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Links 14/2/2018: Atom 1.24, OSI Joins UNESCO

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Free Software/Open Source

  • OSI Joins UNESCO to Grow Open Source Community

    The FOSSASIA Summit 2018 takes place in Singapore from Thursday, March 22 – Sunday, March 25. Open Source contributors can now apply for a free ticket to the event, and accommodation throughout conference. In addition, you’ll be eligible to participate in: A featured workshops, the UNESCO hackathon, and celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Open Source Initiative. All you have to do is convince us, that you are an awesome Open Source contributor and book your trip to Singapore!

  • Five noteworthy open source projects
    The open-source movement has gained momentum over the last few years. So much so that The Linux Foundation recently formed the LF Networking Fund (LFN) in an effort to place multiple open source networking projects under a single umbrella. These types of projects allow virtually anyone to make modifications, and potentially improve, software code through a process called upstreaming. Given the numerous open source projects available, however, choosing one to contribute to can feel overwhelming. To simplify matters, the following — though far from an exhaustive list — highlights some noteworthy open source projects.

  • Open source: why is it such a big deal?
    What is open source software (OSS)? OSS is any program, application, operating system that is released along with its source code so that you, the user, can change it at will. Or at least have the option to utilise the services of a vendor of your choice. The fact that any other type of software exists is itself strange: would you buy a car that is completely sealed off from repair? No access to the engine, the tail-lights, or the windshield wiper? Even the tyres? One and only one company — the manufacturer of the car — will be able to fix even the smallest problem. Would you buy such a vehicle? Forget buying, given the current competition in vehicles, such a product would not last in the market for even a week.

    The fact that people are selling you software that you cannot take to another person to fix, re-package, assist in providing even basic upgrades is in itself wrong and the discussion should end right here, IMHO. But that is a whole different topic and best left to camp-fire discussions; we have neither the will nor the wherewithal to turn an entire industry on its head.

  • Events

    • Inductive Bias: FOSDEM 2018 - recap
      Too crowded, too many queues, too little space - but also lots of friendly people, Belgian waffles, ice cream, an ASF dinner with grey beards and new people, a busy ASF booth, bumping into friends every few steps, meeting humans you see only online for an entire year or more: For me, that's the gist of this year's FOSDEM.

      Note: German version of the article including images appeared in my employer's tech blog.

      To my knowledge FOSDEM is the biggest gathering of free software people in Europe at least. It's free of charge, kindly hosted by ULB, organised by a large group of volunteers. Every year early February the FOSS community meets for two one weekend in Brussels to discuss all sorts of aspects of Free and Open Source Software Development - including community, legal, business and policy aspects. The event features more than 600 talks as well as several dozen booths by FOSS projects and FOSS friendly companies. There's several FOSDEM fringe events surrounding the event that are not located on campus. If you go to any random bar or restaurant in Brussels that weekend you are bound to bump into FOSDEM people.

    • As open source grows, Open Source 101 event offers you a chance to join the crowd
      In 2018 it’s easy to believe everyone understands open source and has a firm grasp of the basic processes and tools. It can be a surprisingly nuanced topic, though, and after 10 years of hosting open source events I and my associates can tell you most current and future technologists do not.

      But why is this important? Why should technologists and would-be technologists care?

    • Last Chance to Save $150 on ELC + OpenIoT Summit North America

    • Ceph Day Germany 2018 - Follow-Up
      Last week the Ceph Day Germany took place at Deutsche Telekom in Darmstadt. Around 160 people took part in the event and attended the talks of the 13 speakers over the day.

    • CentOS Dojo and FOSDEM 2018
      FOSDEM is one of the largest open source conferences in the world, with over 8000 participants. As many developers gather not just from Europe but from all around the world, there are a number of pre- and post conferences timed to happen before and after FOSDEM. This year before FOSDEM, I also participated at the CentOS Dojo, a whole-day event about CentOS.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack: Open source community collaboration needed to overcome edge computing adoption barriers
      In a whitepaper co-authored by a number of open source advocates, the OpenStack Foundation makes the case for taking a teamwork approach to tackling the barriers to widespread edge computing adoption

      The open source cloud community is being urged to pull together and overcome the barriers preventing widespread adoption of edge computing practices becoming a reality.

    • Apache CloudStack 4.11 Boosts Open-Source Cloud Features
      Apache CloudStack v4.11 was officially released by the open-source Apache Software Foundation (ASF) on Feb. 12, after eight months of development.

      "This release has been driven by the people operating CloudStack clouds," Rohit Yadav, Apache CloudStack v4.11 Release Manager stated. "Along with great new features, v4.11 brings several important structural changes such as better support for systemd and Java 8, migration to embedded Jetty, and a new and optimized Debian 9 based systemvm template."

      CloudStack has been part of the ASF since April 2012, when Citrix donated the technology to the open-source foundation. Citrix had originally acquired from in July 2011. The first official Apache CloudStack release was version 4.0 which debuted in November 2012.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

  • BSD

    • NetBSD taking part in Google Summer of Code 2018

      You can get a stipend (paid for by Google) and spend a few months getting to know and improving the insides of NetBSD or pkgsrc.

      The schedule is:
      12-27 March Applying
      23 April Find out if you were accepted
      14 May - 22 August Do the project!

    • DragonFlyBSD Adds New "Ptr_Restrict" Security Option
      Just like the Linux developers, in the wake of the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities DragonFlyBSD developers have also been working on a variety of security improvements.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • BH 1.66.0-1
      A new release of the BH package arrived on CRAN a little earlier: now at release 1.66.0-1. BH provides a sizeable portion of the Boost C++ libraries as a set of template headers for use by R, possibly with Rcpp as well as other packages.

      This release upgrades the version of Boost to the Boost 1.66.0 version released recently, and also adds one exciting new library: Boost compute which provides a C++ interface to multi-core CPU and GPGPU computing platforms based on OpenCL.

    • Data scientist wanted: Must have Python, spontaneity not required
      The average salary offered to data scientists in the past year was €£47,000, with Python being the most desirable programming language, according to an analysis of job ads.

      The assessment, carried out by listings site Joblift, looked at 8,672 data scientist vacancies posted in the UK over the last 12 months.

      It found that data science salaries have increased at 3 per cent a month, which is a percentage point higher than the UK job market as a whole.

    • Top 11 vi tips and tricks
      The vi editor is one of the most popular text editors on Unix and Unix-like systems, such as Linux. Whether you're new to vi or just looking for a refresher, these 11 tips will enhance how you use it.

    • How to create slides with Emacs Org mode and Reveal.js
      You've crafted each slide in your presentation. Now what? You'll want to generate the HTML version of your slide deck. To do that, press Ctrl+c Ctrl+e on your keyboard. This opens the Org mode export buffer. Next, type R+R. Emacs creates a single HTML file in the folder where you saved your slide file.

      Open that HTML file in a web browser. You can move through the slides by pressing the arrow keys on your keyboard.

    • Renesas Synergy Platform Boosts IoT Performance With IAR Systems Advanced Compiler Technology


  • Increasing numbers of children spending hours glued to their smartphone

    Some 25% of young UK children now own a smartphone, and almost half of them spend three hours a day glued to the screen.

  • FAQ: What happens when I choose to “Suppress Ads” on Salon?
    Like most media companies, Salon pays its bills through advertising and we profoundly appreciate our advertising partners and sponsors. In this traditional arrangement between reader and publisher, we are able to offer our readers a free reading experience in exchange for serving them ads. This relationship — of free or subsidized content in exchange for advertising — is not new; journalism has subsisted on this relationship for well over a century. This quid pro quo arrangement, ideally, benefits both readers and media. Yet in the past two decades, shifting tides in the media and advertising industries threw a wrench in this equation.

  • Science

    • Shooting a Tesla into orbit: A slap in the face to real science

      Yet the true hubris of the car-launching stunt lies in how little respect it shows for real science and science education. Sending something into orbit is a phenomenally expensive ordeal; even sending equipment to low-Earth orbit — barely above the mesosphere — hovers between $9,000 per pound and $43,000 per pound, according to one estimate. Sending cargo further out — say, scientific instruments — is far more expensive; as such, the cost of sending a satellite of comparable weight into the orbit Musk's Tesla now occupies would be in the eight- to nine-figure range. Many astronomers spend years submitting proposals to get their 10-pound instrument attached to a probe, and often get denied again and again.

    • Silicon Nanostructures Bend Light to Make Faster Photodiodes
      There are some things silicon doesn’t do well. It neither absorbs nor emits light efficiently. So, silicon photonics systems, which connect racks of servers in data centers via high-data rate optical fiber links, are dependent on photodiode receivers made of germanium or other materials to turn optical signals into electronic ones. Saif Islam, professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of California Davis, and colleagues have come up with a way for silicon photodiodes to do the job, potentially driving down the cost of optical computer-to-computer communications.

      The difficulty for silicon photodiodes, explains Islam, is the trade-off between speed and efficiency. When a photon is absorbed in a photodiode, it becomes an electron and a hole (a positive charge), which must then travel to the device’s anode and cathode to produce current. The thicker the absorption region, the more likely a photon is to be absorbed, increasing efficiency. But thinner regions have a speed advantage: “When you make it very thin, your electrons and holes take little time to reach the electrical terminals.” And that speeds up the photodiode’s switching speed and the system’s data rate.

    • Physicists extend stochastic thermodynamics deeper into quantum territory
      Physicists have extended one of the most prominent fluctuation theorems of classical stochastic thermodynamics, the Jarzynski equality, to quantum field theory. As quantum field theory is considered to be the most fundamental theory in physics, the results allow the knowledge of stochastic thermodynamics to be applied, for the first time, across the full range of energy and length scales.


      In the future, the physicists plan to generalize their approach to a wider variety of quantum field theories, which will open up even further possibilities.

    • Biologists would love to program cells as if they were computer chips

      Sitting in his startup lab space on the outskirts of MIT’s campus, Alec Nielsen opens his laptop and types in instructions for a genetically modified yeast cell that will glow yellow. He tells the program what sugars he plans to feed the cell—arabinose and lacctose—and specifies that it should make a fluorescent protein normally found in jellyfish.

      The computer takes about 60 seconds before spitting out a list of roughly 11,000 letters of DNA, along with what looks like a circuit diagram.

    • 2017 was the year consumer DNA testing blew up

      The number of people who have had their DNA analyzed with direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy tests more than doubled during 2017 and now exceeds 12 million, according to industry estimates.

      Most of those tested are in the US, suggesting that around 1 in 25 American adults now have access to personal genetic data—a figure that could spur a range of new genetic analysis services.

    • Genetic study of soil organisms reveals new family of antibiotics
      A team of researchers at Rockefeller University has discovered a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study of a wide range of soil microorganism antibiotics. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes their study and how well samples of the new antibiotic worked in rats.

      Bacteria are evolving to become drug resistant, making it increasingly difficult to treat people with bacterial infections. Because of this, scientists the world over are looking for new antibiotics. In this new effort, the researchers studied microorganisms that live in soil as a possible source of new antibiotics—in order to survive, they, too, must have some means of fighting off bacterial infections.

  • Hardware

    • Moore's law has ended. What comes next?

      In their recent paper, "Science and research policy at the end of Moore's law" published in Nature Electronics, however, Carnegie Mellon University researchers Hassan Khan, David Hounshell, and Erica Fuchs argue that future advancement in microprocessors faces new and unprecedented challenges.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • House Members Are Pushing a Bill That Will Roll Back the Rights of People With Disabilities
      The "ADA Education and Reform Act" Neither Reforms nor Educates

      The entrance to the post office in a small town was up a flight of 20 steps. When told he needed to make the post office accessible to wheelchair users, the postmaster was befuddled. “I’ve been here for thirty-five years and in all that time I’ve yet to see a single customer come in here in a wheelchair,” he said, according to Joe Shapiro in his 1994 book, “No Pity.”

      It would seem the postmaster didn’t see the irony in that response. But it’s because of that lack of awareness from business owners and government workers that Congress in 1990 passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promoted the integration, acceptance, and everyday rights of people with disabilities. But this week, the House of Representatives could undermine a key tenet of that landmark civil rights law.

      Under Title III of the ADA, private businesses must ensure new buildings are accessible and remove barriers in older buildings where it is “readily achievable”—a standard that considers the cost of the change and the resources of the business. For example, a major hotel chain might need to spend several thousand dollars to make a few of their rooms accessible, but a small business might only be expected to spend a few hundred dollars to grind down a three inch lip into a doorway, or to put a ramp up two stairs. Now a group of businesses led by the owners of large shopping malls have persuaded more than 100 representatives to introduce H.R. 620, the so-called “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.” This legislation would require people with disabilities who encounter access barriers at a business or facility to become legal experts on the code, to provide “notice” to the business of what code they are violating, and to wait six months or longer. And this isn’t even for the business to actually fix the problem—just for the business to make “substantial progress” towards accessibility.

    • Cancer-killing virus acts by alerting immune system
      A new UC San Francisco study has shown that a cancer-killing ("oncolytic") virus currently in clinical trials may function as a cancer vaccine—in addition to killing some cancer cells directly, the virus alerts the immune system to the presence of a tumor, triggering a powerful, widespread immune response that kills cancer cells far outside the virus-infected region.

    • Running helps the brain counteract negative effect of stress, study finds
      Most people agree that getting a little exercise helps when dealing with stress. A new BYU study discovers exercise—particularly running—while under stress also helps protect your memory.

      The study, newly published in the journal of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, finds that running mitigates the negative impacts chronic stress has on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

      "Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress," said study lead author Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at BYU.

  • Security

    • Meltdown fix could kill your Linux experience by 8,000 per cent, says Netflix [Ed: And of course the hypothetical worst case scenarios become headlines...]

      Brendan Gregg, who is part of the team that ensures that Netflix performs as planned, says that the Linux fix causes a huge strain on the CPU leading to the "largest kernel performance regressions I've ever seen".

      The technique is called Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) and does pretty much what it says - it makes sure that the page tables for users are different for the ones used by the machine.

    • Equifax hires new chief information security officer

    • 'Olympic Destroyer' Malware Hit Pyeongchang Ahead of Opening Ceremony

      Talos points out that Olympic Destroyer's disruptive tactics and spreading methods resemble NotPetya and BadRabbit, two pieces of Ukraine-targeting malware seen in the last year that the Ukrainian government, the CIA, and other security firms have all tied to Russian hackers [sic].

    • What is Olympic Destroyer? Malicious file-wiping malware hits Pyeongchang to embarrass organisers [iophk: "IOC invites this kind of trouble by spreading Windows throughout the org"]

      It then deletes all shadow copies on the system and then uses wbadmin.exe to destroy all system files "to ensure that file recovery is not trivial". The malware also uses a tool called bcdedit to make sure that the Windows recovery console cannot attempt to repair anything on the host making sure recovery is "extremely difficult".

    • Winter Olympics bods confirm opening ceremony cyberattack
    • Telegram zero-day let hackers spread backdoor and cryptocurrency-mining malware
      A zero-day vulnerability in Telegram Messenger allowed attackers to spread a new form of malware with abilities ranging from creating a backdoor trojan to mining cryptocurrency.

      The attacks take advantage of a previously unknown vulnerability in the Telegram Desktop app for Windows and were spotted being used in the wild by Kaspersky Lab.

      Researchers believe the Russian cybercriminal group exploiting the zero-day were the only ones aware of the vulnerability and have been using it to distribute malware since March 2017 -- although it's unknown how long the vulnerability had existed before that date.

    • More Than 4,000 Government Websites Infected With Covert Cryptocurrency Miner
      The rise of cryptocurrency mining software like Coinhive has been a decidedly double-edged sword. While many websites have begun exploring cryptocurrency mining as a way to generate some additional revenue, several have run into problems if they fail to warn visitors that their CPU cycles are being co-opted in such a fashion. That has resulted in numerous websites like The Pirate Bay being forced to back away from the software after poor implementation (and zero transparency) resulted in frustrated users who say the software gobbled upwards of 85% of their available CPU processing power without their knowledge or consent.

      But websites that don't inform users this mining is happening are just one part of an emerging problem. Hackers have also taken to using malware to embed the mining software into websites whose owners aren't aware that their sites have been hijacked to make somebody else an extra buck. Politifact was one of several websites that recently had to admit its website was compromised with cryptocurrency-mining malware without their knowledge. Showtime was also forced to acknowledge (barely) that websites on two different Showtime domains had been compromised and infected with Coinhive-embedded malware.

    • Why Bug Bounties Matter
      Bugs exist in software. That's a fact, not a controversial statement. The challenge (and controversy) lies in how different organizations find the bugs in their software.

      One way for organizations to find bugs is with a bug bounty program. Bug bounties are not a panacea or cure-all for finding and eliminating software flaws, but they can play an important role.

    • Shell Scripting and Security

      The internet ain't what it used to be back in the old days. I remember being online back when it was known as ARPAnet actually—back when it was just universities and a handful of corporations interconnected. Bad guys sneaking onto your computer? We were living in blissful ignorance then.

      Today the online world is quite a bit different, and a quick glimpse at the news demonstrates that it's not just global, but that bad actors, as they say in security circles, are online and have access to your system too. The idea that any device that's online is vulnerable is more true now than at any previous time in computing history.

    • Security updates for Tuesday

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 82 - RSA, TLS, Chrome HTTP, and PCI
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Winter Olympics was hit by cyber-attack, officials confirm [Ed: This is a Microsoft Windows issue, but Bill Fates is paying The Guardian, so...]

    • Google Patches Chromebooks Against Meltdown/Spectre, Adds New Chrome OS Features
      Earlier this month, Google updated its Chrome OS computer operating system to stable version 64.0.3282.134 and platform version 10176.65.0, an update that's now available for most Chromebook devices.

      Besides the usual security improvements and bug fixes, the latest Chrome OS 64 release includes several new features that are worth mentioning, such as the ability to take screenshots by simultaneously pressing the Power and Volume Down buttons on your Chromebook with a 360-degree hinge.

    • Skype can't fix a nasty security bug without a massive code rewrite

    • Perfect Computer Security Is a Myth. But It’s Still Important [Ed: The "everything is broken" defeatism overlooks the coordinated vandalism done to put back doors in most things]
      Maybe you’ve heard it before: “Security is a myth.” It’s become a common refrain after a never-ending string of high-profile security breaches. If Fortune 500 companies with million dollar security budgets can’t lock things down, how can you?

      And there’s truth to this: perfect security is a myth. No matter what you do, no matter how careful you are, you will never be 100 percent safe from hackers, malware, and cybercrime. That’s the reality we all live in, and it’s important to keep this in mind, if only so that we can all feel more sympathy for victims.

    • Microsoft Fixes 50 Vulnerabilities In February’s Patch Tuesday Update
      Microsoft has released February’s cumulative updates for Windows 10, better known as Patch Tuesday. The reason why the update is worth getting is it comes with fixes for 50 vulnerabilities in various versions of Windows 10.

      As per the release notes, the software addressed as a part of the Patch Tuesday update are Windows OS, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Services and Web Apps, and the JavaScript engine ChakraCore. In addition to security fixes, Microsoft has also made improvements to address minor glitches in Windows 10.

    • Telegram Zero-Day Vulnerability Lets Hackers Pwn Your PC to Mine Cryptocurrency
      A zero-day vulnerability was discovered by Kaspersky Lab in the Telegram Desktop app that could let hackers pwn your computer to mine for cryptocurrencies like Zcash, Monero, Fantomcoin, and others.

      Kaspersky Lab's security researchers say the zero-day vulnerability can be used to deliver multi-purpose malware to computer users using the Telegram Desktop app, including backdoors and crypto-cash mining software.

      The security company also discovered that hackers had actively exploited the vulnerability in the Telegram Desktop app, which is based on the right-to-left override Unicode method, since March last year, but only to mine cryptocurrencies like Fantomcoin, Monero, and Zcash.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Duterte tells soldiers to shoot female rebels in their genitals
      Women’s groups and human rights advocates have condemned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for encouraging soldiers to shoot female rebels in their genitals, the latest in a series of violent, misogynist remarks. Duterte, a former provincial mayor, told a group of former communist rebels to “tell the soldiers…there’s a new order from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina.” “If there is no vagina, it would be useless,” he said, appearing to imply that women are useless without their genitals.

    • Budget Woes Sign of a Dysfunctional Empire
      The bloated military budget is justified on the assumption that the United States can and should police the entire world, but this approach is fundamentally unsustainable, warns Jonathan Marshall.

    • The Fires in Myanmar

      The scarred woman’s name is Momatz. She lived in Myanmar until the Myanmar military started to burn the homes in other nearby Rohingya villages. She and her husband had heard the military was heading toward her village. They were packing to flee when a Buddhist government official arrived in her village to reassure her and her neighbors they had nothing to worry about. The official said he would protect their village. The official told them to stay. He told them they would be safe. She believed him. She stayed.

    • The Sound and the Fury: Inside the Mystery of the Havana Embassy
      More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case. A ProPublica investigation reveals the many layers to the mystery — and the political maneuvering that is reshaping U.S.-Cuba relations.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Could Julian Assange Be on Brink of Freedom?

    • The UK’s Hidden Hand in Julian Assange’s Detention
      It now emerges that the last four years of Julian Assange’s effective imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact, they depended on a legal charade.

      Behind the scenes, Sweden wanted to drop the extradition case against Assange back in 2013. Why was this not made public? Because Britain persuaded Sweden to pretend that they still wished to pursue the case.

      In other words, for more than four years Assange has been holed up in a tiny room, policed at great cost to British taxpayers, not because of any allegations in Sweden but because the British authorities wanted him to remain there. On what possible grounds could that be, one has to wonder? Might it have something to do with his work as the head of Wikileaks, publishing information from whistleblowers that has severely embarrassed the United States and the UK.

    • UK judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder
      A British judge today upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent more than five years evading the law inside Ecuador's London embassy.

      Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Assange's lawyers that it is no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women. He has denied the allegations.

    • British judge accuses Julian Assange of cowardice after the Wikileaks founder failed to overturn arrest warrant
      A British judge has called out Julian Assange for cowardice after he decided not to come to a court hearing in which he asked police to give up trying to arrest him.

      Emma Arbuthnot, who heard Assange's case at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London, said in a ruling that he "should have the courage" to appear in court like anybody else accused of wrongdoing.

    • Assange Sneaking Out is Not a 'Smart Strategy' - Lecturer
      Whistle-blower Julian Assange is running out of options, after a UK Judge rules against dropping his UK arrest warrant. She said his position in the Embassy is not ‘unjust’, and that he can see the sun from the balcony. Sputnik spoke with Andrés Mejía Acosta, Senior Lecturer at King’s College International Development Institute about the case.

    • WikiLeaks founder Assange says he has three months to appeal UK ruling
      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Tuesday he had three months to appeal against a British court ruling that means he still faces arrest for breach of bail conditions if he steps out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

      Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled earlier that it was still in the public interest for Assange to be arrested and prosecuted for breaching his bail terms when he entered the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

    • WikiLeaks founder Assange loses bid to halt UK legal action against him
      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost a legal bid on Tuesday to persuade British authorities to drop further action against him for breaching his bail conditions when he walked into the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

    • Judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday lost his second bid in a week to overturn an arrest warrant that has prompted him to take refuge in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for nearly six years.

      Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled the warrant must stand, leaving Assange’s legal position unchanged, and condemned his decision not to appear in court.

    • UK Judge Set to Rule on WikiLeaks Founder's Arrest Warrant

      A British judge is set to decide Tuesday whether to quash or uphold an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent more than five years evading the law inside Ecuador's London embassy.

      Assange's lawyers argue that it's no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women. He denied the allegations.

    • Judge tells Julian Assange to have 'courage' to face court as he loses latest appeal
      Assange's legal team had claimed it was no longer in the public interest to pursue him for failing to answer bail as he fought extradition to Sweden in 2012.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to halt UK legal action against him
      In one passage from her ruling, the judge said she did not accept the argument of Assange’s lawyers that he had no access to sunlight. She said she had seen photographs of him on the embassy balcony.

    • The Latest: Judge upholds UK arrest warrant for Assange

    • Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, loses court bid to have U.K arrest warrant dropped

    • Julian Assange arrest warrant upheld by court: judge rules it is in public interest to pursue Wikileaks founder

      It comes after Mr Assange's legal team argued that continuing to pursue him for violating bail conditions was not proportionate.

    • Julian Assange’s Arrest Warrant Is Again Upheld by U.K. Judge
      If the judge had nullified the warrant, Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, might have left the embassy, but that was far from certain. The United States and British governments have never publicly ruled out the existence of a secret request to extradite him to the United States, where he could face prosecution for publishing classified documents.

    • Assange LOSES latest legal bid to have arrest warrant dropped as judge says he 'feels he is above the law'
      Julian Assange has lost his latest legal battle to overturn an outstanding arrest warrant against him so he can walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy.

      The WikiLeaks founder, 46, has been holed up in the building in Knightsbridge for the past five years.

      He was granted shelter by Ecuador in 2012 after being accused of rape in Sweden, which applied to extradite him to stand trial.

    • Julian Assange: Warrant for his arrest upheld by court
      He fears he would be charged by US authorities for publishing classified documents on his Wikileaks website.

    • All Pretence is Over in Persecution of Assange

      At the first hearing, I was stunned by reports of completely inappropriate comments by Lady Arbuthnot, including responding to representations about Assange’s health by the comment that medical care is available in Wandsworth prison. As the official charade is that Assange is wanted for nothing but jumping bail, for which a custodial sentence is rare, that callous attempt at gallows humour was redolent of Arbuthnot’s Tory mindset. She also remarked – and repeats it in yesterday’s judgement – that Assange has access to fresh air through the Embassy’s balcony. That is simply untrue. The “balcony” floor is 3 feet by 20 inches and gives no opportunity to exercise. Julian does not have access to it. He is confined to a small area within the Embassy, which still has to function. The balcony is off the Ambassador’s office. He has been given access to it on average about twice a year. But “Lady” Arbuthnot showed a very selective attitude to getting at the truth.


      I should like to conclude that “Lady” Arbuthnot is a disgrace to the English justice system, but I fear she is rather typical of it. This intellectually corrupt, openly biased, callous Tory shill is rather a disgrace to humanity itself.

    • UK judge upholds WikiLeaks founder's arrest warrant

    • UK judge upholds five year arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder

    • British Judge Again Upholds Arrest Warrant Against Julian Assange
      In London, a British judge has again upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange’s lawyers have been trying to argue the British arrest warrant for jumping bail should be rescinded because it is contrary to the public interest and because it’s related to a Swedish sexual assault investigation against Assange which has since been dropped. Tuesday’s ruling comes after, one week ago, the same British judge, Emma Arbuthnot, ruled for the first time not to drop Assange’s arrest warrant.

    • The Latest: Judge upholds UK arrest warrant for Assange

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Ride-Hailing Is Deepening Social and Economic Inequity in the US

      It’s a nice idea, but to actually kill car ownership, we’re first going to need to have some very uncomfortable conversations about class and equity in the United States. Public transit used to be the great equalizer, but affordable private rides have become the new favorite of the middle class. When richer people give their money to private ride-hailing or carsharing companies, public transit loses money—and that’s not good for cities, societies, or the environment.

    • A Stock Market Primer, in Six Easy Steps
      Their unvarying counsel, under all circumstances, is this: Get into the market. Get in if you’re not in already. Stay in if you’re already in. A plunge is a buying opportunity. A surge is a buying opportunity. A buying opportunity is that which puts a commission in their pockets. A mass exit from the stock market is the end of their livelihood. I don’t know the Latin term for the logical fallacy at work here, but I think the English translation is something like this: bullshit being slung by greedy con artists. These are people with no more conscience or expertise than the barking guy with the Australian accent on the three a.m. informercial raving about a miracle degreaser or stain remover.
    • Banks Pile Into Sweden's Housing Market
      Swedish housing prices just slumped the most in a decade, but banks are still fighting for a piece of the pie.

      Swedbank AB, the country’s biggest mortgage lender, is adding volume in an effort to defend its chunk of the country’s 3.12 trillion-krona ($392 billion) home-loan industry. Meanwhile, competition shows no sign of abating as new entrants join the market and niche players double down.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • [Old] [Old] Where Journalism Goes to Die

      From top to bottom, the company’s culture centered on Omidyar, an odd reverence that I thought not only undeserved, but outright embarrassing. This is a guy who got rich mostly through good timing in the tech business, not because he has an outstanding track record in journalism. Now that he’s rich, he is surrounded by Yes Men and Women who tell him he’s a genius—and while that might be fine in the business world, it’s not good for journalism. He was good at staying out of the journalism itself, but a cult of personality existed around him internally that disrupted the whole organization.

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast Extra: Trump’s Company Is Getting $175 Million Annually in Previously Undisclosed Rent

      Forbes reporters figured out that the president’s company pulls in an estimated $175 million in commercial rent annually. One of Trump’s major tenants: a state-owned Chinese bank.

    • Accusations Against Aide Renew Attention on White House Security Clearances

      People familiar with the security clearance process in Mr. Trump’s White House said it was widely acknowledged among senior aides that raising questions about unresolved vetting issues in a staff member’s background would implicitly reflect on Mr. Kushner’s status, as well — a situation made more awkward because Mr. Kushner is married to the president’s daughter Ivanka.

    • ‘Trump Inc.’ Podcast: Money Laundering and the Trump Taj Mahal
      Just months before Donald Trump announced his bid for president in 2015, federal regulators announced they were slapping one of his longtime Atlantic City casinos with a record-setting $10 million fine for lack of controls around money laundering.

      The problems went back years. The penalty was actually the second record-setting fine for the Trump Taj Mahal involving money-laundering oversight.
    • FBI Director’s Shock Claim: Chinese Students Are a Potential Threat
      Asian American advocacy groups are blasting FBI Director Chris Wray for telling Congress that Chinese students in the United States may be covertly gathering intelligence for their government back home.

      Wray’s comments came during the Senate intelligence committee’s annual open hearing on the greatest threats to the country. A host of Intelligence Community leaders shared a litany of concerns about dangers from around the globe. Then Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, asked Wray about “the counterintelligence risk posed to U.S. national security from Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in science and mathematics.”

      Wray took it from there.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • RSF Denounces 'Implacable' News Control, Censorship In Iran
      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterated its condemnation of the Iranian authorities’ harassment of journalists, saying control of news and information has been “implacable” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

      Iranian authorities are “trying to reinforce its news control both at home and internationally,” the Paris-based media watchdog said on February 13.

      “For the past 39 years, the regime’s control of news and information has been implacable and its persecution of media independence has been unparalleled,” a statement added, citing "police and judicial harassment.”

    • Iran’s Attacks On Media Freedom ‘Unparalleled’ - RSF
      There is nothing to celebrate in the area of media freedom on the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Republic, according to a report from Paris-based media freedom advocates Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

      In a report published February 11 to coincide with the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, RSF says the Iranian regime continues to suppress journalists both within Iran and outside its borders, listing a litany of cases concerning banned newspapers, censorship, and detentions and harassment of journalists.

    • Exiled Azerbaijani rapper and Russian lawyers among names shortlisted for censorship freedom awards
      An exiled Azerbaijani rapper who uses his music to challenge his country’s dynastic leadership, a collective of Russian lawyers who seek to uphold the rule of law, an Afghan seeking to economically empower women through computer coding and a Honduran journalist who goes undercover to expose her country’s endemic corruption are among the courageous individuals and organisations shortlisted for the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowships.

      Drawn from more than 400 crowdsourced nominations, the shortlist celebrates artists, writers, journalists and campaigners overcoming censorship and fighting for freedom of expression against immense obstacles. Many of the 16 shortlisted nominees face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution or exile.

    • UK outs extremism blocking tool and could force tech firms to use it

      The technology is billed as working across different types of video-streaming and download platforms in real-time, and is intended to be integrated into the upload process — as the government wants the majority of video propaganda to be blocked before it’s uploaded to the Internet.

      So yes this is a pre-filtering approach to content moderation — which is something the European Commission has also been pushing for. Though it’s a highly controversial approach with plenty of critics. Supporters of free speech frequently describe the concept as a ‘censorship machine’, for instance.

    • Giant advertiser Unilever threatens to pull its ads from Facebook and Google over 'toxic content'

      One of the world's largest advertisers is threatening to pull its ads from social sites such as Facebook and YouTube if the tech companies don't do more to minimize divisive content on their platforms.

      Unilever's chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, called on Silicon Valley on Monday to better police what he describes as a toxic online environment where propaganda, hate speech and disturbing content that exploits children thrive.

    • Unilever warns social media to clean up “toxic” content

      Consumer goods giant Unilever, a maker of branded soaps, foodstuffs and personal care items and also one of the world’s biggest online advertisers, has fired a warning shot across the bows of social media giants by threatening to pull ads from digital platforms if they don’t do more to mitigate the spread of what it dubs “toxic” online content — be it fake news, terrorism or child exploitation.

    • ‘Irish Times’ debate focuses on censorship of ‘historically insensitive’ literature
      Student debaters hotly contested the merits of editing historically insensitive writing at the semi-finals of The Irish Times Debate 2017-2018 in Dublin on Tuesday night.

      Contestants from King’s Inns, Queen’s University Belfast, UCD’s Law Society, TCD’s Hist and the Solicitors Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland were competing for a place in the final later this month.

      Competitors debated the question: “This house would edit historically insensitive writing/literature”.
    • Google Asks Judge To Reject Prager University's 'Censorship' Claims
      The conservative-leaning Prager alleged that its free speech rights were being violated by Google's filtering decisions, which effectively made the clips unavailable to some students and library patrons. Prager also alleged that Google wrongly "demonetized" some videos, including ones with titles like "Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist," and "Why Isn't Communism as Hated as Nazism?"
    • Publisher Files Censorship Suit Against Illinois Dept. Of Corrections
      The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections that alleges constitutional violations related to censorship of HRCD’s publications mailed to Illinois state prisoners.

      The non-profit organization says its publications are being censored and, in some cases, not being delivered.

      Attorney Alan Mills, of the Uptown People’s Law Center, is representing the publisher and says this has been going on in dozens of prisons for years.
    • Hong Kong’s Former Second-in-Command Blasts ‘Political Censorship’ in City
      The former head of Hong Kong's colonial-era civil service, Anson Chan, has warned U.S. lawmakers and judges that the city’s government is being drawn into political censorship at the behest of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which promised the maintenance of its existing freedoms for 50 years.

      Chan, who was awarded the 2018 O’Connor Justice Prize for her contributions to advancing rule of law, justice, and human rights during her trip, founded a pro-democracy think-tank to advance the cause of fully democratic elections for Hong Kong during the city’s student-led 2014 Occupy Central movement.
    • Revolution anniversary – 39 years of news control and censorship in Iran

      For the past 39 years, the regime’s control of news and information has been implacable and its persecution of media independence has been unparalleled. The exact number of journalists arrested and convicted during this dark period in Iran’s history – especially during the purge years – is still not officially known.

      RSF has tallied abuses since Mohammad Khatami became president in 1997. At least 350 media outlets have been closed, more than 800 journalists and citizen-journalists have been detained and interrogated and around 500 of them have been given prison sentences ranging from three months to 19 years. All have been denied their rights. Millions of Internet pages of freely and independently reported news and information have been censored.

      Citizen-journalists active on social networks are nowadays at the heart of the fight for freedom of news and information and political change in Iran.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Roses are red, Facebook is blue. Think private means private? More fool you
      Privacy settings on Facebook do not protect users from handing over photos, posts or metadata that is relevant to a court case, a New York judge has ruled.

      In a decision (PDF) handed down yesterday, chief judge Janet DiFiore said that a court could ask someone to hand over any relevant materials as part of discovery ahead of a trial – even if they are private.

      The threshold for disclosure in a court case "is not whether the materials sought are private but whether they are reasonably calculated to contain relevant information", she said.

      The ruling is the latest in an ongoing battle over whether a woman injured in a horse-riding accident should hand over privately posted pictures to the man she has accused of negligence in the accident.
    • Stockholm Administrative Court orders ISP to provide customers’ details to Swedish police
      Over time Swedish internet service provider (ISP) Bahnhof has dismissed several requests for disclosure of customers’ data, making it a matter of principle to protect the privacy of its users .

      However, in 2016 Bahnhof received a request from the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) to hand over details of its customers in a criminal matter.

      Further to an appeal brought before the Stockholm Administrative Court and a ruling in favour of PTS, Bahnhof was forced to submit the details of its customers to the authority pursuant to Chapter 7, 5 ۤ of the Swedish Electronic Communications Act (ECA) or risk paying an administrative fine of SEK 5 million.

    • Facebook Sees Its Gen Z Audience Slipping Away to Snapchat

      The social network is expected to shed 18-to-24-year-old users this year for the first time, according to a new report from eMarketer, which predicts a 5.6 decline for the age group on Facebook. The analytics and data firm had already predicted a decline in usage of kids younger than 18, but now sees that exodus widening.

      The age group younger than 25 years old is typically considered Gen Z, while the cohort directly older are millennials.

    • Six top US intelligence chiefs caution against buying Huawei phones

    • Don’t use Huawei phones, say heads of FBI, CIA, and NSA

    • Trump taps Army cyber chief as next NSA head

    • Trump to nominate Army cyber chief to lead NSA, official says

    • White Paper Points Out Just How Irresponsible 'Responsible Encryption' Is
      In recent months, both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray have been calling for holes in encryption law enforcement can drive a warrant through. Both have no idea how this can be accomplished, but both are reasonably sure tech companies can figure it out for them. And if some sort of key escrow makes encryption less secure than it is now, so be it. Whatever minimal gains in access law enforcement obtains will apparently offset the damage done by key leaks or criminal exploitation of a deliberately-weakened system.

      Cryptography expert Riana Pfefferkorn has released a white paper [PDF] examining the feasibility of the vague requests made by Rosenstein and Wray. Their preferred term is "responsible encryption" -- a term that allows them to step around landmines like "encryption backdoors" or "we're making encryption worse for everyone!" Her paper shows "responsible encryption" is anything but. And, even if implemented, it will result in far less access (and far more nefarious exploitation) than Rosenstein and Wray think.

      The first thing the paper does is try to pin down exactly what it is these two officials want -- easier said than done because neither official has the technical chops to concisely describe their preferred solutions. Nor do they have any technical experts on board to help guide them to their envisioned solution. (The latter is easily explained by the fact that no expert on cryptography has ever promoted the idea that encryption can remain secure after drilling holes in it at the request of law enforcement.)
    • US intel pays €£72,000 to Russian for NSA tools hacked by Shadow Brokers
      Working with Russian and American intermediaries in Europe over the past year, the US intelligence community reportedly negotiated in secret to retrieve classified documents stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) by the Shadow Brokers and passed along to Russian intelligence – and even paid US$ 100,000 (€£72,000) as a first installment payment toward getting back its hacking tools, but eventually stopped the deal because they feared being sucked into a Russian effort to interject chaos into the US government.

      The cache may have “inadvertently” included compromising information on President Trump's ties to Russia, according to a report from the Intercept. But the New York Times reported that intelligence officers said in communications with a sketchy Russian operative that they weren't interested in the information on Trump, which supposedly included bank records, Russian intelligence and emails.

    • Intel-for-Hire Undermines U.S. Intelligence (Part 2)
      In part one of this series, we looked at the top level of the privatized intelligence community showing that large for-profit companies and individual actors have other interests in mind than the public good. Work that was previously considered inherently governmental is routinely contracted out to people who only serve their own self-interest, which may be at odds with what most people might expect from intelligence – for example, unbiased information to guide sensible policy-making decisions.

    • Stop Saying 'Smart Cities'

      However, the cities of the future won’t be “smart,” or well-engineered, cleverly designed, just, clean, fair, green, sustainable, safe, healthy, affordable, or resilient. They won’t have any particularly higher ethical values of liberty, equality, or fraternity, either. The future smart city will be the [I]nternet, the mobile cloud, and a lot of weird paste-on gadgetry, deployed by City Hall, mostly for the sake of making towns more attractive to capital.

    • Critics of India's ID Card Project Say They Have Been Harassed, Put Under Surveillance

      Researchers and journalists who have identified loopholes in India's massive national identity card project have said they have been slapped with criminal cases or harassed by government agencies because of their work.

      Last month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the semi-government body responsible for the national identity project, called Aadhaar, or "Basis", filed a criminal case against the Tribune newspaper for publishing a story that said access to the card's database could be bought for 500 rupees ($7.82).

      Reuters spoke to eight additional researchers, activists and journalists who have complained of being harassed after writing about Aadhaar. They said UIDAI and other government agencies were extremely sensitive to criticism of the Aadhaar programme.

    • Verizon is locking its phones down to combat theft [iophk: "yeah, right"]

      The nation's largest wireless carrier said Monday that it would begin locking the phones it sells to consumers, which will prevent them from using a SIM card from another carrier. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a customer signs up and activates the service. But later in the spring, the company will begin the practice of keeping the phone locked for a period of time after the purchase -- in line with the rest of the industry.

    • German court finds Facebook's data collection was illegal

      The Berlin Regional Court ruled that Facebook did not obtain consent from its users to use their information for its advertising goals, in accordance with German data protection law.

    • Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court

      The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users in to features which it should not have.

      Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

    • German court says Facebook’s real name policy is illegal

      According to the VZBV, the court found that Facebook’s real name policy was “a covert way” of obtaining users’ consent to share their names, which are one of many pieces of information the court said Facebook did not properly obtain users’ permission for. The court also said that Facebook did not provide a clear choice to users for other default settings, such as to share their location in chats, and it ruled against clauses that allowed Facebook to use information such as profile pictures for “commercial, sponsored, or related content.”

      VZBV notes that it didn’t win on all counts, though. Facebook prevailed on a complaint that it was misleading to say the service was free, because as VZBV put it, consumers pay “with their data.” It also lost on other privacy issues, which VZBV intends to appeal.

    • German court rules Facebook data use, privacy settings illegal

      The Berlin court found that Facebook did not provide users enough information for them to understand how their data is being collected and that any agreements users signed did not constitute meaningful consent.

    • Inside the Two Years that Shook Facebook—and the World

      So Zuckerberg pursued a strategy he has often deployed against competitors he cannot buy: He copied, then crushed. He adjusted Facebook’s News Feed to fully incorporate news (despite its name, the feed was originally tilted toward personal news) and adjusted the product so that it showed author bylines and headlines. Then Facebook’s emissaries fanned out to talk with journalists and explain how to best reach readers through the platform. By the end of 2013, Facebook had doubled its share of traffic to news sites and had started to push Twitter into a decline. By the middle of 2015, it had surpassed Google as the leader in referring readers to publisher sites and was now referring 13 times as many readers to news publishers as Twitter. That year, Facebook launched Instant Articles, offering publishers the chance to publish directly on the platform. Posts would load faster and look sharper if they agreed, but the publishers would give up an element of control over the content. The publishing industry, which had been reeling for years, largely assented. Facebook now effectively owned the news. “If you could reproduce Twitter inside of Facebook, why would you go to Twitter?” says the former executive. “What they are doing to Snapchat now, they did to Twitter back then.”

    • Facebook is so tough on leaks that one employee was concerned the company was tracking his phone’s location

      Facebook protects itself against leaks by tracking down the leakers and firing them.

    • You Probably Shouldn’t Use Facebook’s “Protect” Feature
      Facebook doesn’t think it has enough information about you. Crazy, since even without listening to everything you say, they still know a heck of a lot about you. However, a feature Facebook has recently started pushing called Protect is disguised as a way to keep your data safe, but it’s really one more way for the company to spy on you.

      Facebook’s Protect feature is being featured in the Settings section of its iOS app and the Mobile Data section of its Android app. When you follow this link, it directs you to an app listing called Onavo VPN, which is a company that Facebook has owned since 2013. A VPN, for those who haven’t heard of them, is a tool that encrypts all your internet traffic and routes it through a single server, so no one can snoop on what you’re doing. No one, that is, except the people running the VPN.

    • PSA: Don’t Use Facebook’s New “Protect” Feature. It’ll Download This “Spyware”
      While the usage of VPNs is encouraged in daily life to safeguard your privacy and add an extra layer of security, it seems that the understanding of Facebook executives is a lot different. In 2013, Facebook acquired a company which makes a VPN client named Onavo Protect. The social network is now pushing the app on iOS devices to track user activity and collect data.

    • Facebook Promotes Onavo, Its Privacy-Killing VPN
    • Facebook is pushing its data-tracking Onavo VPN within its main mobile app
    • Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Download Onavo, Facebook’s Vampiric VPN Service
    • Facebook losing young users even faster to Snapchat, eMarketer says

      Less than half of U.S. Internet users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook this year for the first time, the research firm says.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chinese prisoners—wearing tracking devices—are granted temporary freedom for Lunar New Year

      In 2016, the southern city of Guangzhou rolled out a tracking system for some 3,900 criminal offenders under community supervision, local media reported (link in Chinese) at the time.

      In the US, more than 125,000 accused and convicted criminal offenders were monitored with ankle bracelets and other electronic tracking devices in 2015, according to Pew research.

    • How a rock star of Iranian digital activism built a culture of misogyny and fear

      For many in civil society groups, the court appearance came as a surprise. For years, Bangi had been the public face of the Iran Cyber Dialogue Conference, a major conference dedicated to digital freedom and the promotion of human rights in Iran. Bangi was a cornerstone of the event; one ASL19 employee described it as “the Ali show.” He was a hero to the community, a partner to countless smaller organizations — and now, an alleged sexual predator.

    • How to design Artificial Intelligence for the people’s good

      With the development of deep learning we do not want a situation where innocence is convicted or our health condition is predicted only because an algorithm compares some odds. Even though the value of computers is undeniable, and our society has grown dependent on their precision in various fields, we do not want computers to decide independently, without any human input or control, or pre-shape our future.

      There must always be a human element which will add evaluation and control to pure data calculation and will decide. Leaving the decision to machines would also mean nearly an Orwellian monitoring of our lives and would make us lose control over our future - control which could be a new constitutional right for the digital age similar to the way GDPR ensures protection of people’s personal data.

    • Exiled Cambodian opposition leader sues Facebook in California over allegations of collusion with Cambodia's dictator

      Hun Sen and his attack-dog media outlets became experts in Facebook's rules and enjoyed back-channel direct access to Facebook's terms-of-service enforcers, so they were able to force Facebook to terminate the accounts of anonymous opposition figures (for not using their "real names"), goad others into crossing Facebook's lines on civility and get their accounts terminated, and round up anyone who used their real names for arrest, torture, and disappearance.


      This killed what was left of the Cambodian opposition press, while Hun Sen's cyber-militia were able to spread his clickfarm-upranked messages to the whole country.

    • Islamist TV calls for murder of secular newspaper’s editors

      “Democracy is a fiction, it is permissible to murder you during the war [according to Islam]... You don’t have even one bit of faith in you,” he said.

      Cumhuriyet is one of the last opposition newspapers in Turkey after several were shut down and others succumbed to pressure from the government to change their editorial line.

    • We Don’t Need New Laws for Faked Videos, We Already Have Them
      Video editing technology hit a milestone this month. The new tech is being used to make porn. With easy-to-use software, pretty much anyone can seamlessly take the face of one real person (like a celebrity) and splice it onto the body of another (like a porn star), creating videos that lack the consent of multiple parties.

      People have already picked up the technology, creating and uploading dozens of videos on the Internet that purport to involve famous Hollywood actresses in pornography films that they had no part in whatsoever.

      While many specific uses of the technology (like specific uses of any technology) may be illegal or create liability, there is nothing inherently illegal about the technology itself. And existing legal restrictions should be enough to set right any injuries caused by malicious uses.

      As Samantha Cole at Motherboard reported in December, a Reddit user named “deepfakes” began posting videos he created that replaced the faces of porn actors with other well-known (non-pornography) actors. According to Cole, the videos were “created with a machine learning algorithm, using easily accessible materials and open-source code that anyone with a working knowledge of deep learning algorithms could put together.”

      Just over a month later, Cole reported that the creation of face-swapped porn, labeled “deepfakes” after the original Redditor, had “exploded” with increasingly convincing results. And an increasingly easy-to-use app had launched with the aim of allowing those without technical skills to create convincing deepfakes. Soon, a marketplace for buying and selling deepfakes appeared in a subreddit, before being taken off the site. Other platforms including Twitter, PornHub, Discord, and Gfycat followed suit. In removing the streams, each platform noted a concern that the people depicted in the deepfakes did not consent to their involvement in the videos themselves.
    • I sentenced a teen to die in prison. I regret it.
      “You will die in the Department of Corrections.” Those are the words I spoke as a trial judge in 1997 when I sentenced Bobby Bostic to a total of 241 years in prison for his role in two armed robberies he committed when he was just 16 years old.

      Bostic and an 18-year-old friend robbed a group of six people who were delivering Christmas presents to a needy family in St. Louis. Two shots were fired. A bullet grazed one person, but no one was seriously injured. The two then abducted and robbed another woman — who said she was groped by Bostic’s accomplice before the two released her. They used the money they stole from her to buy marijuana. Despite overwhelming evidence against him, Bostic chose to go to trial. He was found guilty.

      Bostic had written me a letter trying to explain his actions, but despite this, he had not, in my view, demonstrated sufficient remorse.
    • Your Rights in the Border Zone
      As Customs and Border Protection becomes increasingly aggressive, knowing your rights is crucial.

      On Jan. 19, two Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus at a Fort Lauderdale station and proceeded to question passengers row by row. The bus, traveling from Orlando to Miami, had not crossed any international borders. Despite its domestic route, the agents interrogated passengers, ultimately detaining a Jamaican national who, Border Patrol claims, had overstayed her tourist visa. This story is not an isolated occurrence, and the practice is hardly new. However, a recent uptick in this type of immigration operation — from New York to Florida — has caused fear among travelers and immigrant communities. It has also raised important questions about the scope of immigration officials’ authority and the rights one has in these encounters.
    • Ohio’s Chief Justice Stands Up to Jeff Sessions in Support of Low-Income People
      Supreme court justice in Ohio reminds judges everywhere that criminalizing poverty is unconstitutional.

      In late December, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded crucial guidance that advised courts not to unfairly punish people simply for being poor. While Sessions furthers the criminalization of poverty, Ohio’s chief justice is reminding her judges that the people who pass through their courtrooms are not ATMs.

      On January 29, Maureen O’Connor sent a letter to all Ohio trial judges to ensure they were aware that the law has not changed and “court cases are not business transactions.” Her thoughtful letter is a stark contrast to Jeff Sessions’ abrupt decision to rescind a guidance that had helped judges and court administrators around the country reform court practices to guard against abuses like debtors’ prisons — the jailing of poor people who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees.

    • Companies Must Be Accountable to All Users: The Story of Egyptian Activist Wael Abbas
      Egyptian journalist Wael Abbas holds a special distinction: Over the years, he’s experienced censorship at the hands of four of Silicon Valley’s top companies. Although more extreme, his story isn’t so different from that of the many individuals who, following a single misstep or mistake at the hands of a content moderator, find themselves unceremoniously removed from a social platform.

      When YouTube was still fairly new, Abbas began posting videos depicting police brutality in his native Egypt to the platform. The award-winning journalist and anti-torture activist found utility in the global platform, which even then had massive reach. One of the videos he had posted even resulted in a rare conviction of police officers in Cairo. But in late 2007, he found that his account had been removed without warning. The reason? His content, often graphic in nature, had been receiving large numbers of complaints.

      Rights activists rallied around Abbas and were able to convince YouTube to restore his account; his archive of videos were eventually restored. YouTube later adjusted its rules to be more permissive of violent content that is documentarian in nature. Around the same time, Abbas’ Yahoo! email account was shut down—and later restored—on accusations that he was spamming other users.

    • Hungary submits anti-immigration 'Stop Soros' bill to parliament
      Hungary’s nationalist government introduced legislation that would empower the interior minister to ban non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support migration and pose a “national security risk”.

      The bill, submitted to parliament late on Tuesday, is a key part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigration campaign targeting U.S. financier George Soros whose philanthropy aims to bolster liberal and open-border values in eastern Europe.

      The government says the bill, which would also impose a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that back migration in Hungary, is meant to deter illegal immigration Orban says is eroding European stability and has been stoked in part by Soros.

    • A former senior Oxfam employee lifts the lid on what really happened in Chad [EXCLUSIVE]
      A whistleblower has revealed to The Canary previously unreported details of the ongoing Oxfam scandal involving the hiring of sex workers in Haiti and Chad. And they paint a picture of ‘insincerity’, ‘corner cutting’ and scapegoating by the charity.

    • As Lawmakers Debate Future of DACA, What Will It Take for Democrats to Protect DREAMers?
      Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are continuing to debate the future of DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the United States. Republican lawmakers are pushing to include an amendment to punish so-called sanctuary cities as part of any immigration legislation to protect DREAMers. Meanwhile, a second federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from canceling DACA. On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York issued an injunction to keep the program temporarily in place, warning its cancellation would have “profound and irreversible” social costs, writing, “It is impossible to understand the full consequences of a decision of this magnitude.” For more, we speak with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon-Owned Tumblr Joins The Latest Effort To Restore Net Neutrality
      Karp resigned from the company last year, and numerous reports have indicated that while net neutrality advocacy remains strong among employees, the company itself has unsurprisingly lowered the volume of its support for net neutrality under new ownership by Verizon. That has resulted in a slow but steady departure of employees not thrilled to be under the "leadership" of one of the most anti-competitive (and occasionally comically delusional) companies on the tech policy front (former in-house counsel Ari Shahdadi being of particular note).

      Despite Verizon's ownership the company's net neutrality advocacy doesn't appear to be dead just yet. This week, the company joined net neutrality advocates' "Operation: OneMoreVote" campaign. As we've noted, activists are trying to use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC net neutrality repeal. Under the CRA, Congress can reverse a regulatory decision within 60 days of it hitting the Federal Register with a majority vote. The GOP and Trump administration used this exact trick to kill consumer broadband privacy protections early last year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • It's alive! The public domain starts breathing again
        Songs that were scheduled to lose copyright protection at midnight on December 31 1998, but were ‘saved’ by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act include Jimmy Cox's blues standard "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out" and "Who's Sorry Now", a 1923 hit made famous again by Connie Francis in 1957. George and Ira Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm", George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and Marty Bloom, Ernest Brever and Billy Rose's "Does the Spearmint Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Over Night" – all 1924 copyrights that would have expired on December 31 1999 – will enter the public domain at midnight on December 31 2019. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act preserved each of these copyrights for an additional 20 years.
      • Stopping online piracy is not censorship
        The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is considering a proposal to block Canadians from accessing websites that “blatantly, overwhelming, or structurally engage in piracy.” The proposal expands on successful efforts in other countries to address the growing problem of online piracy, while imposing extraordinary safeguards to protect users’ digital rights. In short, it is a balanced and pragmatic attempt to address online piracy that has garnered support from a diverse group of stakeholders, including broadcasters, distributors, media companies, internet service
      • The Museum Of Art And Digital Entertainment Calls For Anti-Circumvention Exemptions To Be Extended To Online Game Archives
        Now that we've covered a couple of stories about game companies, notably Blizzard, bullying the fans that run antiquated versions of MMO games on their own servers to shut down, it's as good a time as any to discuss a recent call for the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions to include the curation of abandoned MMO games. A few weeks back, during the triennial public consultation period in which the U.S. Copyright Office gathers public commentary on potential exemptions to the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions, a bunch of public comments came in on the topic of abandoned video games. Importantly, the Librarian of Congress already has granted exemptions for the purpose of preserving the art of video games so that libraries and museums can use emulators to revive classic games for the public.

        But what do you do if you're looking to preserve a massive multiplayer online game, or even single-player games, that rely on server connections with the company that made those games in order to operate? Those servers don't last forever, obviously. Hundreds of such games have been shut down in recent years, lost forever as the companies behind them no longer support the games or those that play them.
      • How We Got To The Point That Hollywood Is Trying To Attack The Internet Via NAFTA
        Last week we announced our new site, featuring stories from many different creators of music, books, movies and more about how important the internet and fair use have been to their creations. As we noted, the reason for the site is that the legacy copyright gatekeepers at the MPAA and the RIAA have been using the Trump-requested NAFTA renegotiations to try to undermine both fair use and internet safe harbors by positing a totally false narrative that the internet has somehow "harmed" content creators.

        Yet, as we know, and as the stories from various artists show, nothing is further from the truth. For most artists and content creators, the internet has been a huge boon. It has helped them create new art, share it and distribute it to other people, build a fan base and connect with them, and make money selling either their work or related products and services. As we've discussed before, in the past, for most artists, if you did not find a giant gatekeeper to take you on, you were completely out of the market. There was very little "long tail" to be found in most creative industries, because you either were "chosen" by a gatekeeper or you went home and did something else. But the internet has changed that. It has allowed people to go directly to their audiences, or to partner with platforms that help anyone create, distribute, promote and monetize. Indeed, the internet has undoubtedly helped everyone reading this to create art -- whether for profit or just for fun. And if that's the case with you, please share your story.

        But it is worth taking a step back and asking an even larger question: how the hell did we get here? How did we get to the point that the MPAA and the RIAA are using NAFTA negotiations to try to undermine the internet. Rest assured: there's a long, long history at play here, and it's important to learn about it. The idea that you can or should regulate the internet or intellectual property in trade agreements should seem strange to most people -- especially as most trade agreements these days are about increasing free trade by removing barriers to trade, and copyright by its very nature is mercantile-style trade protectionism that places artificial limits and costs on trade that might otherwise be cheaper.
      • How Have Europe's Upload Filtering and Link Tax Plans Changed?
        Although we have been opposing Europe's misguided link tax and upload filtering proposals ever since they first surfaced in 2016, the proposals haven't been standing still during all that time. In the back and forth between a multiplicity of different Committees of the European Parliament, and two other institutions of the European Union (the European Commission and the Council of the European Union), various amendments have been offered up in an attempt at political compromise. Unfortunately, the point at which these compromises seem to have landed still poses the same problems as before.

      • US Online Piracy Lawsuits Skyrocket in the New Year

        More than 1,000 lawsuits were filed against BitTorrent pirates in the US in 2017. While that number is significant, a flurry of lawsuits since January suggests that even more may be filed this year. Adult entertainment company Malibu Media is the most active litigant, as usual, but there's new competition on the horizon.

      • Kim Dotcom Begins New Fight to Avoid Extradition to United States

        Should Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues be sent to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering? The New Zealand District Court ruled that they can and in December 2017, the Hight Court reached the same conclusion. In a hearing now underway in the Court of Appeal, lawyers for the defendants will attempt to turn the tide.

      • Danish man get six-months jail time for promoting Popcorn Time

        The Copenhagen Post, which rather incriminatingly publishes the link to the site in its story, warns that this represents a precedent for its citizens that could see more convictions in the future.

      • Please IOC. If the Statue of Liberty violates policy, just scrap the anthems. And flags.

        According to USA TODAY Sports hockey reporter Kevin Allen, the IOC communicated to the U.S. women’s team that goaltender Nicole Hensley’s mask — which includes a profile of Lady Liberty’s iconic head emblazoned on its left side — may be in violation of its policy against political symbols.

      • Hosting Provider Steadfast Maintains DMCA Safe Harbor Defense For Trial

        A California District Court has denied ALS Scan's motion for summary judgment against hosting provider Steadfast. The latter is accused of contributory copyright infringement and failing to implement a repeat infringer policy as required by the DMCA. However, since both sides made valid arguments, the court will leave the ultimate decision up to the jury.

Recent Techrights' Posts

[Meme] Community of People to be Exploited, Then Thrown Away, Left Behind or Even Slandered front page
Alexandre Oliva's FSF disposition
During my recent trip for LibrePlanet, I was fortunate to have, or at least start, long conversations with nearly everyone in FSF staff
One More (Failed) Attempt to Deplatform the Sites by Harassing and Threatening Webhosts
What we're seeing here is a person who abuses the system in Canada at Canadian taxpayers' expense trying to do the same in the UK, at British taxpayers' expense
12 Days Have Passed Since the Edward Brocklesby Revelations and Debian Project Has Said Absolutely Nothing About That
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Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 17, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, June 17, 2024
Links 18/06/2024: Further Mass Layoffs and Gemini Leftovers
Links for the day
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Many of these comments are from IBM insiders
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[Meme] KISS, not SAAS
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Hostageware: The Threat of Clown Computing (or 'SaaS', Another Misnomer or Buzzword) to Computer Users Everywhere
This problem isn't limited to Free software adopters
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Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
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Links 17/06/2024: Mass Layoffs Accelerating in Tech, Concerns About Impact of the Net
Links for the day
Gemini Links 17/06/2024: Hyprland Analysed and No Use for Betrusted
Links for the day
Microsoft Can Never Make a Comeback Anymore, the Community is Shutting It Out
We're relying on the real community, not fake ones or coopted ones
The World is Becoming (or Has Already Become) Linux
An intercontinental success story
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[Meme] SPI and 'FSFE': Sponsored by Microsoft to...
women's instincts do not matter to these strongmen
[Meme] Shitburger of an LLM
IBM and the Hololens
Links 17/06/2024: Chatbot Nonsense Thrown Under the Bus (Severe Failure, Pure Hype), How to Finance Free Software 'Hackers'
Links for the day
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How much longer before Microsoft throws in the towel?
Yes, You Can
Unless you live somewhere like Russia...
[Meme] Listen to the Experts
Bill Gates didn't even finish university]
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As the Web deteriorates the availability, quality and prevalence of RSS feeds is not improving, to put it mildly
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GNU/Linux was below 3%, now it is above 3%
Mass Layoffs at Microsoft-owned GitHub (About 80 Percent of the Staff in India Laid Off)
It's not just in India
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 16, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, June 16, 2024
Gemini Links 16/06/2024: Scarecrows, Moles, Ham Radio, and No IPs
Links for the day
Africa is Android and Green (Chrome, Not Just Android Logo)
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Coercion From the "Consent" and "CoC" Crowd is a Self-Defeating Tactic
Freedom of the press; Nothing less
Covering Abuses and Corruption
We'll never surrender to blackmail
According to statCounter, GNU/Linux Increased From 3.77% to 3.89% This Month (Worldwide), Windows Now Below 20% in 78 Nations, Below 10% in 27 Nations
Highest since March (for GNU/Linux)
Ubuntu Running Out of Energy
Its planet too is deteriorating
Links 16/06/2024: In Defence of Email and Why Recycling Symbol Lost All Meaning
Links for the day
Gemini Links 16/06/2024: Computer Science Course Union and Potentiometer
Links for the day
Cross border crime: sale of Swiss insurance in France and European Union without authorisation
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Letting Microsoft systemd Manage /home Was a Terrible Idea All Along
systemd-tmpfiles, deleting /home
Patriotism is OK, But We Need Facts and Reason, Not Blind Obedience to Authority
Very seldom in the history of human civilisation has groupthink proven to be of real merit
When You Touch One of Us You Touch All of Us
We have a principled, uncompromising stance on this matter
Links 16/06/2024: New Sanctions Against Russia, Fentanylware (TikTok) Causing More Problems
Links for the day
Social Control Media in Japan: Twitter (X) Has Collapsed, YouTube Rising (Apparently)
What a genius Mr. Musk is!
Windows Cleansed in South Africa (Already Hovering Around 10% Market Share)
Plus Microsoft's mass layoffs in Africa
[Meme] Satya Nadella's Windows PC RECALLS Not What He Did
Satya got lucky
Usage of Let's Encrypt in Geminispace Has Collapsed (That's a Good Thing!)
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Last year it was even measured at 26%
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 15, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, June 15, 2024
Gemini Links 16/06/2024: Hand Held Maneuvering Unit and Hugo Static Files
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