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01.31.18

Even Kluwer Patent Blog Decides to Comment on the EPO’s Bizarre Financial Behaviour

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The Financial Handling of the EPO is Incredibly Scandalous

The money-grabbing EPO

Summary: The EPO acting like a high-risk investment bank rather than a patent office has become enough of an issue that even Kluwer Patent Blog writes about it

THE EPO‘s financial state and utterly gross misuse of funds has long fascinated us. How can Battistelli get away with all this? Another Bygmalion Affair?

“Money corrupts. EPO budget corrupts absolutely. It can even buy votes and journalists in order to ensure they play along, in effect siding with the abuser.”We have already seen the EPO shelling out stakeholders’ money for illegal activities like obtrusive surveillance, plenty of bodyguards for Battistelli and his cronies, a secret little pub for Battistelli and his cronies, alleged ‘bribe’ money for votes, money for lawyers who financially destroy staff (e.g. in ILO), several law firms that legally bullied me on behalf of Team Battistelli, ‘soft’ bribes to media companies, ‘soft’ bribes to academia and so much more. The EPO is being treated like a bottomless money pit, mostly by Battistelli. It’s a new thing. He also pockets some more money along with his cronies (they give themselves generous ‘bonuses’). Stakeholders deserve to know all this. It’s their money; they’re being milked.

Well, mentioned by SUEPO earlier today was this new Kluwer Patent Blog post from Samuel Adams. It’s about the EPO thinking that it's an investment bank, as anonymous EPO insiders have warned.

Here’s how it starts:

Recently, “New Investment Guidelines of the European Patent Office” (CA/F 18/17 Rev. 1) was published among the “Administrative Council documents” on the EPO web site.

The Investment Guidelines relate to management of the treasury of the EPO and outline a more flexible approach for investing the funds in the treasury. In particular, rather than being limited to fixed income bonds and income bearing securities, as in the replaced Guidelines (CA/F 11/15), the EPO will be allowed to invest according to a more flexible strategy. In principle, this sounds sensible. However, the Investment Guidelines include the following disconcerting text…

Read on. They’re being far too soft on the EPO, calling this “sensible” (even if just “in principle”). Much of what we’ve seen so far exceeds our expectations. Hours ago I even replied to the EPO (it “follows” me in Twitter — something that some of our readers find rather odd), after it had cited a ‘study’ from a large German news publisher whom Battistelli paid (again) some months ago. No wonder German media is so docile if not silent regarding EPO scandals. Money corrupts. EPO budget corrupts absolutely. It can even buy votes and journalists in order to ensure they play along, in effect siding with the abuser.

Remember that in exactly 5 months from now the EPO will have a new President. He’s a former banker. He is. He prefers not to talk about it.

Links 31/1/2018: Red Hat to acquire CoreOS, Hyperledger Releases Sawtooth 1.0

Posted in News Roundup at 4:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Alleviating the Stress Induced by Maintaining a Popular Free and Open Source Software Project

    It started out as this fun, little hack, tickling your own fancies. You chipped away at it on weekends and in the evenings. Eventually, you sculpted it into a respectable shape. You were rightfully proud of it, so you did a kind deed and shared your creation with the world.

    Now, your curiosity has taken you elsewhere, or you’re busy with other facets of your life. But concurrently, your Free / Open Source project has become popular. It’s a hit! The canonical solution to frondubling within the Marnostacean community. And users are filing issues. And sending pull requests that require your review. And building Serious Software that depends critically on your project.

  • India’s RJio Plots Open Source Disruption

    Owned by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the telco believes that it is high time India developed products and services tailored specifically to the Indian market. “If you observe, a lot of effort has been put into the IT space [in India], but what has not happened is a focused effort [for innovation] in the telecom space,” says Matthew Oommen, RJio’s president of networks, global strategy and service development, on the sidelines of India’s recent Digital Open Summit.

  • Open Source Initiative Turns 20

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Friday, Feb. 2, and the global non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and adoption of open source software is gonna par-tay. By which I mean, the OSI has scheduled activities around the world this year to commemorate the event. (I’m hoping there will be snacks.)

  • Events

    • DebConf19 Debian Linux Conference Will Be Hosted Next Year in Curitiba, Brazil

      The Debian Project announced the winner city where next year’s DebConf19 Debian conference for Debian Linux contributors, developers, and users will be hosted.

      DebConf is the annual Debian Developers and Contributors Conference, and the Debian team responsible for organizing the next DebConf event has started preparing for 2019′s one, a.k.a. DebConf19, by announcing Curitiba as the host city.

      Next year, DebConf celebrates 11 years since the event was first held in South America, in Mar del Plata back in 2008, so they decided to celebrate this milestone by choosing Curitiba, the capital of the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, as the host city for DebConf19.

    • Q&A on Machine Learning and Kubernetes with David Aronchick of Google from Kubecon 2017

      At the recently concluded Kubecon in Austin, TX, attended by over 4000 engineers, Kubernetes was front, left and center. Due to the nature of workloads and typical heavy compute requirements in training algorithms, Machine Learning topics and its synergy with Kubernetes was discussed in many sessions.

    • Why You Should Care About Diversity and Inclusion

      Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Atlassian, joins us in this latest edition of The New Stack Makers podcast to talk about the difference between diversity and inclusion and why anyone should care.

    • Index: A focus on the future of code and community

      One of the most significant challenges developers face is keeping up with the increasingly rapid pace of change in our industry. With each new innovation comes a new crop of vendors and best practices, and staying on top of your game can become a second profession in itself.

      Cloud, containers, data, analytics, IoT, AI, machine learning, serverless architecture, blockchain: Behind all of these rapidly evolving technologies are the programming languages and developers who are leading the charge into the next era of innovation.

      An ideal way for developers to understand all this is through conversations with other developers. We believe conversation about development—like innovation itself—is best when it happens in the open. This idea was the catalyst for Index, a first-of-its-kind, developer-focused event that will take place in San Francisco Feb. 20-22 at Moscone West.

    • Swatantra17

      Last month Thiruvananthapuram witnessed one of the biggest Free and Open Source Software conference called Swatantra17. Swatantra is a flagship triennial ( actually used to be triennial, but from now on organizers decided to conduct in every 2 years.) FOSS conference from ICFOSS. This year there were more than 30 speakers from all around the world. The event held from 20-21 December at Mascot hotel, Thiruvananthapuram. I was one of the community volunteer for the event and was excited from the day it announced :) .

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Where’s Rust headed in 2018? Ask the community.

        2017 was a big year for the Rust systems programming language. Now, members of the open source project are looking to consolidate last year’s progress – making Rust easier to learn and use – and publish the first major update to the stable 2015 Rust release.

        “We’re making Rust a much nicer place to be,” said Aaron Turon, a Rust core team member and engineering manager at Mozilla. “We’re working to create a more productive environment for programmers – especially those new to the language.”

      • The 2018 Rust Event Lineup

        Every year there are multiple Rust events around the world, bringing together the community. Despite being early in the year, we’re excited to be able to highlight several events that are already being organized!

      • This Week in Rust 219

        Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

      • Retrospective: Looking Glass

        In December, we launched a tv show tie-in with Mr. Robot, Looking Glass, that alarmed some people because we didn’t think hard enough about the implications of shipping an add on that had the potential to be both confusing and upsetting. We’re deeply sorry for this and we understand why it’s important for us to learn and grow from this experience. As mentioned last month, we conducted a post-mortem to better understand how and why this happened and how we can do better.

      • Mozilla Reps Community: Rep of the Month – December 2017
      • Mozilla Security Blog: Preventing data leaks by stripping path information in HTTP Referrers

        To help prevent third party data leakage while browsing privately, Firefox Private Browsing Mode will remove path information from referrers sent to third parties starting in Firefox 59.

    • SaaS/Back End

    • Databases

      • DO or UNDO – there is no VACUUM

        To put this another way, it is in general true that PostgreSQL’s VACUUM implementation has gotten progressively better at reclaiming space occupied by dead tuples more quickly and with less expenditure of effort. And that’s really good, because the faster you reclaim space, the less new space you end up allocating, which keeps tables small and performance high. However, the examples above show that VACUUM isn’t the whole problem. In these examples, even if VACUUM ran at the earliest instant when it could reclaim the space occupied by dead tuples and ran infinitely fast, the table would still become bloated. In the case where the bloat is caused by many short queries run while one long-running transaction remains open, we could, with smarter snapshot management, limit the worst-case bloat to approximately a factor of two — that is, we’d keep the version of the tuple visible to the old snapshot and the current version, and discard the intermediate versions, a trick PostgreSQL currently can’t manage. However, even a factor of two is a lot, and what if there are multiple distinct open snapshots? Further, in the case where the bloat is created by a SQL statement that induces scattered updates throughout the table, no improvement to VACUUM can possibly help. By the time that SQL statement finishes, the damage is already done.

    • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

      • LibreOffice 6.0 arrives as the open source Office alternative turns seven

        OPEN SOURCE productivity suite LibreOffice has reached version 6.0 with a bevvy of tweaks.

        The popular alternative to Microsoft’s paid for product celebrates its 7th anniversary with a major update across Windows, Linux and macOS, with cloud augmentation to allow users to work on the web too.

        Improvements in multimedia embedding within Microsoft formats like .docx and .pptx has been significantly improved, thanks to improved ActiveX compatibility, plus there’s now an option to turn your documents straight into E-PUB e-books. You can also import files from QuarkExpress.

      • Document Foundation releases LibreOffice 6.0 with improved GUI, file format support

        LibreOffice 6.0—the latest version of the popular open source office suite—was released by The Document Foundation on Tuesday. While the project has been on an approximate six-month release cadence since the debut of LibreOffice 3.3, the release of 6.0 brings significant improvements as well as code refactoring under-the-hood to ease development of new features going forward.

        As language evolves, new words are often invented to describe new ideas. This is particularly prevalent in IT, as new concepts are invented rapidly. Often, these new terms are compound words such as “crowdfund” or “middleware,” which office suites interpret as being incorrect for purposes of spell-check. LibreOffice introduces a “Grammar By” function allowing new words to be automatically recognized in the same format as other words.

      • LibreOffice 6.0 makes it easier than ever to switch from Microsoft Office

        The Document Foundation has released LibreOffice 6.0 – the latest major upgrade to the open source free office suite. The new version is available now for Windows, macOS, Linux and the cloud, and new features will be rolled out to the Android edition in the coming months.

        “This is the start of a new development cycle,” explained Italo Vignoli, co-founder of The Document Foundation. “We want to make out software easier and simpler for users all over the world. They want to be able to access features easily, including people who are used to Microsoft Office.”

      • LibreOffice 6.0 Open-Source Office Suite Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        Numerous months in the making, LibreOffice 6.0 comes two and a half years after the LibreOffice 5.x series, and it’s the biggest release of the open-source and cross-platform office suite so far. It introduces a revamped design with new table styles, improved Notebookbars, new gradients, new Elementary icons, menu and toolbar improvements, and updated motif/splash screen.

        LibreOffice 6.0 offers superior interoperability with Microsoft Office documents and compatibility with the EPUB3 format by allowing users to export ODT files to EPUB3. It also lets you import your AbiWord, Microsoft Publisher, PageMaker, and QuarkXPress documents and templates thanks to the implementation of a set of new open-source libraries contributed by the Document Liberation project.

      • LibreOffice 6.0 Released With A Ton Of Open-Source Office Suite Improvements
      • LibreOffice 6.0 released
      • LibreOffice 6.0.0 Released

        At this moment, i have pushed the changes for SBo and it will be part of the next public update, which will be this weekend.

      • LibreOffice 6.0 Released with ‘Dramatic’ Improvements

        You can now download LibreOffice 6.0, the latest major release of this hugely popular free office software. The release of LibreOffice 6.0 marks the first major update to the productivity suite since the LibreOffice 5.4 release back in July 2017.

      • Red Hat Acquires CoreOS, LibreOffice 6 Is Released, FSF Gets Huge Donation and More
    • CMS

      • Open Source CMS: 12 Great Website Creation Tools

        The more open source CMSs surfaced, the more extensible they became. Well, some open source CMSs focused on a particular thing while most of them tried to become an “all-in-one CMS” – with the help of which you can design and customize your website as you’d prefer.

        With the advancements in CMS’, you do not need to hire a web developer to set up your website – even if you want to create an e-commerce platform. You can do it all by yourself – without requiring any coding skills. Yes, it’s that easy!

    • Education

      • Scratch group projects – 2018

        Once again, it’s time for this year’s Scratch projects from my grade 10 students. Up next is python, but their final projects are available at https://scratch.lesbg.com. Feel free to play them and rate them. This is a first attempt for students, so do please be gentle on the ratings.

    • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • BSD

    • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

      • Free Software Foundation receives $1 million donation from Pineapple Fund

        The anonymous Pineapple Fund has donated $1 million worth of Bitcoin to promote and defend free software, computer user freedom, and digital rights.

        BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — Tuesday, January 30, 2018 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced it has received a record-breaking charitable contribution of 91.45 Bitcoin from the Pineapple Fund, valued at $1 million at the time of the donation. This gift is a testament to the importance of free software, computer user freedom, and digital rights when technology is interwoven with daily life.

        “Free software is more than open source; it is a movement that encourages community collaboration and protects users’ freedom,” wrote Pine, the Pineapple Fund’s founder. “The Free Software Foundation does amazing work, and I’m certain the funds will be put to good use.”

      • FSF Receives One Million Dollars Worth Of Bitcoin

        The Free Software Foundation’s largest-ever single contribution came in the form of one million dollars worth of Bitcoin.

        The Free Software Foundation announced today it received a donation of 91.45 Bitcoin. As of writing, 1 BTC is roughly $10,364. FSF plans to use the proceeds to “empower free software activists and developers around the world.”

      • Free Software Foundation was gifted 91 bitcoin

        The Free Software Foundation, has announced that it received its largest donation ever, 91.45 bitcoin from an anonymous entity called Pineapple Fund. The 91.45 bitcoin, at the time of payment, was roughly equal to $1 million. The Free Software Foundation is an organisation that promotes the concept of free software, which is defined by the ‘four essential freedoms’.

      • GDB 8.1 released!

        Release 8.1 of GDB, the GNU Debugger, is now available via anonymous FTP. GDB is a source-level debugger for Ada, C, C++, Objective-C, Pascal and many other languages. GDB can target (i.e., debug programs running on) more than a dozen different processor architectures, and GDB itself can run on most popular GNU/Linux, Unix and Microsoft Windows variants.

      • GDB 8.1 Debugger Brings Better Rust Support, Improved Python Scripting

        Version 8.1 of the GNU Debugger (GDB) is now available for developers.

        The GDB 8.1 debugger update brings Python scripting enhancements, improved Rust language support, breakpoints on C++ functions are now set on all scopes by default, a number of new commands have been added, the GDBserver has received a few enhancements, there is better auto-completion support for this debugger, and a variety of other improvements to help developers debug their code in a variety of languages.

      • GDB 8.1 released

        Version 8.1 of the GDB debugger is out. Changes include better support for the Rust language and various other improvements to make debugging easier; see the announcement and the news file for the full list.

    • Public Services/Government

      • With open source pivot, government is poised to innovate business practices

        The use of open source technology is not new in state and local government, but the potential to dramatically change the way agencies operate could bring the concept new life.

        With an ever-increasing demand for better services coming from citizens, state and local government agencies are finding a need to change the way they operate internally in order to move toward creating a more seamless experience of working with technology.

        In a roundtable discussion with several c-level state and local government technology officials from around Northern California in January 2018, leaders said they were “open” to open source, but had certainly not leveraged the full capabilities the technology represents.

    • Licensing/Legal

      • Open Source Considerations for Digital Health Ventures

        Even when a business does not distribute software (for example, because the business operates on a SaaS model), it is still important to be aware of and track OSS usage. One reason is that OSS usage is a very common subject of due diligence during acquisitions and other corporate transactions. Buyers are likely to investigate a target’s software development practices and may even hire third parties to audit key software assets for OSS, including by using technology that scans for the presence of OSS. Developing clear policies and procedures around software development, including by carefully vetting, tracking and managing third party code including OSS, and operating a systematic approach to license compliance, can save on time and transaction costs down the line, and will give buyers and investors less grounds for raising concerns on a deal. OSS presents many potential benefits, but those benefits are only fully realized if a business takes some steps to appropriately manage the use of OSS within their organization.

    • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • Making the Case for Open Source Medical Devices

          ngineering for medical, automotive, and aerospace is highly regulated. It’s not difficult to see why: lives are often at stake when devices in these fields fail. The cost of certifying and working within established regulations is not insignificant and this is likely the main reason we don’t see a lot of work on Open Hardware in these areas.

          Ashwin K. Whitchurch wants to change this and see the introduction of simple but important Open Source medical devices for those who will benefit the most from them. His talk at the Hackaday Superconference explores the possible benefits of Open Medical devices and the challenges that need to be solved for success.

        • Patenting and the New FDA Guidance on 3-D Printing of Medical Devices [Ed: patents ruined/killed/halted 3D printing for decades. Lawyers want to do this again.]

          The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized its publication on additive manufacturing (commonly referred to as 3-D printing) for medical devices. According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the guidance is meant to “help manufacturers bring their innovations to market more efficiently by providing a transparent process for future submissions and making sure our regulatory approach is properly tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges posed by this promising new technology.” He further points out that this is only intended to provide the FDA’s initial thoughts on the subject of 3-D printing. For our purposes, this guidance also extends the discussion regarding innovation and patenting in the field of 3-D printing and its intersection with regulatory issues.

        • Roll Your Own Magnetic Encoder Disks

          Erich] is the middle of building a new competition sumo bot for 2018. He’s trying to make this one as open and low-cost as humanly possible. So far it’s going pretty well, and the quest to make DIY parts has presented fodder for how-to posts along the way.

        • 11 Myths About the RISC-V ISA

          Despite its rich ecosystem and growing number of real-world implementations, misconceptions about RISC-V are keeping companies around the world from fully realizing its benefits.

    • Programming/Development

      • The Git community mourns Shawn Pearce

        Shawn Pearce, a longtime contributor to the Git community (and beyond), has passed away. The thread on the Git mailing list makes it clear that he will be missed by many people.

      • AMD AOCC 1.1 Shows Compiler Improvements vs. GCC vs. Clang

        A few days ago we found out that at the end of 2017 AMD quietly released their AOCC 1.1 C/C++ compiler. AOCC is AMD’s compiler succeeding AMD Open64 that existed years ago as their optimized Fortran/C/C++ compiler for past CPU microarchitectures while the “AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler” is designed for current-generation Zen processors. Here are benchmarks of the new AMD AOCC 1.1 release compared to GCC 7, GCC 8, Clang 5.0, Clang 6.0, and Clang 7.0 SVN.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • A crisis, the causes and a solution [Ed: LWN says “this blog posting from Leonardo Chiariglione, the founder and chair of MPEG, on how (in his view) the group is being destroyed by free codecs and patent trolls.”]

        Because there are rumours spreading about a presumed “MPEG-Video collapse” and Brownian motion-like initiatives trying to remedy – in some cases by the very people who have contributed to creating the “crisis”.

        [...]

        In its 30 years of operation MPEG has created digital media standards that have enabled the birth and continue promoting the growth of digital media products, services and applications. Here are a few, out of close to 180 standards: MP3 for digital music (1992), MPEG-2 for digital television (1994), MPEG-4 Visual for video on internet (1998), MP4 file format for mobile handsets (2001), AVC for reduced bitrate video (2003), DASH for internet streaming (2013), MMT for IP broadcasting (2013) and more. In other words, MPEG standards have had and keep on having an impact on the lives of billions of people.

        [...]

        In 2013 MPEG approved the HEVC standard which provides the same quality as AVC at half the bitrate. The licensing situation is depicted by the picture below (courtesy of Jonathan Samuelsson of Divideon): there are 3 patent pools, one of which has not published their licence and a significant number of patent holders that have not joined any pool (and not published their licences either).

        I saw the threat coming and one year ago I tried to bring the matter to the attention of the higher layers in ISO. My attempts were thwarted by a handful of NPEs.

        Alliance for Open Media (AOM) has occupied the void created by MPEG’s outdated video compression standard (AVC), absence of competitive Options 1 standards (IVC) and unusable modern standard (HEVC). AOM’s AV1 codec, due to be released soon, is claimed to perform better than HEVC and will be offered royalty free.

        [...]

        The work of patent pools would be greatly simplified because they could define profiles with technologies that are “available” because they would know who owns which tools. Users could switch on tools once they become usable, e.g. because the relevant owner has joined a patent pool.

        These are just examples of how the MPEG standard development process can be adapted to better match the needs of entities developing licences and without becoming part – God forbid – of a licence definition process.

        [...]

        Companies will slash their video compression technology investments, thousands of jobs will go and millions of USD of funding to universities will be cut. A successful “access technology at no cost” model will spread to other fields.

        So don’t expect that in the future you will see the progress in video compression technology that we have seen in the past 30 years.

    Leftovers

    • Photographer hunts down eBayer who has her camera

      More A-grade sneering from Rob Wolchek of Fox 2 News Detroit, called in by professional photographer Kelly, who tracked down the guy flogging her stolen gear on eBay…

    • The Advent of the Modern-Day Shipping Container

      How the arrival of containers and intermodalism revolutionized the shipping industry. Containers could be efficiently stacked, allowing more and more goods to be transported across the seas. Labor costs were dramatically lowered and, since containers were sealed, theft was reduced. Over time, the marine transportation industry and the size of ships, trucks, trains, docks, and ports increased and expanded to handle the growing use of containers. The impact on global commerce was enormous, leading to a boom in international trade due to lower transportation and handling costs.

      As container ships continue to grow in size and ports grow more congested by the year, NOAA plays an increasingly critical role in U.S. marine transportation. NOAA services and products improve the efficiency of ports and harbors, promote safety, and help to ensure the protection of coastal marine resources.

    • Science

      • Cobalt Could Untangle Chips’ Wiring Problems

        Today’s computer chips contain tens of kilometers of copper wiring, built up in 15 or so layers. As the semiconductor industry has shrunk the size of transistors, it has also had to make these interconnects thinner. Today, some wiring layers are so fine that electrical current can actually damage them. And chipmakers are running out of new ways to deal with this problem.

        Companies are now eyeing other materials, such as cobalt, ruthenium, even graphene, to replace copper for on-chip wiring. In December at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), in San Francisco, some seemed ready to anoint cobalt as the chosen metal. Intel described adopting the metal in its ­10-nanometer chips’ finest interconnects; Intel and ­GlobalFoundries both presented details about the performance of devices that rely on cobalt as a replacement for other electrical contacts currently made of tungsten.

      • A mutational timer is built into the chemistry of DNA

        If you had to copy billions of letters from one sheet of paper to another, you’d probably make a few mistakes. So it might not come as a surprise that when DNA makes a copy of its three-billion-base genetic code, it can slip up too.

        The human’s excuse could be fatigue or boredom, but scientists have long wondered how DNA’s nearly infallible replication machinery makes the mistakes that it does. Now, they think they may know a big part of the answer.

      • New research reveals genetic evidence of “muscle memory”

        New research led by at team at Keele University has revealed that human skeletal muscle has an epigenetic memory determined by earlier growth. This very literal discovery of “muscle memory” not only offers new insight into how exercise and rehabilitation programs can better target genes responsible for muscle growth, but potentially has dramatic implications for the long-lasting effects of performance-enhancing muscle building drugs.

        The study examined eight untrained male subjects over a 22-week period. Each subject participated in a period of targeted resistance exercise, followed by a period of inactivity, and then another stretch of exercise. Muscle biopsies were taken at several points across the study and over 850,000 genomic sites were analyzed for epigenetic alterations.

      • Steve Wozniak says he doesn’t trust Elon Musk or Tesla anymore

        After years of upgrades and new sensors, Wozniak said Elon Musk and his company have promised too much and delivered too little. “I love that car, but the trouble is Elon Musk is portrayed in a lot of movies with a lack of faith and trust. . . . What he says, can you really believe in him? Is he just a good salesman, like [Steve] Jobs, and may not be there [in the end]?”

      • New algorithm for simulating the structure of quantum systems on a quantum photonic chip

        An international collaboration of quantum physicists from the University of Bristol, Microsoft, Google, Imperial College, Max Planck Institute, and the Sun Yat-sen University have introduced a new algorithm to solve the energy structure of quantum systems on quantum computers.

        They have tested this algorithm on a silicon quantum photonic processor which performs the computation using photons, the elementary particles of light.

        The energy structure of a quantum system is made of quantised energy levels, the lowest energy level is called ground-state, while the higher energy levels are called excited states.

      • Engineers 3-D print shape-shifting smart gel

        Rutgers engineers have invented a “4D printing” method for a smart gel that could lead to the development of “living” structures in human organs and tissues, soft robots and targeted drug delivery.

        The 4D printing approach here involves printing a 3D object with a hydrogel (water-containing gel) that changes shape over time when temperatures change, said Howon Lee, senior author of a new study and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

    • Hardware

    • Health/Nutrition

      • The doctor responsible for gene therapy’s greatest setback is sounding a new alarm

        To attack the disease, researchers replace patients’ damaged copies of a gene called dystrophin by introducing viral particles that carry a correct copy. Reaching the countless muscle cells in a boy’s body requires extremely high doses of these particles—400 trillion or more per pound of body weight.

        [...]

        The concerns that caused Wilson to resign now appear to be, at least partly, those detailed in his new report, published January 30 in the journal Human Gene Therapy. He would not say whether Penn had alerted the FDA and the European Medicines Agency about his results before submitting them for publication.

      • Republic Day Of India Celebration In Geneva: Sounds, Sights And Tastes

        Among the many achievements and areas of growth mentioned of the rising economy was its prowess in generic medicines production.

      • Snakebite Gets Attention Of WHO Executive Board, Draft Resolution Approved

        With an estimated 81,000 to 138,000 deaths per year worldwide due to snakebites, and physical and psychological disability for close to 400,000 survivors of snake attacks, the time seemed ripe for the WHO to step in.

      • The Top 5 Issues In EU Medicines Policy For 2018 (Including IP)

        As all governments are faced with affordability problems for new medicines, HTA has become an important tool for national decision-makers. That said, HTA is primarily about improving the quality of healthcare, more than cost-containment. It offers solid evidence for policy-makers, operates as a gatekeeper to ensure that new medicines can show added benefits, and most importantly, as a spur for genuine public health needs-driven innovation. HTA is not about rationing medicines, but about rationalizing public spending. In most national settings, HTA appraisals affect pricing and reimbursement decisions one way or another. This is why some governments are concerned about EU involvement – including both mandatory participation and mandatory uptake is raising alarm bells – and strongly defend exclusive national competence in designing and implementing pricing and reimbursement plans. Moreover, there are fears of a possible convergence towards the lowest common denominator in clinical assessments as HTA standards (such as the choice of the comparator, the role and selections of endpoints) are not equally strict across the continent.

        The leaked draft shows that the Commission is proposing a Regulation to cover the overarching issues, but is purposefully vague in parts and leaves many of the details to be decided much later through delegated and implementing acts. This will add to national governments’ suspicions. And it also means that deliberations around this proposal will keep all interested parties busy for the foreseeable future.

      • Sanctuary Ocean Count

        Every year in January, February, and March, volunteers count whales from the shores of Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island for the annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.

        The Sanctuary Ocean Count launched in 1996 when 150 volunteers took to the shorelines of Oahu to count Hawaii’s endangered whale population and document the animals’ surface behavior. The event now draws more than 2,000 volunteers across Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii.

        The goal of the Ocean Count project is to increase public awareness of the sanctuary and current ocean issues, including threats to humpback whales while also promoting responsible viewing of all marine wildlife. The project offers Hawaii residents and visitors an opportunity to monitor humpback whales in their breeding grounds by conducting a yearly shore-based census during the peak season.

      • Study shows vitamin D3 could help heal or prevent cardiovascular damage

        A new study conducted by Ohio University scientists suggests that a little more sunlight might help restore damage to your cardiovascular system.

        The study shows that vitamin D3 – which is made by the body naturally when skin is exposed to the sun – can significantly restore the damage to the cardiovascular system caused by several diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Vitamin D3 supplements are also available over the counter.

    • Security

      • Security updates for Tuesday
      • House chair hits reports of Intel notifying Chinese firms about chip vulnerabilities before US

        Walden’s remarks come after the Journal reported that Intel had notified a small group of companies — including Chinese firms — about Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities which, if exploited, allow hackers to access sensitive information stored on computers, phones and servers using Intel, AMD and ARM chips.

      • File Your Taxes Before Scammers Do It For You

        Today, Jan. 29, is officially the first day of the 2018 tax-filing season, also known as the day fraudsters start requesting phony tax refunds in the names of identity theft victims. Want to minimize the chances of getting hit by tax refund fraud this year? File your taxes before the bad guys can!

      • Voting-machine makers are already worried about Defcon

        What’s worse, he added that “nearly every state is using some machines that are no longer manufactured, and many election officials struggle to find replacement parts.” Before millions of electronic votes were cast for the next US president, Norden told press that “everything from software support, replacement parts and screen calibration were at risk.”

        So it’s no wonder voting machine makers are keen to get their gear off eBay and keep it out of the hands of white-hat hackers equally keen to expose their collective security failings.

      • More than 2,000 WordPress websites are infected with a keylogger

        The keylogger is part of a malicious package that also installs an in-browser cryptocurrency miner that’s surreptitiously run on the computers of people visiting the infected sites. Data provided here, here, and here by website search service PublicWWW showed that, as of Monday afternoon, the package was running on 2,092 sites.

      • Linux Monitoring Tool Detects Meltdown Attacks
      • The Spectre & Meltdown Vulnerability Checker for Linux Is Now in Debian’s Repos

        If you want to check to see if your Debian GNU/Linux computer is patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, it’s now easier than ever to install the original spectre-meltdown-checker script.

        Yes, you’re reading it right, you can now install the very useful Spectre and Meltdown vulnerability/mitigation checker for Linux-based operating systems created by developer Stéphane Lesimple from the stable software repositories of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system.

      • Cryptocurrency Mining Malware That Uses an NSA Exploit Is On the Rise

        A computer security exploit developed by the US National Security Agency and leaked by hackers last year is now being used to mine cryptocurrency, and according to cybersecurity experts the number of infections is rising.

        Last April, a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers leaked EternalBlue, a Windows exploit that was developed by the NSA. Less than a month later, EternalBlue was used to unleash a devastating global ransomware attack called WannaCry that infected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries. A month later, in June, the EternalBlue exploit was again used to cripple networks across the world in an even more sophisticated attack. Now, security researchers are seeing the EternalBlue exploit being used to hijack people’s computers to mine cryptocurrency.

      • How Google fights Android malware

        If you just read the headlines, it sounds like Android is a security mess. There’s a report about one Android malware program after another. What’s not said is that often these Android viruses require a user to be a sucker to get them. But since a sucker is born every minute, Google does its best to stop malware in its tracks.

      • Linux Kernel 4.15: ‘An Unusual Release Cycle’

        Linus Torvalds released version 4.15 of the Linux Kernel on Sunday, again, and for a second version in a row, a week later than scheduled. The culprits for the late release were the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, as these two vulnerabilities forced developers to submit major patches well into what should have been the last cycle. Torvalds was not comfortable rushing the release, so he gave it another week.

        Unsurprisingly, the first big bunch of patches worth mentioning were those designed to sidestep Meltdown and Spectre. To avoid Meltdown, a problem that affects Intel chips, developers have implemented Page Table Isolation (PTI) for the x86 architecture. If for any reason you want to turn this off, you can use the pti=off kernel boot option.

      • 64-bit ARM Gets Mitigations For Spectre & Meltdown With Linux 4.16

        The 64-bit ARM (ARM64 / AArch64) architecture code changes were mailed in a short time ago for the Linux 4.16 kernel and it includes mitigation work for Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities.

        The main additions to the ARM64 Linux code for the 4.16 kernel is security changes concerning Variant Two of Spectre and Variant Three (Meltdown). This is the initial work ready for Linux 4.16 at this time while ARM developer Catalin Marinas notes that an improved firmware interface for Variant Two and a method to disable KPTI on ARM64 is coming next week. It’s noted that Cavium ThunderX doesn’t work with Kernel Page Table Isolation due to hardware erratum.

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #144
      • Top 10 IoT Security Threats
      • Code Review Isn’t Evil. Security Through Obscurity Is.

        On January 25th, Reuters reported that software companies like McAfee, SAP, and Symantec allow Russian authorities to review their source code, and that “this practice potentially jeopardizes the security of computer networks in at least a dozen federal agencies.” The article goes on to explain what source code review looks like and which companies allow source code reviews, and reiterates that “allowing Russia to review the source code may expose unknown vulnerabilities that could be used to undermine U.S. network defenses.”

        The spin of this article implies that requesting code reviews is malicious behavior. This is simply not the case. Reviewing source code is an extremely common practice conducted by regular companies as well as software and security professionals to ensure certain safety guarantees of the software being installed. The article also notes that “Reuters has not found any instances where a source code review played a role in a cyberattack.” At EFF, we routinely conduct code reviews of any software that we elect to use.

      • A fast-evolving new botnet could take gadgets in your home to the dark side
      • WannaMine: Another Cryptojacking Malware Fueled By Leaked NSA Exploit Is Rising [Ed: Microsoft Windows + NSA back doors = chaos]

        You might be able to recall the NSA exploit called EternalBlue which was leaked by the hacker group in April last year. The Windows exploit was later used to launch worldwide cyber disaster in the name of WannaCry. Another ransomware, also based on EternalBlue, followed a month later.

      • What is WannaMine? New fileless malware uses NSA’s leaked EternalBlue exploit to mine cryptocurrency

        Security researchers have discovered a new strain of malware that uses the National Security Agency’s EternalBlue exploit to hijack computers and secretly mine cryptocurrency. In April last year, the exploit was leaked as part of a cache of alleged NSA hacking tools released by the hacker group Shadow Brokers.

        Cybersecurity experts had warned that the exploit would soon be leveraged by other threat actors to power their own sophisticated and likely frequent cyberattacks. Shortly after, the Windows exploit was used to launch the massive global WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks in May and June.

      • Security updates for Wednesday
      • How Did Google Wipe Out 700,000 Malicious Android Apps From Play Store? Using Artificial Intelligence
      • Hacking Team Is Still Alive Thanks to a Mysterious Investor From Saudi Arabia

        The 2015 breach of spyware vendor Hacking Team seemed like it should have ended the company. Hacking Team was thoroughly owned, with its once-secret list of customers, internal emails, and spyware source code leaked online for anyone to see. But nearly three years later, the company trudges on, in large part thanks to a cash influx in 2016 from a mysterious investor who had been publicly unknown until now.

        The hack hurt the company’s reputation and bottom line: Hacking Team lost customers, was struggling to make new ones, and several key employees left. Three years later—after the appearance of this new investor—the company appears to have stopped the bleeding. The company registered around $1 million in losses in 2015, but bounced back with around $600,000 in profits in 2016.

        Motherboard has learned that this apparent recovery is in part thanks to the new investor, who appears to be from Saudi Arabia—and whose lawyer’s name matches that of a prominent Saudi attorney who regularly works for the Saudi Arabian government and facilitates deals between the government and international companies.

      • NSA exploit EternalBlue is back and powering WannaMine cryptojacking malware

        SAY HELLO to WannaMine, the cryptojacking malware that’s using leaked NSA hacking tools to infiltrate computers and syphon processor power to crunch calculations needed to ‘mine; cryptocurrencies.

        But first a history lesson. You may remember the EternalBlue, a Windows exploit developed by the NSA that was leaked by hacking group Shadow Brokers.

        Pretty soon after the exploit was used to launch the massive WannaCry ransomware attack that locked down NHS systems and affected some 230,000 computers across 150 countries. EternalBlue was then used to spearhead the arguably more dangerous NotPetya attacks.

      • Johnny Hacker hauls out NSA-crafted Server Message Block exploits, revamps ‘em

        EternalBlue, EternalSynergy, EternalRomance and EternalChampion formed part of the arsenal of NSA-developed hacking tools that were leaked by the Shadow Brokers group before they were used (in part) to mount the devastating NotPetya cyber attack.

        [...]

        “After that, the exploit module will drop to disk (or use a PowerShell command), explains zerosum0x0, and then copy directly to the hard drive.”

      • 10 tips for making the Django Admin more secure

        Offloading the responsibility for making your app secure onto QA testers or an information security office is tempting, but security is everyone’s responsibility. The Django Admin is one of our favorite features of Django, but unless it’s locked down correctly, it presents opportunities for exploitation. To save your users from compromised data, here are 10 tips to make the Django Admin more secure.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Assange blasts US ‘subservience to Saudis’ as Trump triples drone strikes in Yemen

        US drone strikes in Yemen have tripled under the Trump administration, as the US targets Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula while at the same time providing support to ally Saudi Arabia in its attacks there, a new study shows.

        “The Trump administration’s subservience to Saudi Arabia’s military adventurism in Yemen has lead to 8x the drone assassination rate of Obama,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wrote on Twitter. “Most killed are civilians. Obama, in turn, had 10x the drone kills of Bush.”

      • Assault on the Embassy: The Tet Offensive Fifty Years Later

        It was the eve of battle. Ngo Van Giang, known as Captain Ba Den to the Viet Cong troops he led, had spent weeks smuggling arms and ammunition into Saigon under boxes of tomatoes. Ba Den was about to lead 15 sappers, a section of the J-9 Special Action Unit, against an unknown target. Only eight of the unit were actually trained experts in explosives. The other seven were clerks and cooks who signed up for the dangerous mission mainly to escape the rigors of life in their jungle camp near Dau Tieng, 30 miles northwest of Saigon.

        On the morning of January 30, 1968, Ba Den secretly met with U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker’s chauffeur, Nguyen Van De, an embassy driver who was in fact an agent for the Viet Cong. De drove Ba Den in circles around the Embassy compound in an American station wagon. De revealed that Ba Den’s mission was to attack the heavily fortified Embassy. Learning the identity of his target, Ba Den was overwhelmed by the realization that he would probably not survive the attack. Pondering his likely death, and since it was the eve of Tet, Ba Den wandered into the Saigon market, had a few Ba Muoi Ba beers and bought a string of firecrackers to light as he had done for every Tet celebration since he was a child.

      • Treasury’s ‘Kremlin Report’ Seen as Targeting Russian Economy

        January 29 had been seen as a kind of “D-Day” in Russia, with anticipation and apprehension building for weeks over what many Russians believed could mark a critical change for the worse in relations with the United States. Russian media pitched their coverage to the country’s elites, who were under the Sword of Damocles of new U.S. sanctions that might be directed against them, but also to the general Russian public, who have watched with uneasiness, concerned over the effects of sanctions on the economy, on their livelihoods and living standards.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

      • Americans are saving energy because fewer people go outside

        It’s tricky to pinpoint the exact reasons for these changes, but the authors suggest it’s a combination of remote work and services like streaming video and online shopping.

      • The Unintended Consequences Of Trump’s Solar Tariffs

        There may not be blood, but there will be plenty of losses for those who still hold hope for an age that is passing away..

        Soon after the Trump Administration announced a tariff would be imposed on imports of Chinese PV cells and modules, The New York Times ran a headline declaring this was a ‘threat’ to solar. What struck me was not that President Trump had done so much to harm solar, but that the Times knew so little about why this action will amount to nothing in the grand scheme of things — where the outcome is no longer in doubt that renewables will sweep all contenders (even the mightiest fossil fuels) from the playing field.

    • Finance

      • China will act if Trump hits out on trade, American business group warns

        Chinese officials plan to take aim at U.S. companies if President Trump inflicts tariffs, a key American business lobby warned Tuesday, potentially veering both countries toward a trade war that could cripple global markets.

        The Trump administration this month fired what many saw as the opening salvo in a simmering dispute over trade. The U.S. imposed tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines, which largely targeted China. U.S officials are currently investigating whether Beijing is stealing American business’ intellectual property or dumping steel in the U.S. market.

      • What Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Betsy DeVos Won’t Tell You About ‘School Choice’

        Here’s a look back at National School Choice Week and the facts about school vouchers.

        Indiana has one of the most expansive private school voucher programs in the country, courtesy of Mike Pence. During his time as governor, Pence “removed the cap on the number of students who could qualify for a voucher to a private school, increased the limits on qualifying family income, and removed [a] stipulation that the student had to try the public school first,” according to a searing analysis of the state’s school choice failures by The Washington Post yesterday.

        The result?

        Last year alone, Indiana taxpayers financed private school education — nearly all religious — to the tune of $146.1 million “with most of it going to families who would have sent their children to private school anyway.” Oh, and by the way, a 2017 study of Indiana students in grades 3-8 who actually did use the voucher to transfer from a public to a private school showed that the voucher program had a negative impact on students’ academic achievement.

        Those are the type of important details you didn’t hear or read last week from voucher proponents who dubbed the week, “National School Choice Week.” President Trump issued an official proclamation recognizing the “celebration,” while school choice supporters, such as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Pence, wrote op-eds and deluged social media with platitudes about empowering parents and helping children achieve the “American dream.” There’s no question that parents should feel empowered when it comes to their child’s education, or that every student should be positioned to pursue their dreams, but that is not what the “school choice” movement is really about.

      • There Is Nothing Virtual About Bitcoin’s Energy Appetite

        The total network of computers plugged into the Bitcoin network consumes as much energy each day as some medium-size countries — which country depends on whose estimates you believe. And the network supporting Ethereum, the second-most valuable virtual currency, gobbles up another country’s worth of electricity each day.

      • Hung out to dry twice, Tennessee city stumped by Trump’s washer tariffs

        When President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on imported washing machines last week it was a “Not Again” moment for officials in this north Tennessee city that has lost jobs to an international trade dispute before.

      • Fears of university closures after removal of safety net

        Riordan says that the Office for Students, the new regulator for English universities, seems to have been set up with a view that it should be possible for universities to go under. The only clear stipulation in its terms is that all universities should have a pre-planned “exit strategy” for looking after their students in the event of closure.

        Riordan says: “The Higher Education Funding Council for England [the predecessor of the OfS] had a definite role in averting failure. It wasn’t just a matter of bailing institutions out, it was about ongoing scrutiny and oversight and becoming involved in the day-to-day affairs of the university if necessary. All those safeguards have now gone in England. The Office for Students has set its stall out very clearly and it is not there to ensure the sector’s health.”

        He says letting a university go bust would have serious repercussions, especially in a depressed area. “As well as possibly being the main employer, the university may be the main route for the local population to advance themselves. If people want to get a better career or make some progress in life they may find it pretty difficult with their university gone.”

      • Huawei’s Top Executive Detained On Charges Of Corruption

        Huawei‘s head of domestic sales Teng Hongfei was detained by authorities as part of a corruption investigation in the company’s home country of China, the world’s third largest smartphone vendor said Tuesday, as first reported by local media outlet Yicai. Mr. Teng is being suspected of taking bribes but no specifics of the criminal probe into the matter have been provided by the company. The development will likely lead to his departure from the Shenzhen-based tech giant which is expected to replace him in the coming months. In a statement sent to some media outlets, a Huawei representative said the vagueness of the company’s comments on the matter is a result of the ongoing state of the investigation that led to the detention of Mr. Teng. It’s currently unclear how long the probe will take, though Huawei’s executive is understood to be close to official charges.

      • What Companies Are Really Doing With Their Tax Windfall (So Far)

        Only 4% of companies have increased wages and 3% said they will next year. A further 13% are considering wages and 80% said they aren’t considering giving raises at all.

      • Apple’s value drops $46 billion amid falling iPhone X demand

        Apple’s market value has fallen $46 billion in a week amid reports that iPhone X isn’t selling.

        A growing number of analysts and news outlets have claimed that Apple is cutting production due to weaker-than-expected demand for its flagship device. The Wall Street Journal is the latest to corroborate the claims.

        After several years of boring upgrades, iPhone X was the smartphone fans had been waiting for. Its new design, coupled with exciting new features like an edge-to-edge display and Face ID, has been unanimously praised by users and reviewers.

      • U.S. Regulators Subpoena Crypto Exchange Bitfinex, Tether

        U.S. regulators are scrutinizing one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges as questions mount over a digital token linked to its backers.

        The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission sent subpoenas on Dec. 6 to virtual-currency venue Bitfinex and Tether, a company that issues a widely traded coin and claims it’s pegged to the dollar, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The firms share the same chief executive officer.

        Tether’s coins have become a popular substitute for dollars on cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, with about $2.3 billion of the tokens outstanding as of Tuesday. While Tether has said all of its coins are backed by U.S. dollars held in reserve, the company has yet to provide conclusive evidence of its holdings to the public or have its accounts audited. Skeptics have questioned whether the money is really there.

      • Facebook Bans Bitcoin And All Other Cryptocurrency Ads On Its Social Network

        As a part of their refreshed advertising policy, Facebook won’t allow advertisements related to cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICO), and binary trading, according to a post made by company’s product management director Rob Leathern.

      • This Leaked Government Brexit Analysis Says The UK Will Be Worse Off In Every Scenario

        The government’s new analysis of the impact of Brexit says the UK would be worse off outside the European Union under every scenario modelled, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

        The assessment, which is titled “EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing” and dated January 2018, looked at three of the most plausible Brexit scenarios based on existing EU arrangements.

        Under a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, UK growth would be 5% lower over the next 15 years compared to current forecasts, according to the analysis.

        The “no deal” scenario, which would see the UK revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, would reduce growth by 8% over that period. The softest Brexit option of continued single-market access through membership of the European Economic Area would, in the longer term, still lower growth by 2%.

      • Fujifilm says to cut 10,000 jobs at joint venture with Xerox

        Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings said it is cutting 10,000 jobs globally at its joint venture with Xerox Corp, saying it needed to overhaul the photocopying business amid a tough market environment.

        The company said it would book restructuring costs of 49 billion yen ($450.95 million) in the current fiscal year, lowering its operating profit forecast for the year to 130 billion yen from a previous 185 billion yen outlook.

      • Japan’s Fujifilm to Take Majority Control of Xerox

        Fujifilm Holdings Corp. said Wednesday it would take a majority stake in Xerox Corp., marking the end of independence for a stalwart of 20th-century American industry.

      • Where are we now on Brexit?

        There is everything, and nothing, to say about Brexit.

        The same hard facts are still there, and looming.

        The UK will leave the EU by automatic operation of international law on 29 March 2019, unless something not now in view happens.

        The UK government does not know what it wants, and there is no UK Brexit policy worth the name.

        The EU27 do know what they want and, again unless something not now in view happens, that will be what the UK gets – both in terms of transition arrangements and future relationship.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Facebook Wants You to Start Seeing More Local News Sources in Your News Feed [iophk: "Facebook takes on more of an editorial role"]

        Zuckerberg told the newspaper people consistently told him they wanted more local news on Facebook. Zuckerberg said the prioritization of local news sources is part of an effort to help people engage with the communities where they live.

      • Facebook says it will begin putting more local news into the News Feed

        By promoting local news stories, Facebook could benefit regional publishers, who have historically struggled to reach audiences in the News Feed. It could also help reduce the spread of hoaxes and misinformation on pages that are designed to mimic local news sources. In 2016 a malicious site that calls itself the Denver Guardian published a story with the headline “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide,” and it was shared half a million times, likely in part because it appeared to be the work of a trusted local publisher.

      • New Details Alleged in Scheme to Make Millions Off First Border Wall in Texas

        The kickback scheme was allegedly hashed out over weeknight drinks at a steakhouse in a border county in south Texas. Amid surf and turf and expensive scotch, a Hidalgo County official said he would meet with contractors in the clubby confines of the restaurant in a strip mall in McAllen.

        There, Godfrey Garza Jr., director of the county’s drainage district, cajoled company executives to hire a firm owned by his family in exchange for a cut of lucrative construction contracts, according to new documents filed in state district court in Hidalgo County. The target of the plan: a $232 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the county to build a border fence and rehabilitate aging dirt levees along the Rio Grande.

        [...]

        The new allegations come a month after an investigation by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica revealed that Homeland Security poured more than $174 million into the project while largely ignoring safeguards to protect taxpayer funds. The levee-fence in Hidalgo County was erected as part of a race to build 654 miles of barriers between the U.S. and Mexico a decade ago. Today, of course, President Donald Trump is pushing to spend billions of dollars to build a more imposing and lengthy border barrier across much of the entire U.S./Mexico border, an aim he is likely to spell out again in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

      • 6 Elements of Police Spin: An Object Lesson in Copspeak

        The linguistic gymnastics needed to report on police violence without calling up images of police violence is a thing of semantic wonder. Officers don’t shoot, they are merely “involved” in shootings; victims are not victims, but “suspects” “fleeing”; human beings become premortem cadavers as bullets “enter the torso” rather than the chest of a person; guns and bullets act on their own as they “discharge” or “enter the right femur,” rather than being fired by autonomous individuals with agency and purpose. Headlines become 14-word, jargon-heavy tangles where a simple five-word description would suffice.

      • Everything That’s Wrong With Social Media And Big Internet Companies: Part 2

        Late last year I published Part I of a project to map out all the complaints we hear about social media in particular and about internet companies generally. Now, here’s Part 2.

        This Part should have come earlier; Part 1 was published in November. I’d hubristically imagined that this is a project that might take a week or a month. But I didn’t take into account the speed with which the landscape of the criticism is changing. For example, just as you’re trying to do more research into whether Google really is making us dumber, another pundit (Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times) comes along and argues that Apple — a tech giant no less driven by commercial motives than Google and its parent company, Alphabet — ought to redesign its products to make us smarter (by making them less addictive). That is, it’s Apple’s job to save us from Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other attention-demanding internet media — which we connect to through Apple’s products, as well as many others.

      • Trump Universe

        For several years now, Project Censored has sought to feature a graphic chapter. Those efforts have yielded stirring results with the inclusion of Adam Bessie and Peter Glanting’s “Trump Universe” in Chapter 5 of our latest book, Censored 2018: Press Freedoms in a “Post-Truth” World.

      • Trump Embraces the Original Sin of Guantánamo

        The order to keep the prison open doesn’t just reverse Obama’s order to close it. It also rewrites the facts of its history.

        Moments before his State of the Union speech last night, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep open the military prison at Guantánamo Bay. The order describes the prison’s operations as “legal, safe, humane, and conducted consistent with United States and international law.” This does more than undo Barack Obama’s order to close the prison, signed on his third day in office. It also rewrites the plain, sordid facts of its history.

        The moral and legal stain of Guantánamo started with the fact of its existence. The Bush administration opened the prison in 2002 because it wrongly believed that its location outside U.S. borders would allow it to operate without any legal constraints. It became a laboratory for the torture methods associated with that administration’s so-called war on terror and for improvised judicial proceedings that violate basic principles of due process and justice. While the prison was largely emptied by the Bush and Obama administrations, 41 men remain. Five have been cleared for release. Twenty-eight have never been charged with a crime.

      • Facebook’s Experiment in Ad Transparency Is Like Playing Hide And Seek

        Shortly before a Toronto City Council vote in December on whether to tighten regulation of short-term rental companies, an entity called Airbnb Citizen ran an ad on the Facebook news feeds of a selected audience, including Toronto residents over the age of 26 who listen to Canadian public radio. The ad featured a photo of a laughing couple from downtown Toronto, with the caption, “Airbnb hosts from the many wards of Toronto raise their voices in support of home sharing. Will you?”

        Placed by an interested party to influence a political debate, this is exactly the sort of ad on Facebook that has attracted intense scrutiny. Facebook has acknowledged that a group with ties to the Russian government placed more than 3,000 such ads to influence voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

        Facebook has also said it plans to avoid a repeat of the Russia fiasco by improving transparency. An approach it’s rolling out in Canada now, and plans to expand to other countries this summer, enables Facebook users outside an advertiser’s targeted audience to see ads. The hope is that enhanced scrutiny will keep advertisers honest and make it easier to detect foreign interference in politics. So we used a remote connection, called a virtual private network, to log into Facebook from Canada and see how this experiment is working.

      • A Call to Action against Citizen Apathy

        That indicting statistic points to two kinds of citizen depravity: (1) citizens who do not vote, who cravenly surrender their power to those who do vote. Voting is an act of social justice, a citizen’s minimal duty to the common good. Those who don’t vote are therefore unjust, immoral, and only half alive. (2) Vote-and-run citizens. These citizens make the little effort to vote, and then drop dead politically. No follow up. No participation. Pop the bubbly when Obama wins, and then hang him out to dry.

        Voting without follow-up participation in politics is a symbolic, feel-good activity. The predatory one percent have nothing to fear from vote-and-run citizens.

        The old Roman Juvenal said that all that is needed to sucker the people into passivity is “bread and circus.” Pizza, beer, and football for some: latte, escargot and golf for others. All good things in their place as long as you are staying morally alive, i.e. a citizen in motion.

      • Will Congress Face Down the Deep State?

        The coming weeks will show whether the U.S. intelligence establishment (the FBI/CIA/NSA, AKA the “Deep State”) will be able to prevent its leaders from being held to account. Past precedent suggests that the cabal that conjured up Russia-gate will not have to pick up a “go-to-jail” card. This, despite the widespread guilt suggested by the abrupt way that several senior-echelon DOJ and FBI rats have already jumped ship. Not to mention the manner in which FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, was unceremoniously pushed overboard yesterday, after Director Christopher Wray was given a look at the extra-legal capers described in the House Intelligence Committee memorandum.

        Granted, at first glance Deep State’s efforts to undercut candidate Donald Trump at first seem so risky and audacious as to be unbelievable. By now, though, Americans should be able to wrap their heads around, one, the dire threat that outsider Trump was seen to be posing to the Deep State and to the ease with which it held sway under President Barack Obama; and, two, expected immunity from prosecution if Deep State crimes were eventually discovered after the election, since “everybody knew” Hillary Clinton was going to win. Oops.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Censorship suggested as air quality data intermittently disappearing from Apple’s Weather app in China

        A Reddit thread has suggested that Apple’s Weather app is censoring air quality data in China when it reaches unhealthy or hazardous levels.

      • Private Censorship Is Not the Best Way to Fight Hate or Defend Democracy: Here Are Some Better Ideas

        From Cloudflare’s headline-making takedown of the Daily Stormer last autumn to YouTube’s summer restrictions on LGBTQ content, there’s been a surge in “voluntary” platform censorship. Companies—under pressure from lawmakers, shareholders, and the public alike—have ramped up restrictions on speech, adding new rules, adjusting their still-hidden algorithms and hiring more staff to moderate content. They have banned ads from certain sources and removed “offensive” but legal content.

        These moves come in the midst of a fierce public debate about what responsibilities platform companies that directly host our speech have to take down—or protect—certain types of expression. And this debate is occurring at a time in which only a few large companies host most of our online speech. Under the First Amendment, intermediaries generally have a right to decide what kinds of expression they will carry. But just because companies can act as judge and jury doesn’t mean they should.

        [...]

        First Casualty: Anonymity

        In addition to the virtual certainty that private censorship will lead to takedowns of valuable speech, it is already leading to attacks on anonymous speech. Anonymity and pseudonymity have played important roles throughout history, from secret ballots in ancient Greece to 18th century English literature and early American satire. Online anonymity allows us to explore controversial ideas and connect with people around health and other sensitive concerns without exposing ourselves unnecessarily to harassment and stigma. It enables dissidents in oppressive regimes to tell their stories with less fear of retribution. Anonymity is often the greatest shield that vulnerable groups have.

        Current proposals from private companies all undermine online anonymity. For example, Twitter’s recent ban on advertisements from Russia Today and Sputnik relies on the notion that the company will be better at identifying accounts controlled by Russia than Russia will be at disguising accounts to promote its content. To make it really effective, Twitter may have to adopt new policies to identify and attribute anonymous accounts, undermining both speech and user privacy. Given the problems with attribution, Twitter will likely face calls to ban anyone from promoting a link to suspected Russian government content.

      • Facebook Users Cry ‘Censorship’ After Being Told Which Russian Troll Pages They Liked

        As the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference reaches a fever pitch, Facebook rolled out a new News Feed alert Monday night. The bulletin told users who followed pages created by Russian trolls that those pages have been removed. And some of the affected users did not like this.

        A brief search revealed that numerous people believe that this is an act of censorship by Facebook. Some users argued that they should be allowed to decide what’s “true, fake, or otherwise,” a challenge that’s bound to be a slippery slope in this era of algorithm-based confirmation bias.

      • Why The History Of Content Moderation Matters

        Wong came up against similar problems at Google. In June 2009, a video of a dying Iranian Green Movement protestor shot in the chest and bleeding from the eyes was removed from YouTube as overly graphic and then reposted because of its political significance. YouTube’s policies and internal guidelines on violence were altered to allow for the exception. Similarly, in 2007, a YouTube video of a man being brutally beaten by four men in a cell and was removed for violence, but restored by Wong and her team after journalists contacted Google to explain that the video was posted by Egyptian human rights activist Wael Abbas to inform the international community of human rights violations by the police in Egypt.

      • Facebook Plans To Produce Pseudo-Scientific “Proof” To “Justify” Alt-Media Censorship

        Facebook plans to have its users rank news sites’ “reliability”.

        This decision is in reaction to the 18-month-long “fake news” scandal and is being promoted as the most “fair and balanced solution” to the issue. The idea is that the community at large would determine which sites are credible and which aren’t, and the lowest-ranking ones would somehow be penalized, possibly by appearing even less on users’ newsfeeds. Facebook said that they don’t want to make this decision themselves for ethical reasons so they’re instead leaving it up to others to do so for it, believing that this is somehow a “democratic” approach to the problem. In reality, however, Facebook is only just encouraging “mob rule” because it’s probable that there will be a partisan split among Mainstream Media outlets that leads to inconclusive results for its experiment, thus putting the onus back on the company to make the executive decision for resolving this problem.

        [...]

        Facebook’s experiment, however, isn’t able to capture that, as it’s only going to ask users about a site’s “reliability”, which essentially is an opinion survey asking people if they agree with the editorial angle most commonly taken by the platform in question. If a critical mass of individuals disagrees with RT or Sputnik’s approach, for instance, then the company will list them as “unreliable” and possibly suppress their reach on people’s newsfeeds, all because of the “mob rule” that it initiated. Accordingly, the most probable outcome of this endeavor will be that Facebook uses the pseudo-scientific “evidence” that it manipulatively produced in order to “prove” that Alternative Media is “unreliable” and therefore “justifiably” subject to de-facto censorship against it.

      • Federal Crackdown on Immigration Activists Threatens to Chill Free Speech

        Across the country, a growing number of immigrants’ rights advocates and outspoken members of the immigrant community are ending up in immigration detention, facing deportation, or being threatened with criminal charges.

        In New York, Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir — both prominent immigrants’ rights activists and leaders of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City — were arrested within a week of each other. In an opinion ordering Mr. Ragbir’s release from detention, the judge expressed “grave concerns” that Mr. Ragbir was “targeted as a result of his speech and political advocacy on behalf of immigrants’ rights and social justice.”

      • Laws Targeting Israel Boycotts Fail First Legal Test

        Issuing the first decision of its kind, a federal judge today blocked enforcement of a Kansas law targeting boycotts of Israel, ruling in an ACLU lawsuit that the First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

        The Kansas law requires that any person or company that contracts with the state sign a statement that they are “not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.” The ACLU brought the lawsuit in October on behalf of Esther Koontz, a schoolteacher who refused to sign the certification. Today’s decision, an important victory for political speech, will allow her to resume her work. Thanks to the order, Kansas is prohibited from enforcing its law while the case proceeds.

      • Theater play canceled for official censorship

        The Adana State Theater’s play “India Bank,” which was on a tour in the southeastern province of Batman, was removed from the stage after two of its scenes were deemed “obscene.”

        The two-act absurdist comedy premiered in February last year in the southern province of Adana. It depicts capitalism as seeking to capture the lives and moral values of individuals and impoverish them. The play toured Batman on Jan. 23-24 and Mardin on Jan. 26-27.

        It was reported that the play was not staged during the Batman tour because of an intervention by Batman provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate officials.
        Investigating the reason for the cancelation of the play, the State Theaters Artists Association (DETİS) made a report.

      • Americans Say No to Censorship on Social Media

        Facebook has announced new algorithms that will help them weed out so-called “fake news” and also recalibrate how much news and political content is shown in your news feed versus personal content from friends. Most Americans use social media regularly, but they oppose regulating what is posted on such sites.

      • Kenyan censors take TV off air in row over Raila Odinga’s presidential ceremony

        Kenya took several television and radio stations off air today after they began to broadcast live coverage of an imitation presidential “swearing in” ceremony promised by the opposition leader Raila Odinga.

        About 2,000 supporters of Mr Odinga’s opposition coalition gathered at Uhuru Park in central Nairobi early today to watch the planned ceremony, but before senior party leaders arrived independent media stations were forced off air by government, they claimed.

      • Kenyans outraged by censorship on TV and Radio stations

        Kenyans were yesterday outraged by the Government’s decision to block live TV coverage of Raila Odinga’s oathing, saying this eroded major gains in media freedoms and access to information.

        Tens of radio stations were also barred from covering the event.

        Yesterday’s shutdown of media outlets confirmed earlier threats by the State which had promised to interrupt operations and, in a more extreme measure, withdraw licences.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • EU’s Highest Court Says Privacy Activist Can Litigate Against Facebook In Austria, But Not As Part Of A Class Action

        If Germany goes ahead with these plans, it will drastically reduce the scope for Facebook to make money by using consolidated data about its users to sell advertising space, and may well encourage other EU nations to follow suit.

      • Every User a Neo

        The obvious parts of it are maintained by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Amazon and other “platforms”. Much more of it is provided by names you never heard of. If you haven’t already, equip your browser with a form of tracking protection that identifies tracking sources (examples: Baycloud Bouncer, Disconnect, Ghostery, PrivacyBadger and RedMorph). Then point that browser to the website of a publisher whose business side has been assimilated by the Agent Smith of advertising called “adtech”—The Los Angeles Times, for example. Then check the tracking protection tool’s list of all the entities trying to spy on you.

      • Mass Surveillance and the Memory Hole

        Though it received disturbingly little attention – perhaps a symptom of desensitization to news that we are constantly being surveilled – it was recently revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) destroyed data about some of its surveillance activity that it was under court order to preserve. The NSA was ordered to save the data in 2007 because of pending lawsuits over the questionable legality of Bush ordered warrantless wiretaps of American digital and telecommunications. The data was evidence, and the NSA destroyed evidence.

        It seems that the NSA not only destroyed evidence but serially mislead the courts by claiming that it was complying with court orders while it simultaneously was not in compliance: the NSA was not preserving internet communications that were intercepted for several years between 2001 and 2007. Though as late as 2014, the NSA was assuring the court that it was “preserving magnetic/digital tapes of the Internet content intercepted under the [Presidential Surveillance Program] since the inception of the program,” the NSA has now confessed that assurance “may have been only partially accurate.”

      • Unintended Consequences Of EU’s New Internet Privacy Rules: Facebook Won’t Use AI To Catch Suicidal Users

        We’ve written a few times about the GDPR — the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation — which was approved two years ago and is set to go into force on May 25th of this year. There are many things in there that are good to see — in large part improving transparency around what some companies do with all your data, and giving end users some more control over that data. Indeed, we’re curious to see how the inevitable lawsuits play out and if it will lead companies to be more considerate in how they handle data.

        However, we’ve also noted, repeatedly, our concerns about the wider impact of the GDPR, which appears to go way too far in some areas, in which decisions were made that may have made sense in a vacuum, but where they could have massive unintended consequences. We’ve already discussed how the GDPR’s codification of the “Right to be Forgotten” is likely to lead to mass censorship in the EU (and possibly around the globe). That fear remains.

        But, it’s also becoming clear that some potentially useful innovation may not be able to work under the GDPR. A recent NY Times article that details how various big tech companies are preparing for the GDPR has a throwaway paragraph in the middle that highlights an example of this potential overreach. Specifically, Facebook is using AI to try to catch on if someone is planning to harm themselves… but it won’t launch that feature in the EU out of a fear that it would breach the GDPR as it pertains to “medical” information. Really.

      • UK Appeals Court Says GCHQ’s Mass Collection Of Internet Communications Is Illegal

        The UK’s mass surveillance programs haven’t been treated kindly by the passing years (2013-onward). Ever since Snowden began dumping details on GCHQ surveillance, legal challenges to the lawfulness of UK bulk surveillance have been flying into courtrooms. More amazingly, they’ve been coming out the other side victorious.

        In 2015, a UK tribunal ruled GCHQ had conducted illegal surveillance and ordered it to destroy intercepted communications between detainees and their legal reps. In 2016, the UK tribunal declared GCHQ’s bulk collection of communications metadata illegal. However, the tribunal did not order destruction of this collection, meaning GCHQ is likely still making use of illegally-collected metadata.

      • What does Brexit mean for Britain’s spies?

        As the UK negotiates its future relationship with the EU, two former intelligence chiefs have warned that Britain’s security expertise should not become a “bargaining chip”.

        When terror attacks hit Paris in late 2015, British intelligence scrambled to find out what it could about the attackers – at the UK’s spy agency, GCHQ, a team worked on tracing their communications while MI5 looked for connections to the UK.

        It was all a sign that modern threats – whether terrorism, cyber attacks or Russian subversion – rarely respect borders.

      • Strava fitness tracker appears to show GPS routes by GCHQ

        A fitness tracker which uploads a user’s cycling and running routes to an online map appears to highlight GPS routes by GCHQ.

        The Cheltenham intelligence base was among sensitive locations including Sandhurst which has routes mapped on the app.

        Strava works with your mobile phone to track your athletic activity via satellite navigation and is used by millions to record their cycling and jogging routes.

      • How to Handle an Intelligence Committee Chairman Gone Rogue

        Barring an intervention from the heavens, the so-called Nunes memo will be #released at some point over the course of the next week, either because President Trump actively chooses to release it or because he does nothing for four more days.

      • Nunes memo is being vetted by DOJ, FBI, NSA and DNI

        Two administration sources say the classified memo alleging abuses by the Justice Department and FBI is being reviewed Tuesday by representatives from the Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

        The memo is said to detail, written by GOP staffers on the House Intelligence Committee, may soon be available to the public, after Republicans on the committee voted Monday to release it. A congressional statute allows the committee to release the memo if the president does not object.

      • Trump expected to tap Army cyber warfare chief to lead NSA

        President Donald Trump is expected to pick Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of the Army’s digital warfare branch, to head the clandestine National Security Agency, according to multiple people on and off Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon with knowledge of the situation.

        The NSA is looking for a new leader after its current director, Adm. Mike Rogers, announced he will retire this spring, ending a near four-year run.

      • Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone expected to be Trump’s pick to lead NSA: Report

        President Trump is expected to tap Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone to oversee the National Security Agency after the current director, Adm. Mike Rogers, retires in the spring, according to a new report.

      • Minnesota Supreme Court Says Unlocking A Phone With A Fingerprint Isn’t A Fifth Amendment Issue

        When it comes to the Fifth Amendment, you’re better off with a password or PIN securing your device, rather than your fingerprint. Cellphone manufacturers introduced fingerprint readers in an effort to protect users from thieves or other unauthorized access. But it does nothing at all to prevent law enforcement from using their fingerprints to unlock seized devices.

        The US Supreme Court hasn’t seen a case involving compelled production of fingerprints land on its desk yet and there’s very little in the way of federal court decisions to provide guidance. What we have to work with is scattered state court decisions and the implicit understanding that no matter how judges rule, a refusal to turn over a fingerprint or a password is little more than a way to add years to an eventual sentence.

      • California Senate Rejects License Plate Privacy Shield Bill

        The California Senate has rejected a bill to allow drivers to protect their privacy by applying shields to their license plates when parked. The simple amendment to state law would have served as a countermeasure against automated license plate readers (ALPRs) that use plates to mine our location data.

        As is the case with many privacy bills, S.B. 712 had received strong bipartisan support since it was first introduced in early 2017. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Joel Anderson, a prominent conservative Republican from Southern California, and received aye votes from Sens. Nancy Skinner and Scott Wiener, both Democrats representing the Bay Area.

      • Fair communication requires mutual consent

        Communication requires mutual agreement about the medium. Think about it another way: if you go to a meeting with your doctor and some stranger in a foreign military uniform is in the room, you might choose to leave and find another doctor rather than communicate under surveillance.

      • Court of Appeal rules Government surveillance regime IS unlawful

        The Government is breaking the law by collecting the nation’s internet activity and phone records and letting public bodies grant themselves access to these personal details with no suspicion of serious crime and no independent sign-off – meaning significant parts of its latest Snoopers’ Charter are effectively unlawful.

        Judges at the Court of Appeal have today backed a challenge by MP Tom Watson, represented by Liberty, to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) – a previous law covering state surveillance.

        DRIPA expired at the end of 2016 – but the Government replicated and vastly expanded the same powers in the Investigatory Powers Act, which started to come into force in 2017. Liberty is challenging this latest law in a major separate case, to be heard in the High Court later this year.

        In anticipation of this ruling, the Government has already conceded that the Investigatory Powers Act will need to change. But its half-baked plans do not even fully comply with past court rulings requiring mandatory safeguards – and they continue to allow public bodies to indiscriminately retain and access personal data, including records of internet use, location tracking using mobile phones and records of who we communicate with and when.

      • Campaigners say UK surveillance powers must change after court ruling

        Britain will need to amend its law allowing for sweeping powers to carry out mass digital surveillance after a court ruled on Tuesday that previous legislation was illegal, civil rights campaigners said.

        London’s Court of Appeal backed a challenge led by lawmaker Tom Watson, deputy leader of the opposition Labour party, that it was not lawful to access personal data such as internet use and phone records where there was no suspicion of criminal activity or where there was no proper oversight.

      • UK mass surveillance programme ruled unlawful as campaigners call for overhaul of ‘snooper’s charter’

        The Government’s mass surveillance programme to collect people’s internet activity and phone records has been ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal.

        Judges said the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (Dripa) 2014 breached EU law as it allowed the data to be harvested for reasons other than fighting serious crime.

      • Do You Realize How Much You Share Your Location?

        This app is tracking your every move!—a hyperbolic headline I’m sure we’ve all seen before. While the sentiment here is a over-the-top, it does raise an important question: do you know how private your location actually is?

        Every day it’s something new. Today it’s headlines about activity-tracking app Strava (iOS, Android) and how it “gave away” locations of secret army bases.

        Despite my personal feelings on that particular story, it still raises an important question: do you know how private your location data is? Do you even know which apps are tracking your location and sharing it publicly?

      • Open Rights Group respond to court ruling that government surveillance regime unlawful

        “Once again, another UK court has found another piece of Government surveillance legislation to be unlawful. The Government needs to admit their legislation is flawed and make the necessary changes to the Investigatory Powers Act to protect the public’s fundamental rights.”

      • ETICAS Releases First Ever Evaluations of Spanish Internet Companies’ Privacy and Transparency Practices

        ETICAS surveyed a total of nine Internet companies. These companies’ logs hold intimate records of the movements and relationships of the majority of the population in the country. The five telecommunications companies surveyed—Movistar, Orange, Vodafone-ONO, Jazztel, MásMóvil—together make up the vast majority of the fixed, mobile, and broadband market in Spain. ETICAS also surveyed the four most popular online platforms for buying and renting houses—Fotocasa, Idealista, Habitaclia, and Pisos.com. ETICAS, in the tradition of Who Has Your Back?, evaluated the companies for their commitment to privacy and transparency, and awarded stars based on their current practices and public behavior. Each company was given the opportunity to answer a questionnaire, to take part in a private interview, and to send any additional information they felt appropriate, all of which was incorporated into the final report. This approach is based on EFF’s earlier work with Who Has Your Back? in the United States, although the specific questions in ETICAS’ study were adapted to match Spain’s local laws and realities.

      • China denies claims it built backdoors into African Union’s headquarters for spying

        China was able to do this because it financed and built the new building itself to act as the African Union’s new headquarters and gifted it under false pretenses of cordial partnership, Le Monde reports. The spying has reportedly been happening since 2012 when the building opened in downtown Addis Ababa. The backdoor into the African Union’s computer systems was first discovered in January 2017, when engineers in the IT division noticed an unusual spike of activity late into the evening when the building was no longer staffed.

      • Health Experts Ask Facebook to Shut Down Messenger Kids

        A coalition of 97 child health advocates sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday asking him to discontinue Messenger Kids, a new advertising-free Facebook app targeted at 6-to-12-year olds. Advocates say the app likely will undermine healthy childhood development for preschool and elementary-school-aged kids by increasing the amount of time they spend with digital devices.

      • Strava’s fitness tracking heat map could FUBAR military secrecy

        The firm uses phone or smartwatch GPS to track a user’s activity in order to work out their workouts and calculate calorie-burning activities. Strava, clearly feeling proud as punch at its app’s abilities, released a heat map in November showing the activity of users worldwide.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • First Amendment Lawsuit Results In Louisiana Police Department Training Officers To Respect Citizens With Cameras

        The lawsuit [PDF] was brought by Chelline Carter, who had her camera warrantlessly seized and searched by Officer Shannon Brasseaux of the Lafayette PD. Carter had been called to a local drugstore because her son had just been arrested. After helping the officer find her son’s ID card, Carter walked over to the vehicle her son had been placed in and took a photo of him.

        Officer Brasseaux then took Carter’s phone from her, claiming she had broken the law by taking pictures of “evidence” [?]. He then swiped her phone to open it, searched for the photo she had taken of her son, and deleted it.

      • Condé Nast’s Code of Conduct is Here. Is it Enough?

        In a perfectly timed move, one that coincided with the New York Times’ exposé that revealed handfuls of allegations that famed photographer Bruce Weber and Mario Testino were engaging in repeated sexual harassment behavior, Condé Nast announced that it was working on a Code of Conduct. Given that Weber was responsible for imagery for both British and American Vogue for their December 2017 issues (which were revealed just before male model Jason Boyce filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Weber), and Testino was linked to Vogue as recently as its February 2017 issue (he shot the Serena Williams cover), just one month before the Times’ story broke, Vogue’s parent company needed to do something.

      • Why are women joining far-right movements, and why are we so surprised?

        Marine Le Pen election campaign posters, France 2017. Photo: Winfried Rothermel/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Dozens of feature articles have recently marvelled at the increasingly female face of the far right in Europe and North America. The New York Times reported, for instance, on the increased visibility of women in the upper-echelons of far-right parties, from France to Norway. A Vogue feature described this as “the friendly face of right-wing politics,” and “an attempt to soften and feminise” the European far right’s extreme views.

        In North America, numerous reports have asked what draws women to radical conservative and ‘alt-right’ movements. In Canada, the Montreal Gazette said far-right women are “coming out of the shadows” in Quebec to participate in anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim campaigns in growing numbers. Marie Claire said such apparent trends were nothing less than “shocking.”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Trump Administration said it has no plans to build a 5G wireless network

        The Trump administration labored to clarify on Monday that it currently has no plans to build its own ultra-fast 5G wireless network, despite publication of a memo that suggested the idea was under consideration.

        At issue is a proposal put forth by an unnamed official at the National Security Council, a White House-based body that advises the president on critical U.S. and foreign policy matters. The document, first reported by Axios last night, called for the U.S. government to effectively nationalize a portion of the telecom sector — a radical departure from current policy — in a bid to combat Chinese influence.

      • FCC ‘Broadband Advisory Panel’ Faces Accusations Of Cronyism

        Last year we noted how the FCC had been hyping the creation of a new “Broadband Deployment Advisory Panel” purportedly tasked with coming up with solutions to the nation’s broadband problem. Unfortunately, reports just as quickly began to circulate that this panel was little more than a who’s who of entrenched telecom operators with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. What’s more, the panel featured few representatives from the countless towns and cities that have been forced to build their own broadband networks in the wake of telecom sector dysfunction.

        One report showed how 28 of the 30 representatives on the panel had some direct financial ties to the telecom sector, though many attempted to obfuscate this connection via their work for industry-funded think tanks.

      • The Same FCC That Ignored Science To Kill Net Neutrality Has Created An ‘Office Of Economics & Analysis’
    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions: the case of ‘Maasai IP’

        Over time the issue of whether and how to protect cultural heritage and folklore has attracted increasing attention. Discussions in this sense have famously taken place in a number of jurisdictions, including Australia and some African countries.

        With particular regard to the latter, a few days ago the Financial Times published an interesting article, discussing the case of ‘Maasai IP’.

        Maasai are are an ethnic group that has traditionally led a semi-nomadic life across southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are are famous as warriors and cattle-rustlers.

      • Fairview CEO says Epic an ‘impediment’ to innovation, calls for ‘march on Madison’

        “I will submit that one of the biggest impediments to innovation in health care is Epic, because the way that Epic thinks about their [intellectual property] [sic] and the IP [sic] of others that develop on that platform,” Hereford said at a panel discussion hosted by the Business Journal last week. “There are literally billions of dollars in the Silicon Valley chasing innovation in health care. And Yet Epic has architected an organization that has its belief that all good ideas are from Madison, Wisconsin. And on the off chance that one of us think of a good idea, it’s still owned by Madison, Wisconsin.”

      • Trademarks

        • Saying Goodbye to Chief Wahoo?

          A couple years ago, my youngest son was “drafted” onto the Indians Little League team. It was cringeworthy. The name was bad enough (and I’m thankful my alma mater had the good sense to abandon it nearly 50 years ago), but right there on the hat was Chief Wahoo. Needless to say, among the many baseball caps we have in our family, that one hasn’t seen the light of day since the season ended.

          Yesterday, the Cleveland team and Major League Baseball announced that they are retiring the logo from uniforms in a year (they had already removed it from in and around the stadium apparently). It’s unclear why it cannot be done sooner, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that manufacturing for next season is already underway and cannot be changed. Good riddance.

          Buried in this news is an interesting IP theory and policy tidbit worth discussion. The team is not abandoning the logo altogether. To maintain trademark rights, it will continue to sell Chief Wahoo merchandise in the Cleveland area. That’s right, trademark law is forcing the team to keep selling merchandise with an offensive logo that it claims to no longer be using.

      • Copyrights

        • US Copyright Royalty Board Significantly Raises Rates on Streaming: Is it Enough?

          The Copyright Royalty Board in the United States has issued an initial determination and accompanying regulations that raise the amount of royalty available to songwriters for streaming, which will impact services such as Pandora, Spotify, Apple and YouTube. Variety has an excellent article on the impact of the decision, which seems substantial—almost boosting royalties by 50%.

01.30.18

The Lobby for Software Patents — Including Microsoft-Connected Law Firms — Clings Onto One Patent From a Microsoft-Sponsored Patent Troll

Posted in America, Deception, Microsoft, Patents at 11:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It helps to follow the money…

Microsoft Finjan stake

Summary: There’s no evidence that software patents are coming back to the US any time soon, but lobbyists of this ’cause’ (like the firm of Bill Gates’ father) obsess over a single patent of the Microsoft-sponsored Finjan, hailing it as some sort of ‘evidence’ of a resurgence

THE UNITED STATES is certainly moving away from software patents. Don’t be misled by those who claim otherwise. They’re typically those who stand to gain (financially) from the practice of patenting algorithms — not because they actually develop software/write code but because they work for law firms that milk coders. I have been writing about it since my early 20s and I know how these people think. They’re not honest. They tend to be pretty greedy and they justify their lies to themselves (e.g. about coders needing patents and about software patents having ‘teeth’ in the UK).

Earlier today the Indian press published something titled “Where is Indian science headed?” It looked OK until the following sentence: “Software patents have been on the rise vis-a-vis pharma patents and this is MNC-driven, especially at the US end.”

What planet is he living on?! The US cracks down on software patents. The only thing on the rise is invalidation of software patents.

Record year for PTAB, as we noted here before, is something that even foes of PTAB find themselves having to admit today (IAM’s own headline said “PTAB breaks records” a few hours ago). PTAB is very important because it eliminates many USPTO-granted software patents, even when there’s no lawsuit but merely a threat of one (trolls do this a lot, especially to poor people/businesses because it keeps the racket safer from scrutiny). There’s nothing new to see in that IAM article; IAM is just reprinting charts from RPX and Unified Patents. Let’s pretend for a moment that IAM is serious journalism and not just lobbying. Oh, wait; never mind… that would be hard to pretend.

Let’s look at how the patent microcosm is attempting to spin decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). CAFC has just agreed (as usual) with PTAB and threw away a bad patent (not about software, but problematic for other reasons). Donald Zuhn wrote about it:

Last week, the Federal Circuit affirmed the rejection by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board of claims 1-7 of U.S. Patent No. 6,284,471 as being unpatentable under the doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting. Janssen Biotech, Inc. and New York University (“Janssen”), co-assignees of the ’471 patent, argued on appeal that obviousness-type double patenting was not applicable because the safe-harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. § 121 protected the ’471 patent claims. In affirming the Board’s decision, however, the Federal Circuit determined that the ’471 patent was not entitled to safe-harbor protections.

[...]

The opinion concludes with the panel finding to be unpersuasive Janssen’s argument that the Board erred by failing to apply a two-way test for double patenting. Instead, the panel concluded that Janssen failed to establish that the PTO is “solely responsible” for any alleged delay associated with the issuance of the ’471 patent. Finding that the ’471 patent was not entitled to safe-harbor protections, and that the Board did not err in applying the one-way test for double patenting, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s rejection of claims 1–7 of the ’471 patent as being unpatentable under the doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting.

The Federal Circuit (CAFC) almost always agrees with PTAB. In 2016 and 2017 estimates stood at about 80% validation rate (CAFC validating the PTAB’s judgments in 4 out of 5 cases). The patent microcosm does not like pointing it out because it wants us to think that PTAB does mock trials or is a “kangaroo court” (Watchtroll used that smear yesterday).

Here is something we found curious this morning. Nolan R. Hubbard and Kenneth C. Liao from K&L Gates (the firm of Bill Gates Sr. and hence somewhat of a Microsoft proxy) continue to lobby for software patents in the US. Microsoft can pretend to have nothing to do with it, but over the years we covered the many overlaps at K&L Gates. They actually use as their CAFC case study this Microsoft-sponsored patent troll, Finjan. To quote a portion:

Many software-related and business method-related patents have been invalidated for being directed to “abstract ideas.” On January 10, 2018, in Finjan, Inc., v. Blue Coat Systems, Inc., the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that Finjan’s U.S. Patent No. 6,154,844 (“the ’844 patent”) [1] was not directed to an abstract idea and was therefore patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The court’s threshold test for patent eligibility under § 101 is “whether the claims focus on the specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities . . . or, instead on a process that qualifies as an ‘abstract idea’ for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.” [2] The court’s recent decision provides additional guidance regarding the types of claims that constitute specific improvements in computer capabilities rather than being abstract ideas. The court additionally ruled on issues of infringement and damages.

They must love Finjan — a troll case that we first covered weeks ago (we have written approximately half a dozen times about it since). Also today there’s this article titled “The Current State of Computer Software Patentability” (sounds authoritative enough a headline). “It’s hard to predict the future of computer software patentability,” says Adam Richards (sales and marketing person), who tries to sneak in software patents in spite of Alice. From his column which cites Microsoft cases like Enfish (CAFC level):

The intellectual property protection of software is extremely important for every industry. After all, the modern society depends on computer software. However, the intellectual property of it has been debated in recent years. Back in 2014, the United States Supreme Court made a huge patent decision. They stated that simply adding computer language to ordinary aspects of technology were not enough for someone to deserve a patent.

Before this decision was made, many thought that software patents would be completely eliminated. The Supreme Court decided not to take it that far and noted that software patents will still be allowed. Nevertheless, in order for someone to earn a patent, they would have to either improve an existing technological process or improve the functioning of the computer. Following this decision, a lot of patents became invalid since district court judges figured that most of them were simply abstract ideas that never even deserved a patent to begin with. It also became harder to obtain software patents because of the expectations.

[...]

It’s hard to predict the future of computer software patentability. After all, there haven’t been a lot of cases where a software invention was eligible for a patent. However, each case helps inventors learn more about how to determine patent eligibility for their innovations. Every company is encouraged to at least try and see if their software patents could be valid, even though the odds are against them.

The odds are indeed against them. Last year CAFC threw away pretty much every software patent. The Supreme Court won't overturn its judgment on Alice-type cases any time soon (if ever).

CAFC has meanwhile moved to ruling on another patent case involving so-called 'Divided Infringement' (capitalised even because it became somewhat of a formal term). As one law firm has just explained it:

Reaffirming the breadth of the Akamai standard for divided infringement, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a summary judgment of non-infringement where two steps of a four-step method for luggage screening were performed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rather than by the defendant. Travel Sentry, Inc. v. Tropp, Case Nos. 16-2386; -2387; -2714; 17-1025 (Fed. Cir., Dec. 19, 2017) (O’Malley, J).

We certainly hope that CAFC and the Supreme Court won’t do anything irrational in the sense that it feeds hopes of a software patents resurgence. One troll case where one patent among many survived the Section 101 test is hardly hope, except for wishful thinkers looking to deceive readers/clients.

The Failure of ILO’s Administrative Tribunal Highlights Poor State of Justice in Europe and Worldwide

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Administrative Tribunal of ILO: President may set aside judgment according to opinions of the disciplinary committee. So workers are at the mercy of arbitrary [sic] — why a disciplinary committee?”

Summary: As the EPO and the UPC serve to demonstrate, we’re back to being ruled by ‘kings’ or governed by ‘monarchies’ while tribunals serve only (or primarily) a theatrical role

THE EPO is wasting millions of euros (stakeholders’ money) on lawyers, simply in order for them to help cover up Battistelli’s abuses. That also means crushing staff (his victims, whose legal budget isn’t limitless). We wrote about it earlier today. The EPO has said nothing about it. The EPO’s Twitter feed is full of fluff (“You just came up with some buzzword/acronym and then claim that many things belong to it,” I told them; they pay the media to ‘plant’ some puff pieces about this at the expense of stakeholders/EPO budget, conveniently forgetting that they're supposed to be a patent office).

“The EPO is wasting millions of euros (stakeholders’ money) on lawyers, simply in order for them to help cover up Battistelli’s abusesl.”The Presidential Palace of Battistelli continues gaining infinite powers while indulging in immunity and therein lies the problem, argues the following comment:

In my view, the judgements discussed in this article provide a rather neat illustration of a worrying problem with the governance of the EPO, namely a serious imbalance of arms between EPO employees and EPO senior management.

For example, in the Hardon case, the e-mail may well have shocked and offended “Mr A”. This seems to have been taken by the ILO as the only relevant starting point. However, I understand that the EPO management blocked all efforts to initiate an independent investigation into the events to which Ms Hardon’s e-mail referred … and so we will never know whether her “undiplomatic” description of the events could actually have been accurate (or justified / justifiable).

Thus, it is perfectly possible that by exerting control over how (if at all) events were investigated, the EPO management were able to construct their own narrative in which the dismissal of Ms Hardon appears to be an appropriate response. In the absence of any independent fact-finding, we will simply never know the truth of the matter … and neither will the ILO.

Another, more stark illustration of the imbalance of arms is provided by the ILO’s response to the alleged leaking of confidential information by those “briefing against” Mr Corcoran. There is no doubt that confidential information was leaked, as there is irrefutable proof that it came into the public domain. The nature of the information and the manner in which it was leaked also point to an effort to undermine the presumption of innocence in Mr Corcoran’s case. Nevertheless, clear evidence of wrongdoing by an unspecified individual led the EPO management to conduct …. no investigations whatsoever! This is precisely the opposite of what happened when the EPO management became aware of “leaks” that were unflattering to them.

The huge irony and double-standards evident in the contrasting outcomes could not be more obvious. This is further compounded by the fact that a defamation action against the “leaker” is impossible … again because of the inequality of arms. For example, Mr Corcoran’s lack of access to records of internal EPO communications would make it almost impossible to identify the “leaker” … and even if that hurdle was overcome, knowing the identity might not help (eg if the “leaker” asserted immunity from prosecution). On the other hand, those pursuing defamation claims against Mr Corcoran had full access to information obtained by “snooping” on internal communications, and did not need to worry about the defendant asserting immunity.

With such an obvious (and serious) inequality of arms evident in disputes between the EPO and its employees, is there anyone out there who still believes that the “protections” and “access to justice” afforded to EPO employees are in any way comparable to those afforded to employees under EU and German / Dutch national laws? Is it therefore not time that we gave those employees the same protections and access to justice as those enjoyed by individuals who do not happen to work for an international organisation?

This brings us to the UPC, another potentially lawless concept where one can be subjected to binding court rulings in a language different from one’s own (and from courts overseas, possibly with a plaintiff outside the EU, even some shell entity). GRUR is apparently the latest to pretend this is perfectly OK. Alexander Esslinger and Birgit Clark both link to this tweet which said: “The German Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (#GRUR) has published its amicus curiae brief in the constitutional complaint against the #UPC Agreement before the German Constitutional Court (@BVerfG ) #Patent ”

Esslinger pretty much copied this entire tweet (how odd) and I responded by saying that “the court ought to ask groups other than the patent ‘industry’ if they’ve been consulted about UPC (it would hurt them a lot)…”

“For similar reasons (hosting international organisations like ICC), the Dutch government does not want to remove Battistelli’s immunity when he breaks the law and ILO in Geneva is far too soft on the EPO.”What about people who are actually impacted by these laws? It’s like they don’t seem to matter to Germany. As for the EPO, it’s a convenient cash cow owing to its location. It oughtn’t be a taboo subject. The staff representation said it very clearly, repeatedly even. For similar reasons (hosting international organisations like ICC), the Dutch government does not want to remove Battistelli’s immunity when he breaks the law and ILO in Geneva is far too soft on the EPO. This is a mutual back-rubbing exercise rather than real accountability and justice. They construct a hypothetical or theoretical hierarchy of accountability (like the EPC attempted to do), but it clearly doesn’t function.

Anyway, here is a direct link to the PDF from GRUR (dated just over a month ago; 31 pages long and signed by “Gert Würtenberger, Präsident”). We are guessing that Team UPC is already reading this and preparing puff pieces about it, possibly to appear by the week’s end somewhere like Kluwer Patent Blog. These people certainly don’t care about the law (all they care about is their money) and if EPO staff is being crushed because of them, well… they couldn’t care any less.

Links 30/1/2018: Godot 3.0 and ncurses 6.1

Posted in News Roundup at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Refreshing old computers with Linux

      It’s nearly impossible to enter a school these days without seeing an abundance of technology. Despite this influx of computers into education, funding inequity forces school systems to make difficult choices. Some educators see things as they are and wonder, “Why?” while others see problems as opportunities and think, “Why not?”

      Andrew Dobbie is one of those visionaries who saw his love of Linux and computer reimaging as a unique learning opportunity for his students.

  • Kernel Space

    • Btrfs Gets More RAID 5/6 Fixes In Linux 4.16

      The Btrfs file-system updates were mailed in and subsequently pulled today to the mainline tree for the Linux 4.16 kernel merge window.

      There are some minor improvements like a zero range mode for fallocate, code clean-ups, improved bio merging on multiple devices, compression heuristic changes, and other small work.

    • Jailhouse Guest Support To Be Included With Linux 4.16

      With Linux 4.16 is initial support for the Jailhouse hypervisor to support native Linux guests in non-root cells.

      The past half-decade Siemens has been developing the Jailhouse partitioning hypervisor that is lighter than KVM and designed for their demanding, real-time, safety and security critical workloads. With Linux 4.16 the first bits of it are being mainlined in the Linux kernel in the form of the new JAILHOUSE_GUEST option to allow non-root cells to let Linux run as a guest.

    • Block Updates Land In The Linux 4.16 Kernel

      The block subsystem updates have now landed in Linus Torvalds’ Git tree during the first full day of the Linux 4.16 kernel merge window.

      There isn’t any “breakthrough” new block features for Linux 4.16 but the block optimizations are notable and I look forward to benchmarking that shortly.

    • L2 CDP Added To Linux 4.16 For L2 Cache Partitioning On Intel CPUs

      L2 Code and Data Prioritization (L2 CDP) is a feature of Intel’s Resource Director Technology (RDT) that will now be supported with the Linux 4.16 kernel.

      Intel RDT’s L2 Code and Data Prioritization feature allows for programmatic control over code and data placement in the L2 cache. This feature will be supported by future Intel Atom CPUs and is intended for use-cases where precise L2 cache control is desired for a VM/container/application.

    • Linux_4.15
    • Linux 4.15 Kernel, GCC, LinuxBoot Project and More Cryptojacking
    • SD Times news digest: Linux 4.15 not final, TensorFlow 1.5, and Cettia 1.0.0
    • Linus Torvalds announces Linux kernel 4.15 with a focus on Spectre and Meltdown

      After a long wait, the much-anticipated Linux kernel 4.15 is finally here. While these kernel releases are always important, this one is particularly noteworthy. Why? Because it largely focuses on Spectre and Meltdown mitigation. With that said, it is not only about those vulnerabilities, of course.

    • Torvalds Releases Linux 4.15 With Improved Meltdown, Spectre Patches

      CPU security issues required the longest Linux kernel development cycle since 2011, as Linus Torvalds releases Linux 4.15

      Linus Torvalds released the first new Linux kernel of 2018 on Jan. 28, after the longest development cycle for a new Linux kernel in seven years.

      During the release Linux Kernel release cycle, Torvalds typically issues a release candidate once a week, with most cycles including six to eight release candidates.

    • Microsoft Hyper-V Guests Get PCID Support With Linux 4.16

      With the in-development Linux 4.16 kernel there is now support for PCID with Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization guests.

    • Linux Foundation

      • CNCF to Host the Rook Project to Further Cloud-Native Storage Capabilities

        Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept Rook as the 15th hosted project alongside Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary and TUF.

        Rook has been accepted as an inception-level project, under the CNCF Graduation Criteria v1.0. The CNCF provides every project an associated maturity level of either inception, incubating or graduated. At a minimum, an inception-level project is required to add value to cloud native computing and be aligned with the CNCF charter.

      • CNCF’s First Cloud-Native Storage Project Is Rook

        Rook helped support HBO’s Game of Thrones season 7 premiere. Now, the open source software-defined storage project is the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s 15th hosted project and first in the storage category.

        Kubernetes container deployments typically use external storage systems. Rook, on the other hand, brings file, block, and object storage systems into the Kubernetes cluster. This allows the systems to run alongside other applications that use their data, and it makes the cloud-native cluster portable across public and private clouds.

      • Jorge Castro: Updating your CNCF Developer Affiliation

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation uses gitdm to figue out who is contributing and from where. This is used to generate reports and so forth.

      • AT&T plans to accelerate White Box adoption by releasing dNOS into open source

        AT&T has announced that it will open source its Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) project and that it will soon be hosted by the Linux Foundation. The dNOS project provides a software framework to speed the adoption and use of white boxes in a service provider’s infrastructure. The idea is that telcos, software developers, cloud providers, hardware makers and networking application developers can quickly create new white box infrastructure to meet evolving carrier requirements – and, perhaps just as importantly, do it in a more cost-effective way.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • You Can Now Use VirtualBox to Test KDE Plasma Mobile

        If you’re keen to try KDE Plasma mobile first hand I’ve some good news for you: it just got super easy to download and test it.

        Yup, KDE has announced that a new ISO image is now available to download. Using this image you can boot an alpha-quality version of Plasma Mobile in a virtual machine app like VirtualBox or KVM.

      • Events: Akademy 2018

        Not nearly as close as FOSDEM, but still coming up on the KDE Community calendar: Akademy 2018. It’s in Vienna. I vaguely remember visiting Vienna once, long ago — possibly an FSFE function. So it’s high time to head out that way again to visit the local KDE team and to see what 2017-2018 has brought (and will bring) the KDE community.

      • KEXI 3.1.0 Beta & Frameworks

        Today is the release day for KEXI 3.1.0 Beta & its frameworks: https://community.kde.org/Kexi/Releases#3.1.0_Beta_1

        Since version 3 it becomes KEXI not Kexi to suggest becoming a standalone app. It’s standalone status includes being first-class app also outside of KDE Plasma. To make this real things such as useful yet simple file widget are developed or single click mode is really single click mode “even” on XFCE. Actually implementing optimal experience for Windows is quite similar to supporting XFCE.

        KEXI Frameworks are now prepared for backward compatibility rules within the series >=3.1. So I would encourage to try KProperty if you need powerful property editing features in your app in place of tedious Qt list or tree views. There’s KPropertyExample in the same repository. Then there’s KDb if you actually expect more (something low or high-level) than QtSql, that is also need to create database or SQLite-based documents, what seems to be very popular container in our times. Then try KReport if you want escape from generating (ODF/HTML/whatever) documents “by hand”, or QPainting them by hand, just to be able to print your application’s data in a structured way with nice title, header, footer. Try KReportExample to see KReport in action with “a few lines of code” app.

      • New artwork for Falkon, do you have any ideas?

        The lead developer has called for submissions on a new logo for Falkon. One of the current submissions, which I must say I love, is shown below by Andres Betts who is on the KDE VDG team.

      • Polishing Plasma 5.12
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Tweaks 3.28 Progress Report 1

        A few days ago, I released GNOME Tweaks 3.27.4, a development snapshot on the way to the next stable version 3.28 which will be released alongside GNOME 3.28 in March. Here are some highlights of what’s changed since 3.26.

  • Distributions

    • Quick Look at the Arch Based Indie Linux Distribution: MagpieOS

      Most of the Linux distros that are in use today are either created and developed in the US or Europe. A young developer from Bangladesh wants to change all that.

    • Gentoo Family

      • FOSDEM is near

        Excitement is building with FOSDEM 2018 only a few days away. There are now 14 current and one former developer in planned attendance, along with many from the Gentoo community.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Slackware Family

      • Chromium 64 – and 32bit pain

        The new release of the Chromium sources gives us version 64 of Google’s browser. I have created Slackware packages for you, but that was not entirely trivial.

        The Chromium compilation on my 32bit Slackware OS kept failing on the embedded ffmpeg. I am afraid the fact that some of the bigger distros are dropping 32bit variants starts showing and things are coming apart at the seams.

        When you are a developer and there’s no 32bit release of your favorite OS, this makes it quite difficult to test the validity of code paths when you only compile and test your code on a 64bit platform. This is what’s happening with Google’s Chromium code and it will probably only get worse.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Webmail and whole class of problems.

        I am sure some people would suggest either Emacs or alpine or some other tool which works and I’m sure it worked right out of bat for them, for me I wanted to have something which had a GUI and I didn’t have to think too much about it. It also points out the reason why Thunderbird was eventually moved out of mozilla in a sense so that community could do feature and bug-fixing more faster than either mozilla did or had the resources or the will to do so.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • LXD Weekly Status #32
          • Ubuntu reverting to Xorg in Bionic Beaver

            Ten years’ worth of effort to replace the Xorg graphics framework has been given a “must try harder” mark by Ubuntu, which says its next release will not use Wayland by default.

            Ubuntu’s desktop engineering manager Will Cooke made the announcement last Friday, saying the decision applies to the Bionic Beaver release due in April.

            He listed three shortcomings in Wayland: screen sharing works (for example in Skype, Hangouts and WebRTC) better in Xorg, remote desktop control ditto, and “recoverability from Shell crashes is less dramatic”.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • System76 Wants to Offer Full Disk Encryption for Its Ubuntu-Based Pop!_OS Linux

              System76, the computer reseller specialized in the sale of Linux-based notebook, desktop, and server computers, shared details on new installer work for the next release of Pop!_OS Linux.

              It would appear that System76 is collaborating with elementary’s Daniel Foré on a new installer, which will offer full disk encryption support, for the next major release of their Ubuntu-Based Pop!_OS Linux distribution, which is coming this spring based on Canonical’s Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source needs contributions: automation, scale & security are key

    Automated software container security company Twistlock claims to be passionate about open source contributions.

    Company CTO John Morello points out that all too few firms actually contribute with ‘code commits’ despite many claiming to be open source advocates, or openly stating their use of open technologies.

  • Blockchain is this year’s buzzword – but can it outlive the hype?

    “Blockchain has the potential to replace mediators who are present today in multiple industries to provide transparency and accountability, such as banks for financial transactions, universities for verifying academic certificates or music companies to reward music creators,” says Dr David Galindo, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham and a cryptography expert.

  • A Project Overview of Cardstack Cryptocurrency and Open-source Blockchain

    Since its invention in 2009, blockchain has evolved to become a major revolutionary technology of the digital world. Decentralized tech like Bitcoin, Ethereum and several other cryptocurrencies and ventures have established and utilized the proficiency of blockchain in making money. There is a new player in the market and it is called Cardstack, a likely solution for decentralized internet founded by Chris Tse.

  • Can Mycroft’s Privacy-Centric Voice Assistant Take On Alexa And Google?

    Ask Joshua Montgomery what’s wrong with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and you’ll likely get a cynical answer.

    Montgomery is the CEO of Mycroft, which for the past few years has been building an open-source alternative to big tech’s voice assistants. He doesn’t trust any of those companies–not Google, nor Apple, nor Amazon–to protect people’s privacy or act in users’ best interests.

  • Events

    • Fleet Commander!

      I’ve presented a talk about Fleet Commander at DevConf CZ’2018, which basically show-cases the current status of the project after having the whole integration with FreeIPA and SSSD done!

    • We are back! #LinuXatUNI on the stage
    • Meet us at FOSDEM 2018!

      Members of the Purism design team, Librem 5 development team, and PureOS developers will be meeting up and walking around the event, namely: François, Predrag (Peter), Jeff, Nicole, Dorota, Guido, Matthias and Zlatan will all be on-site. You can check out what they look like on our team page. Come and say hi!

    • Day one of the pre-FOSDEM Debconf Videoteam sprint

      I’m at the Linux Belgium training center, where this last week before FOSDEM the DebConf video team is holding a sprint. The nice folks of Linux Belgium made us feel pretty welcome…

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s Public Policy Impact on Internet Health

        Rest assured, in 2018, we will invest heavily in shaping public policy issues that contribute to and advance a healthy internet. We’ll continue our leadership on multi-year issues like privacy and security. We’ll keep fighting the critical ongoing battles like copyright reform and net neutrality. And we’re looking at emerging topics related to openness and decentralization, understanding and fighting back against the future of gatekeeper control of our internet. We also have incredible depth left to be explored on how we perceive and experience trust online, and who around the world really gets included and can take full advantages of the opportunities of the internet. Some of the policy issues we tackle will be major headlines, even more so in 2018 than they were in 2017 – issues like competition, artificial intelligence, and intermediary liability. And we will be there. Across the board, in 2018, we will engage in public policy wherever we can to promote a healthy, open, trusted internet.

      • Progressive Web Apps are here. What’s the big deal?

        The web is the largest software platform ever, a great equalizer that works on any device, anywhere. The more it can do, the better off we’ll be. That’s the thinking behind Progressive Web Apps (PWA), mobile-friendly websites that can almost everything native apps can do, and they’re coming to Firefox for Android.

      • January 2018 CA Communication

        Mozilla has sent a CA Communication to inform Certificate Authorities (CAs) who have root certificates included in Mozilla’s program about current events related to domain validation for SSL certificates and to remind them of a number of upcoming deadlines.

      • Everything you need to know about privacy may just be on Reality TV

        One of the most prevalent and frightening things that women have to deal with online is the threat of stalking and severe harassment. Having been frequent targets of abuse, online harassment and stalking for the better part of a decade, it is clear that over the past few years, the Kardashian-Jenner clan have become experts in privacy because they’ve been forced to— these women have learned the hard way that they need to be in control of information about their private lives.

      • FOSDEM, Rust, and Debugging

        I’ve recently switched groups at Mozilla to start working full-time on improving Rust debugging.

      • Firefox to emit ‘occasional sponsored story’ in ads test

        Some users who bravely test betas of Mozilla’s Firefox browser will soon also test an “occasional sponsored story” as the browser-maker tries to re-invent web ads.

        This story starts with Mozilla’s February 2017 acquisition of web-clipping app Pocket.

        Pocket let users bookmark content they like, then sync that list of sites across multiple devices. The occasional sponsored post popped up among those lists.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Announcing ncurses 6.1

      The ncurses (new curses) library is a free software emulation of curses in System V Release 4.0 (SVr4), and more. It uses terminfo format, supports pads and color and multiple highlights and forms characters and function-key mapping, and has all the other SVr4-curses enhancements over BSD curses. SVr4 curses became the basis of X/Open Curses.

    • Ncurses 6.1 Released With A Variety Of Improvements & Other Changes

      Ncurses 6.1 retains compatibility support for Ncurses 5.0/6.0, but adds in a variety of new features and improvements. There is now extended numeric capabilities, various internal code changes to enhance Ncurses’ performance, some new functions introduced, and a variety of corrections to existing features.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Truly open education will require sweeping changes

      It is no secret that American schools have struggled to prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Critics have blamed schools’ shortcomings on a variety of factors: change-resistant bureaucracy, low standards, straying too far from the Three R’s, inadequate teacher training, and more. One potential root cause of this fundamental issue is that the education system isn’t built to be responsive to a rapidly changing environment.

      Public education’s aims—providing every student with a free and appropriate education regardless of race, sex, class, disability, etc.—are undeniably admirable. An unfortunate outgrowth of these aims is an emphasis on standardization that can be sluggish and stagnant. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the world wasn’t evolving so rapidly economically, technologically, politically, and socially. Parents, students, and employers are sounding the alarm about this issue. It’s becoming clear that a structural shift will have to happen for the education system to become more responsive to the needs of its key stakeholders.

  • Programming/Development

    • Introducing RLlib: A composable and scalable reinforcement learning library

      In a previous post, I outlined emerging applications of reinforcement learning (RL) in industry. I began by listing a few challenges facing anyone wanting to apply RL, including the need for large amounts of data, and the difficulty of reproducing research results and deriving the error estimates needed for mission-critical applications. Nevertheless, the success of RL in certain domains has been the subject of much media coverage. This has sparked interest, and companies are beginning to explore some of the use cases and applications I described in my earlier post. Many tasks and professions, including software development, are poised to incorporate some forms of AI-powered automation. In this post, I’ll describe how RISE Lab’s Ray platform continues to mature and evolve just as companies are examining use cases for RL.

    • Employers want JavaScript, but developers want Python

      When it comes to which programming languages are in demand by employers, JavaScript, Java, Python, C++, and C—in that order—came out on top in a recent developer survey. Developers, however, want to learn languages like Python, Go, and Kotlin.

      A survey of developers by technical recruiter HackerRank, conducted in October, found no gap between languages employers want and what developers actually know, with JavaScript barely edging out Java. But as far as which languages developers prefer, Python is the language developers most want to learn—and many already know it, HackerRank found.

Leftovers

  • Ten Days in Shenzhen

    Despite the several issues I ran into, including the tech issues I encountered because of my pig-headed insistence on preserving a high level of security and some poor choices I made, I consider my ten day stay in Shenzhen a resounding success. I feel much more confident moving my project along and more solid in my understanding of hardware after the experience. It highlighted several issues and opened the door to several new possibilities. I don’t know of any other place in the world that I’ve traveled to that could offer this much for a hardware project. There are certainly much wider ramifications to such a realization than my personal interests and the hardware segment of the tech world, but that’s a separate topic.

  • Apple iPhone X demand: More data, more questions

    Initially, the big question was whether Apple Inc. AAPL, -2.07% would be able to produce iPhone X devices quickly enough to meet demand for the phone, which was expected to drive a “supercycle” of upgrades. Now, however, analysts are wondering whether Apple might be easing up on build orders for the phone given that interest hasn’t quite manifested as anticipated, and whether this even matters for the stock.

  • Science

    • Human genome decoded with pocket-sized device

      Scientists used a portable device no bigger than a cellphone to sequence the most complete human genome ever assembled with a single technology, according to a study published Monday.

      The breakthrough, detailed in the journal Nature Biotechnology, brings us closer to the day when family doctors will order up genome scans during a regular check-up along with blood work, the authors suggested.

      “We are definitely approaching the point where sequencing genomes will become a routine part of advanced clinical exams,” lead author Matthew Loose, a professor at the University of Nottingham, told AFP.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Faced with failing antibiotics, scientists are using killer viruses to fight superbugs

      Resistance is much less likely to develop with phages, because each type of phage infects a specific type of bacteria. Using them to fight infections is an old idea. But until recently, finding the right type of phage was little more than guesswork. Sometimes a doctor would inject a patient with a phage and it would work, and sometimes it wouldn’t.

      As a result, phage therapy is now used only for the sickest patients, as a treatment of last resort. But DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence could make finding the right phage much easier, turning the strategy into a more practical treatment option.

    • Washington State Wants to Make It Easier to Sterilize People With Disabilities

      n 1936, Ann Cooper Hewitt filed a lawsuit against her mother — and with good reason. At the age of 20, her mother Ann had sterilized her against her will. Having succeeded in classifying her as having an intellectual disability, Ann’s mother was legally allowed to authorize the operation over Ann’s objections. Her mother’s lawyer responded by claiming that Ann’s sterilization had been “for society’s sake” due to the girl’s “erotic tendencies.”

      Even in the age of the eugenics movement, where tens of thousands were involuntarily sterilized by state governments who sought to breed “better” human beings by removing disability from the gene pool, the Hewitt case attracted nationwide attention. Could a diagnosis of disability allow parents to control their child’s reproductive future against his or her will?

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump’s secret assassinations programme

      It was approved by President Trump casually over dinner – a midnight raid and drone strike on the village of Yakla in Yemen. Concerns about the quality of the intelligence and legality of the operation would later prove to be warnings he should have heeded, but he gave the order anyway. What happened next left 10 children dead and was described by President Trump as a “win”. Reprieve’s investigations have revealed that it was anything but. Instead, we have uncovered violations of international law that led to an appalling loss of life.

      [...]

      The first year of the Trump administration has resulted in more loss of life from drone strikes than all eight years of Obama’s presidency. Trump ripped up the limited safeguards President Obama put in place.This is now industrial-scale executions, hugely expanded in both scale and callousness, conducted with no regard for human life or human rights.

    • Miscalculations in Israel Could Pave Way to Wider War

      Last week, Israeli political leaders were rolling with guffaws and ribbing each other in delight as Vice-President Mike Pence proved that, as a Christian Zionist, he was more Zionist than the Zionists in the Knesset (minus, of course, its evicted Arab members – see here). But one might wonder what the more sober Israeli security echelon figures were thinking as they listened to Pence’s Knesset speech, which was rife with Biblical references and declarations of his “admiration for the People of the Book.”

      Perhaps they were speculating how far they might be able to go in influencing Pence and his boss, Donald Trump, to wield U.S. military power to advance Israeli interests.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, via the Trump family go-betweens – Jared Kushner, and the Trump family lawyers – has certainly had an impact in Washington. The Middle East landscape has changed considerably over the last year as a consequence, but the nature of that change is what is at issue. How many of these changes have actually benefited Israel’s – or the U.S.’s – security interests?

    • The War That Never Ends (for the U.S. Military High Command)

      Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it’s well that they did. The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country’s artificial border. In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong.

      More than two decades of involvement and, at the war’s peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon. Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam’s military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975.

      There’s just one thing. Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the “orthodox” school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they’re still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

    • Tillerson’s Promise of More War in Syria Gets Warm Reception From Corporate Media

      In a speech at Stanford this month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that America intends to keep military troops in Syria indefinitely, in pursuit of the US’s “key end states for Syria,” including “post-Assad leadership,” the marginalization of Iran and the elimination of “weapons of mass destruction” that the US claims Syria has.

      Occupying a country without the permission of the host government, as America is doing in Syria, contravenes international law. Nor does the US have a legal right to pursue regime change in Syria. Yet multiple media outlets have praised Tillerson’s remarks.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • “Polish death camps” censorship bill angers Israeli government

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized a bill passed last week by the Polish Sejm which would make phrases like “Polish death camps” illegal.

      “I strongly oppose it,” Netanyahu said in an official statement on Saturday. “…We will under no circumstances accept any attempt to rewrite history.”

      The bill would amend an existing law to make use of the term by Poles or foreigners punishable by a fine or up to three years’ imprisonment. It still requires approval by the Senate and a signature from Polish President Andrzej Duda, which is likely.

    • Give young journalists protections from school censorship

      While no law prevents school administrators from censoring student reporters, some schools in Washington are protecting the voices of students through local practices that entrust student editors with responsibility for content…

    • It’s Time to Talk About Internet Companies’ Content Moderation Operations

      Many user-generated content (UGC) services aspire to build scalable businesses where usage and revenues grow without increasing headcount. Even with advances in automated filtering and artificial intelligence, this goal is not realistic. Large UGC databases require substantial human intervention to moderate anti-social and otherwise unwanted content and activities. Despite the often-misguided assumptions by policymakers, problematic content usually does not have flashing neon signs saying “FILTER ME!” Instead, humans must find and remove that content—especially with borderline cases, where machines can’t make sufficiently nuanced judgments.

      At the largest UGC services, the number of people working on content moderation is eye-popping. By 2018, YouTube will have 10,000 people on its “trust & safety teams.” Facebook’s “safety and security team” will grow to 20,000 people in 2018.

    • Austria refers Facebook ‘Hate-Speech’ case to the CJEU

      The plaintiff in this case is Dr Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, a green politician from Austria. In April 2016, a Facebook user with the fake alias ‘Michaela Jaskova’ posted an image of Glawischnig-Piesczek, and made some rude comments in German (“wretched traitor”, “corrupt clumsy oaf”, “member of a fascist party”) regarding the politician. Facebook was requested to delete the image and the comments in July 2016, but failed to do so.

    • Sina Weibo in trouble with Chinese censors

      China’s efforts to undermine freedom of speech and freedom of the press continue unabated within the country’s borders.

      After the 19th National People’s congress last year, it was widely recognized that China’s efforts towards “national rejuvenation” under President Xi Jinping would accompany increased online censorship and state supervision of domestic media platforms.

      Over the past two months there have been orders to ban the use of all personal VPNs online, as well as efforts to further regulate what kinds of imagery is permitted on Chinese television, with the party declaring hip-hop and other urban subcultures unfit for public viewing.

    • SC to hear Palekar’s plea on pre-censorship of films
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Patching isn’t working and end-users ignore breaches, says ex-NSA security VP David Venable [Ed: Your employees are using Microsoft Windows (which you put back doors in) to store cracking tools. And Kaspesky too. You yourselves are the problem.]

      David Venable, VP of cyber security at network provider and security firm Masergy, thinks that the world’s approach to patching is broken, and the evidence – data leaks and exploits like WannaCry…

    • A Response to “Americans, the NSA is Still Listening: Section 702 is Alive and Well”

      I begin with acknowledging that, on at least one point, Mr. Husick accurately judges my disposition. I have no use for the treachery and deceit by which Edward Snowden breached his confidentiality commitments, manipulated and abused his access, and then betrayed his country. Notably, five years after the first of his well-reported disclosures, Snowden has yet to reveal any program or action undertaken by the National Security Agency (NSA) or any other element of the Intelligence Community that broke the law. As the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) concluded after its exhaustive post-Snowden review (and as remains true today), there has never been an intentional violation of the standards that govern the operation of the Section 702 Program—one of the most heavily regulated and tightly monitored undertakings conducted by the U.S. government.[3]

    • Congressional Votes on Controversial Surveillance Law Close Door on Privacy Debate—Or Do They?

      Everywhere Americans look today, threats to their privacy are prevalent. Whether hackers are gaining access to our financial data or social media accounts, our location is being compromised by the GPS technology in our phones, or Internet of Things devices such as digital assistants and connected Barbie dolls passively listening to conversations in our homes, privacy is proving to be increasingly elusive.

    • It’s Time to Make Student Privacy a Priority

      Last month, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Education held a workshop in Washington, DC. The topic was “Student Privacy and Ed Tech.” We at EFF have been trying to get the FTC to focus on the privacy risks of educational technology (or “ed tech”) for over two years, so we eagerly filed formal comments.

      We’ve long been concerned about how technology impacts student privacy. As schools and classrooms become increasingly wired, and as schools put more digital devices and services in the hands of students, we’ve been contacted by a large number of concerned students, parents, teachers, and even administrators.

      They want to know: What data are ed tech providers collecting about our kids? How are they using it? How well do they disclose (if at all) the scope of their data collection? How much control (if any) do they give to schools and parents over the retention and use of the data they collect? Do they even attempt to obtain parental consent before collecting and using incredibly sensitive student data?

    • When Trading Track Records Means Less Privacy

      Sharing your personal fitness goals—lowered heart rates, accurate calorie counts, jogging times, and GPS paths—sounds like a fun, competitive feature offered by today’s digital fitness trackers, but a recent report from The Washington Post highlights how this same feature might end up revealing not just where you are, where you’ve been, and how often you’ve traveled there, but sensitive national security information.

      According to The Washington Post report, the fitness tracking software company Strava—whose software is implemented into devices made by Fitbit and Jawbone—posted a “heat map” in November 2017 showing activity of some of its 27 million users around the world. Unintentionally included in that map were the locations, daily routines, and possible supply routes of disclosed and undisclosed U.S. military bases and outposts, including what appear to be classified CIA sites.

    • Senators Demand Investigation Of Intelligence Community’s Refusal To Implement Whistleblower Protections

      When the Snowden leaks dropped, plenty of people rushed to criticize his actions, saying he should have brought his concerns to officials via the proper channels. Always assumed to be mostly worthless, the intervening four years have proven nothing shoots messengers faster than the “proper channels.” Despite periodic legislative attempts to institute better whistleblower protections, working within the system rarely produces positive changes. It does, however, subject the whistleblower to plenty of retaliation.

      This sad fact is personified by Dan Meyer — the former official whistleblower channel for the Intelligence Community. Meyer blew the whistle himself, pointing out wrongdoing by top IC officials. Now, he’s being forced out of office, clearing the path for the IC’s attempt to rebrand whistleblowers as “insider threats.” Meyer is facing an ad hoc Star Chamber of IC Inspector Generals, all of them apparently gunning for his swift removal.

    • ICE Accesses a Massive Amount of License Plate Data. Will California Take Action?

      The news that Immigrations & Customs Enforcement is using a massive database of license plate scans from a private company sent shockwaves through the civil liberties and immigrants’ rights community, who are already sounding the alarm about how mass surveillance will be used to fuel deportation efforts.

      The concerns are certainly justified: the vendor, Vigilant Solutions, offers access to 6.5 billion data points, plus millions more collected by law enforcement agencies around the country. Using advanced algorithms, this information—often collected by roving vehicles equipped with automated license plate readers (ALPRs) that scan every license plate they pass—can be used to reveal a driver’s travel patterns and to track a vehicle in real time.

    • Fitness Tracker Data Exposes Military Operations, Shows What Damage That Can Be Done With ‘Just Metadata’

      Andy Robertson covered this for Forbes in May of 2015. The Flyby feature connects users by providing them links to public profile pages of other users they’d “passed” during a run. The feature may not give users each other’s addresses, but users can assume their “competitors” work or live close by.

      Strava does allow users to geofence “private” areas to prevent tracking in those areas. But it’s not a default option. If you don’t want to share every movement with Strava, you have to opt out. Most users don’t. And most users are seemingly unaware of how much data they’re leaving behind.

      This “metadata” — something our government refers to as harmless when gathered in bulk — can result in real-world security issues. Conflict analyst Nathan Ruser was the first to point out how Strava’s data was making it easy for people to pinpoint military bases and operations.

    • Strava’s privacy PR nightmare shows why you can’t trust social fitness apps to protect your data

      For years, I used the popular activity-tracking app Strava to log my bike rides, almost all of which started and ended at my San Francisco apartment. At some point I thought, hey, maybe it’s not a great idea to share such precise data about my location, so I set up an online perimeter several blocks in diameter around my home to make the beginning and end of my journey a little less obvious. That way, the app wouldn’t show my movements once I’d entered that zone.

    • NSA cryptologist gets 10 years in prison for attempted sexual encounter with a minor

      Mark Anthony Pazmino, then a 28-year-old linguist assigned to the National Security Agency, showed up at the swimming pool of a local Air Force base with condoms and booze for a sexual encounter with someone he thought would be an underage teenage girl.

      But Pazmino was not met by the 14-year-old who he believed was receiving his explicit messages via a cell phone app. Rather, federal agents were waiting for him. In short order, the Army corporal’s brief career and his stint at the NSA ended. He was later dismissed with an “other than honorable discharge” upon pleading guilty to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.

    • The NSA Literally Removed “Honesty” From Its Core Values

      On January 12, the National Security Agency (NSA) removed “honesty” from the core values listed on its website. To replace the word, “commitment to service” “respect for people,” and “accountability,” have been added.

      While this may seem like linguistic nitpicking, it’s a bit strange for such a heavily-scrutinized government agency to drop their commitment to honesty. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the scope of the NSA’s surveillance and data collections, it’s been clear that the agency obfuscated the scale of their spying operations.

    • Judge orders U.S. government to seek consent to give data to AT&T, Time Warner

      The judge hearing the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop AT&T from buying Time Warner ordered the department on Monday to seek permission to give the two companies access to rivals’ pricing data.

      Judge Richard Leon, living up to a pledge made during a hearing last week, ordered the Justice Department, which has the data, to ask the companies that gave it to the government for consent to pass it on to AT&T and Time Warner’s legal team.

      The Justice Department sued in November to stop AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. wireless company, from buying Time Warner for $85 billion because of concerns that it could raise prices for rivals and pay-TV subscribers as well as hamper the development of online video. Trial is set for March 19.

    • Aussie military says tracking app doesn’t breach security
    • What He Did on His Summer Break: Exposed a Global Security Flaw
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • My First Night on Death Row as an Innocent Man

      I arrived at death row on November 1, 1994, the same year director Frank Darabont turned Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” into the now classic movie about a wrongfully convicted banker and his wise black friend. A green stone tower at the entrance to the Ellis Unit prison looked a little like the structures that rose from the Maine dirt in that film. A white female guard stood atop the tower. A pistol holstered to her hip, she also held a rifle in her right hand. She looked to be in her 50s, and her Southern drawl told me she’d been plucked from a roster of job applicants who lived somewhere nearby.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Leaked Trump Plan To ‘Nationalize’ Nation’s 5G Networks A Bizarre, Unrealistic Pipe Dream

      There’s been a lot of hand wringing and hyperventilation over a new report claiming that the Trump administration wants to nationalize the nation’s looming fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks, despite the fact the proposal has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever actually materializing. According to a leaked PowerPoint deck and memo drafted by a “Senior National Security Council official,” the Trump administration wants the U.S. government to build and own a centralized, government-controlled 5G network in order to, purportedly, fight Chinese hackers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Salt Lake Comic Con files for new trial in trademark case

        Salt Lake Comic Con lawyers have filed a motion for a new trial following a federal jury’s decision that the convention infringes on San Diego Comic-Con’s trademark.

        The Salt Lake lawyers filed the paperwork on Tuesday in response to last month’s eight-day trial in U.S. District Court, during which jurors decided that the California convention’s trademarks are valid. The jury found that the infringement was not willful and awarded $20,000 in damages to the San Diego Comic-Con, which had sought $12 million.

      • Salt Lake Comic Con Files For A New Trial And Seeks Round 2

        In the wake of San Diego Comic-Con winning its years-long lawsuit against Salt Lake Comicon over its trademark on the term “comic-con”, much of the media coverage was somewhat apocalyptic as to what the consequences would be for cons across the country. Despite the payout for winning the suit being a paltry $20k, more focus was put on just how other cons would react. The early returns are mixed, with some proactively undergoing name-changes to avoid litigation and others staying stalwart. The point we have made all along is that this win for SDCC was not some ultimate final act on the matter.

      • Nestle, Atari settle lawsuit over Kit Kat campaign

        Nestle SA has settled a lawsuit in which Atari SA accused the Swiss food company of using the hit 1970s video game “Breakout” without permission to sell Kit Kat bars.

        U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, dismissed Atari’s copyright infringement case on Wednesday after the companies settled, court records show.

    • Copyrights

      • Ninth Circuit Issues Important Decision on Software Licensing Practices and Web Scraping

        Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit issued a noteworthy ruling in a dispute between an enterprise software licensor and a third-party support provider. The case is particularly important as it addresses the common practice of using automated means to download information (in this case, software) from websites in contravention of website terms and conditions. Also, the case examines and interprets fairly “standard” software licensing language in light of evolving business practices in the software industry. (Oracle USA, Inc. v. Rimini Street, Inc., No. 16-16832 (9th Cir. Jan. 8, 2018)).

China’s Patent Policy Likely to Drive Out Foreign Companies and Maybe That’s Just the Intention

Posted in Asia, Patents at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From manufacturing powerhouse to litigation hub; what would that cause to investment though?

Pudong skyline
Pudong, a district of Shanghai, China

Summary: While corporate media focuses on trade war (e.g. US almost banning Huawei-branded phones) there’s a broader picture which includes patent aspects (Huawei and other Chinese giants use patents for sanctions)

AS we noted in our last post, it’s becoming a liability for firms to operate (e.g. sell) in China, manufacture in China, or be based in China because it makes them susceptible to more patent lawsuits. Korean, Japanese, European and American firms might learn this sooner or later.

As IAM put it yesterday, “Shenzhen will play host to one of the first patent-related domestic court clashes between Chinese mobile device manufacturers following Coolpad’s launch of a suit against Xiaomi…”

IAM loves it, as its funding sources are litigators and even trolls. But what does that mean for the rest of us, who are neither litigators nor trolls?

IAM covered this latest twist in the Coolpad case (mentioned here last week), alluding to news from late on Friday:

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad announced late Friday night that it has sued larger rival Xiaomi for infringing three Chinese invention patents. The cases will play out in the city where Coolpad is headquartered, at the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court. Notably, it will be one of the first major patent clashes between major players in China’s smartphone sector to play out in domestic courts.

In a voluntary disclosure filed with the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, Coolpad said that six separate cases have been accepted by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court. The plaintiff is a subsidiary of the group called Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific.

Korean companies like Samsung are also being legally harassed in China by patent giants and trolls. It’s not the sort of environment it used to be; it’s a lot more hostile. There are even embargoes being imposed by the state (to protect state-connected firms like Huawei).

What adds to/fans the flames of this litigation atmosphere is the poor patent scope. SIPO has gone further and further out of its way to expand the scope of patents. Last week we wrote about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruling in favour of GUI patents [1, 2] (incidentally against a Korean company, LG, which we’ve just mentioned), but this lunacy which is patents on GUIs has gone wild in China. Yesterday Managing IP published this article about that:

At the end of December 2017, Beijing IP Court decided the first GUI (graphical user interface) patent infringement case in China. This case is a battle between two anti-virus software giants: the plaintiff Qihoo 360 currently is the largest cyber security company in China; and the defendant Jiangmin is a pioneer anti-virus software provider in the PC era. Beijing IP Court rendered a decision in favour of Jiangmin.

There’s also a slightly older article about that. To quote:

China’s first lawsuit for infringement of graphical user interface (GUI) design has been recently concluded by the Beijing IP Court. This case has attracted much public attention, as GUI designs have become protectable in China by so-called design patents only as of 1 May 2014, and despite a large number of GUI design patents being granted since then, their enforceability remained untested until the present case. The judgment issued on 25 December 2017 now results in heated discussion and leaves, in particular, software developers counting on strong GUI design protection very disappointed.

GUI patents are so broad and vague that it’s pretty incredible they even get granted. They’re not inventions. Combine that with China’s litigation rates (soaring nowadays) and it looks ever more daunting to enter the Chinese market. Maybe, in a sense, this is what Xi’s CPC intended; maybe it just wants to drive out foreign companies in order to promote local brands like Huawei (government-connected). Censorship has long been one pretext for banning foreign firms from operating in China, so why not patents? It makes it look a lot more rational than nativism/nationalism.

A Korean Android OEM is Bullied by Patent Trolls Which Microsoft Gave Patents to and Paid

Posted in GNU/Linux, LG, Microsoft, Patents at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LG is the latest victim, but let’s carry on pretending that “Microsoft loves Linux”

LG phone

Summary: Even though LG already pays Microsoft ‘protection’ money for alleged patent infringements in Linux (since 2007) the trolls that are connected to Microsoft carry on chasing it with lawsuits in East Texas, so Microsoft’s ‘protection’ is illusionary at best and Microsoft is a back-stabbing ‘ally’

THE malicious MOSAID (now known as Conversant and led by Boris Teksler) is a patent troll. It was armed by Microsoft some years ago and it now attacks Android OEMs. The latest victim? LG. As IAM put it yesterday: “Over the last four years the licensing dispute between Conversant subsidiary Core Wireless and LG has had all the familiar traits of a modern day infringement spat as the battle has dragged on in two separate district court cases.”

It’s the district court in East Texas and, as a reminder, “Conversant acquired the Core Wireless portfolio of around 2,000 assets from Nokia in 2011.” Remember that Microsoft guided the transfer of patents from Nokia to Conversant (known as MOSAID back then). We have been writing a lot about that. Boris Teksler is aware of it.

LG has also just been attacked by Uniloc, which Microsoft paid a lot of money back in the days (we wrote many articles about that). Again it’s in Texas, but the troll now preys on Korean firms. The English-speaking mainstream media in Korea wrote about that yesterday:

A nonpracticing entity filed a series of patent infringement lawsuits last year against South Korea’s information technology giants, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, in an apparent move to ride their recently improved sales in the US market, a local intellectual property service provider said Monday.

Most recently, Uniloc filed a suit to the federal court of Texas in October last year, claiming LG Electronics infringed upon one of its patents through products equipped with smart home platform system SmartThinQ, according to Seoul-based global patent information company WIPS and US-based patent risk solution provider Rational Patent Exchange.

Notice how they target Korean companies not in Korea but in Texas. They drag their cases to the most notorious courts, which are also troll-friendly courts. This might get harder in the future because of TC Heartland. Based on this new report, patent law firms pack up and go as the number of new patent lawsuits filed in Texas fell by more than half. To quote:

San Francisco-based patent attorney Richard Hung never found an easy way to travel to eastern Texas to litigate patent cases.

But like hundreds of patent attorneys across the U.S., he had to. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas was once the most popular venue for patent infringement lawsuits in the country.

A partner at Morrison & Foerster, LLP and co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Group, Hung would spend at least six hours hopping through airports to the regional business hub in Shreveport, La., then drive west on I-20 for 35 miles. Once, when a return flight from Shreveport was canceled, he was forced to drive more than 200 miles to Houston to fly home.

[...]

The TC Heartland decision, which held that a domestic corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation, upended nearly 30 years of precedent in patent law and dramatically restricted where patent cases may be litigated. Previously, the rules for where a patent infringement lawsuit could be filed made it easy to select the east Texas court, which had a reputation for being a friendly venue for patent owners.

It’s becoming a liability for firms to operate in Texas or be based in Texas because after TC Heartland it makes them susceptible to more patent lawsuits. Surely China too should know what it means to become the ‘next Texas’, but we’ll say more about that in our next post (regarding China).

St. Regis Mohawk Nation Now Exploited as a Lobby and an Attack Vector Against PTAB

Posted in America, Patents at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CAFC and SCOTUS should definitely take note of the Koch Brothers' role in that lobby (which harms technology companies)

Koch Network Plans to Spend $400 Million in U.S. Midterm Cycle
Reference (in the news 2 days ago): Koch Network Plans to Spend $400 Million in U.S. Midterm Cycle

Summary: The anti-PTAB lobby, which is basically attempting to influence Oil States v Greene's Energy (imminent Supreme Court decision), still tries hard to find scandals or make up scandals; the Mohawk tribe became a convenient channel for that (paid to participate in a scam)

THE biggest PTAB story of 2017 was probably the Mohawk patent scam. It carries on; it’s piggybacked by patent extremists. The USPTO granted some dubious patents and now they’re being shielded using a tribe which has absolutely nothing to do with them. An unethical lawyer paid them some money through shell entities for this (makes one wonder where the money really comes from). Here’s a long new article by Kevin E. Noonan. It’s about the amicus briefs which support the scam (the patent microcosm would rather focus on these):

In what everyone (including the Patent Trial and Appeal Board) considers an unprecedented administrative action, the PTAB late last year set out an order (Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s Order, 2017 WL 5067421, P.T.A.B. Nov. 3, 2017) inviting amicus briefing on the question of whether the transfer of patent rights from Allergan to the St. Regis Mohawk Nation should lead the Board to dismiss several consolidated inter partes review actions (Nos. IPR2016-01127, IPR2016-01128, IPR2016-01129, IPR2016-01130, IPR2016-01131, and IPR2016-01132, instituted against U.S. Patent Nos. 8,685,930, 8,629,111, 8,642,556, 8,633,162, 8,648,048, and 9,248,191, respectively) on the grounds of sovereign immunity (see “Mohawk Nation Exercises Sovereign Immunity in Inter Partes Review”).

[...]

A brief from the High Tech Inventors Alliance, Computer & Communications Industry Association, and Internet Association repeats the argument that patent laws are law of general applicability from which sovereign immunity provides no protection, basing this characterization in part because “[private petitioners] cannot compel the Patent Office to conduct a review and their ongoing participation is unnecessary to complete one” (another argument also made in the brief from Askeladden LLC). According to this brief, “[i]nter partes review is thus ‘less like a judicial proceeding and more like a specialized agency proceeding’ in which third parties that petition for review ‘need not have a concrete stake in the outcome; indeed, they may lack constitutional standing,’” citing Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, 136 S. Ct. 2131, 2143-44 (2016). According to this brief (in an argument made nowhere else), “tribes that own patents must, like all other patentees, pay the fees to maintain the patent, or else the patent will expire. See 35 U.S.C. § 41(b). The condition that the Patent Office may reexamine or review the patent is no different.”

The Mohawk people/tribe hired lawyers who take the tribe for a ‘ride’, looking for anything by which to shoot the messengers (PTAB judges) while pretending to be poor Natives (they’re not; they’re rich, corrupt lawyers). The lawyers picked by the Mohawk people have disgraced the tribe to the point where it’s accused of “conspiracy theories” and a “scam”. Why can’t this tribe see the incredible damage already done to its reputation? It’s never too late to end this. They sold out though and ending it may result in loss of money (funneled through shells).

Watchtroll, in its usual fashion, has just used the Mohawk patent scam in an effort to make PTAB look bad. The tribe has been reduced to a tool.

Watchtroll, relying on two decisions among many thousands, says the “the entirety of the concurring opinions are word for word identical. Obviously, the concurring opinions were shared internally in some form or fashion prior to being issued by the PTAB. But why? It seems perfectly reasonable for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to want to know who actually wrote these two concurring opinions.”

They’re aiming to discredit PTAB rather than justify their ‘case’ (scam). Classic “shoot the messenger”.

“In light of these two identical concurring opinions,” Watchtroll concluded, “the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe raised the plausible possibility that ex parte oral or written communications may have occurred involving APJs on the merits panels of these cases. If such communications did occur they should be made public. The PTAB should not refuse to answer these legitimate questions, because at some point they will have to answer how and why this happened.”

These have absolutely nothing to do with the Mohawk scam; the lawyers they hired simply use them as a tool for anti-PTAB lobbying while attending events hosted by a think tank of the Koch Brothers. This doesn’t look good at all. Another attack on the same day (Watchtroll against PTAB) called PTAB a kangaroo court. Got to protect bad patent and patent trolls, eh? And the Mohawk people are used as a moral shield for people who are aligned with billionaires’ interests.

To better understand what the Kochs have at stake here, remember Oil States. As Patently-O reminded readers yesterday, the Supreme Court is not assessing any cases which give hope for software patents, but it will rule (probably this summer) for or against PTAB (which asserts/applies Alice). This is important. Also yesterday, as can be seen in this post, Patently-O was back to belittling PTAB judges. Not only does Patently-O cite Watchtroll’s attacks on PTAB but it also makes it blatantly obvious that it wants PTAB obliterated. From the post:

In 2007, Prof. John Duffy penned a Patently-O essay explaining that Administrative Patent Judges are at least “inferior officers” under the US Constitution (art. II, § 2, cl. 2) — requiring appointment by a Head of Department (i.e., Secretary of Commerce). Duffy’s work on the topic prompted statutory reform and now all PTAB follow that appointment process.

In a new article, Prof. Gary Larsen takes Duffy’s analysis a major step forward – explaining that the PTAB is special because its Inter Partes Review actions are not further reviewed by any executive actor — rendering Administrative Patent Judges principal officer (rather than inferior) and requiring appointment by the President with Advice and Consent of the Senate.

These people have long attempted to convince SCOTUS Justices that patents are “property” (that's a lie), that PTAB lacks certain authority and so on. They try to influence the outcome in Oil States. Duffy is from the University of Virginia School of Law and Crouch is from Kansas, where the Kochs are known to be throwing lots of money at universities. It’s worth checking what motivates these scholars, either consciously or subconsciously.

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