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Benoît Battistelli Lies About Patent Quality; the Numbers Speak for Themselves However

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The number of European Patents (EPs) opposed has skyrocketed and may have outrun the capacity to properly deal with oppositions

The number of European Patents (EPs) opposed

Summary: The person who is rapidly ruining the quality that the EPO stood for over the years (nearly half a century) lies to his staff and stakeholders today; He has even, in his own words, “chaired our annual Quality Review” to review his own supposed ‘performance’

THE quality of patents at the Office of Benoît Battistelli is as high as the quality of the lies of Benoît Battistelli.

This Liar in Chief continued lying today; he spoke about patent quality yet again. He has lost any sense of shame and he now lies so blatantly that we can imagine the faces of EPO workers who read this ‘blog’ post of his (warning: epo.org link). It was promoted in the Organisation’s Twitter account some hours ago. “In a new blog post President Battistelli reviews 2017 and discusses the year ahead with a strong focus on quality,” it says. They too are lying. Yes, the Organisation. Does Herrnst care at all? Probably not because a few months ago he help defend the same lies about patent quality (in a private event that was publicly reported on). We suppose that a rebuttal to these lies is in order because staff must have noticed these lies. Someone ought to respond to the lies.

“He chairs a meeting in which to discuss himself.”Battistelli is (of course) lying. He chairs a meeting in which to discuss himself. How ludicrous is that? Napoleonic. “At the beginning of December,” he wrote, “I chaired our annual Quality Review, comprised of senior EPO management who are integral to maintaining and developing the Office’s quality.”

So Battistelli controls everything, even things that are tasked with assessing his performance. Amazing, isn’t it? Not at the EPO anyway; this has become the norm and something to be perpetually expected.

Is anyone out there surprised about it? Battistelli is moving his lips again, having returned from his (longer than other staff’s) break. His lips utter words, which leave an odorous puddle of lies afoot.

“Battistelli is moving his lips again, having returned from his (longer than other staff’s) break.”Let’s look at the latest evidence of a decline in patent quality (as the EPO itself is unable to safely investigate the matter; staff representatives who merely brought up the subject were severely reprimanded by two Vice-Presidents). Introspection verboten!

The EPO‘s Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with Canada, which we mentioned on Tuesday morning, is now officially “news” (several days after it actually started). It comes from two publications that typically parrot EPO press releases [1, 2]. The first says this:

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) have extended a patent prosecution highway (PPH) pilot agreement.

The extension of the pilot, which allows applicants who have been successful in obtaining a patent at one office to request accelerated examination at the other, was announced on Friday, January 5.

For those who are not familiar with the concept, PPH will almost always guarantee lowered quality of assessment (and less time for oppositions etc.) in the name of speed, usually in order to better facilitate a patent aggressor rather than a defendant.

When you use the word “products” maybe you intentionally fail to understand what patents really are; so says the second ‘article’ (more like a press release):

Comparatively, the CIPO received 406 requests: 325 based on PCT work products and 81 based on regional work products.

Yes, “products”; Battistelli probably thinks that he is literally running a factory (something which he never did before by the way).

This is an utter embarrassment. PACE, Early Certainty, PPH and so on have basically demolished patent quality. The appeal boards have been systematically diminished (pure sabotage!) and see this new press release titled “European Patent Office Cancels Oral Opposition Proceedings Concerning Cantargia’s Patent for Solid Tumours” as it’s almost self-explanatory. It does not look like the EPO even has the capacity for quality assessment of patents anymore…

In the ongoing opposition proceedings at the European Patent Office (“EPO”) concerning Cantargia AB’s (“Cantargia”) patent for antibody treatment against IL1RAP in solid tumours the EPO has informed the company that the oral proceedings that were due to take place on 22 January 2018 have been cancelled.

Oppositions? What oppositions? The EPO cannot even keep up. Understaffed. Brain-drained. Total chaos.

“The EPO now grants far too many patents in error.”Great job, Battistelli!

The EPO now grants far too many patents in error. And its error-correcting mechanisms have been brought to their knees. Hours ago someone posted this detailed analysis which show how the number of oppositions has soared (indicative of plenty of ‘dissent’ or ‘protest’ against grants). To quote the relevant part (there is a graph there too):

Given the EPO opposition term of nine months from grant and given that by far the greater proportion of oppositions are filed towards the very end of the opposition term, increased grants could be expected to be followed nine months – three quarters of a year – later by an increase in the number of patents opposed.

Though the record of the number of patents opposed in the third quarter of 2017 is not yet finalized, it seems clear that this expected “more patents opposed” effect has occurred.

At the latest from the first quarter of 2017 there has been a marked increase in the number of patents opposed.

We are truly concerned that Battistelli basically ‘broke’ the EPO; everything that had evolved at the Organisation (and Office) to assure checks and balances, self-assessment etc. is now gone. When we publish old documents from staff representatives we gradually go back in time and show how Battistelli did it, scuttling everything that constitutes separation of powers. It’s disturbing. And it’s a good thing that some people meticulously documented these things over the year.

“When we publish old documents from staff representatives we gradually go back in time and show how Battistelli did it, scuttling everything that constitutes separation of powers.”The other day Alexander Esslinger wrote about the Organisation’s Enlarged Board of Appeal and German Federal Court of Justice (FCJ): (see corresponding tweet)

The Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) reasoned that such undisclosed disclaimers in most cases constitute added matter, i.e. “the requirements of Article 123(2) EPC leave virtually no chance of an undisclosed disclaimer being allowable” since “introducing any disclaimer per definitionem excludes subject-matter from a claim and, hence, changes the technical content of the claim” (G1-16, point 42). The EBO allowed undisclosed disclaimers under the above-mentioned clearly defined conditions despite the fact that they violate Art. 123(2) EPC, because under these circumstances a violation of Art. 123(2) EPC would not give the patentee or applicant an unwarranted advantage damaging to the legal security of third parties; this being the rationale behind Art. 123(2) EPC (G1-16, point 36).

The German Federal Court of Justice (FCJ), however, applies in the recently published ex-parte decision “Phosphatidylcholin” a different reasoning. In the case the FCJ had to decide upon an appeal on points of law (“Rechtsbeschwerde”) of the applicant of a patent application, which has been rejected both by the GPTO and the Federal Patent Court based on the ground that of an undisclosed disclaimer consisted of an inadmissible extension beyond the content of the original application.

We previously posted evidence that GPTO (in relation to SLAPP, trolls, and quality of patents) had become better than EPO. Where is the EPO going if the Boards of Appeal are being crushed (and shrunk) further and further? Who is going to independently assess patent quality?

German media will look the other way, perhaps because the EPO is a sacred cow (cash cow).

Jo Johnson’s Departure is Another Major Blow for Team UPC (Unified Patent Court)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Battistelli’s ‘Mole’ Lucy Neville-Rolfe is Still Trying to Push Unitary Patent (UPC) Through in the United Kingdom

Jo Johnson

Summary: Proponents of the UPC, notably patent law firms that are based in London, do not want us to know that Jo Johnson is leaving, thereby assuring that any remaining prospects of UPC ratification are in formal disarray

Jo Johnson knew all along that the UPC was an impossibility, but Team UPC kept lobbying and misleading him. Battistelli even went to London to do photo ops with him (posted in the EPO‘s site at one time).

“In principle, his words/promises too have become more or less invalid, just like Lucy’s (in 2016).”People have already noticed (this week) that Johnson’s shuffle will impact what he said or promised. In principle, his words/promises too have become more or less invalid, just like Lucy’s (in 2016). Are they going to shuffle every single year?

Jo Johnson is out the door. He’s moving. This means that UPC is very dead now. Not just in the UK but everywhere. No matter the lobbying. Even if Germany someone miraculously ratified (some time in the distant future), London’s absence would make it untenable.

One new comment said: “Jo Johnson moved sideways to transport. Haven’t seen if he keeps his IP brief but presumably not. So time to educate another junior minister?”

“Jo Johnson is out the door. He’s moving. This means that UPC is very dead now.”The response to that is that he’s being “replaced by Sam Gyimah, who campaigned for remain, according to the Guardian.”

Lucy and Jo have lasted such a short time on the job. Will Gyimah even last more than 6 months?

The UPC is dead irrespective of “leave” or “remain” for various reasons we’ve covered here before. In fact, UPC is not even on the radar in the UK. The EPO has, so far this week, posted lots of #IPforSMEs nonsense like this, perhaps hoping to perpetuate illusions like “UPC for SMEs” rather than just “IP for SMEs” (both are falsehoods). Earlier today the EPO wrote: “Annual gains of EUR 14.6 billion in trade and EUR 1.8 billion in FDI could be generated by improved harmonisation of Europe’s patent system.”

“The UPC is dead irrespective of “leave” or “remain” for various reasons we’ve covered here before.”This links to that old and disgraced ‘report’. “No need to keep pushing this report you paid to produce for UPC lobbying,” I told them. Some people alleged that the purpose of this paid-for ‘report’ is to help lobby the German court.

Meanwhile, Watchtroll is promoting the UPC in a so-called ‘webiner’, so we instantaneously know it’s good for patent trolls, not for science or for industry (Watchtroll is worse than IAM in that regard). Yesterday it even promoted Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs), just like Team UPC habitually does.

As we shall show in the next couple of posts, the UPC lobby of Battistelli also works behind the scenes; with little effort we can expose/unearth that too.

Links 19/1/2018: Cockpit 159, Endless OS 3.3.8, Tails 3.4

Posted in News Roundup at 4:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • With Linux, You Don’t Get One Kernel of Truth… You Get Many

    As much as I love to poke at the inner workings of my computer, I’ll admit that until recently, I didn’t give much thought to which version of the Linux kernel my desktop system was running.

    For most desktop users, this isn’t all that odd. Compatibility of kernel modules is often critical for servers and production systems, but day-to-day desktop usage doesn’t change much from update to update.

    Two things motivated me to scrutinize the kernel version more closely: considerations for specific hardware; and a very scary bug recently identified in the Ubuntu distribution’s latest release.

    Having picked up a lot of useful tips in exploring different kernel versions, I decided to share what I’ve learned so far.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.14.13
    • Linux 4.9.76
    • Linux 4.4.111
    • Linux Foundation

      • Automotive Grade Linux Hits the Road Globally with Toyota; Amazon Alexa Joins AGL to Support Voice Recognition

        Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative cross-industry effort developing an open platform for the connected car, today announced that AGL is now in Toyota vehicles around the world. AGL also announced five new members, including Amazon Alexa, which joined as a Silver member.

        “Having AGL in vehicles on the road globally is a significant milestone for both AGL and the automotive open source community,” said Dan Cauchy, Executive Director of Automotive Grade Linux at The Linux Foundation. “Toyota has been a strong proponent of open source for years, and we believe their adoption of an AGL-based infotainment system has set a precedent that other automakers will follow.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Posts Initial Open-Source Graphics Driver Patches For Icelake “Gen 11″ Hardware

        While Intel Cannonlake processors aren’t out yet with their new “Gen 10″ graphics hardware, Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has published their first graphics driver patches for Linux enablement of Icelake “Gen 11″ hardware.

        Cannonlake CPUs will be shipping this year while Icelake is at least a year out, which will feature further improvements to the Intel onboard graphics. Intel OTC developers had posted their first GPU Linux driver patches last April for Cannonlake in order to get the support reviewed and upstream well ahead of the hardware launch.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GXml 0.16.0 Released

        GXml is a library for XML access and GObject serialization to XML, with a W3C DOM4 API implementation.

      • Vala Warnings output Improvements

        As for resent release of Vala 0.39.4, there are huge improvements if we talk about warnings output at Vala code and C code compilation level.

        One of the argument against Vala, has been the number of warnings you get for a valid Vala code at C level compilation. As an example you can check warnings for GXml in March 2017 about 230, some were my fault but other at C level.

  • Distributions

    • What is your favorite desktop Linux distribution?

      There are all sorts of reasons people take their pick. It could be based on familiarity, on the UI, on performance, on package availability, on stability, on support, or thousands of other factors. Every year, just once, we let you chime in and tell us your favorite.

      This year, in an effort to keep the conversation a little more focused, we’re asking specifically, what’s your favorite desktop distribution? And we’re adding a few more choices this year. To be as fair as possible when it’s impossible to list every distribution, we pulled the top 15 distributions according to DistroWatch over the past 12 months. It’s not scientific—but it’s something to start with, and we had to cull it down somehow.

    • New Releases

      • Release | Endless OS Version 3.3.8

        Fixes to the dual-boot OS selection menu. An error message introduced in Endless OS 3.3.7 is fixed, and hibernated Windows systems are detected in more cases.

        Drag and drop for apps. We’ve added drag and drop functionality to the applications displayed in your desktop folders. You can now reorder apps, and add and remove apps from folders more easily.

        Dual-boot installation from DVDs. The Endless Installer for Windows now works correctly when run from a DVD.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Vipul Siddharth: How Do You Fedora?

          Vipul Siddharth is an intern at Red Hat. He is pursuing a bachelors degree in computer applications from Christ University in Bengaluru, India. Vipul started using Linux in 2015 His first distribution was Fedora and despite trying Arch, Elementary and others Fedora remains his primary operating system.

          Siddarth’s current daily routine starts with working out, the college and finally the office. He is currently working on Fedora Cloud. “Now I am working on building a testing framework for fedora cloud.” Along with this, he regularly contributes to Fedora Quality Assurance. Vipul also organizes FOSS and Fedora events. “I have organized Fedora activity days and fedora-release parties for Fedora 25 and 26.”

          Siddharth’s childhood hero was Goku from Dragon Ball Z. “I wanted to eat, laugh and protect the world like him. I kinda still do.” Vipul’s favorite movies are 12 Angry Men and The Godfather (I, II and III)

        • A small 2017 retrospective

          In the ARM space there was quite a lot of achievements. The big one being the initial support of aarch64 SBCs (finally!), I was very proud of the work we achieved here, it’s a single install path with uEFI/grub2 and a single install path. More work in the short term, by a team of cross team distro people, which took us a lot longer than I’d hoped, but the outcome is a lot better experience for end users and a much more supportable platform for those that need to support it moving forward! It was no means our only achievement with a lot of other ARM improvements including on the Raspberry Pi, accelerated GPUs, initial support for the 96boards platforms. Three is of coarse already LOTS of work in motion for the ARM architectures in 2018 and I’m sure it’ll be as fun and insanely busy as always but I feel we’re now going into it with a good base for the aarch64 SBCs which will rapidly expand in the devices we support moving forward!

    • Debian Family

      • Debian LTS work, December 2017
      • Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in December 2017
      • TeX Live VCS History and Statistics – Perforce, Subversion, Git

        TeX Live is a project of long history, starting somewhen back in the 90ies with CDs distributed within user groups till the most recent net-based distribution and updates. Discussion about using a VCS started very early, in 1999. This blog recalls a bit of history of the VCS for TeX Live, and reports on the current status of the Subversion and Git (svn mirror) repositories.

      • Meltdown and Spectre in Debian

        I’ll assume everyone’s already heard repeatedly about the Meltdown and Spectre security issues that affect many CPUs. If not, see meltdownattack.com. These primarily affect systems that run untrusted code – such as multi-tenant virtual hosting systems. Spectre is also a problem for web browsers with Javascript enabled.

      • Are you a DD or DM doing source-only uploads to Debian out of a git repository?

        If you are a Debian Maintainer (DM) or Debian Developer (DD) doing source-only uploads to Debian for packages maintained in git, you are probably using some variation of the following…

      • Derivatives

        • OSMC’s December update is here with Debian Stretch and Kodi 17.6

          We hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

          As you may have noticed, we didn’t release an OSMC update in November. After a lot of hard work, OSMC’s slightly belated December update is here with Debian Stretch and Kodi 17.6. This yields a number of improvements, and is one of our largest OSMC updates yet:

          Better performance
          A larger number of software packages to choose from
          More up to date software packages to choose from

          We’d like to thank everyone involved with testing and developing this update.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The Combined Impact Of Retpoline + KPTI On Ubuntu Linux

            Over the past week I have posted many KPTI and Retpoline benchmarks for showing the performance impact of these patches to combat the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. But with my testing so far I haven’t done any showing the combined impact of KPTI+Retpoline on Ubuntu versus a completely unpatched system. Here are some of those results.

            Similar to the Benchmarking Clear Linux With KPTI + Retpoline Support, these tests are similar but with a few different systems and looking at the performance when testing from Ubuntu 17.10. The comparison on each system was to a stock Linux 4.14.0 kernel compared to the Linux 4.14 kernel with the upstream KPTI patches paired with the Retpline v5 patches that have yet to be merged for mitigating Spectre.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Kubuntu 17.10 upgrade – Should you?

              I am not joking. I seriously believe that software regressions should be punished. They destroy people’s mood and will and desire to use programs, and the users start developing almost PTSD-like effects, not knowing when something is going to crash because no one bothered checking their fresh code. Jail time seems appropriate. Failing that, strict and rigorous validation procedures that currently DO NOT EXIST in the wider Linux world.

              Zesty remains the perfect distro and the best Plasma release ever. It’s so much ahead, I feel like shedding a tear every time I use it. In comparison, Awful Anteater is a pale shadow of what Kubuntu can do. So yes it works. But it brings crashes and unnecessary nonsense that just spoils everything. It’s such a shame, and such a wasted opportunity. The upgrade itself was flawless. But it’s not an upgrade. It’s a version increase and a definite downgrade. Wait for the LTS. Or something. Oh, the humanity!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 8 unusual FOSS tools for agile teams

    You might be familiar with the expression: So many tools, so little time. In order to try to save you some time, I’ve outlined some of my favorite tools that help agile teams work better. If you are an agilist, chances are you’re aware of similar tools, but I’m specifically narrowing down the list to tools that appeal to open source enthusiasts.

    Caution! These tools are a little different than what you may be expecting. There are no project management apps—there is a great article on that already—so there are no checklists, no integrations with GitHub, just simple ways to organize your thoughts and promote team communication.

  • Top 5 Open Source Firewalls for Business

    Whether it be for home or for your workplace, chances are you’ve encountered an open source firewall. And if you haven’t, you really should check out what these open source firewalls have to offer. In this article, I’ll share the open source firewalls I’ve admired, used in the past and heard good things about. Keep in mind that the needs of your workplace may vary, so be sure to review the features of each firewall solution carefully.

  • Oath’s Top 5 Open Source Goals

    For seven years and counting, Gil Yehuda, Senior Director of Open Source at Oath Inc. (which owns the Yahoo and AOL brands), has led the open source program at Yahoo. Now with an expanded scope, he is gearing up to grow his team and improve the program. The company’s formal open source program office serves as a hub to connect all open source activities across the company, he says, but it didn’t start out that way.

    As with many other companies, the open source program started informally with a group of diligent engineers and a few legal people. But the ad hoc group soon realized it needed a more formal program if it was going to be able to scale to address more issues and achieve specific business goals. With a formal program in place, they are poised to achieve its goals.

  • Why isn’t open source hot among computer science students?

    The technical savvy and inventive energy of young programmers is alive and well.

    This was clear from the diligent work that I witnessed while participating in this year’s PennApps, the nation’s largest college hackathon. Over the course of 48 hours, my high school- and college-age peers created projects ranging from a blink-based communication device for shut-in patients to a burrito maker with IoT connectivity. The spirit of open source was tangible throughout the event, as diverse groups bonded over a mutual desire to build, the free flow of ideas and tech know-how, fearless experimentation and rapid prototyping, and an overwhelming eagerness to participate.

    Why then, I wondered, wasn’t open source a hot topic among my tech geek peers?

    To learn more about what college students think when they hear “open source,” I surveyed several college students who are members of the same professional computer science organization I belong to. All members of this community must apply during high school or college and are selected based on their computer science-specific achievements and leadership—whether that means leading a school robotics team, founding a nonprofit to bring coding into insufficiently funded classrooms, or some other worthy endeavor. Given these individuals’ accomplishments in computer science, I thought that their perspectives would help in understanding what young programmers find appealing (or unappealing) about open source projects.

  • Blue Brain Nexus: An open-source knowledge graph for data-driven science

    EPFL’s Blue Brain Project today announces the release of its open source software project ‘Blue Brain Nexus’, designed to enable the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data management principles for the Neuroscience and broader scientific community. It is part of EPFL’s open-science initiative, which seeks to maximize the reach and impact of research conducted at the school.

    The aim of the Blue Brain Project is to build accurate, biologically detailed, digital reconstructions and simulations of the rodent brain and, ultimately the human brain. Blue Brain Nexus is instrumental in supporting all stages of Blue Brain’s data-driven modelling cycle including, but not limited to experimental data, single cell models, circuits, simulations and validations. The brain is a complex multi-level system and is one of the biggest ‘Big Data’ problems we have today. Therefore, Blue Brain Nexus has been built to organize, store and process exceptionally large volumes of data and support usage by a broad number of users.

  • Devery.io – a Blockchain Powered, Open-Source, Product Verification Protocol

    Devery.io are developing the Devery Protocol, aiming to provide a decentralized verification platform enabling the marking and tracking of items over the Ethereum blockchain.

  • What the Haven app shows us about the value of Open Source

    Christmas may have come a few days early this past December for security advocates with the introduction of the Haven app, bringing with it a fair amount of excitement, criticism, and an excellent opportunity to explore some of the less often discussed aspects of working with open source.

    For those who have been off of Twitter since the coverage started since Friday, the Haven app has been proposed as a solution for protecting your physical space from surveillance (or worse). Built for Android by the good folks over at the Guardian Project, the makers of great anonymity apps that help protect their users from surveillance, the app makes use of the phone’s sensors to detect intruders that might attempt to creep on your personal space.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Jet Villegas: Turning a Corner in the New Year

        2017 was quite a year beyond the socio-economic, geo-political, and bizarre. I, and many of my colleagues did what we could: find solace in work. I’ve often found that in uncertain times, making forward progress on difficult technical projects provides just enough incentive to continue for a bit longer. With the successful release of Firefox 57, I’m again optimistic about the future for the technical work. The Firefox Layout Engine team has a lot to be proud of in the 57 version. The winning combination was shipping big-ticket investments, and grinding down on many very difficult bugs. Plan “A” all the way!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Facebook has open-sourced encrypted group chat

      Facebook has responded to governments’ criticism of cryptography by giving the world an open source encrypted group chat tool.

      It’s hardly likely to endear the ad-farm to people like FBI Director Christopher Wray, who yesterday told an international infosec conference it was “ridiculous” that the Feds have seized nearly 8,000 phones they can’t access. UK prime minister Theresa May has also called for backdoors in messaging services and for social networks to stop offering “safe spaces” for extremists.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Open source code recycling: Know your software supply chain

      GNU/Linux was able to fill this gap, truly reshaping software design and development. Rather than writing and updating proprietary, foundational code, various developers working at varying companies or on their own could use and enhance the basic software building blocks, thereby focusing the majority of their resources on higher stack-level innovations.

      And, it worked.


  • Reddit isn’t a discussion forum, and neither is Twitter or Discord

    The post itself doesn’t mention anything about archival or exporting — “they cost us money to maintain”, though someone in the comments says they’re looking into solutions — but it does mention where to go next

  • Device Battery Overheats in Apple Store, Injures Seven

    Approximately 50 customers and Apple employees were evacuated from a Swiss battery store after the battery of a device overheated and started emitting smoke.

    While it wasn’t disclosed which device was using the faulty battery, local media Watson (via 9to5mac) reports that the emergency services quickly responded to a call from an Apple Store in Zurich at Bahnhofstrasse 77, as no less than seven people reportedly suffered minor injuries.

    An Apple Store employee suffered burns when trying to remove the battery, and six other persons, either workers or members of the staff, needed medical care because of smoke inhalation.

    Zurich police say the Apple Store staff responded well to the incident and the overheated battery was covered with sand to stop the fire and prevent smoke from being emitted inside the store. Specialists from the Zurich Forensic Institute have already picked up the battery for further investigation in order to determine the actual cause of the incident.

  • Science

    • As Electric Cars’ Prospects Brighten, Japan Fears Being Left Behind

      At a factory near the base of Mount Fuji, workers painstakingly assemble transmissions for some of the world’s top-selling cars. The expensive, complex components, and the workers’ jobs, could be obsolete in a couple of decades.

      The threat: battery-powered electric vehicles.

      Their designs do away with the belts and gears of a transmission, as well as thousands of other parts used in conventional cars. Established suppliers are nervous, especially in Japan, where automaking is a pillar of the economy — and where industrial giants have been previously left behind by technological change.

    • Human Planet explores the tenuous relationship between humankind and nature

      Hurrah for humans, the apex predator to rule them all. Human Planet rises above the unnerving absence of David Attenborough to pitch a good yarn about homo sapiens and the things people without Netflix do to survive in hostile environments.

      The Mornington Peninsula in summertime would have been a good subject for this eight-episode BBC production dating from 2011 but instead this week it veers to the Arctic, where a couple of Greenland Inuit who have never heard of the Portsea Polo are busy catching a 3.6-metre-long Greenland shark, the slow-swimming garbage guts of the frozen north.

    • Osteoarthritis could be treated as two diseases, scientists reveal

      Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered that most people with osteoarthritis can be subdivided into two distinct disease groups, with implications for diagnosis and drug development.

      Professor Tim Hardingham, based at The University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research and Division of Cell Matrix Biology and Regenerative Medicine says the team has identified two different patterns of disease activity.

    • SpaceX May Have Destroyed a U.S. Spy Satellite Worth Billions of Dollars

      The SpaceX launch of a government spacecraft is reported to have ended in disaster, with the payload burning up in the atmosphere before it reached orbit.

  • Security

    • Linux Mint project advises on Meltdown and Spectre

      The Linux Mint project has released a guide to address the Meltdown and Spectre bugs offering instructions for users on how they should mitigate the holes in their systems. It explains how to tighten up your web browsers and driver software, as well as providing a status update on when we can expect a patch to the kernel.

      The main browser that’s bundled with the operating system is Firefox. The advice is to ensure you update to Firefox 57.0.4, which was released several days ago. As for Chrome and Opera, you should go into the respective flags pages and enable strict site isolation, also called site per process. Google plans to fix the bug next month when it releases the next major edition of Google Chrome. An Opera update will follow.

    • Canonical Releases Ubuntu Kernel and Nvidia Updates to Fix Meltdown and Spectre

      As promised, Canonical released a few moments ago the new kernel and Nvidia updates to address the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerability on all supported Ubuntu Linux releases.

      The company said last week in a public announcement that it will patch all supported Ubuntu releases against Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, and the first set of patches are now available in the stable software repositories of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) to address some of these issues.

    • Linux Mint security notice on Meltdown and Spectre

      A security notice was posted on the official Linux Mint blog on January 9, 2017. It informs users of the Linux distribution about the recently discovered security issues in modern processors called Meltdown and Spectre, and how these affect Linux Mint.

      The notice contains instructions to protect Linux Mint systems from potential attacks that target the vulnerabilities. It covers web browsers, Nvidia drivers, and the Linux kernel.

    • Tails 3.4 Anonymous Live System Released with Meltdown and Spectre Patches

      The Tails development team announced today the release and general availability of the Tails 3.4 amnesic incognito live system, also known as the anonymous live system.

      Tails is a Debian-based live Linux system designed with a single purpose in mind, to hide all your online activity from the prying eyes of the government. For that, it relies on the latest Tor and Tor Browser technologies by allowing users to connect to the Tor anonymous network.

    • Tails 3.4 is out
    • Tails 3.4 privacy-focused Linux distro now available with Meltdown and Spectre fixes

      With everything going on in the world these days, it can feel like you are naked when using your computer. If you previously felt safe and secure, these last several years have probably eroded all of your confidence. Between Edward Snowden’s revelations and the many vulnerabilities constantly hitting the news, it is tempting to just live in the woods without electricity.

      Before you sell your house, buy a tent, and become a nomad, you should consider a Linux distribution the helps you fight back against evil governments, nefarious hackers, and other bad people. Called “Tails,” this Linux-based operating system is designed to be run from a live environment, such as on a DVD or flash drive, so you can hide your tracks and enjoy your God-given right to privacy. Today, version 3.4 becomes available and if you are already a Tails user, you should upgrade immediately. Why? Because it includes kernel 4.14.12 which offers fixes for Meltdown and Spectre (partially).

    • Greg Kroah-Hartman on Meltdown and Spectre Bugs: Go Update Your Linux Kernel

      Renowned Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman has published an in-depth article on the status of the Meltdown and Spectre patches in the Linux kernel.

      As you already know, two severe hardware bugs were unearthed last week as the worst chip flaws in the history of computing. Dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, these security vulnerabilities affect us all, and put billions of devices at risk of attacks by allowing attackers to steal your sensitive data that’s stored in kernel memory via locally installed apps or on the Web through malicious scripts.

    • Ubuntu Releases Security Patch For Meltdown

      In another article, I have covered what is Meltdown and Spectre and told you how critical it is for us Linux users. The Linux had been fixed immediately after the two flaws were discovered. But the Ubuntu maintained kernel was not updated against Meltdown and Spectre.

    • Wi-Fi Will Get a Little More Secure This Year
    • WPA3 is the cure for the cracked WiFi algorithm blues you’ve been waiting for
    • Intel CEO Promises Fix for Serious Chip Security Flaw
    • Intel CEO Addresses Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws at CES 2018
    • At CES, Intel chief mum on shares sale after bug disclosure

      Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich has avoided making any mention of his controversial sale of stock and options in a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, though he did touch on the two vulnerabilities found in most processors produced by the company he heads.

    • Intel Releases Processor Microcode Patch for Linux OSes, Here’s How to Update

      Intel has released an updated microcode patch for Linux-based operating systems to address the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

      By now, everyone heard about Meltdown and Spectre, two severe hardware bugs that affect billions of devices, putting them at risk of attacks as unprivileged attackers could steal your sensitive data stored in kernel memory using a locally installed application or via the Internet using malicious scripts. Intel, AMD, and ARM processors are affected by these security exploits.

    • Tails 3.4 Linux Distro Released With Meltdown And Spectre Patches — Get It Here

      Linux is considered to be the basis of one of the most secure operating systems around. Out of all the Linux distro options available, Tails is considered to be the most secure. However, due to screwups on behalf of chipmakers, almost all operating systems were affected, including Tails.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Security Flaw in macOS 10.13 Lets App Store Preferences Access with Any Password

      Another major security flaw was discovered in Apple’s macOS High Sierra 10.13 operating system, which lets anyone accessing the App Store preferences panel with any password if it’s locked.

      First spotted by MacRumors, there’s a bug report about an issue, discovered a couple of days ago by someone and reported on Open Radar, which lets anyone access the App Store panel in System Preferences with literally any password, if the padlock at the bottom left corner is closed and your Mac is unlocked.

      Usually, that padlock isn’t locked, but its label says “Click the lock to prevent further changes” in the current version of macOS, a.k.a. High Sierra 10.13.2. Locking those settings should prevent someone from disabling automatic updates, as well as installing of new macOS versions, system data files, and security update.

    • Microsoft: Be Ready For Significant Slowdown Of Your Old PC After Spectre Security Patches
    • Intel Posts Updated Microcode Files For Linux

      In the wake of Meltdown and Spectre, Intel yesterday released new microcode binaries for Linux systems.

    • Intel Releases Processor Microcode Patch for Linux OSes, Here’s How to Update
    • Updated Intel Microcode Not Causing Any Significant Performance Impact On Linux
    • DragonFlyBSD Posts Initial Kernel Fix For Spectre
    • Meltdown Fixes Will Slow Intel Computers — Here’s All The Proof You Need
    • It’s not just Windows – Linux Ubuntu systems being bricked by Meltdown/Spectre patches, too
    • Canonical Fixes Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Regression Causing Boot Failure on Some PCs

      Canonical has released on Wednesday a new Linux kernel update for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series to address a regression introduced with yesterday’s security patch against the Meltdown vulnerability.

      On Tuesday, Canonical published multiple security notices to inform users of the Ubuntu 17.10, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 12.04 ESM operating systems that they can now patch their computers against the Meltdown security vulnerability affecting billions of devices.

    • Meltdown & Spectre Patches Causing Boot Issues for Ubuntu 16.04 Computers

      Ubuntu Xenial 16.04 users who updated to receive the Meltdown and Spectre patches are reporting they are unable to boot their systems and have been forced to roll back to an earlier Linux kernel image.

      The issues were reported by a large number of users on the Ubuntu forums, Ubuntu’s Launchpad bug tracker, and Reddit thread. Only Ubuntu users running the Xenial 16.04 series appear to be affected.

    • First malicious Android app built with open source Kotlin language found wild

      For the first time, a malicious Android application built with Kotlin has been discovered in the Google Play store. First noted by Trend Micro researchers in a Tuesday blog post, it’s possible that the app has already been downloaded thousands of times.

      In late November 2017, it was reported that 17% of the projects in Android Studio were using Kotlin. Because it’s becoming easier to convert Java code to Kotlin, and the new language features a null-safety feature that can improve app quality, we’ll likely see even more apps developed with the language. However, this also means we could see more malicious apps developed with Kotlin as well.

    • Debian Stretch and Jessie Get Kernel Patches to Mitigate Meltdown Security Flaw

      The Debian Project released updated Linux kernels for Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” and Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie” operating system series to patch the Meltdown security vulnerability and other issues.

      Last week, Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” users received the Linux kernel patch to mitigate the Meltdown security vulnerability (CVE-2017-5754) that affects billions of devices by allowing attackers to control unprivileged processes and read the memory from random addresses, including the kernel, as well as other processes running on the unpatched machine. To patch the issue, users had to update the kernel to version 4.9.65-3+deb9u2.

    • Linux Systems with Exposed SSH Ports, Targeted by Python-Based Botnets

      Cybersecurity experts believe that a band of experience cybercriminals have created a botnet made of Linux-based systems and is using them to mine Monero, a cryptocurrency.

    • Meltdown-Spectre: IBM preps firmware and OS fixes for vulnerable Power CPUs

      IBM has outlined a month-long plan to fix datacenter equipment running on its Power CPUs, which the company has now confirmed are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre CPU attacks.

      The company today released firmware updates for the Power7+ and Power8 CPUs, with Power9 fixes coming on January 15.

      Until now, IBM hadn’t fully confirmed its Power systems are affected by the two CPU attacks, though Red Hat said in its January 3 advisory that exploits existed for IBM System Z, Power8, and Power9 systems.

    • How to install/update Intel microcode firmware on Linux
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Interior puts science grants through political review

      Interior has ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to halt two studies that conflict with the administration’s goal of expanding domestic fossil fuel production.

    • Canadian Research Adds to Worry Over an Environmental Threat the Pentagon Has Downplayed for Decades

      New research by Canadian scientists into the spread of a chemical commonly used in military explosives has confirmed some of the worst fears of U.S. environmental regulators tracking the threat posed by the Pentagon’s handling of its munitions in this country.

      The Canadian research analyzed soil and water samples at nine sites where military explosives were detonated between 1990 and 2014, and came up with data about where and in what concentrations the explosive compound known as RDX, a possible human carcinogen, had turned up. Calling RDX “an internationally known problem,” which “has led to an international warning on possible soil, surface water, and groundwater contamination on military training sites,” the research described with actual measurements how RDX floats on the wind and seeps through soils into water supplies.

      The researchers took water samples from groundwater at the explosives sites and found that in 26 out of 36 samples, the RDX that had made its way into aquifers exceeded levels considered safe. As a result, the researchers suggest that the data can be used to model RDX contamination at any site where munitions are routinely detonated, and for the first time, give environmental experts a way to quantify how much of it is spreading into surrounding communities.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Wolff’s Trump Book Highlights White House Press Corps’ Access Trap

      There’s an old adage in journalism: The most interesting stories aren’t told in the newsroom, they’re the ones that reporters tell each other privately at the bar after work. Shrinking this gap—between what reporters know and what they are allowed to tell the public—amounted to Nick Denton’s founding ethos for his former website Gawker. And it increasingly looks like media gadfly Michael Wolff followed the very same strategy for Fire and Fury, his new, behind-the-scenes account of the chaos, incompetence and dishonesty of the Trump White House.

      To be clear, Wolff has a long track record of sloppy reporting, incorrect facts and outright fabulism. This book neatly fits into this canon; in its prologue, it offers a sweeping disclaimer jettisoning much of what would be standard journalistic due diligence. Not surprisingly, mainstream reporters have already found sloppy errors.

      What is undeniable, though, is that Wolff sweet-talked his way into Trump’s good graces—and, by extension, the White House—by cannily bashing mainstream media coverage of him last year. As a result, Wolff claims he was able to conduct more than 200 conversations with top Trump White House insiders (he claims to have dozens of hours of recordings), many of whom gave him damning, on-the-record quotes betraying their fear, loathing or some combination of the two for the man currently occupying the Oval Office.

    • Missing the Trump Team’s Misconduct

      Between flailing over Russia-gate and obsessing over a “tell-all” book, the major U.S. news media continues to miss the more substantive misconduct of the Trump administration, says JP Sottile.

    • In Trump Era, ‘Both Sides’ on Immigration Includes White Nationalists

      President Trump’s far-right immigration policies have US corporate media reaching to the white nationalist fringes of the faux-think tank world to provide “both sides” coverage on the topic.

      The Center for Immigration Studies has, since January 2017, taken an outsized role in American media as Trump’s go-to defender for his overtly white nationalist immigration policies. There’s one problem with this: The Center for Immigration Studies is, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hate group with a long, documented history of nativist and white nationalist leanings.

    • Ethics Board Fines Cook County Assessor Over Campaign Contributions

      Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios is facing $41,000 in fines for failing to return campaign contributions from property tax appeals lawyers whose donations exceeded legal limits, according to a pair of new rulings by the county ethics board.

      The rulings raise the level of scrutiny on campaign contributions given by appeals lawyers to Berrios, who doubles as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party and depends heavily on their donations in raising political funds. The action also ignites another high-profile showdown with the county Board of Ethics, with which he previously clashed over nepotism issues.

      At the center of the ethics board’s rulings is a 2016 county ordinance stating that donors who seek “official action” with the county may contribute no more than $750 in nonelection years. Attorneys for Berrios are seeking to overturn the rulings, arguing that the county limits are unconstitutional and that higher limits set by state law should apply, among other objections.

    • After a Sweet Deal With Dad, Eric Trump Assembles a Valuable Penthouse

      President Donald Trump’s son Eric is preparing to capitalize on a windfall he received from his father during the presidential campaign: He’s combining three luxury Manhattan high-rise apartments, one of which he purchased at a throwaway price from his father, into one potentially lucrative penthouse.

      In the spring of 2016, Eric Trump got a great deal from his father. He bought two previously unsold condominium apartments at Trump Parc East for just $350,000 each, about half of the price they had recently been listed for.

      Such bargain basement sales are usually treated as gifts by the IRS. But they might not have been taxed that way, tax experts said, because of advantages available only to real estate developers.

      Last month, Eric transferred ownership of one of the condos — unit 14G — and two other adjacent apartments he owns into a new entity called 100 CPS Penthouse LLC.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Donald Trump is suing my publisher, and its response is magnificent

      Henry Holt is a division of Macmillan (owners of Tor Books, who publish my novels); they’re the folks who published Michael Wolff’s bestselling Fire and Fury, which has so thoroughly embarrassed Donald Trump that the President of the United States has threatened to sue them.

    • Croatian Filmmakers Protest Against HRT Censorship

      The Croatian Association of Film Producers and the Society of Croatian Film Directors have sent a letter to the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) concerning the postponement of the broadcast of the Croatian film “The Ministry of Love”, directed by Pavo Marinković, which was co-produced by the public television itself, reports tportal.hr on January 9, 2018.

      “The Ministry of Love” was supposed to be broadcast on the HRT2 channel on 4 January 2018, but the broadcast was delayed, which caused concerned by the two film industry associations. The delay was a consequence of protest by war veterans’ associations, which are displeased with the movie’s content.

    • Chinese Women Share #MeToo Stories Despite Possible Censorship

      In China, one study estimated 80% of women had experienced sexual harassment. But as the #MeToo movement has spread across the globe, the Guardian points out that reports from China have been few. Leta Hong Fincher, an expert in feminism in China, told the Guardian she thinks the country’s authoritarian government may be the reason why few women have come out under #MeToo, saying censorship may be at play. But as the movement continues into the new year, the Guardian reports stories about sexual harassment and assault are starting to pile up.

    • #MeToo Has Reached China, but Will It Have an Impact?

      The country’s entertainment sector is beginning to grapple with sexual harassment in the post-Weinstein era, but cultural barriers like victim shaming, limited legal recourse and the lack of a free press could stand in the way.

      For anyone considering filing official complaints of sexual harassment within the Chinese film industry, the 2003 case of actress Zhang Yu is a cautionary tale. As a young woman just starting out in the Beijing-based film industry, Yu claimed that she was pressured into having sex with over a dozen directors with the promise of fame. After filing a number of lawsuits, Zhang provided more than 20 videos and audiotapes to the police, with a number of clips and stills becoming public online. Though it was widely believed that there was enough evidence to prove her case, she still lost her lawsuit and received no compensation. With her career essentially over, Zhang has since disappeared from the public eye.

    • In Washington Speak, Censorship Is Called “Transparency”

      Last month senior officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told staffers to avoid using seven words such as “science-based” and “fetus” in budget-related documents. The backlash was swift and strident; headlines accused the CDC of censoring scientific ideas, of attempting to substitute ideology for truth, of an Orwellian attempt to manufacture an alternate reality under the administration of Donald Trump.

      The CDC denies it “banned” any words, and further reporting by The Washington Post cast the “words to avoid” issue as an attempt to make the agency’s work more palatable to Republican lawmakers. Even so, the incident provides a telling glimpse of the politicization of the agency’s communications. Documents recently obtained via two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests indicate the CDC and other executive branch agencies do, in fact, quietly implement organized strategies to control the flow and tone of scientific information to the press and the public. Moreover, these practices have been in place under both the Trump and Obama administrations. The techniques being used are much more subtle—and sometimes more successful—than mere censorship. Two agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services’ umbrella have erected obstacles to reporters’ access to federal scientists. And by striking backroom deals with favored journalists, press officers try to get reporters to cleave to an official narrative. “They’re asking people to be stenographers,” says Ivan Oransky, a health journalist and journalism professor at New York University.

    • Despite Threats of Censorship, Documentary Filmmakers Show Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara

      Stories about life in Western Sahara — a disputed territory controlled by the Moroccan government — are rarely told by people who live there.

      In a militarized environment with aggressive controls on media and citizen reporting, few stories of Western Sahara reach audiences beyond the immediate region. But a new documentary film that charts one independent media group’s struggle to document human rights violations in Western Sahara has the opportunity to change this.

      The film, 3 Stolen Cameras, had its world premiere at the DOK Leipzig Documentary Film Festival in Germany last November, despite threats of censorship and funding challenges.

    • First France, Now Brazil Unveils Plan to Empower the Government to Censor the Internet in the Name of Stopping “Fake News”

      Yesterday afternoon, the official Twitter account of Brazil’s Federal Police (its FBI equivalent) posted an extraordinary announcement. The bureaucratically nonchalant tone it used belied its significance. The tweet, at its core, purports to vest in the federal police and the federal government that oversees it the power to regulate, control, and outright censor political content on the internet that is assessed to be “false,” and to “punish” those who disseminate it. The new power would cover both social media posts and entire websites devoted to politics.

      “In the next few days, the Federal Police will begin activities in Brasília [the nation’s capital] by a specially formed group to combat false news during the [upcoming 2018 presidential] election process,” the official police tweet stated. It added: “The measures are intended to identify and punish the authors of ‘fake news’ for or against candidates.” Top police officials told media outlets that their working group would include representatives of the judiciary’s election branch and leading prosecutors, though one of the key judicial figures involved is the highly controversial right-wing Supreme Court judge, Gilmar Mendes, who has long blurred judicial authority with his political activism.

    • Virgin Trains drops Daily Mail as it deems paper ‘not compatible with our beliefs
    • Mail attacks Virgin Trains for ‘political censorship’ after operator drops paper
    • Virgin trains accused of censorship after removing Daily Mail from its shops
    • Daily Mail accuses Virgin Trains of censorship over paper ban
    • Daily Mail cries censorship as Virgin Trains halts sales
    • Why ordinary Iranians are turning to internet backdoors to beat censorship
    • How a Toronto app is helping Iranians hack internet censorship
    • Iranians are finding ways to get around the government’s censorship of social media
    • Iran May Be Rethinking Its Internet Censorship but This Is Not Real Change
    • Internet Cut-Off During Recent Unrest in Iran Reveals Tehran’s New Cyber Capabilities
    • Anti-Conservative Censorship Spreads From Campuses To Big Tech
    • Censorship Office Cautions Night Clubs
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • A tribute to James Dolan, co-creator of SecureDrop, who has tragically passed away at age 36

      It was with an extremely heavy heart that we recently learned our friend and former colleague James Dolan—one of the co-creators of SecureDrop and Freedom of the Press Foundation’s first full time employee—took his own life over the holidays. He was 36.

    • CBP Warrantless Device Searches Continue To Increase And New DHS Guidance Isn’t Going To Bring That Number Down

      The DHS made two significant announcements late last week, both dealing with the CBP’s warrantless searches of electronic devices at the border. The first was a bit of info, showing the exponential increase in device searches in 2016 (jumping from 5,000 in 2015 to 20,000 in 2016) is part of a trend, rather than an anomaly. Searches increased another 59% in 2017, rising to 30,200 total.

      The DHS and CBP also released statements justifying the ongoing increase in warrantless searches.

    • AT&T, Huawei Phone Partnership Killed At Last Second By More Unproven Accusations Of Huawei Spying

      If you remember a few years ago, there was ample hysteria and hand-wringing in Congress regarding Huawei’s plan to compete in the American cell phone and network hardware business. But despite near-constant claims by certain lawmakers that Huawei was an intelligence proxy for the Chinese government, numerous, multi-year investigations found absolutely no evidence to support this conclusion. That of course didn’t stop certain parties from repeatedly insisting that Huawei was a Chinese government spy, since we all know that in the post-truth era, what your gut tells you is more important than empirical evidence.

      Never mind that almost all U.S. network gear is made in (or comprised of parts made in) China. Never mind that obviously NSA allegations show the United States spies on almost everyone, constantly. Never mind that reports have emerged that a lot of the spy allegations originate with Huawei competitor Cisco, which was simply concerned with the added competition. Huawei is a spy. We’re sure of it. And covert network snooping is bad. When China does it.

    • GCHQ sought to ‘better liaise’ with watchdog, court document shows

      GCHQ tried to open up a privileged channel of communication with the oversight commissioner responsible for monitoring its activities, according to letters released in a surveillance court case.

      The government’s monitoring agency in Cheltenham wrote to Sir Adrian Fulford, the investigatory powers commissioner, asking if an “appropriate process or protocol” could be set up to “better liaise” with his office.

      The initiative comes amid legal challenges at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) brought by Privacy International, Liberty and others over legal safeguards governing the interception and retention of emails and digital data.

      GCHQ said in the letter, sent in November, that it did not wish to undermine Fulford’s independence or prejudice court hearings, but it suggested exploring whether “there may be appropriate options for resolving any factual issues which may exist in relation to evidence currently before the IPT”.

    • Police probe sought after India biometric data leak reported

      Indian authorities have asked the police to investigate The Tribune newspaper and one of its reporters after the publication of a report that claimed personal details of Indian citizens, submitted to the country’s Aadhaar authority, were being sold cheaply online.

    • NSA Surveillance Bill Would Legalize Loophole That Lets FBI Spy on Americans Without a Warrant

      With major NSA surveillance authorities set to expire later this month, House Republicans are rushing to pass a bill that would not only reauthorize existing powers, but also codify into law some practices that critics have called unconstitutional.

      The bill takes aim at reforming how federal law enforcement can use data collected by the National Security Agency, putting a modest constraint on when the FBI can conduct so-called backdoor searches of Americans’ communications. But because such searches make use of a legal loophole, critics say the current bill may do more harm than good by explicitly writing the practice into law.

    • Devin Nunes Messed With NSA’s Most Cherished Surveillance Power

      It’s the NSA’s most cherished mass-surveillance law, albeit one civil libertarians consider dubiously constitutional. And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee helped jeopardize its renewal, The Daily Beast has learned—by resurrecting a pseudo-scandal of his own invention.

      In recent months, congressional negotiators have been working on a bill codifying an umbrella of mass-surveillance activities known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The authorization for those activities is due to expire in a matter of days.

    • Congress’s Absurd Quest to Curb the Surveillance State

      In attempting to both appease the intelligence community and ostensibly roll back its powers, lawmakers are making a mockery of the reform effort.

    • Data protection bill amended to protect security researchers

      Matt Hancock, the new culture and digital secretary, said: “We are strengthening Britain’s data protection laws to make them fit for the digital age by giving people more control over their own data. This amendment will safeguard our world-leading cybersecurity researchers to continue their vital work to uncover abuses of personal data.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Teacher removed from public education meeting in handcuffs after asking why superintendents get raises but teachers don’t

      Deyshia Hargrave is an English teacher at Rene Rost Middle Schools in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana; on Monday night, she attended a special meeting of the local school board and, when called upon comment period, politely asked why the board superintendants had voted themselves a raise while the teachers in the school district have been subjected to a long-term pay-freeze. The superintendent ruled her question out of order and then a deputy Abbeville city marshal who works in the parish schools dragged her out of the room, put her in handcuffs and threw her to the floor while chanting “stop resisting.”

    • Louisiana Teacher Put in Jail After Asking Questions About Poor Salary, Superintendent’s Raise
    • Jury Awards Couple No Damages For Bungled Marijuana Raid Predicated On Wet Tea Leaves

      A jury has shrugged its shoulders in response to a farcical effort by local publicity hounds/drug warriors to score a 4/20 marijuana bust, only to end up with a handful of garden supplies and violated rights. The lead-up to the bungled raid of Robert and Addie Harte’s house included a law enforcement agency hoping to bury the previous year’s 4/20 raid failure (in which tomatoes were seized), a state trooper compiling a freelance database of garden store visitors, two field drug tests that identified tea leaves as marijuana, and a whole lot of might-makes-right drug warrioring.

      By the time it was over, the Hartes had been held at gunpoint for two hours while the sheriff’s department desperately tried to find something illegal in their home. Nothing was found and the Hartes sued the law enforcement agency. The district court said this was fine: officers should be able to rely on the results of field drug tests, even when said field drug tests are notoriously fallible.

    • ‘The issue is personal for Kushner’: Jared and Jeff Sessions to launch prison ‘reform’ listening tour

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner will officially launch a listening session on prison reform, Axios reported Wednesday.

      Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has been quietly exploring the issue for six months.

      Policy solutions have yet to be unveiled.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • CRISPR Patent Wars: How to Claim a Cure

      CRISPR-Cas9 have been reported on and discussed in a plethora of different articles, journals, and blog posts. At the moment it is one of the most central focuses in the conversation on medical advancement and the ethical lines that must be drawn within this field.

      What generally doesn’t make as many headlines, however, is the the ongoing battle for intellectual property rights to the groundbreaking medical technology. Can you prove ownership of gene editing technology?

      Moreover, could there be costs to this patent war given the nature of the technology?

    • Trademarks

      • The Other Side: Phoenix Comicon Proactively Changes Names To Avoid San Diego Comic-Con Bully

        We had just been talking about the brewing trademark civil war set to break out across the country in the comics conventions space, with Yakima Central City Comic Con choosing not to react to the fiasco of a court case that saw San Diego Comic-Con enforce its trademark against a convention in Salt Lake City. Their decision, publicly revealed relatively soon after the court case outcome, indicated that some comic conventions take the view that SDCC’s trademark is invalid for any number of reasons and that they can simply wait for the Salt Lake Comic Con’s attempt to invalidate SDCC’s trademark to shake out. These would be conventions deciding not to freak out just because one bully got one win.

        But of course that stance could never be universal among all comic conventions in America and now we have our first convention deciding to show everyone what a chilling effect trademark bullying can have. The previously-named Phoenix Comicon has announced it will be rebranding as the Phoenix Comic Fest, with the company behind the convention, Square Egg Entertainment, providing only the thinnest of veils over its reasoning for the change.

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Maximalists Throw In The Towel On Term Extension; Admit That Maybe Copyright Is Too Long

        Last week, in writing about how this should be the last year (for forty straight years) that no old works have moved into the public domain in the US due to repeated copyright term extensions, I noted that there did not appear to be much appetite among the usual folks to push for term extension. Part of this is because the RIAAs and MPAAs of the world know that the fight they’d face this time would be significantly more difficult then when they pushed through the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 20 plus years ago. Not only do they know it would be more difficult, they know that they’d lose. Unlike last time, this time the public is paying attention and can mobilize on the internet.

        Indeed, we were surprised a few years back when then Copyright Office boss, Maria Pallante — who has long pushed for copyright maximalism in many different areas — suggested one tiny aspect of potential copyright reform could be to make the last twenty years (the life plus 50 to life plus 70 years) sort of optional. Even this very, very minor step back from the idea of automatic life plus 70 years (or more!) was fairly astounding for what it represented. Copyright interests have never been willing to budge — even an inch, and here was a tiny inch that they indicated they were willing to give up.

      • Media Giant Can Keep Seized Ad Revenue From Pirate Sites

        A federal court in Florida has signed a default judgment against more than two dozen relatively small pirate sites. The order grants media conglomerate ABS-CBN ownership of the associated domain names. In addition, it can keep the sites’ previously seized advertising revenue from networks including Google Adsense and MGID.

      • Tech Companies Meet EC to Discuss Removal of Pirate & Illegal Content

        Representatives from platforms thought to include Google, Facebook and Twitter will meet with five EU Commissioners today to discuss progress in tackling the spread of illegal content online. While focus is being placed on terrorist propaganda and hate speech, intellectual property rights infringements are also high on the agenda.

      • Twitter, Snapchat Tie Up with Fox to Provide Coverage of FIFA World Cup

        Twenty-First Century Fox’s Fox Sports is partnering with Twitter to stream a live show and Snap Inc’s Snapchat to showcase stories with match-day highlights on the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament to be hosted in Russia later this year.


Links 9/1/2018: CES Products and DRM in Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • The 5 best Linux distros for the enterprise: Red Hat, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and more

    Three of the five Linux distributions discussed offer reliable and professional-grade support, all have frequent updates to ensure that security exploits are addressed in a timely manner, and all have at least some level of corporate connectivity baked in. In addition, all of them can run Windows programs through virtual machines or subsystems such as Wine. That ability might appeal to executives, but it raises the question of whether it’s really necessary or even a good idea.

    There’s also a big cost difference between deploying Linux and Windows: Linux itself is free, so it’s the distributor’s support that you’ll pay for. And, yes, you will want to do that. The price for proper enterprise-ready support still makes Linux desktop a much less expensive option.

  • 9 Best Linux Distros For Programming And Developers (2018 Edition)

    Linux-based operating systems are often used by developers to get their work done and create something new. Their major concerns while choosing a Linux distro for programming are compatibility, power, stability, and flexibility. Distros like Ubuntu and Debian have managed to establish themselves as the top picks. Some of the other great choices are openSUSE, Arch Linux, etc. If you intend to buy a Raspberry Pi and start with it, Raspbian is the perfect way to start.

  • Server

    • Explore private cloud platform options: Paid and open source

      An open source private cloud platform, Apache CloudStack offers a comprehensive management system that features usage metering and image deployment. It supports hypervisors including VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and KVM.

      CloudStack also handles features like tiered storage, Active Directory integration and some software-defined networking. As with other open source platforms, it takes a knowledgeable IT staff to install and support CloudStack.

    • 7 systems engineering and operations trends to watch in 2018

      Kubernetes domination

      Kubernetes came into its own in 2017 and its popularity will only grow in 2018. Edward Muller, engineering manager at Salesforce, predicts that building tools on top of Kubernetes is going to be more prevalent next year. “Previously, most tooling targeted one or more cloud infrastructure APIs,” says Muller. “Recent announcements of Kubernetes as a Service (KaaS?) from major cloud providers is likely to only hasten the shift.”

    • 2018: The Year of Kubernetes and Interoperability

      On its own, Kubernetes is a great story. What makes it even better is the soaring interoperability movement it’s fueling. An essential part of enabling interoperable cloud-native apps on Kubernetes is the Open Service Broker API. OSBAPI enables portability of cloud services across offerings and vendors. A collaborative project across multiple organizations, including Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Pivotal, Red Hat and SAP, it enables developers, ISVs, and SaaS vendors to deliver services to applications running within cloud-native platforms. In 2017, we saw adoption of the API by Microsoft and Google. Late in the year, Amazon and Pivotal partnered to enable expose Amazon’s services via the broker as well. Red Hat uses it to support the OpenShift marketplace.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.17 To Likely Include Intel DRM Driver’s HDCP Support

      Back in November a Google developer proposed HDCP content protection support for the Intel Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) Linux driver that is based upon their code from Chrome OS / Chromium OS. It looks like that High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection support in the i915 DRM driver will come for Linux 4.17.

      It’s too late to happen for Linux 4.16 considering it would be too tardy for it to be comfortably added to DRM-Next. Google developer Sean Paul who has been spearheading this HDMI/DisplayPort HDCP support for the open-source Intel DRM driver believes the code is now ready for merging.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation LFCS and LFCE: Miltos Tsatsakis

        The Linux Foundation offers many resources for developers, users, and administrators of Linux systems. One of the most important offerings is its Linux Certification Program, which is designed to give you a way to differentiate yourself in a job market that’s hungry for your skills.

        How well does the certification prepare you for the real world? To illustrate that, we will be highlighting some of those who have recently passed the certification examinations. These testimonials should help you decide if either the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator or the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer certification is right for you.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 17.3.2 Release Notes / January 8, 2018

        Mesa 17.3.2 is a bug fix release which fixes bugs found since the 17.3.1 release.

        Mesa 17.3.2 implements the OpenGL 4.5 API, but the version reported by glGetString(GL_VERSION) or glGetIntegerv(GL_MAJOR_VERSION) / glGetIntegerv(GL_MINOR_VERSION) depends on the particular driver being used. Some drivers don’t support all the features required in OpenGL 4.5. OpenGL 4.5 is only available if requested at context creation because compatibility contexts are not supported.

      • Mesa 17.3.2 Released With The Latest Stable Fixes

        While Mesa 18.0 will premiere later this quarter as the first feature update of 2018, Mesa 17.3.2 is now available as the second bug-fix release for last quarter’s Mesa 17.3 series.

      • NVIDIA Rolls Out New Vulkan Beta Driver With Conservative Rasterization Support

        NVIDIA is sticking to their pledge of being quick with delivering support for new revisions of Vulkan support in their Windows and Linux drivers.

        Vulkan 1.0.67 was released on Friday and while it’s mostly a mundane maintenance update, it does include one new extension: VK_EXT_conservative_rasterization. This extension adds a conservative rasterization mode to Vulkan and is similar to the GL_NV_conservative_raster OpenGL extension (more details on conservative rasterization here).

      • VC5 Gallium3D Driver Is Onto Pushing More Triangles In Simulator

        The VC5 open-source Gallium3D driver designed to support the next generation of Broadcom VideoCore graphics hardware is onto rendering more triangles, at least with the hardware simulator.

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarking Clear Linux With KPTI + Retpoline Support

        Yesterday Intel landed KPTI page table isolation and Retpoline support in their Clear Linux distribution. Given that one of the pillars of this Intel Open-Source Technology Center platform is on delivering optimal Linux performance, I was curious to see how its performance was impacted. Here are before/after benchmarks on seven different systems ranging from low-end Pentium hardware to Xeon servers.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Discover, the KDE Software Center App, is Improving Nicely

        Many KDE fans –maybe even you– consider the app to be too limited, preferring instead to use an alternative tool like Synaptic or the Muon Software Center to handle package management.

        So popular is Muon that Kubuntu 17.10 even re-added it to its install image!

        But Discover shouldn’t be forgotten about.

        It’s important that Plasma desktop has a vibrant, easy to use, “one-stop-shop” for users to discover, install, update and remove software on their desktops.

      • Polishing Discover Software Center

        KDE Discover Software Center is a key element of our Usability and Productivity initiative because it encompasses the basic experience of discovering, installing, and removing software. Most regular people don’t want to use the command line to do this, and for them, we have Discover.

  • Distributions

    • Parted Magic Disk Partitioning, Cloning and Rescue Linux OS Has a New Release

      Coming four months after version 2017_09_05, which was the most successful release to date, Parted Magic 2018_01_08 ships with Linux kernel 4.14.11, a version that includes patches for the newly discovered Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, as well as better support for newer graphics cards.

      “The 2017_09_05 release was our most successful release to date with very little complaints. Instead of changing a bunch of stuff for the sake of changing a bunch of stuff, we basically kept it the way it was,” says developer Patrick Verner in the release announcement. “We only addressed the little issues and updated relevant software.”

    • New Releases

      • IPFire Open Source Firewall Linux Distro Gets Huge Number of Security Fixes

        IPFire 2.19 Core Update 117 is now available to download and comes with the latest OpenSSL 1.0.2n TLS/SSL and crypto library, as well as an updated OpenVPN implementation that makes it easier to route OpenVPN Roadwarrior Clients to IPsec VPN networks by allowing users to choose routes in each client’s configuration.

        The update also improves the IPsec implementation by allowing users to define the inactivity timeout time of an idle IPsec VPN tunnel that’s being closed and updating the strongSwan IPsec-based VPN solution to version 5.6.1. It also disabled the compression by default and removed support for MODP groups with subgroups.

      • Chakra GNU/Linux Users Get KDE Plasma 5.11.5, KDE Applications 17.12 and Qt 5.10

        If you’re using Chakra GNU/Linux, which is a rolling release computer operating system where you install once and receive updates forever, chances are you can upgrade its components to the recently released KDE Plasma 5.11.5 desktop environment, as well as KDE Applications 17.12.0 and KDE Frameworks 5.41.0 software suits, all built against the latest Qt 5.10.0 application framework.

        “You can now upgrade to the latest versions of KDE’s Plasma, Applications and Frameworks series, built against the brand new Qt 5.10.0,” says Neofytos Kolokotronis in the forum announcement. “[KDE] Applications 17.12 is the first release of a new series that focuses on introducing enhancements and new features. As always with stability updates, Plasma 5.11.53 and Frameworks 5.41.02 include a month’s worth of bug fixes and improvements.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Future Tumbleweed Snapshot to Bring YaST Changes

        Changes to YaST are coming and people using openSUSE Tumbleweed will be the first to experience these planned changes in a snapshot that is expected to be released soon.

        Those following the YaST Team blog may have been read about the implementation changes expected for libstorage-ng, which have been discussed for nearly two years. Libstorage is the component used by YaST; specially used in the installer, the partitioner and AutoYaST to access disks, partitions, LVM volumes and more.

        This relatively low-level component has been a constant source of headaches for YaST developers for years, but all that effort is about to bear fruit. The original design has fundamental flaws that limited YaST in many ways and the YaST Team have been working to write a replacement for it: the libstorage-ng era has begun.

        This document offers an incomplete but very illustrative view of the new things that libstorage-ng will allow in the future and the libstorage limitations it will allow to leave behind. For example, it already makes possible to install a fully encrypted system with no LVM using the automatic proposal and to handle much better filesystems placed directly on a disk without any partitioning. In the short future, it will allow to fully manage Btrfs multi-device filesystems, bcache and many other technologies that were impossible to accommodate into the old system.

      • openSUSE-Based GeckoLinux Receives New, Revamped Releases Built with KIWI

        The biggest change of the new GeckoLinux releases is that they are now built using the KIWI OS image builder instead of the older SUSE Studio, which was merged into SUSE’s OBS (Open Build Service) last year. This gives GeckoLinux a smoother and more reliable boot process, better hardware detections, and boot splash screen support.

        Additionally, this major change no longer forces users to enter passwords for the default live session user account, provides a much cleaner ISO build process and structure that’s up-to-date with OpenSuSE’s standards, and introduces persistence support for Live USBs, allowing users to run GeckoLinux as a portable OS.

      • Libstorage-NG Landing Soon In openSUSE Tumbleweed For Improving The Installer

        Users of the openSUSE rolling-release Linux distribution will soon find an improved installer thanks to Libstorage-NG landing soon and improvements to YaST.

        Libstorage is a low-level storage library used by SUSE’s YaST for dealing with disk / partition / LVM management and other storage device interaction. For over the past two years, libstorage-ng has been in development as the next-generation implementation.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debbugs Versioning: Merging

        One of the key features of Debbugs, the bug tracking system Debian uses, is its ability to figure out which bugs apply to which versions of a package by tracking package uploads. This system generally works well, but when a package maintainer’s workflow doesn’t match the assumptions of Debbugs, unexpected things can happen.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Who Was To Blame For The Ubuntu BIOS Bug?

            So who is to blame for the corruption of the BIOS?

            Ultimately I would put the majority of the blame at the door of the manufacturers and the BIOS developers. You simply should not be able to corrupt the BIOS and there should be a reset option which returns it to factory settings if all else fails. The Ubuntu developers were the unlucky people to instantiate the bug by including a defective driver within the Kernel.

            Some of the blame has to go to the users as well. Maybe we need to be a bit smarter when installing operating systems and not necessarily jump at the latest thing.

          • System76 Continues to Improve HiDPI Support for Their Ubuntu-Based OS in 2018

            Work on the second release of Pop!_OS Linux will continue this year with a rebase on Canonical’s upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system, due for release on April 26, 2018. The distro will also be released this spring, after Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and will feature out-of-the-box support for HiDPI displays.

            System76 says that it received great feedback from the community in regards to the HiDPI improvements they are adding into Pop!_OS Linux lately, and, besides the fixing many of the reporting issues, they are also working on better integration of the HiDPI daemon into the desktop, including support for tweaking its behavior.

          • Ubuntu Server Development Summary – 09 Jan 2018

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team. If you would like to reach the server team, you can find us at the #ubuntu-server channel on Freenode. Alternatively, you can sign up and use the Ubuntu Server Team mailing list.

          • LXD Weekly Status #29

            And we’re back from the holidays!
            This “weekly” summary is covering everything that happened the past 3 weeks.

            The big highlight was the release of LXD 2.21 on the 19th of December.

            During the holidays, we merged quite a number of bugfixes and smaller features in LXC and LXD with the bigger feature development only resuming now.

            The end of year was also the deadline for our users to migrate off of the LXD PPAs.
            Those have now been fully deleted and users looking for newer builds of LXD should use the official basckport packages or the LXD snap.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Debian vs. Linux Mint: The Winner Is?

              Linux Mint is on track to becoming the most popular desktop distro available. This isn’t to suggest that it’s already happened, rather that it’s on track to happen if Linux Mint continues to find its fans among Windows converts. By contrast, Debian has received almost no credit for this success whatsoever. Worse, neither does Ubuntu, which uses Debian as a base.

              So are Linux Mint and Debian really all that different? After all, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian. One might surmise that the these distros are more similar than different. Fact is stranger than fiction. Linux Mint and Debian may share a common heritage, but that’s where the similarities end.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Piwik is now Matomo – Announcement

    You may be surprised to read this announcement, but no stress, take a deep breath, nothing big is going to happen, it is just our name that is changing and here are the reasons why.

  • Does DevOps Plus Open Source Equal Security?
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Marketing Engineering & Ops Blog: Kuma Report, December 2017

        We have a lot of things we have to do in Q1 2018, such as the CDN and Django 1.11 update. We postponed a detailed plan for 2018, and instead will spend some of Q1 discussing goals and priorities. During our discussions in December, a few themes came up.

        For the MDN Web Docs product, the 2018 theme is Reach. We want to reach more web developers with MDN Web Docs data, and earn a key place in developers’ workflows. Sometimes this means making developer.mozilla.org the best place to find the information, and sometimes it means delivering the data where the developer works. We’re using interviews and surveys to learn more and design the best experience for web developers.

        For the technology side, the 2018 theme is Simplicity. There are many seldom-used Kuma features that require a history lesson to explain. These make it more complicated to maintain and improve the web site. We’d like to retire some of these features, simplify others, and make it easier to work on the code and data. We have ideas around zone redirects, asset pipelines, and translations, and we hope to implement these in 2018.

        One thing that has gotten more complex in 2017 is code contribution. We’re implementing new features like browser-compat-data and interactive-examples as their own projects. Kuma is usually not the best place to contribute, and it can be challenging to discover where to contribute. We’re thinking through ways to improve this in 2018, and to steer contributor’s effort and enthusiasm where it will have the biggest impact.

      • Retained Display Lists

        As part of the lead up to Firefox Quantum, we added new telemetry to Firefox to help us measure painting performance, and to let us make more informed decisions as to where to direct our efforts. One of these measurements defined a minimum threshold for a ‘slow’ paint (16ms), and recorded percentages of time spent in various paint stages when it occurred. We expected display list building to be significant, but were still surprised with the results: On average, display list building was consuming more than 40% of the total paint time, for work that was largely identical to the previous frame. We’d long been planning on an overhaul of how we built and managed display lists, but with this new data we decided that it needed to be a top priority for our Painting team.

      • Multilingual Gecko in 2017

        In January 2017, we set the course to get a new localization framework named Fluent into Firefox.

        Below is a story of the work performed on the Firefox engine – Gecko – over the last year to make Fluent in Firefox possible. This has been a collaborative effort involving a lot of people from different teams. It’s impossible to document all the work, so keep in mind that the following is just the story of the Gecko refactor, while many other critical pieces were being tackled outside of that range.

        Also, the nature of the project does make the following blog post long, text heavy and light on pictures. I apologize for that and hope that the value of the content will offset this inconvenience and make it worth reading.

  • CMS

    • A Love Letter to Plain Text

      I have used Hugo, the blog engine this blog runs on top of, more and more lately for less and less typical use cases. Hopefully this post will inspire others in similar ways.

      There was another post on twitter recently that inspired me to write this post. The point of that post was that when your blog is just a pile of textfiles generic Unix tools combine to make many things are trivial that wouldn’t be with a more traditional database backed system.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • LLVM Clang Is Moving Closer To Full OpenMP 4.5 Support

      While it took LLVM’s Clang C/C++ compiler initially a long time to supporting OpenMP, the code continues to mature in supporting the latest updates to this parallel programming specification.

      As it stands now Clang has full support for OpenMP 3.1 and only partial support for OpenMP 4.5, but they continue moving closer to supporting OMP 4.5 on CPUs and eventually to NVIDIA GPUs with their CUDA back-end.

    • SPIR-V Support For Upstream LLVM Is Back To Being Discussed

      Next month the Vulkan 1.0 API will turn two years old but a goal that has remained elusive to date has been getting SPIR-V — the intermediate representation shared by Vulkan and OpenCL — into upstream LLVM.

      The goal would be upstream support for going between SPIR-V and LLVM IR. There’s been various projects working on this SPIR-V and LLVM IR to/from translation support, but nothing has been upstreamed yet in LLVM itself for easier maintenance and focusing on a concerted effort.

    • OpenBSD-current now has ‘smtpctl spf walk’

      This feature is still in need of testing, so please grab a snapshot and test!

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • [Older] Quantum Computers Barely Exist—Here’s Why We’re Writing Languages for Them Anyway

      Quantum computers are still extremely rudimentary, and largely remain intriguing playthings in a few advanced research labs. That hasn’t deterred people from developing new programming languages for them.

      The most recent one comes from Microsoft, which has unveiled Q# (pronounced Q sharp) and some associated tools to help developers use it to create software. It joins a growing list of other high-level quantum programming languages such as QCL and Quipper.

    • This Week in Rust 216
    • #Rust2018

      As part of #Rust2018, I thought I would try to writeup my own (current) perspective. I’ll try to keep things brief.

      First and foremost, I think that this year we have to finish what we started and get the “Rust 2018” release out the door. We did good work in 2017: now we have to make sure the world knows it and can use it. This primarily means we have to do stabilization work, both for the recent features added in 2017 as well as some, ahem, longer-running topics, like SIMD. It also means keeping up our focus on tooling, like IDE support, rustfmt, and debugger integration.

    • GCC 8.0.0 Status Report (2018-01-08), Stage 3 ends Jan 14th

      GCC 8 is in development stage 3 currently but that is going to end at the end of Sunday, Jan 14th after which we go into regression and documentation fixes mode similar as if trunk was a release branch.

    • GCC 8 Will Enter Its Last Stage Of Development Next Week

      The GNU Compiler Collection 8 (GCC 8) is currently in “stage three” development whereby general bug fixing can still happen along with allowing new ports to be added. But that is changing next week as it enters its final stage of development prior to release.

      SUSE’s Richard Biener announced that on 14 January, they will be going into their strict “regression and documentation fixes mode similar as if trunk was a release branch.”


  • Science

    • Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can’t you put it down?

      A decade ago, smart devices promised to change the way we think and interact, and they have – but not by making us smarter. Eric Andrew-Gee explores the growing body of scientific evidence that digital distraction is damaging our minds

    • The UK is still educating different classes for different functions in society

      Historically, the English educational system has educated the different social classes for different functions in society. However, in the 21st century, the expectation is that the English state system is providing roughly the same education for all. In my new book I argue that it does not. Even within a comprehensive school, when young people are all being educated in the same building, the working classes are still getting less education than the middle classes, just as they had when my father was educated at the beginning of the 20th century. We are still educating different social classes for different functions in society.

      The book is based on a mix of statistics, more than 500 interviews and my personal memoir of growing up as a free school meal child living on a council estate. The book argues that, despite a whole plethora of policy initiatives from testing regimes, league tables, school choice, academies and free schools, the return to traditional models of both primary and secondary curriculum and to a preoccupation with ‘school improvement’ and ‘school effectiveness’, little has changed in relation to how the working classes are valued within education. And despite the incessant focus on social mobility, England is at the bottom of the league table for working class children achieving high academic levels.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicines Patent Pool Launches Search For Next Director

      The Patent Pool, which works with a range of partners to help increase access to HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis treatments in developments, negotiates voluntary licences with patent owners and develops patent pooling initiatives, according to the announcement. The Geneva-based agency, spun off from Unitaid several years ago but still funded by it, has saved the international community nearly $400 million, it said.

  • Security

    • MalwareTech Prosecution Appears To Be Falling Apart As Gov’t Plays Keep Away With Documents Requested By Defense

      Marcus Hutchins, a.k.a. MalwareTech, went from internet hero (following his inadvertent shutdown of the WannaCry ransomware) to federal government detainee in a surprisingly short amount of time. Three months after saving the world from rampaging malware built on NSA exploits, Hutchins was arrested at the Las Vegas airport as he waited for his flight home to the UK.

      When the indictment was published, many people noted the charges didn’t seem to be backed by much evidence. The government accused Hutchins of creating and selling the Kronos malware, but the offered very little to support this claim. While it’s true much of the evidence against Hutchins will be produced in court, the indictment appeared to be stretching legal definitions of certain computer crimes to their limits.

      The government’s case appears to be weak and reliant on dubious legal theories. It’s not even 100% clear that creating and selling malware is an illegal act in and of itself. The charges the government brought rely heavily on proving Hutchins constructed malware with the intent to cause damage to computers. This isn’t so easily proven, especially when the government itself is buying malware to deploy for its own purposes and has yet to bring charges against any of the vendors it buys from. Anyone selling exploits to governments could be said to be creating malware with intent to cause harm. That it’s a government, rather than an individual, causing the harm shouldn’t make any difference — at least not if the government wants to claim selling of malware alone is a federal offense.

    • ​The Linux vs Meltdown and Spectre battle continues

      Meltdown is a CPU vulnerability. It works by using modern processors’ out-of-order execution to read arbitrary kernel-memory location. This can include personal data and passwords. This functionality has been an important performance feature. It’s present in many modern processors, moshttps://www.ostechnix.com/check-meltdown-spectre-vulnerabilities-patch-linux/t noticeably in 2010 and later Intel processors. By breaking down the wall between user applications and operating system’s memory allocations, it can potentially be used to spy on the memory of other programs and the operating systems.

    • ‘It Can’t Be True.’ Inside the Semiconductor Industry’s Meltdown

      It was late November and former Intel Corp. engineer Thomas Prescher was enjoying beers and burgers with friends in Dresden, Germany, when the conversation turned, ominously, to semiconductors.

      Months earlier, cybersecurity researcher Anders Fogh had posted a blog suggesting a possible way to hack into chips powering most of the world’s computers, and the friends spent part of the evening trying to make sense of it. The idea nagged at Prescher, so when he got home he fired up his desktop computer and set about putting the theory into practice. At 2 a.m., a breakthrough: he’d strung together code that reinforced Fogh’s idea and suggested there was something seriously wrong.

    • Linus Torvalds Is Not Happy About Intel’s Meltdown And Spectre Mess

      Meltdown and Spectre exploit an architectural flaw with the way processors handle speculative execution, a technique that most modern CPUs use to increase speed. Both classes of vulnerability could expose protected kernel memory, potentially allowing hackers to gain access to the inner workings of any unpatched system or penetrate security measures.

      The flaw can’t be fixed with a microcode update, meaning that developers for major OSes and platforms have had to devise workarounds that could seriously hurt performance.

      In an email to a Linux list this week, Torvalds questioned the competence of Intel engineers and suggested that they were knowingly selling flawed products to the public. He also seemed particularly irritated that users could expect a five to 30 per cent projected performance hit from the fixes.

    • It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer wrecks some AMD PCs

      Microsoft’s fix for the Meltdown and Spectre bugs may be crocking AMD-powered PCs.

      A lengthy thread on answers.microsoft.com records numerous instances in which Security Update for Windows KB4056892, Redmond’s Meltdown/Spectre patch, leaves some AMD-powered PCs with the Windows 7 or 10 startup logo and not much more.

    • Warning: Microsoft’s Meltdown and Spectre patch is bricking some AMD PCs

      We’ve already seen compatibility issues with some antivirus tools, and now some AMD users are reporting that the KB4056892 patch is rendering their computer unusable. A further issue — error 0x800f0845 — means that it is not possible to perform a rollback.

    • Observing interrupts from userland on x86

      In 2016, I noticed a quirk of the x86 architecture that leads to an interesting side channel. On x86, it is possible for a userland process to detect when it has been interrupted by an interrupt handler, without resorting to timing. This is because the usual mechanism for handling interrupts (without using virtualisation) doesn’t always preserve all userland registers across an interrupt handler.

    • Twitter promotes ‘get verified’ phishing scam that actually steals your account, credit card details

      Following backlash and criticism, Twitter banned several Russian organisations including RT and Sputnik from purchasing ads on the platform.

    • Cybersecurity Firm Says Olympics Organizations Were Targeted by Hackers [sic]

      An email campaign, conducted between Dec. 22 and 28 last month, sent infected documents to Olympic associations from an email that was designed to appear as though it came from South Korean authorities, analysts with McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research division found.

    • The new DHS breach illustrates what’s wrong with today’s cybersecurity practices

      The lines between privacy incident, security incident, insider incident, and fraud are blurry at best.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Hardcoded Backdoor Found In WD My Cloud NAS With Username “MyDlink”

      In yet another revelation of severe loopholes, a security researcher James Bercegay from Gulftech has discovered a backdoor in some models of the My Cloud NAS (Network-attached storage) drive family, manufactured by Western Digital.

    • Microsoft Says No More Windows Security Updates Unless AVs Set a Registry Key

      Microsoft has added a new and very important detail on the support page describing incompatibilities between antivirus (AV) products and the recent Windows Meltdown and Spectre patches.

      According to an update added this week, Microsoft says that Windows users will not receive the January 2018 Patch Tuesday security updates, or any subsequent Patch Tuesday security updates, unless the antivirus program they are using becomes compatible with the Windows Meltdown and Spectre patches.

      The way antivirus programs become compatible is by updating their product and then adding a special registry key to the Windows Registry.

    • How To Check For Meltdown And Spectre Vulnerabilities And Patch Them In Linux
    • With WPA3, Wi-Fi will be secure this time, really, wireless bods promise
    • WPA3 Released To Fill KRACKs Of The Wi-Fi WPA2 Protocol
    • NSA Denies Prior Knowledge Of Meltdown, Spectre Exploits; Claims It Would ‘Never’ Harm Companies By Withholding Vulns

      News surfaced late last week indicating everything about computing is fucked. Two critical flaws with zero perfect fixes — affecting millions of processors — were exposed by security researchers. Patches have been deployed and more are on their way, but even the best fixes seem to guarantee a noticeable slowdown in processing speed.


      These recently-discovered exploits may be the ones that got away — ones the NSA never uncovered and never used. But this statement portrays the NSA as an honest broker, which it isn’t. If the NSA had access to these exploits, it most certainly would have used them before informing affected companies. That’s just how this works. As long as exploits are returning intel otherwise inaccessible, the NSA will use the exploits for as long as possible before disclosing this info to US companies. The agency has historically shown little concern about collateral damage and I don’t believe putting someone new in charge of the VEP is going to make that much of a difference in the future.

    • Security notice: Meltdown and Spectre

      If you haven’t already done so, please read “Meltdown and Spectre“.

      These vulnerabilities are critical. They expose all memory data present on the computer to any application running locally (including to scripts run by your web browser).

      Note: Meltdown and Spectre also affect smart phones and tablets. Please seek information on how to protect your mobile devices.

    • Linux Mint Devs Respond to Meltdown and Spectre Security Vulnerabilities

      Linux Mint developers have published today a statement regarding the recently unearthed Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, informing users on how to keep their PCs secure.

      Last week, two of the most severe security flaws were publicly disclosed as Meltdown and Spectre, affecting billions of devices powered by a modern processor from Intel, AMD, ARM, or Qualcomm. To mitigate these vulnerabilities, OEMs and OS vendors started a two and half months long battle to redesign software and kernels.

      Almost all known operating systems are affected, and all web browsers. Linux Mint is one of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions out there with millions of users, but it hasn’t yet been patched against Meltdown and Spectre because it still relies on updates from the Ubuntu operating system.

    • All Supported 4MLinux and TheSSS Releases Now Patched Against Meltdown & Spectre
    • NVIDIA Confirms GPU Driver Fixes For Spectre
    • Linux security concerns rise as hackers target the OS [Ed: This describes merely perceived risks, associated with unpatched system or wrong installation, not inherent issues]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic US-Backed War in Yemen

      For the popular US cable news network MSNBC, the largest humanitarian catastrophe in the world is apparently not worth much attention—even as the US government has played a key role in creating and maintaining that unparalleled crisis.

      An analysis by FAIR has found that the leading liberal cable network did not run a single segment devoted specifically to Yemen in the last nine months of 2017.

      And in these latter three-fourths of the year, MSNBC mentioned Russia 3,000 percent more than it mentioned Yemen.

      Moreover, in all of 2017, MSNBC did not once report on the US-backed Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. Nor did it ever mention the impoverished nation’s colossal cholera epidemic, which infected more than 1 million Yemenis in the largest outbreak in recorded history.

    • Pushed to extremes: Cameroon’s escalating Anglophone crisis

      Fifteen months back, when a group of Anglophone lawyers went on strike in Cameroon, few would have predicted how far and how quickly events would escalate.

      Back then, in October 2016, the lawyers were objecting to the appointment of French-educated judges to their courts. A few other frustrated groups joined them later in peaceful protest against other government actions they perceived to be discriminating against the country’s English-speaking regions.

      Fast-forward to today, however, and that initial modest impetus has spiralled into Cameroon’s most alarming internal conflict since independence. In recent months, scores of civilians have been killed. Armed attacks have led to the deaths of at least sixteen army and police officers. The government has deployed the elite Rapid Intervention Battalion, which is usually found combatting Boko Haram, to the area. And thousands of refugees have fled to Nigeria, with the UN Refugee Agency expecting up to 40,000 more.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange’s stay in London embassy untenable, says Ecuador

      Ecuador’s foreign minister has said Julian Assange’s five-and-a-half-year stay in her country’s London embassy is “untenable” and should be ended through international mediation.

      The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in Knightsbridge since the summer of 2012, when he faced the prospect of extradition to Sweden over claims that he sexual assaulted two women. He denies the accusations.

    • Daily Mail calls Virgin Trains’ decision to stop stocking paper ‘censorship’
    • Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains is boycotting the Daily Mail because it is ‘not compatible’ with its beliefs
    • Ecuador seeks mediator to resolve ‘untenable’ Julian Assange standoff: Foreign minister
    • WikiLeaks Just Illegaly Posted PDF to Fire and Fury, Anyone Who Downloads Could Face Huge Fine

      For those not wanting to pay the $18 for a hardcover version of Michael Wolff‘s new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, or the $14 dollars for the Kindle version, don’t be tempted by WikiLeaks’ tweet with the full PDF version of the book. Law&Crime consulted several copyright legal experts who all agree that the tweet amounts to copyright infringement, and anyone who downloads the book could be held liable too.

    • Twitter Still Hasn’t Pulled Wikileaks’ Link to Fire and Fury, Despite Clear Violation of Copyright Policy

      Last night, Wikileaks tweeted a link for people to click if they wanted to download the text of Michael Wolff‘s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House without paying for it. As Law&Crime Editor-in-Chief Rachel Stockman noted, there are serious legal issues with this, as it looks like a major copyright infringement. On top of legal issues though, it’s also against Twitter’s own policy. Wikileaks deleted their original tweet soon after they posted it, but another one went up later in the evening.

    • WikiLeaks Shared Entire ‘Fire and Fury’ Manuscript Online

      WikiLeaks has shared a link to the tell-all book about Donald Trump’s White House that has made waves in Washington, D.C.

      In a move that appeared to have the success of Michael Wolff’s tome Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House firmly in its crosshairs, the organization tweeted out a link to a full PDF of the book, which may have constituted copyright infringement.

    • The Targeting of Wikileaks

      Lamo also claimed that Manning told him he physicially dropped off classified information to WikiLeaks’ “intermediaries” in Boston—who I’m sure George Webb has shared a glass of wine or two with—and yet, after the chat logs were finally published in their entirety, no where does Manning say he dropped off classified information in Boston. Nor do the chats indicate that Assange helped Manning procure any documents. Yet, despite Lamo’s blatant lies that Kevin Poulsen helped cover up, Poulsen was invited to join the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Technology Advisory Board in 2014 and although he’s no longer listed as such, an FPF webpage for him still exists. Why FPF board members turned a blind eye to what Lamo and Poulsen did to both Manning and Wikileaks, including Glenn Greenwald who, ironically, was the one who called out Poulsen’s questionable behavior in the first place, is inexplicable.

    • Freedom of the Press Foundation Cuts Wikileaks Donations

      So, for those of you that missed it because it didn’t grab a lot of headlines let me give you a head’s up on what’s been happening. The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), the brainchild of Julian Assange and John Perry Barlow, decided to part ways with Wikileaks citing a lack of evidence that Wikileaks is suffering from a financial blockade. Assange addressed the FPF’s move in a letter he later released on pastebin.com but it didn’t stop the FPF board from unanimously voting to cut ties with Wikileaks. Unanimously. Micah Lee later stated that they would continue to fight for the First Amendment rights of Wikileaks “when they’re threatened,” which is the most absurd statement of the century seeing that the FPF is now doing literally nothing to support Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and its staff all of whom have been facing threats from more sides than a ShengShou Megaminx over the course of the last seven years.

    • How to leak information securely?

      As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, SecureDrop is a free software which is developed by an active community, the source code is hosted at github. The primary application is written in Flask, and various other Python modules. Feel free to look at the issues, and contribute to the project as you wish.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump-appointed regulators reject plan to rescue coal and nuclear plants

      The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday unanimously rejected a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would have propped up nuclear and coal power plants struggling in competitive electricity markets.

      The independent five-member commission includes four people appointed by President Trump, three of them Republicans. Its decision is binding.

  • Finance

    • China Has More Plans to Stamp Out Bitcoin

      China’s government plans to crack down on Bitcoin mining, months after rocking the cryptocurrency world by banning initial coin offerings and shutting down exchanges.

    • Your Amazon Order Could Get You in Trouble With Customs

      Amazon’s counterfeit problem is well documented, but it’s easy to forget the myriad ways in which it can become your problem, too. After all, your new face mask probably won’t contain arsenic, your off-brand USB cord probably won’t fry your laptop, your made-in-China hoverboard probably won’t burn your house down, and your designer suitcase probably won’t put you on a US Customs and Border Protection blacklist for importing counterfeit goods.

    • A Crypto Website Changes Its Data, and $100 Billion in Market Value Vanishes

      Prices for some of the most popular cryptocurrencies dropped sharply Monday. One apparent reason: an adjustment from a popular website on its digital-currency price quotes.

    • Australia’s hard choice between China and US

      Australia has always believed that it doesn’t have to choose between its economic relationship with China and its defense alliance with the United States. But 2018 is already shaping up to be the year of the hard choice.

      It would be convenient for Australia if it was able to maintain its balancing act, but a confluence of global factors has stripped away the fiction that it can separate the economic benefits it gets from China and its post-World War II position as one of America’s closest strategic allies.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump now spends most of the day in bed

      This week we’ve learned two different pieces of information from two different sources which, when put together, paint a truly disturbing picture about what’s left of Donald Trump’s physical and mental competence. First we learned about what time he tends to start the day when he’s in the White House. Then we separately learned what time he ends each day in the White House. Do the math, and we’re looking at something utterly surreal.

    • 25th Amendment unlikely to be invoked over Trump’s mental health

      Donald Trump’s description of himself as a “very stable genius” sparked new debate this weekend about the 25th Amendment, but invoking the provision to remove a president from office is so difficult that it’s highly unlikely to come into play over concerns about Trump’s mental health, a half-dozen lawyers with expertise on the measure said.

      The amendment’s language on what could lead a president to be involuntarily removed from office is spare, saying simply that the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could take such a step when “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

      “I think it’s both its strength and its weakness,” said Jay Berman, a former chief of staff to Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), who helped craft the amendment in the 1960s. “The answer is not provided in the 25th Amendment. … It just does not provide that certainty or specificity. That might be easier in the context of physical incapacity, but it would be a lot harder in the case of mental incapacity.”

    • The New York Times brings us the looting of America

      Is there any mystery as to what is happening on the domestic front? The tax bill is nothing other than a looting of the nation for the sake of the 1%. It is thinly disguised pillage.

      The associated cuts in social programs represent a giant step in the Republican project of the past 40 years to repeal a century of progressive legislation. In case you wonder, the Republicans’ point of reference is not the 1920s, but rather the Gaslight Era of the 1890s – before the federal income tax was introduced.

      This is historic — a reactionary revolution without precedent. It is reshaping American society in fundamental ways that will endure.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Former NSA Contractor Pleads Guilty To Taking His National Defense Work Home With Him

      This is the end of one contractor’s twenty-year run on supposedly ultra-secure systems. Martin cannot possibly be the only contractor whose work has made its way out of the office. The Intelligence Community’s oversight has pointed out the half-assed job being done to secure things post-Snowden. Martin is just an embodiment of the IC’s ideals: more focused on collecting data than making sure the collected info remains secure.

    • The Stasi’s Tiny Torn-Up Analog Files Defeat Modern Digital Technology’s Attempts To Re-Assemble East Germany’s Surveillance Records

      It is nearly 30 years since the wall separating East and West Berlin came down, and yet work is still going on to deal with the toxic political legacy of East Germany. As Techdirt readers are well aware, one of the defining characteristics of the regime in East Germany was the unprecedented — for the time, at least — level of surveillance inflicted on citizens by the Stasi (short for Staatssicherheitsdienst, or State Security Service). This led to the creation of huge archives holding dossiers about millions of people.

      As it became clear that East Germany’s government would fall, and that its long-suffering citizens would demand to know who had been spying on them over the years, Stasi officers began to destroy the most incriminating documents. But there were so many files — a 2008 Wired article about them says they occupied 100 miles of shelving — that the shredding machines they used started to burn out. Eventually, Stasi agents were reduced to tearing pages by hand — some 45 million of them, ripping them into around 600 million scraps of paper.

    • Groups Line Up For Meaningful NSA Surveillance Reform

      Multiple nonprofit organizations and policy think tanks, and one company have recently joined ranks to limit broad NSA surveillance. Though our groups work for many causes— freedom of the press, shared software development, universal access to knowledge, equal justice for all—our voices are responding to the same threat: the possible expansion of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

      On January 5, the Rules Committee for the House of Representatives introduced S. 139. The bill—which you can read here—is the most recent attempt to expand Section 702, a law that the NSA uses to justify the collection of Americans’ electronic communications during foreign intelligence surveillance. The new proposal borrows some of the worst ideas from prior bills meant to reauthorize Section 702, while adding entirely new bad ideas, too.

    • Supreme Court Won’t Hear Key Surveillance Case

      The Supreme Court announced today that it will not review a lower court’s ruling in United States v. Mohamud, which upheld warrantless surveillance of an American citizen under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. EFF had urged the Court to take up Mohamud because this surveillance violates core Fourth Amendment protections. The Supreme Court’s refusal to get involved here is disappointing.

      Using Section 702, the government warrantlessly collects billions of communications, including those belonging to a large but unknown number of Americans. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this practice only by creating an unprecedented exception to the Fourth Amendment. This exception allows the government to collect Americans’ communications without a warrant by targeting foreigners outside the United States, known as “incidental collection.”

      We wish the Supreme Court had stepped in to fix this misguided ruling, but its demurral shouldn’t be taken to mean that Section 702 surveillance is totally fine. Some of the most controversial aspects of these programs have never been reviewed by a public court, let alone the Supreme Court. That includes “backdoor searches,” the practice of searching databases for Americans’ incidentally collected communications. Even in deciding Mohamud, the Ninth Circuit refused to address the constitutionality of backdoor searches.

    • How to Assess a Vendor’s Data Security
    • OK Google: Copy Amazon and Build a Smart Speaker with a Screen

      Google Assistant is seeking a popularity boost by coming to gadgets with screens—a move Amazon already made with Alexa.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (9/21): When the government knows what news you read, in what order, and for how long

      In an attention economy, data about what we pay attention to, how much, and for how long, are absolutely crucial predictive behaviors. And in the hands of a government which makes the crucial mistake of using it to predict pre-crime, the results can be disastrous for the individual and plain wrong for the government.

    • How Amazon Will Put Alexa Everywhere

      It’s no secret that Amazon wants to crush the voice assistant competition, but now we have a better idea how it plans to do it.

    • Whistleblower: New NSA Chief Must Be Given ‘Mandate to Ferret Out Wrongdoing’

      On Friday, a classified memo announcing that Mike Rogers, director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), would be retiring in the spring was leaked to the public.

      Though an official announcement of his retirement has not yet been made, the leaked notice suggests that a successor will be nominated and approved by the US Senate by the end of January.

      However, Kirk Wiebe, a former NSA senior analyst and renowned national security whistleblower, says his focus is more on the next NSA chief’s ability to do what’s right.

    • Groups Line Up For Meaningful NSA Surveillance Reform

      Multiple nonprofit organizations and policy think tanks, and one company have recently joined ranks to limit broad NSA surveillance. Though our groups work for many causes— freedom of the press, shared software development, universal access to knowledge, equal justice for all—our voices are responding to the same threat: the possible expansion of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

      On January 5, the Rules Committee for the House of Representatives introduced S. 139. The bill—which you can read here—is the most recent attempt to expand Section 702, a law that the NSA uses to justify the collection of Americans’ electronic communications during foreign intelligence surveillance. The new proposal borrows some of the worst ideas from prior bills meant to reauthorize Section 702, while adding entirely new bad ideas, too.

    • NSA sought to prevent Snowden-style leaks, ended up losing staff – whistleblower to RT

      The NSA has been steadily shedding staff ever since the agency introduced draconian internal rules to stop potential new Snowden-inspired whistleblowers, former NSA technical director William Binney told RT.

      “The NSA has launched an internal program called ‘See something, say something,’” Binney, said, further explaining that the new internal code of conduct encourages agency employees to actually spy not only on their targets, but also on their fellow colleagues. The aim of this new measures were to prevent employees from becoming “another Edward Snowden,” he said.

      However, the new draconian rules actually backfired as employees started leaving the agency in droves, with few people willing to fill the vacant posts. The new rules “create a very hostile, bad working environment,” Binney said. He added that the extreme precautionary measures taken by the NSA to prevent internal leaks after Snowden’s move “destroyed the moral of people doing work there.”

    • ‘Snowden is a traitor’: Former NSA analyst to RT (VIDEOS)

      Former NSA analyst Ira Winkler described whistleblower Edward Snowden as a traitor and a sociopath to RT.com, and said the agency needs to seriously revise its staff security training.

      Speaking to RT as part of our YouTube ‘Cyber Security Series,’ filmed at the European Cyber Threat Summit in Dublin, Winkler argued that anyone could have pulled off Snowden’s leaking of NSA documents “if they were a sociopath themselves.”

      Snowden allegedly accessed classified NSA data on the agency’s mass surveillance program, which he later leaked to the world, by persuading up to 25 workers to give him login keys and passwords.

    • New CBP Border Device Search Policy Still Permits Unconstitutional Searches

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a new policy on border searches of electronic devices that’s full of loopholes and vague language and that continues to allow agents to violate travelers’ constitutional rights. Although the new policy contains a few improvements over rules first published nine years ago, overall it doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect the privacy of innocent travelers or to recognize how exceptionally intrusive electronic device searches are.

      Nothing announced in the policy changes the fact that these device searches are unconstitutional, and EFF will continue to fight for travelers’ rights in our border search lawsuit.

      Below is a legal analysis of some of the key features of the new policy.

    • Police probe sought after India biometric data leak reported
    • EFF Supports Stricter Requirements for DNA Collection From Minors

      When the San Diego police targeted black children for DNA collection without their parents’ knowledge in 2016, it highlighted a critical loophole in California law. Now, State Assemblymember Gonzalez Fletcher has introduced legislation—A.B. 1584—that would ensure cops cannot stop-and-swab youth without judicial approval or parental consent. EFF strongly supports this move.

      A.B. 1584 would require law enforcement to obtain a court order, a search warrant, or the written consent of both the minor and their parent or legal guardian before collecting DNA from the minor, except in a few narrow circumstances when DNA collection is already required under existing law.

    • In big push for total surveillance, Beijing bets on facial recognition

      Facial recognition is the new hot tech topic in China. Banks, airports, hotels and even public toilets are all trying to verify people’s identities by analysing their faces.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pacifica Foundation Faces Potential Asset Seizures by NYC Landlord

      Back in the United States, Pacifica Foundation, the owner of radio stations KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI and WPFW, faces potential asset seizures by New York City landlord Empire State Realty Trust beginning this week. The threat of asset seizures stems from a lawsuit won by Empire State Realty Trust against Pacifica Foundation for $1.8 million in back antenna lease payments owed by the network’s New York City station WBAI. WBAI’s antenna sits on the Empire State Building. Among the assets at risk are California properties that house Pacifica Foundation’s headquarters and its Berkeley station KPFA. Pacifica Foundation is the oldest listener-supported radio network in the country. It was founded in Berkeley, California, in 1949 by war resister Lewis Hill.

    • James Damore sues Google, alleging intolerance of white male conservatives
    • US: Secret Evidence Erodes Fair Trial Rights

      Evidence suggests US authorities deliberately conceal the facts about how they found information in a criminal case and may be doing so regularly, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Withholding these facts to cover up investigative practices, including potentially illegal ones, harms defendants’ rights and impedes justice for human rights violations.

    • Portland’s top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage–so we grabbed theirs.

      t’s past midnight. Over the whump of the wipers and the screech of the fan belt, we lurch through the side streets of Southeast Portland in a battered white van, double-checking our toolkit: flashlight, binoculars, duct tape, scissors, watch caps, rawhide gloves, vinyl gloves, latex gloves, trash bags, 30-gallon can, tarpaulins, Sharpie, notebook–notebook?

      Well, yes. Technically, this is a journalistic exercise–at least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves. We’re upholding our sacred trust as representatives of the Fourth Estate. Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable.Pushing the reportorial envelope–by liberating the trash of Portland’s top brass.

    • Tech Backlash Grows as Investors Press Apple to Act on Children’s Use
    • New York City Adopts Historic Policing Reform

      Prompted by a diverse grassroots movement, much of the country continues to debate important proposed policing reforms at the local level. Many local policing campaigns that EFF supports focus on ending the era of law enforcement agencies acquiring surveillance equipment in secret. The latest campaign to prove successful secured a new law advancing transparency in New York City not only in policy, but also on the ground: the Right to Know Act.

      Adopted in a two-part measure, the Right to Know Act responds to the experience of New Yorkers and visitors subjected to law enforcement stops, frisks, and searches of personal possessions including digital devices like cell phones and tablets. The City Council’s passage of the measures comes in spite of fear-mongering and falsehoods promoted by police unions.

    • The Voter Purge Case at the Supreme Court Reveals the Justice Department’s Attack on Voting Rights

      We know the right to vote of every American is sacred and should be safeguarded. Why doesn’t the Trump administration?

      On Wednesday, the ACLU will be in the Supreme Court, defending a victory that preserved the voting rights of thousands of Ohio voters in the 2016 election.

      Along with Dēmos and the ACLU of Ohio, we represent the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and Larry Harmon, an Ohio voter. Together, we’ve challenged a voter purge process in Ohio, under which registered voters who do not vote during a two-year period are targeted for removal from the rolls. Here’s how it works: If you don’t vote for two years, Ohio sends you a nondescript notice in the mail, and if you don’t return it or vote in the next two federal elections cycles, they kick you off the rolls. With respect to your right to vote, Ohio is essentially saying, “Use it or lose it.”

    • In Kentucky, Public-School Bible Courses Look More Like Sunday School

      ACLU of Kentucky warns state department of education to set strict standards and guidelines for elective Bible courses.

      At Letcher County Central High in Whitesburg, Kentucky, students enrolled in the school’s elective Bible courses are instructed by one worksheet to “[d]o your best to build close relationships with other Christians, so that you may help one another through tough times.”

      Another worksheet used in the same class asks students, “What are some promises in the Bible that God gives everyone who believes in him?”

      Both curricular materials were sourced through “Teen Sunday School Place,” an online database of Sunday school lessons. Letcher County Bible course students are also encouraged to take part in religious activities, such as Bible Club.

      This is flagrantly unconstitutional but, unfortunately, not surprising: While it is technically possible for a public school to offer a course focusing solely on the Bible that complies with the Constitution, it’s very difficult to actually do, even with the best of intentions. And many public schools that offer such courses purposefully use them as vehicles to proselytize students and involve them in religious activities.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The internet doesn’t suck

      It’s easy to think the internet sucks these days. My day job is defending net neutrality and getting people to care about privacy and the like. From that perch, it more often than not feels like things are getting worse on the internet.

      So, I thought I’d share an experience that reminded me that the internet doesn’t suck as much as we might think. In fact, in many moments, the internet still delivers all the wonder and empowerment that made me fall in love with it 25 years ago.

      The experience in question: my two sons Facetimed me into their concert in Toronto last week, lovingly adding me to a show that I almost missed.

    • The Little-Known Congressional Procedure That Could Save Net Neutrality

      There are a few ways to save net neutrality. Only one has a chance at success in the short term.

      Senate Democrats today reached an important milestone in the path to saving net neutrality after the Federal Communications Commission announced last month it would roll back protections from discrimination by internet service providers.

      A variety of proposals have been floated at the local and federal level to chip away at the FCC’s giveaway to the big telecommunications companies. But there are really only three ways to fully roll back the rollback. A federal court could rule in favor of the advocacy groups, states, and tech companies who will challenge the FCC action. However, complex legal challenges can take years. The FCC itself could reverse course and undo its decision. But given that the agency just voted along party lines to do away with net neutrality, it’s very unlikely the FCC would do an about-face until the White House changes hands.

      Restore Net Neutrality Protections

      Only one of the rollback options has a chance of making a difference in the near term. A law called the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to follow special expedited procedures to overturn agency actions with which it disagrees. Congress has 60 legislative days to act once the agency action has been formally posted and presented to the House and Senate. (Given the convoluted way that Congress counts a legislative day, our best guess is that the clock would run out in early to mid-June or so.) While the countdown hasn’t started yet, Democrats announced today that they have succeeded in getting the minimum 30 names necessary to force a vote.

    • Senate will force vote on overturning net neutrality repeal

      Markey announced his intention to file a resolution of disapproval in December, just after the FCC voted on new rules that killed net neutrality protections from 2015. These new rules were officially published last week, and with 30 sponsors, Markey can make the Senate vote on whether to consider overturning them. If this happens, it would lead to a debate and final vote.

    • Restoration of net neutrality rules hits key milestone in Senate
    • How Virgin Media lost me as a supporter

      Part of me wonders if the customer support has got worse recently, or if I’ve just been lucky. We had a problem about 6 months ago which was clearly a loss of signal on the line (the modem failed to see anything and I could clearly pinpoint when this had happened as I have collectd monitoring things). Support were insistent they could do a reset and fix things, then said my problem was the modem and I needed a new one (I was on an original v1 hub and the v3 was the current model). I was extremely dubious but they insisted. It didn’t help, and we ended up with an engineer visit – who immediately was able to say they’d been disconnecting noisy lines that should have been unused at the time my signal went down, and then proceeded to confirm my line had been unhooked at the cabinet and then when it was obvious the line was noisy and would have caused problems if hooked back up patched me into the adjacent connection next door. Great service from the engineer, but support should have been aware of work in the area and been able to figure out that might have been a problem rather than me having a 4-day outage and numerous phone calls when the “resets” didn’t fix things.

    • Uphill Effort To Reverse Net Neutrality Repeal Has The Early Votes

      As we’ve been tracking, there are several routes net neutrality advocates should support if they want to reverse the FCC’s attack on net neutrality. The best path forward remains with the courts, where the FCC will need to explain why it ignored the public, the experts, 1,000 startups, and all objective data as it rushed to give a sloppy kiss to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. It will also need to explain why it made up a DDOS attack and blocked a law enforcement investigation into rampant comment fraud during the proceeding; both apparently ham-fisted attempts to downplay legitimate public opposition to the plan.

      But we’ve also noted how there’s an effort afoot by net neutrality advocates and Senator Ed Markey to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the FCC’s vote. Under the CRA, Congress can overturn a regulatory action with a majority vote if the Act is used within 60 days of said action. It’s what the Trump administration and the GOP used early last year to kill broadband privacy protections before they were scheduled to take effect.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Food Additive Approvals — and Patents

      I spend a lot of time thinking about the intersection of FDA regulation and intellectual property, and I have been constructing a large dataset relating to the patents claiming different types of FDA-regulated products. Recently, I have also been thinking a great deal about the regulation of food (because Mizzou is now allowing me to teach Food Law & Policy, in addition to Drug & Device Law). These two areas of interest intersected this past week, giving me some modest insights into premarket review of food additives and some very modest data to contribute to discussions about the (in?)efficiency of FDA’s food additive review process.


      It’s hard to reach any grand conclusions from a set of 15 food additive petitions. But based on this review, I am inclined to be concerned about the length of time FDA takes reviewing food additive petitions and about the impact of the entire process on patent life. Some food additives can play an important role furthering the public health (for instance, artificial sweeteners play an important role for diabetics). Without digging further into FDA’s review of these particular food additives, which I have not done, it is hard to say what is causing the delays. But delays in the interest of chasing down vanishingly small chances of harm, when Congress did not mandate absolute harmlessness, would be concerning.

    • Prosecution History Informs Claim Meaning Even Without Unmistakable Disclaimer

      Although non-precedential, the Federal Circuit decision in Aptalis Pharmatech, Inc. v. Apotex Inc. is worth a read to see how the court “tiptoes” the “fine line between reading a claim in light of the specification, and reading a limitation into the claim from the specification.” Here, the court also notes that the prosecution history can inform claim meaning even without clear and unmistakable disclaimer of claim scope.

    • How Trump’s HHS nominee’s drug company ‘gamed’ a patent

      The drugmaker believed the erectile dysfunction drug might help a rare and deadly muscle-wasting disease that afflicts boys. The drug didn’t work — but under a law that promotes pediatric research, Lilly was able to extend the Cialis patent anyway for six months — and that’s worth a lot when a medication brings in over $2 billion a year.

      Critics say the brand-name drugmakers are “gaming” the patent system, finding all sorts of ways to protect monopolies and delay competition from generics. And Alex Azar — the former president of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations, now poised to become the top U.S. health official — professes to oppose such tactics.

      But the tension between his past actions as a drug executive and his likely future as the nation’s top health official are evident in both the Cialis story and in Lilly’s tripling of the price of insulin.

    • Copyrights

      • Sky Hits Man With £5k ‘Fine’ For Pirating Boxing on Facebook

        A 34-year-old man from the UK has agreed to pay Sky £5,000 after the broadcaster tracked an illegal Facebook stream of the 2017 Joshua v Klitschko fight to his account. Craig Foster, who was warned of a potential £85,000 award should the case go to court, claimed that he wasn’t responsible. Backtracking, he says he now wants a fight with Sky.

      • Pirate Bay founder berates Netflix and Spotify

        “Artists can’t choose to be or not to be on Spotify in reality, because there’s nothing else in the end. If Spotify doesn’t follow the rules from these companies, they are f**ked as well. The dependence is higher than ever.”

      • Is Radiohead Really Suing Lana Del Rey For Copyright Infringement?

        Though these allegations have since been proven to be inaccurate, the situation seems far from resolved. A spokesperson on behalf of Radiohead has shared with The Sun that “both teams are trying to thrash it out behind the scenes to prevent going to court.” “It’s understood that Radiohead’s team are hoping for the band to either receive compensation or be credited on the list of songwriters to receive royalties.”

      • White noise video on YouTube hit by five copyright claims

        A musician who made a 10-hour long video of continuous white noise – indistinct electronic hissing – has said five copyright infringement claims have been made against him.

        Sebastian Tomczak, who is based in Australia, said he made the video in 2015 and uploaded it to YouTube.

        The claimants accusing him of infringement include publishers of white noise intended for sleep therapy.

        “I will be disputing these claims,” he told the BBC.

      • Facebook and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Announce Licensing Agreement

        Under the agreement, users will be able to upload and share videos on Facebook, Instagram and Oculus that contain compositions licensed from Sony/ATV’s catalog as well as personalize their music experiences with songs from the catalog.

      • Facebook strikes music licensing deal with Sony

        Facebook recently inked a similar deal with Universal Music, but Sony is the largest music publisher in the world. With two of the three biggest services signed, it’s expected that Zuckerberg & Co. will ink a deal with the last holdout, Warner Music, soon.

      • Facebook and Sony/ATV reach a licensing deal to let people post music videos

        These types of partnerships can help Facebook better challenge tech companies like Spotify and YouTube, which has deals with UMG and Warner Music Group.

Watchtroll is Where Information and Facts Come to Die in the Name of PTAB Bashing (Trolls’ Lobbying)

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some shredded paper

Summary: The latest anti-PTAB posts from Watchtroll (they make up almost most of the ‘articles’ so far this year) and what can be deduced from Wi-Fi One v Broadcom — a new decision from a high court

THE EPO‘s management is a premier source of lies, but it’s closely matched by Gene Quinn’s Watchtroll. Google News is syndicating far too much trash, or so-called ‘news’ sites that are actually marketing and lobbying. Watchtroll is one of those sites. It can almost give one a headache trying to figure out how Watchtroll comes up with its misleading spin and deceptive headlines. Google, in turn, relays that to a broader audience.

The latest PTAB bashing at Watchtroll (they do this every day now) is beyond moronic. “Professional writers” who do such lobbying disregard fact-checking. What on Earth is this (by Steve Brachmann and Gene Quinn)? It’s an incredibly misleading headline; it says “58 Patents Upheld in District Court Invalidated by PTAB on Same Grounds,” but it’s not on same grounds at all, just different interpretation of same Sections (e.g. 102 and 103).

Then, later in the day, Gene Quinn, Steve Brachmann, Josh Malone and Paul Morinville (the patent 'extremist' who dons a cowboy hat) came up with “PTAB Facts: An ugly picture of an tribunal run amok”.


Yeah, just keep using that word. “Facts”…

Donald Trump too claims to be tweeting “facts”, even if in less than a year he has already been caught telling about 2,000 lies or misleading statements (some people track them all and keep count).

The patent microcosm and its deceitful lobby (sites like Watchtroll) are clearly losing the debate online; laws are turning against them, courts rule against their interests. So lying seems to have become the last resort. Sorry, not “lying”… but “facts”…

Alternative “facts”…

That’s the role of Watchtroll. Here is what the site wrote about the latest decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). It matched his anti-PTAB agenda, so he and other patent extremists amplified it as much as possible. One such person said: “WiFi One; en banc. Finally after all these months! Held: in inter partes review, PTAB time-bar determinations under § 315(b) are appealable.” Prior decisions to the contrary overruled. Remand to panel.”

Another one said: “IMPORTANT en banc #patent case: Wi-Fi One v Broadcom, Federal Circuit en banc 1/8/18: 9-4 vote that sec 315 time bar issues in IPRs *ARE* appealable to FedCir; overruling contrary conclusion of Achates Pub. (2015). http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/15-1944.Opinion.1-4-2018.1.PDF …”

Michael Loney, writing about Wi-Fi One v Broadcom having closely tracked PTAB for years, said this:

In Wi-Fi One v Broadcom, the Federal Circuit has held the time-bar determinations for instituting IPR at the PTAB are appealable. Observers believe this may foreshadow similar decisions for other areas of reviewability

“Observers” in this case means the patent microcosm and “believe” means “hope”. Of course they would cherry-pick all the decisions which suit them, even if these decisions may not be precedential. That’s just how lobbying works.

Judge Paul Michel is Not So Retired; Helps the Patent Trolls’ Lobby Critique His Former Employer

Posted in America, Patents at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Retirement money is not enough to keep Michel from intervening as an outsider with powerful connections

Judge Paul Redmond MichelSummary: As the new year begins (and people return from holiday) outlines of Federal Circuit cases are published (3 of them yesterday) and Paul Michel rears his head again (he still meddles by public criticism, wielding influence to impact the court’s direction in absentia)

THE Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) improved a lot last year. We are very pleased with its work under the new lead (after Rader left in disgrace). Last year it consistently rejected software patents. It’s pretty incredible because only a few years prior to that the opposite was true (under Rader and before Alice).

A very detailed breakdown by Ropes & Gray LLP’s Scott A. McKeown has just been published. He calls it “2017 CAFC Guidance“; it’s fairly objective and reasonably OK. But watch this advice (how to trick examiners);

Patent prosecutors navigate complex USPTO rules and seemingly esoteric examinational requirements to procure patent rights. In doing so, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) does not have the full force and effect of law. Nevertheless, patent examiners (rarely trained lawyers) adhere to their interpretation of the Manual requirements. To budge examiners off of entrenched, legal positions, savvy prosecutors will keep a trained eye on the Federal Circuit for help.

Patent examiners who read this will hopefully take note; this is how legal firms view you…

A similar breakdown was posted by Dan Bagatell at Law 360. It’s titled “Fed. Circ.’s 2017 Patent Decisions: A Statistical Analysis”. Much of it is behind paywall, except this: “After each fiscal year end, the Federal Circuit publishes statistics summarizing where its cases came from, the court’s throughput over the year, and its median times to disposition in cases from different sources.[1] The court even tantalizes court watchers (a bit) by providing reversal rates for each agency and for district courts as a whole.[2] But the court does not explain how it calculates its statistics, and the high level at which the court presents the data obscures the juicy details.”

Are they trying to ‘scandalise’ CAFC too now? Not just PTAB? We’ll write about PTAB-bashing bias in our next post…

Last but not least, IAM has just said: “Former CAFC Chief Judge Michel runs through his top #patent cases to watch in 2018″ (linking to this article from yesterday).

It is extremely disturbing that IAM is connected to and keeps amplifying corrupt judges like Rader and now also Paul Michel. He keeps showing up everywhere (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) even though he retired. He typically sides with the patent maximalists and lobbyists of patent trolls.

This is IAM’s introduction:

As with any news platform focused on the patent world, we keep a close eye on the major court cases in the US, particularly those that have a direct impact on IP value creation. Key decisions from district courts, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and the Supreme Court, ripple throughout the IP world and so it’s important to know the cases that are coming which are likely to have repercussions for our readers. With all that in mind, we asked former CAFC Chief Judge Paul Michel to cast his eye over the Federal Circuit’s docket to identify what he believes we’re likely to be talking (and writing) about in 2018. Here are his top five.

What compels Michel to indirectly compose articles for IAM now? As a reminder, IAM tried to intervene in the appointment of USPTO Director in order to put a disgraced CAFC judge (Rader) in place of Michelle Lee. Rader is a friend of trolls and it’s not exactly a secret who pays IAM’s bills.

Devices: When Allegations of Software Patent Infringement/s Can Result in Theft (Confiscation) of Physical Devices or Embargo

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 5:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The embargo dilemma and how bad things have gotten in Europe and North America; products get stolen and booths raided before proper justice is concluded (complete with appeals, expert witnesses and so on)

SANCTIONS against distribution of code are hard, especially in the age of the Internet. Even binaries, not just code (proprietary and Free/libre software, respectively). Software in general is difficult to police. Attempts to ban ‘export’ of encryption to particular countries, for instance, were never successful. These were farcical at best and they vividly demonstrated politicians’ inability to grasp what software is (the notion of ‘export’ is itself inapplicable in such a context).

Over a decade ago we wrote about how codec patents (basically software patents from the likes of MPEG-LA) were used to raid booths and steal products of companies (in bulk). It was despicable and media did pay attention at the time. It happened in Europe. Later it happened in the US as well, thanks to the likes of CES and ITC.

“Over a decade ago we wrote about how codec patents (basically software patents from the likes of MPEG-LA) were used to raid booths and steal products of companies (in bulk)”We are particularly interested in how ITC sanctions export/import on the basis of software. A decade ago Microsoft used the ITC to embargo a rival whose mice it alleged to have infringed patents (hardware), but what happens in the post-Alice age in the US? Can mere allegations result in embargo or — even worse — confiscation? It’s like controversial civil forfeiture on the basis of patents alone (and likely baseless accusations/assumptions).

We aren’t saying that infringement should never result in action. We are not insinuating that all patents are bunk. Consider this new story, which involves hardware and patents. “Skybell Technologies, “it says, “has filed a lawsuit claiming its Santa Monica competitor, Ring, copied its technology and is profiting from advertising and marketing techniques rather than innovative software and hardware.”

No recalls or confiscations but an actual legal process. Like that followed in Cisco v Arista.

“This whole charade will one day backfire on the West; China might start banning lots of US brands such as Apple. “Patents” will be merely a pretext, just as “free speech” already gets used to ban particular foreign products in China (or compel the producers to censor and appease the Communist Party).”There’s this upcoming lecture (a fortnight ahead) titled “Leveraging Patent Rights” — whatever they actually mean by “Leveraging”. “With a growing portion of innovation embodied in software,” says the abstract, perhaps neglecting to take Alice into account. You cannot patent software and also enforce it in a high court anymore. Forget about it. But what if patent bullies actually manage to steal or embargo products before the matter is dealt with by a judge? That’s a legitimate question.

According to yesterday’s two articles [1, 2] from a patent bullies’ Web site (IAM), embargoes are still a ‘thing’.

The first article concerns hasty embargoes using patents (embargoes are not justice; they’re coercion by the powerful oligopoly, typically with connections in government, i.e. customs). It’s about Mobile World Congress, which is a month away:

The Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering of companies in the mobile communications industry, is taking place in Barcelona this year from 26th February to 1st March. Businesses from around the world will be there, exhibiting current products and launching new ones. Over recent years, the Barcelona commercial court has developed a fast track procedure to deal with alleged IP infringements in the lead up to and at the event, which includes the possibility of successful plaintiffs obtaining a range of potential remedies – including preliminary injunctions, as well as the seizure of infringing products. Importantly, as Spanish company Fractus proved last year, these measures work in practice.

This has already caused major embarrassment in the past. Are they planning to do it again this year?

The second article is about the US. This one too (from the same day, yesterday) is about patents as tools of embargo; bad for customers, no doubt, but when an agency like the ITC is a US entity (the “I” stands for “international”, which is laughable) it’s no surprise that it almost always bans products from Asia, not products of US brands (like Apple) which do the manufacturing in Asia and then import everything from there. To quote IAM:

As service providers prepare their annual deep-dives into US patent litigation statistics, it looks like the overall number of new district court cases filed will have fallen by about 10% between 2016 and 2017. But over at the International Trade Commission, the number of new investigations increased by around 13% last year, according to figures from Lex Machina. For major Asian tech companies, the ITC is a continuing concern; but it’s not the number of cases, but rather some recent legal developments that are garnering the most attention.

Governments in South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China have all warned about the effect of ITC probes on domestic industry in recent times. This level of attention speaks to how large tech companies in those jurisdictions gauge business threats from patent enforcement in the United States. Because it sits at the intersection of IP and trade law, an increase in ITC complaints against Asian firms was one of the most common predictions I heard last year when I asked experts around the world what impact the Trump administration might have on the patent world.

Curiously, as we noted here before, China has begun responding (to a lesser degree) by imposing embargoes also from within China. This whole charade will one day backfire on the West; China might start banning lots of US brands such as Apple. “Patents” will be merely a pretext, just as “free speech” already gets used to ban particular foreign products in China (or compel the producers to censor and appease the Communist Party).

Battistelli’s Year 1 at EPO: General Advisory Committee Not Being Provided Crucial Information

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original: English [PDF] | German [PDF]

GAC information

Summary: The General Advisory Committee (GAC) of the EPO was not adequately provided with information, based on which to form decisions or remark on Battistelli’s proposals

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