Those two speakers, who presented under their Twitter handles, were Josh "FuzzyNop" Schwartz, Salesforce's director of offensive security, and John Cramb, a senior offensive security engineer.

    • “Pretty egregious” security flaw raises questions about Pacer
      The Pacer court document service used by more than a million journalists and lawyers has raked in more than $1 billion since it was established in 1995, but a new report questions whether its administrators have put enough of that windfall into securing the system. Hanging in the balance is the reliability of a service that's crucial for the smooth functioning of the entire US federal court system.

      Until Wednesday, Pacer suffered from a vulnerability that made it possible for hackers to charge download and search-query fees to other users, as long as those users visited a booby-trapped webpage while logged in to a Pacer website. Officials with the non-profit known as the Free Law Project also speculate that the same flaw—known as a cross-site request forgery—may also have allowed hackers to file court documents on behalf of unsuspecting attorneys who happened to be logged in to Pacer. If the speculation is correct, the flaw had the potential to severely disrupt or complicate ongoing court cases. Pacer administrators, however, have told Free Law the fraudulent filing hack wasn't possible.

      Even if the hypothesis is wrong, the flaw still made it possible for hackers to cause Pacer users to be billed for services they never requested. The users would have a hard time figuring out why they were being charged for downloads and searches they never made. Even when the users changed passwords, their accounts could still rack up fraudulent charges whenever they were simultaneously logged in to the hacked or malicious site and one of the Pacer sites.

    • How cloud-native security can prevent modern attacks
      When I first set out to start my company, I received some backlash from a former colleague that cybersecurity was not “interesting anymore.” I disagreed, which I’m sure most people now do. As technology evolves, there will always be new ways (and new groups) to hack into systems, whether it’s for fun, profit or for national security reasons. That’s why it’s no surprise that within the past few years, cybersecurity has been a top concern for businesses. According to a recent report, cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion just a year ago, proving that enterprises literally cannot afford to forgo strong cybersecurity measures.

    • We can stop hacking {sic} and trolls, but it would ruin the internet

      A new way to run the internet would scupper ransomware and hacking, but its authoritarian backers could control everything we do online

    • Mingis on Tech: Android vs iOS – Which is more secure?

    • How to prevent the hacked AI apocalypse
      Adversarial attacks are an increasingly worrisome threat to the performance of artificial intelligence applications. If an attacker can introduce nearly invisible alterations to image, video, speech, and other data for the purpose of fooling AI-powered classification tools, it will be difficult to trust this otherwise sophisticated technology to do its job effectively.

      Imagine how such attacks could undermine AI-powered autonomous vehicles ability to recognize obstacles, content filters’ effectiveness in blocking disturbing images, or in access systems’ ability to deter unauthorized entry.

    • US Election Hackers Are Now Using Leaked NSA Tools To Target Hotels [Ed: Microsoft Windows' REAL TCO]
    • Russia's 'Fancy Bear' Hackers Used Leaked NSA Tool to Target Hotel Guests

    • Fancy Bear hackers now using NSA's EternalBlue exploit to go after hotels in Europe and Middle East

    • Russian Hackers Are Targeting Hotels Across Europe, Researchers Say

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Finance

    • The New Copycats: How Facebook Squashes Competition From Startups

    • Brexit round-up – James Chapman, Gina Miller, UK position, City of London, Scotland
      Gina Miller has done more for the independence and supremacy of the UK parliament than any parliamentarian one can think of. It was her (and others’) legal case that led the Supreme Court holding that it was for parliament and not the executive to make the Article 50 decision.

      And now, this horrific story at The Guardian: “Gina Miller afraid to leave her home after threats of acid attacks”

    • Wisconsin won’t break even on Foxconn plant deal for over two decades

      Wisconsin’s plan to treat Foxconn to $3 billion in tax breaks in exchange for a $10 billion factory is looking less and less like a good deal for the state. In a report issued this week, Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau said that the state wouldn’t break even on its investment until 2043 — and that’s in an absolute best-case scenario.

    • Why ‘Corporate Responsibility’ Campaigns Fail

      Oddly, in an age of global cosmopolitanism, “corporate social responsibility” campaigns, and technocratic regulations, we haven’t evolved out of medieval labor practices like enslavement and child labor. But could technology hold the key to cleaning up the global supply chain?

    • One of Uber’s biggest investors is suing Travis Kalanick for fraud

      The suit revolves around the June 2016 vote to increase the size of the board’s voting directors from eight to 11 seats, with Kalanick having the sole right to designate those seats. Benchmark says it never would have voted to allow for those extra seats had it known about Kalanick’s "gross mismanagement and other misconduct at Uber.”

    • Investors hit Uber ex-CEO hard, sue over alleged “gross mismanagement”
      Travis Kalanick, the recently removed CEO of Uber, has been sued by a group of investors that has accused him of "gross mismanagement and misconduct" during his tenure.

      Benchmark Capital Partners, which currently holds 13 percent of the company’s stock and about 20 percent of its voting power on the board of directors, filed the lawsuit against Kalanick and Uber on Thursday. (The case was first reported by Axios.)

      The complaint (which was filed in Delaware Court of Chancery as it involves two companies incorporated in the state) outlines in one fell swoop the myriad complaints that have befallen Uber during Kalanick's time as CEO. These include reports on sexual harassment, Greyball, the questionable acquisition of Otto (and the resulting in the still ongoing lawsuit from Waymo that followed), and other widely reported missteps.

    • Investors poured millions into a storage network that doesn’t exist
      A blockchain-based cloud storage technology called Filecoin has already raised $52 million from investors. The company is poised to raise millions more on Thursday when it begins selling units of its bitcoin-like cryptocurrency to a larger set of wealthy investors.

    • Amazon paid just €£15m in tax on European revenues of €£19.5bn
      Amazon paid just €16.5m (€£15m) in tax on European revenues of €21.6bn (€£19.5bn) reported through Luxembourg in 2016.

      The figures, published in Amazon’s latest annual accounts for its European online retail business, are likely to reignite the debate about US tech companies using complex crossborder arrangements to minimise the tax they pay across the continent.

      Separately, Amazon UK Services – the company’s warehouse and logistics operation that employs almost two-thirds of its 24,000 UK staff – more than halved its declared UK corporation tax bill from €£15.8m to €£7.4m year-on-year in 2016.

      The cut came despite turnover at the UK business, which handles the packing and delivery of parcels and functions such as customer service, rising from €£946m to €£1.46bn.

    • Brexit round-up – James Chapman, Repeal Bill and Francovich, Trade, Customs, ECJ and domestic courts
      The Times does a good report on the (obvious?) point that once EU law eases to have effect, remedies under EU law such as “Francovich” damages (for UK’s failure to properly implement EU law) are no longer are available.

    • Do Corporate Media Need to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?

      I understand people can have reasonable differences of opinion on trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but why is it that the proponents have to insist, with zero evidence, that not doing the deal was an economic disaster? Yes, I know the political argument, which seemed to arise late in the game, that US standing in the world has collapsed because we didn’t follow through on the TPP. But let’s just stick with the economics.

      Politico (8/7/17) ran a lengthy piece saying that the US pullout from the TPP undermined the hopes for a revival of rural America. It cited as evidence a report from the United States International Trade Commission that projected the deal would have increased agricultural output by 0.5 percent when fully phased in, 15 years from now. Seriously, folks, a 0.5 percent increase in output is going to save rural America? That’s three months of normal growth; who are you trying to fool?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Danger of an Incurious President

    • Conspiracies Pushed by Atlantic’s Editor Excluded From Atlantic’s Denunciation of Conspiracy Theories
      The piece uses the term “conspiracy” or “conspiracies” 45 times, but somehow—in all the hand-wringing over their dangerous effects—omits the two most pernicious and consequential conspiracy theories of modern times: that Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11 and that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Fake Moon landings and healing crystals may be easier to deride, but their actual effect on politics, globally and domestically, is thus far (thankfully) fairly trivial. The same can’t be said for the dual conspiracies that Iraq was working with Al Qaeda to knock down the Twin Towers and was—despite all evidence to the contrary—building an active nuclear, chemical and biological weapons program.

    • Fire McMaster, Urges Pro-Israel Group Backed by Sheldon Adelson
      President Donald Trump’s White House is being put in the awkward position of having to choose sides between major donors and its own senior staffers. On Wednesday night, a right-wing, pro-Israel lobby group funded largely by the Adelson family — which also gave millions to Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration — launched a broadside attack against National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.

      The Zionist Organization of America announced Monday that it was undertaking a review of McMaster’s record on Israel, according to an “exclusive” story in the right-wing website, Breitbart. On Wednesday, the group released a statement calling for McMaster to be reassigned from the National Security Council because, according to the ZOA, he “purged from the NSC those officials who were carrying out President Trump’s policies of combating Iranian and radical Islamist transnational threats.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • California Court of Appeal Overturns Dangerous Right of Publicity Ruling
      Almost all posts on social media include depictions of real people. And most social media websites include advertising. Does this combination mean that nearly everyone featured on social media can sue for infringement of their right of publicity? That would be disruptive. Fortunately, a new ruling [PDF] by the California Court of Appeal confirms that more is needed for a right of publicity claim. This is a big win for free expression online.

      The decision comes in a case called Cross v. Facebook. The case was brought by a country-rap artist who performs under the stage name Mikel Knight. He promotes his music using “street teams” that sell CDs out of vans. After these vans were involved in several accidents (causing two deaths), Knight was accused of pushing his sales teams too hard and creating an unsafe environment. Some Facebook users created a page called ‘Families Against Mikel Knight’ where ex-street team members and others could comment on Knight’s operation.


      This is the right result. Courts had previously held, for example, that a magazine article does not give rise to a right of publicity claim just because it is placed next to an advertisement. There is no reason to have a different, less protective, rule for the Internet.

      Since it found that Knight had not pleaded a viable right of publicity claim, the appellate court did not decide whether his claim was also barred by CDA 230 or the First Amendment. But even though it did not reach these issues, the ruling places an important limit on the right of publicity and is a victory for online speech.

    • ACLU Sues DC Metro For Banning 'First Amendment' (Literally) And Other Controversial Content
      Free speech can make for some strange bedfellows at times, and the ACLU certainly has a history of defending the free speech rights of people from across the political spectrum (and out to the extremes). The ACLU's willingness to defend just about anyone's free speech rights sometimes confuses people who incorrectly think that free speech should only be protected for people you agree with. The most famous example of the ACLU's willingness to protect the free speech rights of those that they themselves likely disagree with is the famous case in which it defended the right of the KKK to march in Skokie, Illinois. But the ACLU may have just filed a new case that people can point to -- as they seem to have collected plaintiffs from different extremes of the political spectrum, all suing over the DC Metro's refusal to accept their controversial ads. In this case, the ACLU is representing "I just want to seem so controversial" Milo Yiannopoulos's company Milo Worldwide, as well as PETA (you know who they are) and Carafem (a healthcare organization that helps women get birth control and abortions). Oh, and themselves.

    • Step inside a Los Angeles bookstore that takes on Iran's censors
      Poets are a big deal in Iran, and Forugh Farrokhzad was one of the biggest. In the 1960s, her modern, highly personal work won wide acclaim and brought her the poetry equivalent of rock stardom — she cut records, made films, and even today is known popularly by her first name.

    • Five Bad Arguments to Restrict Speech
      Without free speech people stop thinking, losing out on all but a narrowing band of ideas. Open discussion, debate, and argument are the core of democracy. Bad ideas are defeated by good ideas. Fascism seeks to close off all ideas except its own.

      Yet all of these most basic concepts of free speech in our nation are under threat, and too many of them are under threat from the left. I never thought I would write that last phrase, just as I never thought I’d need to explain five bad arguments the Left is using to restrict speech from the Right.


      The arrival in 2017 of neo-nazis, alt-right, white supremacists, racists, and the many flavors of ‘phobes is sadly nothing new. The current poster children for hate, Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and Charles Murray, are no one new either (Coulter’s first book came out in 1998; Murray published his loathed book on welfare in 1984 and both have spoken publicly ever since.) What does seem to be new is that their opposition — the antifa, the anti-fascists — is now aggressively embracing many of the same tools once used to try and stop the anti-war movement, feminists, and other progressive groups in the past. The justification is Everything Is Different since November’s election, and the old rules not only don’t apply, but that wishy-washy democratic ideals of free speech are now a threat to democracy.

    • Lyft drivers fear censorship after internal email about speaking to press

      In late July, the San Francisco-based company, Lyft, sent an email to its drivers that read: “Email if you’re ever contacted by a reporter. Speaking of Lyft in the news: We’re here to help if you get approached for an interview. Shoot a note to our communications team and they’ll make sure you’re prepared for any questions.”

      The move is drawing rebuke from drivers, who in internet forums and elsewhere expressed fear of crackdowns on freedom of speech and questioned the company’s labor fairness.

    • Lyft Sparks Censorship Fears With Email Asking Drivers to Speak to Company Before Media

    • In Face of Censorship, How Does China Play its Social Media Game?

      China, on the other hand, has about 75 crore people using the Internet in a country which doesn’t allow the use of mainstream networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. In such a scenario, China, unlike the rest of the world – including India, is not dependent on American social media websites or search engines.

    • Anti-environment right shifts tactics: From climate-change denial to censorship and intimidation
      While much of the media obsesses over a pointless debate about whether “free speech” should protect an employee who abuses his co-workers with outrageous claims masquerading as “science” (the answer is no), there’s a serious assault on real science underway. Conservatives, including those in the Trump administration, are now trying to undermine the ability of scientists and activists to communicate ideas to the public. Climate change, unlike the supposed intellectual inferiority of women, is a genuine scientific finding with a strong consensus behind it. That’s likely why the right is increasingly looking to McCarthyite tactics to demonize and suppress information about it.

    • Stabenow questions USDA on censorship of ‘climate change’

    • Trump’s climate change censorship puts us all at risk

    • Trump’s attack on science isn’t going very well

    • Diamond and Silk accuse YouTube of ‘censorship’ after company demonetized ‘95%’ of their videos

    • Fox News Host Files SLAPP Suit Against Reporter Who Exposed His Sexting

    • Court Sends John Oliver, HBO Back To State Court To Fight Bob Murray

    • Bob Murray To Court: The ACLU Is Too Biased To File Its 'Eat Shit, Bob' Brief
      As you likely recall, last week the ACLU of West Virginia asked the federal court handling the very upset coal boss Bob Murray's defamation lawsuit against comedian John Oliver to allow it to file a hilarious amicus brief explaining (among other things) why it was perfectly legal to say "Eat shit, Bob." As we noted at the time, it is a very funny filing, but we weren't sure the court would allow it for a whole variety of reasons. And thus it's no surprise that Murray's lawyers are opposing the motion -- but we didn't expect that their opposition would be quite so ridiculous. There are lots of normal arguments they could make, including no need for an amicus brief at this point, or pointing out that the amicus arguments are likely to be simply duplicative of HBO/John Oliver's arguments, but... Murray's lawyers went a bit further. Apparently, they don't want the ACLU weighing in, because it has an opinion.

    • The Price of Censorship for China’s Internet Giants
    • China Steps Up Censorship of Social Media Sites
    • China’s top social networks face investigation for hosting porn and illicit content
    • China's WeChat, Weibo and Baidu under investigation

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How Captive Portals Interfere With Wireless Security and Privacy
      If you have ever wanted to use the wifi at a coffee shop or library, you have probably had to click through a screen to do it. This screen might have shown you the network’s Terms of Service and prompted you to click an “I agree” button. Depending on where you were, it might have asked you for information about yourself, like your email, social media accounts, room number (in a hotel), account number (in a library), or other identifying information. Sometimes you even have to watch a short video or ad before wifi access is granted.

      These kinds of screens are called captive portals, and they interfere with wireless security without providing many user benefits.


      For most networks, captive portals are an unnecessary barrier between users and a wireless connection. Instead of providing access benefits, they only make users less safe. As we collectively move away from captive portals in our businesses and public spaces, we can move toward more open, more privacy-protective wireless access.

    • ACLU Tells Court Long-Term Cell Site Location Tracking Should Require A Warrant
      The Supreme Court is going to take a look at the Fourth Amendment implications of warrantless access to historic cell site location information. The outlook for a Fourth Amendment win isn't particularly hopeful, given that there's no circuit split to be resolved. The lone holdout was the Fourth Circuit -- which originally had problems with the long-term collection of location information -- but that court reversed its earlier decision to align with other circuits which have addressed the issue.

      That doesn't mean no one should try! Who knows what the court might decide, especially given the shifting telecommunications landscape. After all, it has managed to budge the 4th a wee bit now and then, even in decisions that were mostly punts or calls for the aggrieved to take it up with their Congressional reps.

      The ACLU has filed a brief [PDF] on behalf of the appellants, pointing out what should be obvious: cell site location info isn't Just Another Third Party Record. It's a proxy tracking system for law enforcement, which can access this data without warrants. And it's only getting more precise every day.

    • Ex-MI5 chief warns against crackdown on encrypted messaging apps
      A former head of MI5 has spoken out against curtailing use of encryption in messaging apps despite warning that Islamist terrorism will remain a threat for up to another 30 years.

      Jonathan Evans said the terrorist threat to Britain was a “generational problem”, and suggested the Westminster Bridge attack in March may have had an energising effect on extremists.

    • EFF Urges Supreme Court to Take On Unconstitutional NSA Surveillance, Reverse Dangerous Ruling That Allows Massive Government Spying Program

    • Supreme Court Asked to Look at Warrantless NSA Spying Powers
      Digital rights advocates asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to review the case of an American convicted with evidence gathered under FISA Section 702 — warrantless National Security Agency surveillance authority meant to spy on foreign nationals.

      Privacy and digital rights groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a petition Thursday with the nation’s highest court seeking review of the case of Mohammed Mohamud, an American citizen who was charged in 2012 with planning to car-bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Information used to prosecute Mohamud was gathered using Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act.

    • Covert NSA Listening Stations in Every Major City?
      Just like the TitanPointe "long-lines building" in New York - an AT&T front where the NSA monitors huge volumes of communications that was exposed by The Intercept and a team of bloggers they worked with - this building in Birmingham, and similar ones in major cities anywhere and everywhere across the country, was not just there to reach out and touch someone.

    • Can GCHQ order techies to work as govt snoops? Experts fear: 'Yes'
      The UK Home Office's ambiguous response to whether or not the Investigatory Powers Act gives the British government the authority to pressure or force people to work for GCHQ is troubling.

      When Reg reader Simon Clubley pointed out the unclear wording of section 190 of the new law, it generated a lively debate among legal experts and security pros, covered by The Register back in May.

      The law was ambiguously worded enough so that not even experts could discern whether or not the compulsion to assist in surveillance operations applied only to telecoms firms or whether it meant security experts could be press-ganged into assisting the UK's law enforcement and intel agencies.

    • Putting the “face” in Facebook: how Mark Zuckerberg is building a world without public anonymity

      If Facebook wins, and is allowed to roll out more features and services based on increasingly-accurate facial recognition of billions of people, we will be moving towards a world without outdoor anonymity, just as Rick Falkvinge predicted on this site four years ago. But it won’t just be Facebook, Google and Microsoft that are scanning and identifying us everywhere we go in the physical world. The FBI launched a $1 billion facial recognition project back in 2012, the US Customs and Border Protection is planning to apply facial recognition to all airline passengers, including US citizens, boarding flights exiting the country, and key figures on Donald Trump’s Homeland Security team have strong links to the facial recognition industry. The technology will soon be ubiquitous. Enjoy the possibility of public anonymity while you can.

    • End Biometric Border Screening

      This summer, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding its program of subjecting U.S. and foreign citizens to facial recognition screening at international airports. This indiscriminate biometric surveillance program threatens the personal privacy of millions of travelers. DHS should end it.

      The history of this program is a case study in mission creep. In 1996, Congress authorized automated tracking of foreign citizens as they enter and exit the U.S. In 2004, DHS began biometric screening of foreign citizens upon arrival. In 2016, DHS launched a pilot program of facial recognition screening of all travelers, U.S. and foreign citizens alike, on a daily international flight out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. In March 2017, President Trump’s revised travel ban ordered DHS to expedite the completion of biometric entry-exit screening of foreign citizens. Today, facial recognition screening is underway for all travelers on certain international flights out of two more pilot sites: Washington’s Dulles airport and Houston’s Bush airport. Later this summer, DHS will expand this program to five more international airports.

    • Facebook Muscles Into the Online Video Scene

      It’s hard to overstate how huge video is on Facebook. The social network ranks second only to YouTube for internet video. Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called video a “megatrend” and described the platform’s “video-first” strategy. Outside of YouTube, Facebook has the most robust data on users’ viewing habits: it knows what kinds of videos people watch, how long they watch them, and why. Which is why it makes a lot of sense for Facebook to leverage this data and launch a slate of premium shows.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chinese web merchants are using African children to advertise search engines and camgirls

      Chinese vendors are facing backlash for selling customized photos and videos featuring African children via Chinese online marketplace Taobao. As reported by Beijing Youth Daily, these photos and videos have recently become popular as a way to deliver messages for birthdays and other meaningful occasions. They can be purchased for as little as $1, similar to services offered on freelance marketplace Fiverr.

    • Amos Yee allegedly robbed multiple times by fellow inmate in US prison
      Amos Yee alleged that he was repeatedly robbed by a fellow inmate who has been incarcerated in the same prison as Yee, in a Facebook post today.

      Yee alleged that the inmate, Emmanuel “Bubba” Reyes – described as a 6’4″ tall, muscular black man who weighs over 113kg – robbed money Yee was given to purchase food from the prison kiosk, multiple times.

      He also reported that Reyes, who was convicted under illegal weapons and assault charges, has made a habit of intimidating other prisoners and stealing their food and money, with one 72-year-old inmate being thrashed for refusing to hand over his food to Reyes.

    • Report Shows CBP Officers Rarely Punished For Abusive Actions
      And that was at the Canadian border. Down south, treatment of citizens and (especially) non-citizens is even worse. The CBP has a vast amount of power but very minimal oversight. The fact that they deal with non-citizens frequently tends to result in a "They're not Americans, so who cares?" attitude.

    • No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse
      Data obtained by the American Immigration Council shine a light on the lack of accountability and transparency which afflicts the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The data, which the Immigration Council acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, covers 809 complaints of alleged abuse lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012. These cases run the gamut of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Although it is not possible to determine which cases had merit and which did not, it is astonishing that, among those cases in which a formal decision was issued, 97 percent resulted in “No Action Taken.” On average, CBP took 122 days to arrive at a decision when one was made. Moreover, among all complaints, 40 percent were still “pending investigation” when the complaint data were provided to the Immigration Council.

    • Google cancels all-hands diversity meeting over safety concerns
      According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has abruptly canceled a company-wide meeting, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, that was intended to address employee questions about the company's diversity policies.

      Questions submitted by employees on the company's internal network "appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email announcing the cancellation. "Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall."

      It's the latest PR headache for a company that has been caught in a no-win situation since a controversial internal memo written by mid-level Google engineer James Damore surfaced over the weekend.

    • Google Cancels Meeting on Diversity, Citing Safety Concerns for Employees
      Google canceled a companywide meeting about diversity just before it was set to begin Thursday, citing safety concerns after right-wing commentators published the names of certain employees.

    • Google Can’t Seem to Tolerate Diversity

      It’s fine to question Damore's characterization of women. (As a female engineer in Silicon Valley, I endorse his suggestion to “treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group.”) It’s okay to disagree with the proposed solutions. But the backlash was egregiously swift and brutal. Google representatives issued multiple statements denouncing the document. Past and present colleagues chimed in over the weekend with calls for the engineer to be ousted. Media outlets like TechCrunch, Gizmodo and Motherboard jumped on board to declare the memo an “Anti-Diversity Manifesto.” It appears that the ideological echo chamber extends beyond Google’s campus.

      Silicon Valley has a very peculiar definition of diversity that requires proportional representation from every gender and race, all of whom must think exactly alike.

    • The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond

    • The alt-right is planning to protest Google’s censorship with nationwide rallies on its US campuses
      The alt-right supporters of James Damore, the fired Google engineer who authored the so-called “anti-diversity” memo, are planning nationwide protests on Google’s US campuses.

      The first demonstrations are slated to happen on Aug. 19 at five locations: Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered; New York City; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; and Boston, Massachusetts. A website for organizing the details for #MarchOnGoogle says it plans to hold protests at “every Google office.” The website says demonstrators might exercise their right to free speech by protesting “in front of the homes of Google’s executive team.”

    • Conservatives mad over the Google memo censorship should end their century-long war on unions
      On Monday, Google fired an engineer named James Damore for circulating an anti-diversity manifesto that claimed Google was too blinded by left-wing political bias to see that its women engineers were limited by their inferior biology. His dismissal alarmed conservatives who are now calling Damore’s firing an assault on political speech.

      Right wing publications say that firing Damore is Google’s “warning shot” across the bow of democracy in an attempt to instate totalitarianism, and that the whole debacle proves that the goal of the left, according to the National Review, is that “the white male must lose.”
    • What the Movie 'Detroit' Says About America Today
      How little has changed in the treatment of Black Americans since the uprising in Detroit in July 1967.

      Watching the movie “Detroit” was like looking into a mirror reflecting the present. For me, the story didn’t show how things have improved since 1967, it demonstrated how much remains the same 50 years later.

      The movie is about the killing of three unarmed teenagers at the Algiers Motel and the shooting and beating of other civilians by the police during the Detroit uprising in July 1967. It starts with an animated history lesson explaining how black Americans migrated from the South to the North and ended up restricted to a few overcrowded neighborhoods. This is the legacy of redlining and the exclusion of Blacks from home-buying assistance provided by the G.I. Bill — a legacy that still explains much of the gap in net worth that exists between white and Black families in America today. Detroit, and most of America, is as segregated today as it was in 1967.

      The police in “Detroit” showed how casually they would resort to violence against Black people, the same behavior we witness time and time again in recent videos of police misconduct. The culture of policing portrayed in the movie can be seen in places like Ferguson, Chicago, Baltimore, and Madison County, Mississippi, where the ACLU of Mississippi has filed a lawsuit against the county sheriff for illegal use of force against Black “suspects.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The world in which IPv6 was a good design

      Why is IPv6 such a complicated mess compared to IPv4? Wouldn't it be better if it had just been IPv4 with more address bits? But it's not, oh boy, is it ever not. So I started asking around. Here's what I found.

    • The Nation's Telcos Are Hemorrhaging Customers Because They Refuse To Upgrade Their Networks
      So we've noted for a while how despite all the hype surrounding next-gen wireless and gigabit fiber builds like Google Fiber, vast swaths of this country are actually facing less broadband competition than ever before. That's in large part thanks to the nation's phone companies, which have effectively given up on upgrading their lagging DSL networks at any real scale. One net result is millions of customers paying an arm and a leg for sub 6 Mbps DSL service that doesn't even technically meet the FCC's new standard 25 Mbps definition of broadband.

      And it's not changing anytime soon. Verizon has all but frozen next-gen upgrades as it shifts its focus to gobbling up failed 90s internet brands to help it sling video advertisements at Millennials (poorly, we might add). But smaller telcos like Frontier, CenturyLink and Windstream have similarly been losing broadband customers hand over foot as they flee to faster cable competitors.

    • FCC may argue that cellular internet is enough if you can't get broadband

      Last year, the FCC inquiry concluded that fixed line and mobile access were independently vital. However, under new Chairman Ajit "weed-whacker" Pai, the Republicans (natch) are arguing that a 10Mbps down and 1Mbps up via a cellular connection should count as "both" without the need for a fixed line.

      This, of course, will delight the FCC at large, who would suddenly start meeting all sorts of targets they hadn't met before and look like the big I-am.

    • FCC will fix America's shitty internet by declaring fast internet access unimportant to Americans

      The move would change the FCC's definition of fast broadband from the current world-lagging 25Mbps/3Mbps to a pitiable 10Mbps/1Mbps.

    • Ajit Pai accused of conflict for helping former client, a prison phone company
      A prisoners' rights group has accused Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai of having a conflict of interest because he used to represent a prison phone company as a lawyer.

      Under Pai's direction, the FCC dropped its court defense of rules capping the intrastate phone rates charged to prisoners. The decision helped prison phone companies—including Pai's former client, Securus Technologies—continue to charge high prices.

      Pai "represented Securus as its attorney while employed as a partner with the law firm of Jenner & Block, LLP, immediately preceding his confirmation as FCC Commissioner in May 2012," Human Rights Defense Center Executive Director Paul Wright wrote in a filing with the commission yesterday.

    • FCC seemingly forgot about a net neutrality complaint filed against Verizon
      As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to deregulate broadband providers and eliminate or weaken net neutrality rules, the commission has not yet made a ruling on a net neutrality complaint filed against Verizon more than a year ago.

      There have been tens of thousands of "informal" net neutrality complaints filed since the rules took effect in 2015, but there has been only one formal complaint. Informal complaints can be filed for free but won't necessarily result in a ruling; formal complaints require a filing fee of $225 and kick off a court-like proceeding in which the parties appear before the FCC and file numerous documents to address legal issues.


      The only formal net neutrality complaint was filed in July 2016 by a Verizon Wireless customer named Alex Nguyen, who alleged that the carrier has violated the rules with numerous actions that blocked third-party devices and applications from being used on its network. The complaint has its own docket, and Verizon has made several responses to the allegations, yet it has been so little-noticed that the people who wrote the FCC's proposal to repeal net neutrality rules seemingly forgot that it existed.

    • FCC Chairman Pai’s Detailed Schedule, Jan-June 2017

      The hour-by-hour schedules of the heads of federal agencies and departments are not made publicly available as a matter of course. I’m requesting dozens of them via FOIA. The latest arrival is the calendar for the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, covering the first half of 2017.

    • [Resposted as it's important] Don’t Let Congress Compromise on Net Neutrality
      A few months ago, we received confirmation of what many of us had feared: incoming Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced his plans to eliminate the clear, enforceable protections for net neutrality that the Commission had implemented in 2015.

      Since then, people have stood up en masse in support of the open Internet. Over 18 million comments have been filed with the FCC—the majority of them opposing the Commission’s plan to roll back protections for net neutrality. (And it’s not too late! You still have one more week to file a comment of your own.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Linking Patent and Trademark Attorney Fees
      Romag Fasteners v. Fossil is a rare infringement case that involves allegations of both patent and trademark infringement. The important aspect of the Federal Circuit’s decision here harmonizes the attorney fee requirements for trademark and patent cases.

      A jury sided with Romag – finding that Fossil’s magnetic snaps infringed both the asserted patent and trademark (product design). (U.S. Patent No. 5,722,126 and U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 2,095,367).

      The jury returned a verdict for Romag, finding that Fossil had engaged in patent and trademark infringement. The district court granted fees related to the patent portion of the case but denied fees on the trademark side. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated that judgment.

      Lanham Act and Patent Act provide identical language for awardinging reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in exceptional cases: “The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.” 35 U.S.C. 285; 15 U.S.C. 1117(a). Based upon the identical language of the statutes, the appellate court here ruled that the Supreme Court’s Octane Fitness approach to fees in patent cases also applies in Trademark cases. The Second Circuit had previously (pre-Octane Fitness) required “evidence of fraud or bad faith.” Under Octane Fitness, that requirement is unduly strict and improper. All of the other Circuit courts who have considered the issue agree with the Federal Circuit that Octane Fitness applies to TM cases under Section 1117(a). Because the court applied the incorrect standard, this TM portion of the case was remanded to determine whether fees are appropriate.

    • Copyrights

      • S.B. 727 Would Unfairly Restrict California Students’ Use of Course Materials
        There’s a bill in the California Assembly that we think would make postsecondary education more expensive for students. Not only that: we think that it would undermine students’ right to make fair uses of educational materials. To make matters worse, several states around the country appear to be considering similar measures.

        S.B. 727 may seem benign. The bill’s purpose appears to be to give public colleges and universities more leeway in what types of course materials they assign to students and what types of pricing agreements they enter with the publishers of those materials. There’s a troubling provision, though, which says that institutions can assign texts that are “Delivered through a technology that is, or the license of which is, required to only be used within a course.” In other words, public colleges would be encouraged to assign materials that are locked down under arcane licensing agreements unfairly restricting how students can use them.

        Being able to buy and sell used textbooks gives students an important lever with which to rein in unfair pricing tactics by publishers.

      • Warner/Chappell Issues Copyright Claim Over YouTube Video Deliberately Containing None Of Its Music

        Warner/Chappell's DMCA takedown arm is so damn proactive it can kill YouTube videos containing as little as 0% of its IP.

      • Elsevier Continues To Build Its Monopoly Solution For All Aspects Of Scholarly Communication
        Techdirt has just written about the amazing achievements of Sci-Hub, and how it now offers the vast majority of academic papers free online. One implication may be that traditional publishing, with high-cost journals hidden behind paywalls, is no longer viable. But as we noted, that doesn't mean that traditional publishers will disappear. For one thing, many are embracing open access, and finding it pretty profitable (some would say too profitable thanks to things like "double dipping".) But there's another way that academic publishers, particularly the biggest ones with deep pockets, can head off the threat to their profits from developments like Sci-Hub and open access: by diversifying.

        Mike wrote about one example last year, when Elsevier bought the preprint service Social Science Research Network (SSRN), arguably the most popular repository of research in the fields of economics, law and the social sciences. Since SSRN deals in preprints, which can be freely downloaded, sites like Sci-Hub are no threat. Similarly, preprints are generally posted before submission to journals, and therefore can flourish whether or not those journals are open access.

      • Internet Archive releases 25,000 digitised 78RPM records for download

        The Archive has released 25,000 (count 'em!) digital versions of 78RPM records that were otherwise virtually unplayable and certainly otherwise unavailable.

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