11.16.14

Special Report: Many Criminal Charges Against EPO Vice-President Željko Topić

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The abuses of Željko Topić, who has gained notoriety in his home country, are rapidly becoming public knowledge across all of Europe

THE trend changes for the better as blind support for the EPO is ending. People now realise just how rotten the EPO has become and there are various actions being taken by the public and even EPO staff (more on that in the coming weeks). Quite importantly, evidence is now coming to light so as to bolster the stories we have broken over the past few months.

The latest Croatian press article on this topic (of Topić), published by tjedno.hr on the 18th of October 2014, says quite a mouthful. Our sources have been working on getting an English translation which we now have. The photo in the article shows Topić on his way to attend a recent hearing at the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb and the last paragraph contains a mention of “articles published on Internet portals across Europe during the last month,” which our sources understand to be a reference to the recent series of publications by Techrights.

For readers’ information we finally have an English translation of this most recent article from tjedno.hr [PDF]. Here it is in full, as plain text with rudimentary formatting:

ŽELJKO TOPIĆ AND HIS LIES IN MUNICH

Date: 18 October 2014

Six criminal lawsuits are pending in Croatia against the EPO Vice-President

Text: Portal Tjedno Research Team
Photography: Markus Wolf

According to publicly available information, “Master” Željko Topić, was appointed as Vice-President in charge of the EPO’s General Administration Department on 28 March 2012 with the vigorous support of the EPO President, Benoît Battistelli. At the time of his appointment, it is claimed that neither the EPO’s Administrative Council nor its President Battistelli were informed about certain interesting facts which have emerged in relation to Mr. Topić.

Nevertheless, according to an official statement by the EPO President, after the charges had become publicly known they were all clarified. Judging by the published photograph of Željko Topić accompanied by his lawyer from the Zagreb law firm Gajski – Prka – Saucha & Partners Ltd. which was taken in front of the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb on the morning of 29 September 2014, it would appear that things are not quite so clear.

A COURT APPEARANCE IN ZAGREB

In one of his recent public statements, published in May 2014 by a Geneva-based Internet portal specializing in intellectual property matters (www.ip-watch.org), “Master” Topić officially declared that there were no legal proceedings or criminal charges pending against him in Croatia. At the same time he claimed that he had presented the EPO with the required certificate of good conduct confirming there are no criminal convictions against him. Mr. Topić’s statements are, however, misleading for his employer. From the foregoing, it can be concluded that for whatever reason Željko Topić has grossly deceived his European employer in Munich by knowingly giving false information designed to obscure the truth.

We do not know how Željko Topić justified his absence from his workplace at the EPO in Munich on the day when he was caught by the photographic lens in Zagreb. We can only speculate as to whether he decided to take annual leave, sick leave or whether he may even have misled his employer perhaps by deliberately submitting a duty travel request for an official business trip to a meeting in Zagreb financed by EPO, knowing full well that his attendance was required at the Municipal Criminal Court. Judging by his publicly expressed claims that he is not subject to any criminal proceedings in Croatia, it is difficult to avoid the impression that he may have been economical with the truth concerning the real reasons for spending time in Zagreb on the Monday in question. Or, perhaps, he relied on the concept and plot of the movie “When Father Was Away on Business” by the famous director Emir Kusturica.

AT LEAST SIX CRIMINAL OFFENCES

For the time being we have no idea what the Municipal State Attorney General in Zagreb, Željka Pokupec, thinks about all this as she has been busy dealing with another matter falling under her jurisdiction, namely bringing a final indictment for the illegal procurement of a VW Touareg V6 against the person directly responsible for the supervision of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), Mr. Dragan Primorac, one of Ministers in the then Government of Mr. Sanader. In connection with criminal charges filed with Office of the State Attorney, a reasonable suspicion was expressed in the criminal complaint to the Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) in Zagreb that Željko Topić may have bribed the former Minister Primorac with an Audi A6 vehicle in order to secure the renewal of his mandate as Director of the SIPO. In the course of this state-funded “re-parking” of official cars, Željko Topić “re-parked” a Mercedes for his own personal use as has been previously reported on by many media. The aforementioned and third pending criminal charge against Topić in the Mercedes case, has been gathering dust for several years on the desk of Željka Pokupec’s deputy, Sunčica Blažević.

The fourth known criminal charge against “Master” Topic which has been filed with the District Attorney’s Office in Zagreb has proceeded from the stage of “pickling” into the “fermentation” phase and is currently in the hands of Sineva Vukušić. The criminal charges filed with the District Attorney’s Office in Zagreb relate to the matter of allegedly unlawful changes to the structure of the state administration in the field of Copyright and Related Rights. Under the Criminal Code of the Republic of Croatia, the charges against Željko Topić in this particular case carry a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison.

According to the latest information from the state administration of the Republic of Croatia, a preliminary investigation has been conducted into another potentially very serious criminal case dating from 2005 which concerns the “disappearance” of a significant amount of financial assets and which involves a feasibility study from a Swedish* foundation relating to the strengthening of institutions entitled “A Feasibility Study for Restructuring the SIPO as a Self-Financing Organization”. We have learnt unofficially that this appears to have been an attempt at project financing for the private advantage of the former SIPO Director with the ultimate aim of separating this institution from the Treasury of the State Administration and attaching it directly to the financial “udder” provided by the WIPO and EPO. All those who have seen the document referring to the planned privatization of the SIPO under the direction of Željko Topić have noted its similarity to the HDS-ZAMP scheme of President Ivo Josipović. This document is currently being withheld by four Ministries of the Republic of Croatia which are said to be ignoring written requests for its release [under the Freedom of Information Act].

[* Translator’s Note: The reference to a “Swedish foundation” seems to be incorrect because reliable sources have indicated that the document referred to is in fact a feasibility study carried out by the Danish Patent and Trademark Office in the context of an EU twinning project.]

Thus, along with two further criminal charges against Topić by private plaintiffs, there are at least six criminal proceedings pending against him in Croatia as our portal has already reported. However, according to other sources, the number of criminal charges which have been filed against “Master” Topić may in fact be significantly higher.

THE OUTCRY AT THE EPO IS GETTING LOUDER

As we learned from our sources in Munich, Topić’s suitability for the office of Vice-President is “a fairly contentious issue” within the EPO. Taking into account various outstanding allegations and apparently uncontested newspaper reports, the general opinion of EPO staff is that there are many unanswered questions about Topic’s appointment. As we learned unofficially, EPO employees are also extremely frustrated about the situation because they feel that there is no adequate official response and they believe that “some kind of independent investigation” is required.

The EPO’s Administrative Council has remained completely silent until now and has taken no official position with regard to Topić’s case, which is very strange because it carries direct responsibility for the appointment and it is also the sole official EPO body which is competent to carry out investigations and disciplinary proceedings against the President and Vice-Presidents.

In addition, the relationship between staff and senior management of the European Patent Office (EPO) which has already been badly strained due to conflict with the President Benoît Battstelli, has been further complicated by the continuing presence of Vice-President Topić in Munich. In the meantime the controversy about Topić’s suitability for his current position has also reached the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg and the Croatian NGO Juris Protecta (Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law) has filed a petition with the European Parliament in Brussels.

Furthermore, it has emerged that when his first term of office as SIPO Director was due to expire in 2008, Topić had allegedly been involved in a number of unlawful actions leading to the expectation that his mandate would not be renewed.

Professional experts close to the case claim that Željko Topić should not have been reappointed because of previously observed “irregularities” in his management of the SIPO. However, the relevant information appears to have been suppressed and was not properly taken into account, because if it had been, it would have resulted in him being deemed ineligible for public office in the Republic of Croatia and beyond. Allegedly unlawful actions during his two terms of office as Director of the SIPO in Zagreb have never been fully and transparently investigated, and the Croatian Government appears not to have been duly informed in accordance with the statutory requirements. His penultimate term of office at the SIPO was renewed by the former “anti-corruption” Prime Minister of Croatia, Ms. Jadranka Kosor, despite the fact that before signing the decision of her Government to re-appoint “Master” Topić she had been warned about his allegedly corrupt practices.

Moreover, during the term of office of the convicted former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, Jadranka Kosor had served as the Minister in charge of the government department responsible for supervising the SIPO and its former Director, Željko Topić.

WAS MINISTER JOVANOVIĆ SACKED BECAUSE OF TOPIĆ?

Using the same corrupt templates as Sanader’s government, the final disputed re-appointment of “Master” Topić as Director of the SIPO was approved by the Government of Zoran Milanović [in 2012] on the recommendation of the then competent Minister, Željko Jovanović. Moreover, the official procedure relating to his final re-appointment as Director of the SIPO was tainted by a series of deliberate legal deficiencies and unlawful acts and a lack of proper institutional supervision. Based on the limited information available from government circles, there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the “Topić Affair” may have been one of the factors which contributed to the recent dismissal of the outspoken Minister Željko Jovanović. It can be concluded from the above that the HDZ and SDP have been playing the same long-standing personnel game in the civil service using the same deck of previously “marked” cards.

Whether by coincidence or not, the chef de cabinet of the Croatian Prime Minister – Tomislav Saucha – is the husband of one of the attorneys from the law firm of Gajski – Prka – Saucha and Partners Ltd. which represents Željko Topić in the pending criminal lawsuits in which he is involved. In addition to this detail, it is worth noting that an official of the Croatian Government – Mr. Milan Sentić, adviser to the Prime Minister for Co-operation with the Public – comes under the direct remit of Tomislav Saucha. Mr. Sentić would hardly have merited any attention here if it hadn’t been recently discovered that, instead of having been duly forwarded to the Prime Minister Milanović, citizens’ complaints concerning the case of Željko Topić have remained buried somewhere in the filing cabinet of this government advisor. It seems that the only person competent to determine whether or not the petitions against “Master” Željko Topić were hidden by Mr. Sentić on the orders of Tomislav Saucha (perhaps in response to verbal instructions coming from his wife – a lawyer on the team of legal “avengers” which represents the Munich-based “Master”) is the Prime Minister Zoran Milanović himself.

To conclude, the actions of Željko Topić referred to above appear to fulfil the definition of criminal acts under Croatian law. Who – and for what motive – has been successfully preventing his prosecution in Croatia for many years now? Answers to these serious and unresolved questions will hopefully be provided in the near future by some of the high-level EU institutions as has been suggested by numerous articles published on Internet portals across Europe during the last month.

Shortly after the above article we were contacted by Zagreb-based (Croatia) people who are familiar with this saga and sent us further information and some photos. These people were mentioned here before in a somewhat different context but a similar subject and they claim to be “an independent association called “No Corruption” [that] perform[s] monitoring of Croatian journalism.” These are real people with real names and they have shared their information with selected European groups, the European Commission, and journalism watchdogs. “Tracing your posts on the website techrights.org,” they said, “we are submitting you the following link [as above] from the Croatian Internet portal that talks about the same topic. However, what is more interesting than the text itself is the cover photo. On it, there is the incriminated person from your texts along with his lawyer who is from Zagreb. Why is this photo interesting? Let’s analyze this in the following order…

“Last year (2013) in June, the journalist Zeljko Peratovic published an article in English about Zeljko Topic entitled “A wrong man sitting at the EPO?” But the article has disappeared in March/April 2014 from the 45lines.com Web site.”

The reason, according to “No Corruption”, is that “Journalist Zeljko Peratović and corrupted Željko Topić was represented by attorney Mr. Janjko Grlic.

“There is a serious doubt that Mr. Željko Topić by the means of his lawyer Mr. Janjko Grlic had influence on his other client, journalist Zeljko Peratovic to delete (remove) the previously published article from the portal he is editing. There also remains a doubt with a very clear closed circle of indications that for the job of removing the article from the portal he received money, or a service of some kind in the form of past or future legal services by Mr. Janjko Grlic which were paid for by Mr. Zeljko Topic. The above-described actions can be considered corruptive, meaning it is a criminal offense.

“Given that this mentioned member of the Croatian Journalists’ Association is also a member of other international journalists’ associations, we are sending this letter to them as well because we believe that he should be dismissed from the ranks of professional journalists. At the same time we will ask for the whole of the EU and worldwide journalistic profession to be informed about this. It is interesting that Mr. Zeljko Peratovic in his work as a journalist presents himself as a great fighter for human rights and as an anti-corruption activist!?

“To conclude, the actions of Željko Topić referred to above appear to fulfil the definition of criminal acts under Croatian law.”“In addition, it is suspected that journalist Zeljko Peratovic by the means of the same lawyer for the purposes of corrupt Mr. Željko Topić “briefed”, meaning gave professional advice, on how to sue his colleague Mrs. Slavica Lukic at the Croatian Journalists’ Association Court. She is a journalist (“Jutarnji list”) who wrote very critically about Mr. Željko Topić’s criminal activity. The lawsuit was dismissed. It was observed also that on two occasions that journalist Zeljko Peratovic on his portal www.45lines.com, in a twisted and questionable manner, criticizes journalist Mrs Slavica Lukic. This negative writing by the mentioned journalist about Mrs. Slavica Lukic has a political background, and is the act of shallow and see-through retaliation against her husband, Mr. Milorad Pupovac.

“Finally, we wish to inform you about the perfidious way in which Mr. Željko Topić corrupts parts of the Croatian Justice (Commercial and High Commercial Court in Zagreb) where there are trials of high financial value within the scope of the rights of commercial property. We are enclosing photos with the names of judges. The photos were shot during the last year’s conference in EPO in Munchen. The invitation to the conference was sent by Mr. Željko Topić by means of EPO. The names of judges from the photos are associated with several lawyers and make up a sophisticated network of corruption in Croatia.

“Based on this, we believe that any further comment is superfluous.”

All the photographs are presented below for readers’ assessment.

EPO name tag

EPO name tag

EPO name tag

EPO name tag

Links 16/11/2014: Xfdesktop 4.10.3, GNU Hello 2.10

Posted in News Roundup at 5:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Japan: Train fans experience super-fast maglev speed

      One hundred passengers whizzed along a 42.8km (27 mile) route between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki, reaching speeds of up to 500km/h (311mph), The Asahi Shimbun website reports. The Central Japan Railway Company is running eight days of testing for the experimental maglev Shinkansen train on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. In total, 2,400 people will take part in the tests after winning tickets in a raffle. They represent a lucky minority – there had been more than 100 times that number of applications, the report says. “I applied for my nephew who is a big railway fan, but now I am more excited than he is,” one passenger, who was travelling with his parents and two young nephews, tells the website.

    • Stunning fossil shows pregnant mare and fetus

      Forty-seven million years ago, a pregnant mare and its unborn foal lost their lives, perhaps chased into a lake, where they drowned. Where they died, however, was a stroke of luck for 21st century paleontologists. Their fossilized remains were discovered in the Messel Pit, a former coal and oil shale mine near Frankfurt, Germany, that is famous for its exquisitely preserved fossils. The mare and her fetus are now giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse into the anatomy and reproduction of this early horse species, Eurohippus messelensis. Like other early horses, the mare was small, only about the size of a fox terrier, says Jens Franzen, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, who presented the prepared fossil for the first time yesterday at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting here.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dutch authorities identify highly contagious bird flu strain

      Dutch authorities said on Sunday they had found a highly contagious strain of bird flu at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands and set about destroying 150,000 chickens.

      The strain, H5N8, has never been detected in humans, but an outbreak in South Korea meant millions of farm birds had to be slaughtered to contain the outbreak. Cases have also been reported in China and Japan, although the strain was first reported in Europe, on a German farm, in early November.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Massachusetts School Installs Military-Style Shooter-Detection System

      A technology adapted from a U.S. military “smoke alarm for gunfire” was installed recently in a Massachusetts school, a protective measure implemented weeks after a deadly high school shooting in Washington State.

    • Selling Fear: The First US School Installs A Shooting Detection System

      Congratulations, America. A defense contractor tried to sell you on the idea that our schools are war zones and you bit like a musky on a minnow. The manufacturer’s website, along with most of the accompanying news articles, are filled with statistics all about how school and mass shootings are on the rise. Obviously this serves as evidence that such shooter detection systems are needed. That way, the $100k per school systems can alert authorities when these increasingly common shootings occur. The most common figure you’ll hear from these contractors and in the news is the same one authorities used in buying this detection system: there have been 88 school shootings in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. The claim comes from Everytown.org, an organization dedicated to gun control and safety. And if that statistic sounds shocking to you, there’s a very good reason for that: it’s complete bullshit.

    • Obama administration considering ramping up CIA’s role in training Syria rebel fighters: report

      The CIA currently vets and trains about 400 fighters a month, the same number expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches capacity by late next year, The Post reported.

    • Present at the creation: ‘America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East’

      The period in question is the end of World War II until the Kennedy administration was, to say the least, formative and what happened then is clearly relevant to the circumstances in which the United States finds itself now.

      Current tensions foreshadowed in the 1950’s include the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio, unrest in cornerstone Egypt, monarchic rule in Saudi Arabia, and perhaps most important of all, the role of Persian, Shiite Muslim Iran in the region.

    • Could relationship between CIA, military be at risk?

      He said the CIA and military started working together after 9/11. Before that, there was little partnership between the two. Because of budget cuts, both are at risk of losing the progress they have made, said Oakley (pictured), who is working on his doctorate in security studies from Kansas State University.

    • The CIA Won the Midterms

      Incoming intel committee chair Richard Burr will end any hope of holding out of control spy agencies accountable.

    • Ex-US officials criticise Obama ‘micromanagement’

      He compared the Obama administration to that of Lyndon Johnson, who personally chose military targets in the Vietnam war. “It was the micromanagement that drove me crazy,” Gates said. The former defence chief said that Obama’s administration stands in contrast to both Bush administrations, where once a decision was made, there was no micromanagement.

    • Germany regrets diplomat’s expulsion from Moscow

      A German diplomat working in Moscow has been expelled, a German government official said, shortly after a Russian diplomat working in Bonn was expelled amid media reports he was a spy.

      “We regret this unjustified action and expressed that to the Russian government,” a German official said in a statement late on Saturday after Der Spiegel magazine reported the German was expelled in retaliation for the Russian’s explusion.

    • Former navy Seal says public has right to know how he killed Osama bin Laden

      After helicoptering to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, assaulting the house and killing three men and a woman, some of the Seals reached the third floor, where a CIA analyst had told O’Neill that Bin Laden would be. O’Neill followed an unnamed point man into Bin Laden’s bedroom, he told the AP, and the point man tackled two women, believing they had a bomb, in what O’Neill calls an incredibly selfless act.

    • Contras and drugs, three decades later

      …Reagan administration had illegally aided a stateless army known as the Contras in Central America.

    • Historic photos of dead Che Guevara resurface in Spain

      Hunted by the CIA, he was captured by the military in Bolivia on October 8, 1967, and executed the following day.

    • Looming US Ground Wars in Iraq and Syria

      Thirteen years post-9/11, out-of-control violence replaced regional stability. Prospects ahead look worse, not better.

    • THE WORLD GETS THE WARS AMERICANS DESERVE

      But the primary thing the U.S. government does is wage wars, and it wages them against other people who had no say in the matter. Of course I don’t want wars waged against Americans either, but the general impression one gets from traveling around and speaking and answering questions at public events in the United States is not so much that people are indifferent to the destruction of the globe as long as they don’t miss their favorite television show, as that people are unclear on what destruction means and can’t identify a globe when it’s placed in a lineup with six watermelons.

    • Obama Has No Good Options for Ending the War in Syria

      The US has also faced criticism from Turkey and Gulf states because of its focus on fighting Islamist militias rather than Assad.

    • What Dick Cheney’s lies on 9/11 has cost the US and impacted the world

      In a documentary The World According to Dick Cheney,” Dick Cheney then Vice-President of the USA admits that it was he and not President Bush who ordered the shooting down of the plane that fell into a field in Pennsylvania in September 2001. He also admits that he falsely linked Iraq with 9/11 and influenced Justice Department to legalize torture. He admits too that he used 9/11 to enable spying on Americans, start the Afghan and Iraq war and the ‘war on terror’ which were all planned before 9/11 which in other words has to leave us to deduce that 9/11 itself was pre-planned as well!

    • Delimiting presidential war powers

      The Constitution strongly disfavors war except in self-defense because it bloats executive power, cripples liberty, celebrates secrecy and risks blowback. Mr. Obama’s current war against IS is many things, but it is not self-defense. The tighter the limits of any new AUMF, the less the U.S. Constitution will be wrenched and challenged.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • The Siege of Julian Assange is a Farce

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would “actively welcome” the Swedish prosecutor in London and “we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that.” The tone was impatient.

    • A guy walks into the Ecuadorian embassy … Assange inspires new BBC comedy
    • Novak in Assange-inspired comedy

      The BBC4 show, called Asylum, is described as “a satirical comedy about a government whistle-blower and a millionaire internet entrepreneur trapped together in a London embassy”.

    • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inspires new comedy show

      The comedy is one of a string of shows created to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta which was one of the first attempts to limit the powers of the monarchy and develop a functioning legal system and parliamentary democracy.

    • Russell Brand, PJ Harvey, Susan Sarandon & dozens of A-listers support Snowden, Manning

      Dozens of celebrities, including musicians, filmmakers, actors and intellectuals have signed their names to a statement of support published Monday to show solidarity for Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond.

    • Brand and Žižek lead celebrity call for greater whistleblower protections

      It also comes at a moment where the US government is perceived to be taking a particularly aggressive approach to official leakers. Including Snowden and Manning, there have been a total of eight prosecutions by the Obama administration relating to leaks under the 1917 Espionage Act – more than those that were brought by all previous presidents combined.

      [...]

      The list of those who have backed the whistleblower statement also includes movie directors Alfonso Cuarón, Terry Gilliam and Ken Loach; musicians Robbie Charter of the Avalanches, PJ Harvey and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth; and writers Roddy Doyle and Hanif Kureishi.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Shale fail

      ON NOVEMBER 25th, fracking experts from across the continent will convene in Warsaw for the Shale Gas World Europe conference. The gathering is a reminder of the heady days, just a few years back, when the Polish government promised to wean the country from dependence on Russian fossil fuels by imitating America’s successful exploitation of shale. Poland would become “a second Norway”, as Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister, put it in 2010. All that was needed was to open the country to foreign drilling firms, set up a regulatory and profit-sharing structure, open the taps, and watch the methane (and the dollars) flow.

      [...]

      Perversely, Moscow may now hold the key to galvanising the Polish shale industry. While Russian gas continues to flow cheaply, exploring for Polish shale gas is risky and expensive. But with the risk of renewed military conflict in Ukraine rising, the situation could change. “There is certainly gas in Poland, but is the current system able to extract it? I don’t think so.” says Grzegorz Pytel, an energy expert with the Sobieski Institute, a think tank. “However, if Russia cuts off gas exports that would revive shale. The hope is in Moscow.” Shale enthusiasts who once hoped to free Poland from Russian gas have been reduced to hoping that Russia will turn off the gas, or raise prices sharply, to make Polish shale viable.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • ISPs criticised over deal to filter extremist material online

      British internet service providers have been accused of rushing into an ill-thought-out attempt to block political material online, after agreeing with the government on a system of filters for websites espousing extremist views.

      The four largest ISPs have independently agreed with the government to implement a system of blocks, similar to that used to keep child abuse material off the net. But civil liberties campaigners expressed fears that the move opened up a risk of political censorship.

      Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said: “We need transparency whenever political content is blocked, even when we are talking about websites that espouse extremist views. The government must be clear about what sites they think should be blocked, why they are blocking them and whether there will be redress for site owners who believe that their website has been blocked incorrectly.”

  • Privacy

    • Justice Department Admits It Lied To Appeals Court Concerning Companies’ Ability To Talk About National Security Letters

      Back in October, we wrote about the appeal on the legality of National Security Letters (NSLs), which are secretive filings from law enforcement demanding information with a perpetual gag order. In 2013, a district court had declared that NSLs were unconstitutional, but stayed that decision pending appeal. While the appeals court judges seemed skeptical, it still wasn’t clear how they would rule. So it’s interesting to see that the Justice Department has just admitted that it misled the court on some rather important points during the oral arguments.

    • Unsealed Filing Shows DOJ Misled Appeals Court About National Security Letter Gag Orders

      A court filing unsealed late Wednesday shows that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made a highly misleading argument to an appeals court in October during a hearing on the constitutionality of National Security Letters (NSLs).

    • Major hurdles await NSA reform bid

      Yet Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) — the two leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee — have both expressed reservations, worrying that it would go too far.

    • Data retention: Divining the metadata of the Govt’s true intention

      Data retention is a hot topic, so much so that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has included several pages examining the proposed legislation in its fifteenth report of the 44th Parliament. Suggestions put forward are that TIA Amendment Data Retention bill invades privacy, doesn’t properly define data, goes too far and needs further amendment.

    • Facebook: You post it, we can see it, and that’s that

      Facebook lets its users control whether other people can see the information they post, but when it comes to controlling what Facebook itself gets to see, privacy-conscious users are out of luck.

    • British Spying Is Our Problem, Too

      We learned last week that GCHQ – the U.K. equivalent of the NSA – permits its employees to target the communications of journalists and lawyers. That revelation has serious implications for the work of both groups.

    • The sci-fi future of lamp-posts

      Street lighting has always been a form of social control. As ‘smart’ lamp-posts start to adapt to our needs, are we entering a brave new world of big city lights?

    • UN to investigate claims that UK spies infiltrated climate talks

      Reports that GCHQ snooped on other countries at two climate summits will be investigated, says UN secretary general

    • Ambassador thrown out of Ecuador after WikiLeaks scandal will talk about her life and times at Kirtland event

      The fascinating background of being the only U.S. ambassador expelled during the global WikiLeaks scandal will be a large part of her presentation to the Nov. 16 Millennium Salon set for East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland. The salon, part of the church’s social justice committee, presents topics that examine various issues and discuss their impact on society.

    • Phone and web data plan under fire for interfering with privacy

      Human rights committee finds the plan to retain data for two years could have a ‘chilling effect’ on journalists

    • USPS Bemoans Massive Data Breach But Continues Surveillance Program

      While such data breaches are lamentable, it is a bit ironic that an agency that has been carrying out an extensive secret surveillance operation for years would be so vigorous in its vendetta against the alleged hackers who exposed sensitive data of employees and customers.

    • Consciousness in the Age of Digital Dystopia

      It’s Monday morning and you’re preparing your first cup of coffee when the tanks roll into your neighborhood. Phone lines are cut, curfew is activated and doors are broken down.

      You sigh. It’s another “cleanout day” in the not-too-distant future.

      The War on Terror has infiltrated every layer of society. Internet sites track the spread of extremism like the CDC tracks a lethal virus. The threat is pandemic and online news sources agree: In order to keep you safe, weekly cleanout campaigns must ramp up all across the nation – yet again.

      Today you just happen to be in the red zone.

      The main annoyance about being in a red zone is usually the loss of your phone signal. But today is different.

    • AT&T stops adding Web tracking codes on cellphones, Verizon says it still uses ‘super cookies’

      AT&T Mobility, the nation’s second-largest cellular provider, says it’s no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users’ smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers’ identities online.

    • Amnesia: A mad Aussie dash through history, hacking and the CIA

      Never has the long shadow of America across the world been so ominous and so ephemeral as it is in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations and Wikileaks. Data surveillance and the huge US presence in the tech and internet worlds have contributed to a sense of America as the omnipresent, unseen superpower in a way that no world leading country has ever been before.

      This ownership of the web is what lets the US suggest, with no apparent sense of irony, that people like Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, are “traitors”, though what patriotism or loyalty they owe a country they have nothing to do with is unclear.

      It is this long shadow that Peter Carey takes to task in his hacker conspiracy thriller Amnesia.

    • First Snowden. Then tracking you on wheels. Now spies on a plane. Yes, surveillance is everywhere

      US government-owned airplanes that can cover most of the continental United States are covertly flying around the country, spying on tens of thousands of innocent people’s cellphones. It sounds like a movie plot, but in a remarkable report published on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal exposed that these spy planes are part of an actual mass surveillance program overseen by the Justice Department (DOJ). And it’s been kept secret from the public for years.

    • U.S. government set to use airplanes to collect information
    • Mobile Phones Data Intercepted by U.S. Marshals
  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Hey UK: Jailing File-Sharers for Years is Shameful

        Admins and uploaders know the risks, but when otherwise good citizens go to jail for sharing files it’s a horrible moment for all involved. This week two young men from the UK were locked up for years, one for his acts as a teenager several years ago. What a complete and utter waste of life.

      • Mega Terminates Kim Dotcom’s Account For Repeat Infringements

        Dotcom has been using Mega to share his first music album “Good Times” with everyone who wants to give it a spin. While he holds all the rights, several prominent music labels kept informing Mega that the album was “infringing.”

        A few weeks ago we learned that the takedown requests were all inaccurate, and triggered by a prankster. However, that apparently didn’t stop them from coming in and as a result Dotcom has now had his Mega account terminated for repeatedly violating the terms of service.

      • Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

        Rightscorp, a prominent piracy monitoring firm that sends settlement requests for Warner Bros. and other copyright holders, may soon go out of business. The publicly listed company is losing millions of dollars per year and says it desperately needs a fresh cash injection to survive.

Microsoft is Going Into the Anti-Whistleblowing Business, Dodges Criticism Over 19-Year Bug Door in Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edward Snowden

Summary: With Aorato acquisition Microsoft helps protect the criminals (from whistleblowers) and with lies about .NET Microsoft distracts from a bug that has facilitated remote access into Windows (by those in the know) for nearly two decades

MICROSOFT IS A company of liars, centred around media manipulation. This is why not enough people know about the company’s sheer levels of malice, crimes, and disregard for people.

Microsoft keeps throwing money around for favourable publicity, so not enough criticism is published where it’s well overdue. Today we’ll tackle several stories that deserve more attention from an appropriate angle, not a promotional (marketing) angle.

A few days ago Microsoft decided to buy a military-connected (IDF/Israel) anti-whistleblowing ‘software’ company. What a lot of shallow coverage failed to mention was the real purpose of the software (not often marketed as such). To quote one report: ‘“Snowden reportedly used colleagues’ passwords to access sensitive docs,” he told me. “Even if the user activity seems legitimate, the same account would actually present suspicious or abnormal behavior behind the scenes which Aorato would detect.”’

Actually, to keep the facts in tact, the NSA leaks were made possible by GNU WGet on the leakers’ side (same as Bradley/Chelsea Manning) and that horrible Microsoft SharePoint on the leaked side (NSA). It means that Microsoft itself was the problem which it claims to be trying to solve. We mentioned the role of SharePoint several times before. The acquisition by Microsoft seems to be geared towards stopping whistleblowing and hence defending corruption (so that Microsoft, for instance, can defend the NSA). How ethical a move, eh? So much for a ‘champion’ of privacy as it purports to be.

Anyway, there is a 19-year bug door in Microsoft Windows (almost no version is exempted from remotely-invoked full capture), but the press hardly covers it. We must give some credit to the BBC for covering it (for a change) and "calling out Windows". Other British press covered other inherent issues in Windows (compromising Tor) [1] and it looks like Dan Goodin is finally covering some security problems in proprietary software [2] rather than always picking on FOSS, then hyping it up with ugly imagery and exaggeration.

A reader of ours suspects that the .NET announcement was designed to distract from horrible security-related news. The .NET announcement is nonsense because it’s false (we wrote two posts about the .NET PR nonsense) and it also predicts future events like Visual Studio going cross-platform although the latest version of Visual Studio (proprietary) already runs under GNU/Linux using Wine, i.e. the Windows build works under GNU/Linux as it’s fully compatible anyway, for those foolish enough to want it. This is not news and the same goes for Office and other well-known Microsoft software. Xamarin staff keeps trying hard to infect GNU/Linux with .NET (that’s what they do) and as this very stupid article about .NET shows, the .NET nonsense did indeed help bury the news about the bug door. This disgusting article even gives credit to Microsoft for having fixed massive 19-year-old bug (only after IBM had found it). When bash or openssl have a bug, then FOSS is all bad, apparently. When Microsoft has a bug door for 19 years, the media says well done to Microsoft (for fixing it after another company forced it to). One has to wonder if this flaw (voluntary or involuntary) is part of Microsoft’s collaboration with the NSA, which made Stuxnet and has made yet another piece of Windows malware together with Israel. Here is a new article from The Intercept:

The Digital Hunt for Duqu, a Dangerous and Cunning U.S.-Israeli Spy Virus

Boldizsár Bencsáth took a bite from his sandwich and stared at his computer screen. The software he was trying to install on his machine was taking forever to load, and he still had a dozen things to do before the Fall 2011 semester began at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, where he taught computer science. Despite the long to-do list, however, he was feeling happy and relaxed. It was the first day of September and was one of those perfect, late-summer afternoons when the warm air and clear skies made you forget that cold autumn weather was lurking around the corner.

Bencsáth, known to his friends as Boldi, was sitting at his desk in the university’s Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, a.k.a. CrySyS Lab, when the telephone interrupted his lunch. It was Jóska Bartos, CEO of a company for which the lab sometimes did consulting work (“Jóska Bartos” is a pseudonym).

“Boldi, do you have time to do something for us?” Bartos asked.

“Is this related to what we talked about before?” Bencsáth said, referring to a previous discussion they’d had about testing new services the company planned to offer customers.

“No, something else,” Bartos said. “Can you come now? It’s important. But don’t tell anyone where you’re going.”

Bencsáth wolfed down the rest of his lunch and told his colleagues in the lab that he had a “red alert” and had to go. “Don’t ask,” he said as he ran out the door.

A while later, he was at Bartos’ office, where a triage team had been assembled to address the problem they wanted to discuss. “We think we’ve been hacked,” Bartos said.

They found a suspicious file on a developer’s machine that had been created late at night when no one was working. The file was encrypted and compressed so they had no idea what was inside, but they suspected it was data the attackers had copied from the machine and planned to retrieve later. A search of the company’s network found a few more machines that had been infected as well. The triage team felt confident they had contained the attack but wanted Bencsáth’s help determining how the intruders had broken in and what they were after. The company had all the right protections in place—firewalls, antivirus, intrusion-detection and -prevention systems—and still the attackers got in.

The ability to keep people’s rights away and keep the population down depends on passivity and conformity, including the use of Windows. Avoiding Microsoft Windows is imperative for those not wishing to be controlled remotely. As Microsoft’s collaborations with the NSA serve to show, mass surveillance on the whole world is practically contingent upon not just innovation but sabotage and social engineering with corporate buddies. Eradication of Microsoft software isn’t about competition only; it’s about justice.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Advanced persistent threats found in the TOR network

    There are suggestions that the malware code has been around for a while, and has predecessors, and F-Secure warned internet users, anonymous or otherwise, to tread carefully when they download.

    “However, it would seem that the OnionDuke family is much older, based on older compilation timestamps and on the fact that some of the embedded configuration data makes reference to an apparent version number of four, suggesting that at least three earlier versions of the family exist,” the firm added.

    “In any case, although much is still shrouded in mystery and speculation, one thing is certain: while using Tor may help you stay anonymous, it does at the same time paint a huge target on your back.

    “It’s never a good idea to download binaries via Tor (or anything else) without encryption.”

  2. For a year, gang operating rogue Tor node infected Windows executables

    Three weeks ago, a security researcher uncovered a Tor exit node that added malware to uncompressed Windows executables passing through it. Officials with the privacy service promptly shut down the Russia-based node, but according to new research, the group behind the node had likely been infecting files for more than a year by that time, causing careless users to install a backdoor that gave attackers full control of their systems.

Reaffirming Microsoft’s Long-Known Hostility Towards Net Neutrality, Microsoft Crashed Juniper

Posted in Microsoft at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Steve Ballmer is ranting against net neutrality and Juniper’s business is in trouble after a lot of executives from Microsoft took over most top positions there

Microsoft is once again shown publicly for what it really is; it can be easily seen as anti-net neutrality, thanks for the most part to its longtime CEO (who is now replaced for PR purposes). Microsoft’s record of hostility towards net neutrality must not to be forgotten as we covered it several times before and provided examples.

Well, speaking of networking, a reader tells us that the person who replaced the Microsoft veteran who had run Juniper for years has just resigned. “He joined from Barclays Plc,” told us this reader, “but I have yet to find out what kind of ‘technology’ he was involved with there.

“How much ongoing damage has been caused by the influx of softers like now-gone Kevin Johnson and how many people and their legacy are still there that he brought in? Softers would not be a good match for the core technologies the company brings in its money with” because it contributed to BSD.

“The incoming CEO, Rami Rahim,” adds the reader, “has been with Juniper 17 years, so that is promising since they use FOSS (OSS) in-house at least in the devices they sell. However, that is just an uniformed guess, who knows the internal politics. The CRN article (not linked to) blathers about being on-message and sales teams rather than technology and function.

“Then there’s this:

Juniper’s decline has been linked by some industry-watchers to the management changes that have taken place in recent years, including the influx of staff who previously worked at Microsoft, but Brooks – himself a former employee with the software {sic} giant

This one has a lot of links. One thing to remember is that these boxes are going to be tap points for surveillance.”

The same has been revealed to be the case last week when it comes to Cisco routers (used against anonymity). We shared links about that yesterday.

In addition, what would be the impact of having Juniper filled with executives from a net neutrality-hostile company?

Another Massive Step Towards Elimination of Software Patents as Even CAFC Rules Against Them

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CAFC may finally be seen as regaining some sanity

Daniel Mortimer Friedman

Summary: After SCOTUS gets involved in the Ultramercial case, the CAFC finally decides to actually serve justice rather than dogma

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has been by far the most zealously pro-software patents court, perhaps in the entire world. It’s where software patents originally came from.

Dennis Crouch, who is himself somewhat of a patents booster, sees the significance of a new ruling from CAFC. See his article titled “Federal Circuit: Novelty in Implementation of an Abstract Idea Insufficient to Overcome Alice”. This actually relates to a ruling from SCOTUS then (‘Alice’ to be specific), overriding a previous ruling from CAFC.

This is potentially a to-be-widely-cited decision that can be huge for software patents (or against them rather). There is lots of coverage in the press about it [1, 2, 3]. Here is one introduction to the case:

In tech, patent trolls do not settle for small victories; they tend to go big, claiming that their one vague patent gives them the rights over gigantic swaths of the digital world. One troll insists that it owns the patent that covers all podcasting. Another claims it can lord over the maker of any app that asks users to submit data. And a particularly bold troll has spent years claiming it owns the rights to the very concept of playing advertisements before a free online videos—and it has tried shaking down YouTube and Hulu for royalty payments.

As the EFF put it:

On September 9, 2009, a patent troll called Ultramercial sued a bunch of Internet companies alleging infringement of U.S. Patent 7,346,545. This patent claims a method for allowing Internet users to view copyrighted material free of charge in exchange for watching certain advertisements. Yes, you read that correctly. Ultramercial believed that it owned the idea of showing an ad before content on the Internet.

TechDirt did the best kind of coverage by being bluntly honest. “It looks like the Ultramercial saga may finally be ending,” it said. “As we’ve been covering for many years, Ultramercial held a patent (7,346,545) on watching an ad to get access to content, and it sued lots of companies. While a lower court rejected the patent, CAFC (the appeals court for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent cases) overturned that ruling. The key issue: is something patentable if you take a common idea and just add “on the internet.” CAFC said yes. The Supreme Court asked CAFC to try again following its own ruling in the Mayo case (which said you couldn’t patent medical diagnostics). But CAFC still found the patent to be valid. Finally, earlier this year, following the Alice ruling, the Supreme Court gave CAFC a third try to get it right.”

It’s actually SCOTUS which deserves some credit here. The Ultramercial-friendly CAFC has ultimately wasted so much money of innocent people and businesses, showing the great harm of software patents. It’s only when Ultramercial faced the wrath of SCOTUS that the CAFC had to rule based on actual law, which to CAFC would be the exception (it is a very corrupt court in general, with plenty to show for it).

The GOP’s Patent Reform Plan Not Effective Enough to Stop Massive Patent Trolls Like Microsoft/Nokia

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GOP

Summary: The corporations-serving GOP says that it wants a patent reform, but another reminder is needed of the futility of the suggested changes

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, a GOP-leaning News Corp-owned paper, says that “Leading GOP Senator Says More Patent Reform on the Horizon”, but as we explained before, this is not an effective reform. Being on the GOP’s agenda, one can expect it to serve large corporations rather than public interests (which GOP is neither sympathetic nor apathetic towards because public interests often conflict with business/rich people’s interests). “The bill,” says the paper, “will likely add new responsibilities on plaintiffs filing patent-infringement suits. Among the possible additions: a provision requiring plaintiffs who lose their infringement lawsuits to pay the defendants’ litigation costs.”

This would be effective in preventing poor people or small businesses from suing, irrespective of their nature (e.g. trolls, startups, individuals). It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.

“It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.”This is of course better than no amendments to existing laws, but does it go far enough? It might not be enough to discourage big trolls like Nokia, which the paper above indicates is likely to use software patents for profit (article behind paywall). Nokia is already patent-trolling, with Microsoft’s help, by proxy, e.g. through MOSAID (now renamed “Conversant” because of its bad reputation). The European authorities have already been made aware of this and they warned Nokia.

Nokia seems to be following the footsteps of companies like Qualcomm, which got the attention of some pro-software patents the other day.

How the EPO’s Executive Branch (Battistelli and Topić) Banned Scrutiny and Created Authoritarian Model of Control: Part X

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: A look at highly dubious moves by EPO President Battistelli and his right-hand man Topić, whose abuses are becoming hard to oversee or even report

EARLIER this month we asked European readers lodge complaints about EPO management that continues a long tradition of abuse. Some new sources have since come forward and provided us with more information about corruption, so this series will go on and on, lasting until next year. We welcome more whistle-blowers and informed sources to come forward if they know something that we have not yet covered and we, in return, promise anonymity.

Staff that has been involved in rogue practices would obviously like to prevent colleagues (and the public) from finding out about it. Today we would like to present Topić’s letter regarding data protection [PDF] and the accompanying body of text [PDF], signed by Benoît Battistelli, who himself has a lot to hide (for reasons we covered beforein numerous parts). An annotated document [PDF] is added, with highlighted text that reveals how Topić and Battistelli worked to prevent investigation of the EPO, essentially banning people from speaking to the press, conducting an audit, investigation, etc. Clearly, the Data Protection Guidelines at the EPO are of interest if one wishes to understand the lack of scrutiny and the lack of communication with the press. The corporate media largely abstained from covering very serious issues that are known but nobody really wishes to talk about. The EPO is corrupt. It’s a secretive institute, by design. Staff are actively discouraged from informing the public. Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all a little bit of legal background.

Under Article 33(2)(b) EPC, the legislative competence to amend the EPO Service Regulations (i.e. the set of rules governing conditions of employment etc.) lies with the Administrative Council (AC). To quote The European Patent Convention: “The Administrative Council shall be competent, in conformity with this Convention, to adopt or amend: [...] (b)the Service Regulations for permanent employees and the conditions of employment of other employees of the European Patent Office, the salary scales of the said permanent and other employees, and also the nature of any supplementary benefits and the rules for granting them”

In plain English, this means that any changes to the Service Regulations are supposed to be subject to the oversight and scrutiny of the AC.

What Battistelli has done during his presidency is an introduction of certain wide-ranging internal measures by means of “Circulars” which are basically unilaterally-enacted Presidential decrees that have never been subject to any scrutiny or oversight by the AC. Not surprisingly, Battistelli is again imposing an authoritarian code of conduct inside the EPO.

One of these measures was Circular No. 342, the so-called “Investigation Guidelines” which effectively give the EPO President dictatorial powers to unilaterally initiate so-called “investigative processes”. He can even initiate “investigative processes” against senior EPO employees who have been appointed by the AC under Article 11 EPC.

Refer to the European Patent Convention which covers this in more details. In such cases he doesn’t even have to inform the individual concerned or the appointing authority (i.e. the AC) that an investigation has been initiated.

Circular 342 was never presented to the AC for approval. It was unilaterally enacted by Battistelli. This is again the hallmark of authoritarian reign. Of course this action on his part is completely illegal or “ultra vires” to use the appropriate legal jargon. The fact of the matter is that the AC no longer exercises any effective oversight over the President.

Whether this is due to stupidity or corruption, or maybe a combination of both, is an open question which we will not attempt to answer. Furthermore, challenges to these measures by EPO staff have to go to the ILOAT in Geneva which is completely clogged up. The current time required to process a case at the ILOAT has been estimated as 12-15 years. So staff can complain all they like about what Battistelli does but there is no longer any effective legal redress available to challenge unlawful acts by the EPO President.

The system of legal redress has become completely dysfunctional.

This state of affairs has led to some national courts starting to call the EPO’s jurisdictional immunity into question.

New DPGs at the EPO

Now let’s get back to the DPGs.

The most recent amendment of the EPO DPGs was announced by Mr. Topić on 2 April 2014 (see the PDF above). By a curious twist of irony, these Guidelines entered into force on 1 April 2014.

Although the EPO DGs pay lip-service to EU Data Protection Regulations, they are in fact much weaker. Under the EPO DPGs, all power is ultimately concentrated in the hands of the President.

For example look at Article 8, “Transmission to recipients outside the European Patent Organisation”. According to Article 8(4): “In cases of doubt, the President decides on the adequacy of the protection afforded by the relevant country or international organisation.”

According to the DPGs there is a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who enjoys “independence”. But this “independence is only nominal, i.e. it only exists on paper, because the DPO is a normal member of EPO staff appointed by the President and thus de facto under the control of the President.

There is no independent supervisory entity such as the European Data Protection Supervisor which exists under the EU Data Protection framework.

But there is an even more sinister aspect to the new DPGs which doesn’t get any mention in Topić’s announcement.

The new DPGs include a number of clauses which state that they do not apply in the case of “investigative processes”.

What this means in practice is the following:

  1. The President can at any time – unilaterally and subject to no oversight whatsoever – launch an “investigative process”.
  2. The practical effect of this is to override the DPGs.

In other words, the DPGs are subordinate to the “Investigation Guidelines”.

We think that this doesn’t require further comment or explanation on our part.

Credit: anonymous source.

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