Links 8/3/2016: Future Kodi Versions, Solus 1.1

Posted in News Roundup at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • ​Enterprise ready: OwnCloud 9 handles petabytes of data

    When you think of ownCloud, you think of a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud you can run off a home server. OwnCloud 9, which will be released tomorrow, March 8, is far more than that.

  • Still reeling, SourceForge looks to the future

    The SourceForge and Slashdot communities have had a much bumpier ride than the opendesktop.org communities over the years. I won’t go into detail about the ownership changes, but here’s the tl;dr: The founders of Slashdot, Rob ‘CmdrTaco’ Malda and Jeff Bates, sold the site in 1999, about two years after its launch, to Andover.net. Then in 2000, Andover.net merged with VA Linux, which changed its name to SourceForge, Inc. in 2007, and became Geeknet, Inc. 2009.

  • Open source security: know your code [Ed: the FUD firm uses terms like “code hygiene”]

    The adoption of open source is a good thing overall, leading to faster time-to-market and lower development costs. But if we are relying on open source so widely (and we are), we have an obligation as security professionals to understand what we’re deploying. Since 2014, more than 6,000 new vulnerabilities associated with open source have been disclosed. And the fact that the open source code you use today is free from vulnerabilities doesn’t mean that it will remain that way in the future.

  • Google vendor security review tool goes open source

    Google’s decided that the first-phase questionnaire it uses to vet vendors might be useful to the rest of the world.

    Until now an internal document, the Vendor Security Assessment Questionnaire (VSAQ) was created to help Mountain View cope with the huge number of vendor approaches it receives.

    The questionnaires help vendors describe their security posture to Google, so as to thin out the amount of stuff the Chocolate Factory has to let in the door for a presentation.

  • ownCloud 9.0 Released with Major Enhancements, Brings Federation to a New Level

    Today, March 8, 2016, ownCloud Inc. is proud to announce the release and immediate availability of ownCloud 9.0, the next major release of the self-hosting cloud server used by millions of people worldwide.

  • ownCloud 9.0 officially announced; innovative collaboration leads new features
  • Intel Appears To Be Rolling Out FSP 2.0 Blob

    A controversial point of Intel’s Coreboot support has been the FSP, or Firmware Support Package, which is needed for initializing the systems on all recent hardware generations. With the upcoming Apollo Lake it appears there is now a “FSP 2.0″, but still relies upon binary blobs.

  • OSI: Don’t Forget To Vote!

    With just a few days to go in our elections, here’s your gentle reminder to vote on who you would most like to see on the board of the OSI. You have until midnight PST on March 14th, 2016 to do so.

  • ownCloud 9.0 is a Must-Have Upgrade for the Popular Cloud Platform
  • OwnCloud 9.0 Released As Latest Version Of Open-Source Dropbox Alternative
  • 9.0 is the biggest ownCloud release so far
  • Non-Linux FOSS: CreateUserPkg
  • WSO2 Unveils a Lightweight Java Framework for Building Microservices

    “It started about a year ago, from zero to pretty much every single customer asking us: What is your strategy on microservices, and what is your strategy for container-based services?” noted Isabelle Mauny, who is the vice president of product management at WSO2.

    In effect, the customers were telling the middleware company,”That’s what we want to deploy,” Mauny said.

  • Amida Technology Solutions Releases Indaba, an Open Source Data Collaboration and Knowledge Management Tool [Ed: source code]
  • Google opens up VSAQ security assessor to the open source community

    On Monday, the tech giant said the Vendor Security Assessment Questionnaire (VSAQ), a selection of self-adapting questionnaires, have been used in the past to help the firm assess the practices and risk related to hundreds of vendors and their security every year.

  • When selling a site means selling a community

    In January, the CEO of ownCloud, Frank Karlitschek, sold his network of more than 30 community sites. The same month, DHI Group, Inc. announced that it completed the sale of its Slashdot and SourceForge community-driven businesses to BIZX, LLC.

    In both cases, websites weren’t the only things changing virtual hands. Entire online communities transferred to new stewards.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • LLVM 3.8 Officially Released

      While running late, the release of LLVM 3.8 and Clang 3.8 is now officially available.

      If you missed out on LLVM/Clang 3.8 features, see our feature overview. Aside from all the traditional compiler improvements, LLVM 3.8 is also exciting for AMDGPU users as being an important update for those using the AMD open-source Linux graphics driver stack.

    • Bitcoin Devs Could Learn a Lot from BSD

      There’s never been a whirlwind of politics surrounding an open source project on the scale that we see with Bitcoin. Alternative implementations are considered controversial on principle, and Core devs can’t propose a bug fix without being accused of manipulation on behalf of outside interests. However, BSD, another popular open source project, doesn’t seem to have these problems. Why not?

    • Proactive Security & (re)discovering OpenBSD

      OpenBSD — a security-focused & research-based Operating System — started auditing their source code tree in 1996. They combed their source code repository looking for bugs that could lead to security vulnerabilities. The results were hundreds of security bugs found & patched. Thankfully, some of those fixes made it to Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD. Today, OpenBSD proudly boasts about 2 vulnerabilities in more than 10 years. Code auditing is still on-going !


    • Free Software Foundation submits comment to Copyright Office with over 1200 co-signers calling for end to DMCA anti-circumvention provisions

      The Copyright Office was seeking comments in response to a request from Congress to study the effects of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions and the triennial exemptions process. The DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions create legal penalties for the circumvention of technologies that restrict access to copyrighted works, known as Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). It further criminalizes the sharing of tools needed to avoid DRM. The DMCA also set up a system where activists, academics and researchers may request that certain uses be exempted from the anti-circumvention provisions. Every three years they may submit a request to the Copyright Office that the circumvention of a particular type of work be free from the DMCA’s penalties. Even when an exemption is granted, it expires three years later when the next round of the exemptions process begins, requiring repeated effort to maintain narrow exemptions.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Juha Saarinen: IT plans need open-source solutions

      Oh, and those open-source-based solutions work too. So well, in fact, that they can be used to build businesses and public services that run on top of them.

      By now there should be more than enough examples of successful, large-scale enterprise open-source solutions for our authorities to at least trial, rather than automatically tying themselves to proprietary software – and burning through enormous amounts of cash in return for nothing in the process.

    • Achieving IT independence through open-source

      The unwelcome possibility arose that we might have to purchase these expensive systems all over again in a few years, once support for the discontinued products ceased.

      In fact, this kind of dependence on a few large foreign software vendors is a common hazard in many industries.

      Fortunately, Kazi Farms group, the parent company of Deepto TV, also runs a software company called Sysnova which has helped our other businesses to run on free and open source software.

    • Millions saved by Spain’s eAdministration tool

      The SIR software is made available for free to all Spanish public administrations. They can download the software from the CTT repository.

  • Licensing

    • GPL Fun

      The other one is Canonical who have announced it plans to ship zfs with Ubuntu. An employee wrote in a confusing blog post “As we have already reached the conclusion, we are not interested in debating license compatibility, but of course welcome the opportunity to discuss the technology.” but in linking to differing opinions feels the need to highlight “please bear in mind that these are opinions.” The Software Freedom Conservancy wrote an post discussing why it was a derived work and why that’s illegal to distribute. And the SFLC’s Eben Moglen wrote another one which based on a link from Dustin’s blog is the opinion they are replying upon for thinking everything is ok. Eben’s blog post is fascinating and makes for page turning bed-time reading by going into exactly why it’s a derived work. It all depends on “literal interpretation of GPLv2’s system library exception” and that based on that

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Tiny Open Source Robot

        We watched the video introduction for this little open source robot, and while we’re not 100% sure we want tiny glowing eyes watching us while we sleep, it does seem to be a nice little platform for hacking. The robot is a side project of [Matthew], who’s studying for a degree in Information Science.

      • TAU Open Source Mini Arduino Zero Development Board Unveiled (video)

        Arduino enthusiasts that are looking for a smaller Arduino Zero board for their next project may be interested in a new piece of hardware called the TAU that has been developed by Rabid Prototypes and which has been equipped with an Atmel ATSAMD21E17A ARM Cortex M0+ micro controller and offers 16KB RAM.

        The TAU has been created to provide an affordable open source miniature version of the large Arduino Zero and offers 32-bit ARM processor running at 48MHz and can be easily programmed using the Arduino IDE.


  • Internet Archive brings hundreds of classic Apple II games to your web browser

    The Internet Archive has been on a roll lately, bringing back classic MS-DOS games, Windows 3.1 software, and even defanged versions of old PC viruses.

    Now, the site has hit a milestone with its Apple II collection: A group of anonymous hackers have successfully broken the elaborate copy-protection schemes on more than 500 classic games and programs. The result is that these Apple II classics are now playable directly in modern web browsers.

  • Retro Apple II software lands at the Internet Archive

    DIGITAL HOARDER the Internet Archive has unleashed a load of previously copy-protected Apple II software from their old floppy prisons and added them to its accessible shelves.

    This is great news for people who like to have a go on things that they used to have a go on in the 1980s and 1990s. You could be in the Apple Computer software library now, running riot and making merry with all the stuff that the 4am Group has found, stored and shared with you. There is a lot of it.

    “Among the tens of thousands of computer programs now emulated in the browser at the Internet Archive, a long-growing special collection has hit a milestone: the 4am Collection is now past 500 available Apple II programs preserved for the first time,” said the Internet Archive in a blog post.

  • These Drone Photos Show the Density of High-Rises in Hong Kong

    Hong Kong is a densely populated city where high-rises are crammed close together and where an estimated 100,000+ people live in 40-square-foot cubicle apartments. Photographer Andy Yeung used a drone to capture this density for his project Urban Jungle.

    The photo above of the Sheung Wan area of the city was selected as a 500px.com Editors’ Choice.

  • Science

    • The End of Journals

      From the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT; and Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT.

    • 8 guidelines to advance women in tech on International Women’s Day

      Just in time for International Women’s Day, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s Luskin Center for Innovation has released “Rethinking Public, Private and Nonprofit Strategies to Advance Women in Technology,” a 60-page report that articulates just how far the tech industry still needs to go to address its gap in gender diversity – and how it can get there.

    • Guy Who Pretends He Invented Email Whines At Every Journalist For Writing Obit Of Guy Who Actually Helped Create Email

      Over the years, we’ve written a few times about Shiva Ayyadurai, a guy who’s basically staked his entire life on the misleading to false claim that he “invented” email. Every couple of years he pops up again as he’s able to fool some reporters into believing him. In 2012, he fooled the Washington Post and, astoundingly, the Smithsonian. In 2014, he was somehow able to get the Huffington Post to publish a multi-part series claiming he had “invented” email — though after we called them out on it (and after they stood by it) — those stories were eventually deleted. Ayyadurai also threatened to sue us for calling out his false claims, but there’s been no lawsuit yet.

  • Hardware

    • Heat doesn’t kill hard drives. Here’s what does

      “Free-cooled” datacenters use ambient outside air instead of air conditioning. That lets us see how environment affects system components. Biggest surprise: temperature is not the disk drive killing monster we thought. Here’s what is.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Two Billion People Eat Insects and You Can Too

      Edible insects have long been a part of the human diet and are commonly consumed as a food source in many regions of the world, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It is estimated that two billion people currently consume insects as part of their diets. Insects may be an increasingly important source of protein because of the rising cost of animal protein, food insecurity, environmental pressures, climate change and population growth.

    • WHO: Zika Virus Spreading, R&D Needs Financing, Sample Sharing Discussed

      The World Health Organization said today that evidence of the relationship between the Zika virus and neonatal malformations and neurological disorders is growing stronger, and that the virus is spreading geographically. The Emergency Committee set up by the WHO at a gathering today issued advice to the WHO director general, including warning pregnant women to avoid travelling to Zika infected countries. Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing on the sharing of the samples of the virus, and on the question of benefit-sharing. And a call was made for research and development to intensify.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Exclusive: Navy Secretly Conducting Electromagnetic Warfare Training on Washington Roads

      Without public notification of any kind, the US Navy has secretly been conducting electromagnetic warfare testing and training on public roads in western Washington State for more than five years.

      An email thread between the Navy and the US Forest Service between 2010 and 2012, recently obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Oregon-based author and activist Carol Van Strum in November 2014, revealed that the Navy has likely been driving mobile electromagnetic warfare emitters and conducting electromagnetic warfare training in the Olympic National Forest and on public roads on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula since 2010.

    • Drone Casualty Report Promised as U.S. Airstrike Kills 150 Al Shabaab Members

      AFTER YEARS OF INTENSE SECRECY, the Obama administration on Monday announced that it will for the first time acknowledge the number of people it has killed in drone strikes outside of conventional war zones, including civilians. The report, administration officials said, will be released “in the coming weeks,” and will continue to be released annually. The news came as the Pentagon confirmed that it had carried one of the largest airstrikes in the history of the war on terror.

      Lisa Monaco, the president’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, described the plan in comments made during a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations. “We know that not only is greater transparency the right thing to do, it is the best way to maintain the legitimacy of our counterterrorism actions and the broad support of our allies,” Monaco said, adding that the operations described in the report would not cover areas of “active hostilities,” such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

    • The Noxious Legacy of Fracking King Aubrey McClendon

      WHEN FRACKING BILLIONAIRE Aubrey McClendon died after crashing his Chevy Tahoe into a bridge last week, the federal investigation into his alleged bid-rigging came to an end. At his memorial in Oklahoma City today, his friends and family will remember him as a “swashbuckling innovator” and a loyal friend, but his most enduring legacy may be his role in convincing policymakers and the public that natural gas could be an environmental boon and a solution to global warming. More than any other individual, McClendon personified the excesses of the fracking boom, gobbling up land so quickly and spinning the boom’s story so effectively that regulators, environmentalists, and even Wall Street struggled to keep pace.

      McClendon was not only the founder of Chesapeake Energy, the most important fracking company in the technique’s history, but he also co-founded one of the gas industry’s most important lobbying arms, America’s Natural Gas Alliance. In creating both, McClendon became an architect of the energy market’s reorientation around a product whose climate-warming emissions rival those of coal.

    • Finding Security by Helping the ‘South’

      Official Washington’s new group think is that more money must be poured into the Military-Industrial Complex to continue wars in the Middle East and hem in Russia and China on their borders. But the real security threats come from mass dislocations in the Third World, says ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

    • Saudi Arabia’s Exploding Christmas Gifts From Hillary Clinton

      As Hillary Clinton emerges as the front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, she is receiving increased scrutiny for her years as Secretary of State. Many are criticizing her hawkish foreign policy, which is the best indication of what President Hillary’s foreign policy would be, with many focusing on her long relationship with Saudi Arabia.

      On Christmas Eve in 2011, Hillary Clinton and her closest aides celebrated a $29.4 billion sale of over 80 F-15 fighter jets, manufactured by US-based Boeing Corporation, to Saudi Arabia. In a chain of enthusiastic emails, an aide exclaimed that it was “not a bad Christmas present.”

      These are the very fighter jets the Saudis have been using to intervene in the internal affairs of Yemen since March 2015. A year later, at least 2,800 Yemeni civilians have been killed, mostly by airstrikes – and there is no end in sight. The indiscriminate Saudi strikes have killed journalists and ambulance drivers. They have hit the Chamber of Commerce, facilities supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders), a wedding hall, and a center for the blind. The attacks have also targeted ancient heritage sites in Yemen. International human rights organizations are saying that the Saudi-led strikes on Yemen may amount to war crimes.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange

      Svenska Dagbladet (Svd), one of Sweden’s leading newspapers, has now revealed that a well-known journalist and ‘left activist’ – who, among other things, exerted considerable influence with Amnesty International Sweden – was a paid agent of Sweden’s Security Police (SÄPO). [5]

      The government security agent, Martin Fredriksson, was mainly active during the years that former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was dictating Sweden’s foreign policy, when the “Assange Affair” was widely publicized on the home page of Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to statements Fredriksson posted on Twitter, his “work” at SÄPO covered different periods between 2004 and 2010, the year Sweden opened its ‘investigation’ against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      The Swedish media establishment awarded this SÄPO secret agent its highest investigative journalism prize, ‘Guldspaden’ (Golden Spade), in 2014. The rationale on which the award was given to Fredriksson referred precisely to the work he had implemented as a paid agent of Sweden’s Secret Police. [6] In the photo below, at the centre of the group, the ex-Security Police agent Martin Fredriksson.

    • Last chance for a pro-transparency trade legacy for Obama

      As the presidential campaign heats up, President Obama continues to press forward with his policy agenda. High on his remaining “to do” list is his trade agenda. With less than a year left in office, President Obama continues to urge Congress to approve the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) while pressing forward on an ambitious trade deal with Europe, the Transatlantic Trade Partnership (TTIP). For the moment, according to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), it appears the votes aren’t there for TPP approval. Central to the challenge is a problem of the administration’s own making.

    • Two Former White House Tech Advisors Tell The President To Actually Be Transparent About Trade Deals

      Two former Obama tech staffers — Professor Colleen Chien (who advised the administration on intellectual property issues) and Quentin Palfrey (who worked for years in the Commerce Dept and the Office of Science and Technology Policy on intellectual property issues) — have written a fantastic opinion piece for The Hill, arguing that the White House has one last chance to actually be transparent in trade negotiations as it moves forward with the TTIP agreement with the EU. The piece notes that part of the reason that the TPP agreement is in so much trouble was its secrecy…

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • You’re Running Out of Time to See One of Nature’s Most Spectacular Sites

      If you have ever been snorkeling in a tropical paradise and seen the psychedelic colors and teeming variety of otherworldly sea critters, you were gazing upon something increasingly rare: a healthy coral reef. That site also does a lot more than dazzle vacationers. Coral reefs occupy just 0.1 percent of the oceans’ bottom but provide habitat to a quarter of the world’s fish species. They also prevent erosion along coastlines and buffer the impact of storms, providing protection, food, and livelihoods for about 500 million people.

    • On Fracking, Clinton And Sanders Give Vastly Different Answers

      Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders gave vastly different answers on fracking at the CNN Democratic debate on Sunday, illustrating a key policy contrast between the two.

      The candidates were asked by University of Michigan student Sarah Bellaire about whether they support fracking, the controversial process of injecting high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals underground to crack shale rock and let gas flow out more easily. Clinton, who answered first, said she does — but only under certain conditions.

      Specifically, Clinton said that she would not support fracking when local communities don’t want it; when it causes pollution; and when fracking companies don’t disclose the chemicals they use.

  • Finance

    • Corporate Sovereignty Now So Toxic, For Once It Isn’t Being Used Against Canada — Yet

      Despite that painful track record, in 2014 Canada signed the Foreign Investor Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China, which not only included corporate sovereignty provisions, but guaranteed that they would take precedence over the Canadian constitution for 31 years. However, it seems that something — maybe the decision by TransCanada to sue the US for $15 billion because of President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline — has started to make people aware of ISDS’s dangers. That, at least, is what a blog post on the Canadian Dogwood Initiative suggests. It’s a story about a Chinese mining company filing a lawsuit against Canada’s provincial government in British Columbia (BC) over a land transfer.

    • The Financial System Is A Larger Threat Than Terrorism

      In the 21st century Americans have been distracted by the hyper-expensive “war on terror.” Trillions of dollars have been added to the taxpayers’ burden and many billions of dollars in profits to the military/security complex in order to combat insignificant foreign “threats,” such as the Taliban, that remain undefeated after 15 years. All this time the financial system, working hand-in-hand with policymakers, has done more damage to Americans than terrorists could possibly inflict.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Hillary Is Now Picking and Choosing Which Obama Accomplishments to Take Credit For

      According to Hillary Clinton’s latest campaign ploy, she deserves credit for domestic policies passed under Obama — notably, ObamaCare — but not issues — in this case, trade deals — she negotiated as Secretary of State.

      She rolled out former Governor and erstwhile Michigan resident Jennifer Granholm (when this story hit, some local folks were talking about how Granholm hasn’t been seen in these parts of late) to claim that Hillary can’t be held responsible for NAFTA — which she supported when it got passed by her spouse (who is, of course, a key campaign surrogate) — or for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which she helped negotiate as Secretary of State. It’s the latter I find particularly remarkable.

    • Tim Cook, Larry Page, And Elon Musk Plan To Stop Donald Trump At A Secretive Meeting

      The top leaders from Silicon Valley and Republican Commiserate recently met at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum gathering. Apparently, meeting’s main agenda was “How to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump?”

    • At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs And Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot To Stop Trump

      Billionaires, tech CEOs and top members of the Republican establishment flew to a private island resort off the coast of Georgia this weekend for the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, according to sources familiar with the secretive gathering.

      The main topic at the closed-to-the-press confab? How to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

    • Michigan mayor says he was nearly kicked out of Dem debate

      Fouts, an Independent mayor who attended both the Republican and Democratic debates in his home state, commented on the noticeable differences between the two events.

      “The Democratic debate is totally controlled by Hillarys [sic] good friend DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” Fouts wrote in a Facebook post. “No commentary is allowed by the audience. Particularly if you are cheering Bernie Sanders. Persons who do not adhere to Hillarys [sic] rules are threatened with expulsion.”

      He also said the Democratic Party’s debate process “borders on totalitarian control” and in an interview on Monday, he said Wasserman Schultz should resign.

      This is not the first time fellow Democrats have been publicly critical of Wasserman Schultz and how she’s handled the party’s debates. Critics have accused the DNC chairwoman of limiting the number of debates in order to aid Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

    • An LSD trip story: “Went to a Donald Trump speech on acid SUPER BAD VIBES”

      It may be fact, it may be fiction. We do not know. But this first-hand account of an unfortunate fellow who fell under the delusion that it would be a good idea to attend a campaign rally for GOP presidential candidate and noted racist shitbag Donald Trump while tripping balls–it’s a very good acid trip story.

    • Donald Trump’s Sworn Testimony About His University: “I Don’t Know the People”

      Trump University, a now-defunct sales ploy that promised to teach Donald Trump’s real estate “secrets” to enrollees and make them rich in the process, has become a flashpoint in the Republican presidential primary debates. In last night’s debate in Detroit, for instance, Sen. Marco Rubio lit into Donald Trump over the “handpicked” instructors. Trump retorted with a fabrication, claiming that the Better Business Bureau had given Trump University an A rating. As Rubio pointed out in the exchange, the most recent rating was a D minus.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Verizon racks up $1.35M fine for violating consumer privacy

      On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission said it had reached a deal with Verizon over the company’s use of a technology that allowed marketers to track customers’ web browsing so they could provide more targeted advertising. The so-called supercookies were hidden bits of code that couldn’t be easily erased when consumers cleared their browsing history.

    • Victory: Verizon Will Stop Tagging Customers for Tracking Without Consent

      Today, Verizon reached an agreement with the FCC to acquire affirmative consent before injecting their UIDH tracking header into their customers’ web activity on non-Verizon owned sites. This is exactly what we asked them to do in November 2014, and is a huge win for Internet privacy. ISPs are trusted carriers of our communications. They should be supporting individuals’ privacy rights, not undermining them.

      Verizon started their tracking header program in 2012, but did not describe the program in its privacy policy at that time. In 2014, EFF analyzed the header and warned that it acted as an undeletable supercookie, bypassing typical steps people take to protect their Internet privacy, like deleting cookies or using browser extensions that block unwanted tracking.

    • Punished for a Paradox: Brazil’s Random Detention of Facebook Executive Fails Justice

      Yesterday, Diego Dzodan, Facebook’s Vice President for Latin America, was arrested at his Sao Paolo home by federal police, escorted to a forensic institute and then held at Pinheiros Provisional Detention Center in the city. His arrest was ordered by Judge Marcel Montalvão, who was been demanding personal data from WhatsApp as part of a drug-related investigation in Brazil’s northeastern state of Sergipe. The arrest comes after the judge had begun serving WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, a series of fines for withholding information from the court.

      Davi Tangerino, WhatsApp’s lawyer, told reporters what he told the court: WhatsApp can’t provide the contents of the communications, because the company has no record of those communications. That may be for technological reasons—many WhatsApp communications are end-to-end encrypted. It may also be result of the companies own logging policies: WhatsApp says it makes no permanent record of the data that the court requires. In either case, the court is punishing a single employee for the court’s own impossible demands.

    • Broadband Industry ‘Studies’ Claim Users Don’t Need Privacy Protections Because ISPs Are Just Harmless, Innovative Sweethearts

      With few protections in play, most of the last decade broadband ISPs have collected any and every shred of data about their customers’ online behavior. It began with clickstream data, which ISPs sold to third parties, then either refused to comment on or outright lied about. Since then, more intelligent network hardware has let ISPs use deep packet inspection to track and monetize user online behavior down to the second. In wireless, carriers like AT&T and Verizon not only collect and sell user online behavior and location data, but now embed stealth packet headers to track and profile users across the entire Internet.

      It was that last decision that raised eyebrows at the FCC, prompting the agency recently to consider whether it should use its new Title II authority to build at least some basic rules of the road regarding broadband user privacy. This has, of course made the broadband industry rather nervous. After all, the telecom industry has grown very comfortable with the fact that nobody has bothered to give half a damn about broadband privacy for the better part of a generation.

    • Amid an Inconclusive Answer on Encryption, Hillary Reveals She Doesn’t Understand How Metadata Works

      Right in the middle, however, Hillary reveals not understanding a key part of this controversy. To the extent Syed Rizwan Farook used the Apple software on his work phone to communicate with accomplices, we know who he communicated with, because we have that metadata (as Admiral Mike Rogers recently confirmed). We just don’t know what he said.

      We wouldn’t necessarily know who he talked to if he used an App for which metadata was more transient, like Signal. But if so, that’s not an Apple problem.

      Moreover, if ISIS recruits are — as Hillary said — smart, then they definitely wouldn’t (and in fact generally don’t) use Apple products, because they’d know that would make their communications easily accessible under the PRISM or USA Freedom programs.

      This response is not really any different from what we’re getting from other to Obama officials. But it does come with some indication of the misunderstandings about the problem before us.

    • EFF Opposes McCaul-Warner Encryption Commission

      Senator Mark Warner and Representative Mike McCaul are calling on Congress to create an “Encryption Commission” composed of business, tech, and law enforcement and intelligence agency leaders that will investigate and report on encryption issues. The commission is set to ask questions already answered in the 1990s like whether or not the government should mandate backdoors or otherwise change current law. The answer is no. At the end of the day, the commission shows Congress still hasn’t learned that math is not something you can convince to compromise.

      The Warner-McCaul Commission tasks Senate and House leaders with appointing 16 representatives from private industry, law enforcement, academia, the privacy and civil liberties community, and the intelligence community to publish two reports within a year. Each report will investigate (among other topics) how encryption is used, if current law or warrant procedures should change, the value of encryption, the effects of encryption on law enforcement, and the costs of weakening encryption standards.

    • Of Cockpits And Phone Encryption: Tradeoffs And Probabilities

      Blake Ross (boy genius Firefox founder and later Facebook product guy) has written a somewhat bizarre and meandering — but totally worth reading — article about the whole Apple v. FBI fight, entitled (believe it or not): Mr. Fart’s Favorite Colors. There are a few very good points in there, about the nature of programming, security and the government (some of which even make that title make sense). But I’m going to skip over the farts and colors and even his really excellent description of the ridiculousness of TSA security theater in airports, and leap forward to a key point raised in the article, focused on airplane security, which presents a really good analogy for the iPhone encryption fight. He points out that the only thing that has truly helped stop another 9/11-style plane hijacking (as Bruce Schneier points out repeatedly) is not the TSA security theater, but reinforced, locked cockpit doors that make it impossible for people in the cabin to get into the cockpit.

    • FBI makes clandestine changes to rules governing access to NSA data

      A secret court accepted changes to the rules governing the FBI’s access to NSA data about US citizen’s international emails and phone activity. The Guardian received confirmation from US officials that the classified changes were made to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).

      The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Group (PCLOB) has previously revealed that the FBI was able to search through NSA’s collection of trawled data about international communication. The classified nature of the latest changes mean it is impossible to know exactly what they entail, but they are described as being a step towards “enhancing privacy”.

    • FBI adopts new rules for accessing NSA data: report

      New policies adopted by the FBI reportedly affect the bureau’s access to intelligence gathered by the National Security Agency on U.S. citizens, but officials say they’re barred from explaining since the changes are classified.

      The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday that the FBI has “quietly revised” its privacy rules with respect to how it searches NSA databases for phone records, email information and other metadata concerning Americans.

      Specifically, the changes are said to involve the way the FBI uses Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the federal law that allows the U.S. intelligence community to collect information regarding non-U.S. persons.

    • FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans

      The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans’ international communications that was collected by the National Security Agency, US officials have confirmed to the Guardian.

      The classified revisions were accepted by the secret US court that governs surveillance, during its annual recertification of the agencies’ broad surveillance powers. The new rules affect a set of powers colloquially known as Section 702, the portion of the law that authorizes the NSA’s sweeping “Prism” program to collect internet data. Section 702 falls under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), and is a provision set to expire later this year.

      A government civil liberties watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Group (PCLOB), alluded to the change in its recent overview of ongoing surveillance practices.

    • Sweden re-evaluates eID needs and requirements

      The Swedish government is re-evaluating its approach to electronic identification tools. A report will be submitted at the end of the month, summarising the changing needs and requirements of public administrations, compared to the available private sector solutions.

      For their eGovernment services, Swedish public administrations commonly rent private sector eID solutions under a country-wide framework agreement signed in 2008. This contract will end this summer, which is why Sweden is studying the alternatives.

    • DOJ To NY Court: Hey, Can We Have Another Judge Look Over That Ruling About Breaking Into iPhones?

      This is hardly a big surprise, but the Justice Department is not at all happy about NY magistrate judge James Orenstein’s decision last week in the case against accused drug trafficker Jun Feng, that it cannot force Apple to break the security on an iPhone using the All Writs Act. While so much of the attention concerning iPhone encryption has been placed on the case in San Bernardino, the NY case made news well before the California case, and Orenstein was clearly aware that his ruling would have a much wider impact (and it was clearly written with that intent in mind). The Justice Department, of course, is now, in effect asking for a second opinion on the issue, carefully trying to position this case as something quite different than the San Bernardino case. In particular, the Justice Department is claiming that since this particular iPhone is using iOS 7, rather than 8, Apple already has a backdoor, and can easily unlock the contents of the phone.


      As we’ve noted, that’s not actually true. The earlier orders involved earlier versions of iPhones where Apple did have easy access to opening up those phones — and the San Bernardino case was different because it used a more modern version of the operating system, where it did not have such access.

    • Amazon will restore Fire OS‘ encryption support in the spring
    • Amazon Decides to Re-Encrypt Fire OS Mobile Device Data for Privacy
    • Hacker Shows How To Hack Anyone’s Facebook Account
    • The technology at the heart of the Apple-FBI debate, explained
    • Apple Fight Could Lead To “Virtually Limitless” Surveillance Powers, Judge Warns
    • Deep Dive: Why Forcing Apple to Write and Sign Code Violates the First Amendment
    • British Spy Agency Chief Says Tech Companies Should Be Able to Provide a Way Around Encryption
    • GCHQ’s Robert Hannigan: Leave internet privacy laws to politicians, not tech companies
    • GCHQ chief urges Government action over data encryption

      The head of GCHQ has called for politicians to set out the boundaries on the use of data as he called for greater co-operation between technology companies and spy agencies over the issues of encryption.

    • Why is GCHQ boss encouraging activists and journalists to use the Tor network?
    • Britain’s GCHQ seeks co-operation from tech firms to facilitate State surveillance
    • GCHQ: Government Should Have Final Say on Encryption, Not Tech Firms
    • GCHQ boss: Tech needs ‘new relationship’ with security services
    • Head of Britain tech security agency backs encryption
    • GCHQ director says Tor is a ‘brilliant invention’
    • GCHQ: Crypto’s great, we’re your mate, don’t be like that and hate
    • GCHQ boss denies Snooper’s Charter will weaken encryption
    • GCHQ director: Tech companies ‘routinely’ help law enforcement
    • British Spy Agency Chief Says Tech Companies Should Provide a Way Around Encryption
    • The head of GCHQ wants a ‘new relationship’ with tech companies
    • GCHQ director: Tor is a ‘brilliant invention’ that highlights the perils of encryption
    • UK Spy Chief Says Tech Companies Need to Work With Government on Encryption
    • GCHQ: US and UK tech firms need to work together to solve encryption challenges
    • Privacy fight risks letting terrorists in, says head of GCHQ [Ed: British media helps the propaganda]
    • UK’s head of GCHQ seeks co-operation with tech groups
    • Welcome common sense on encryption
    • GCHQ chief urges Government action over data encryption
    • UK spy chief calls for tech sector co-operation to combat “abuse of encryption”
    • GCHQ uses MIT speech to get chummy with tech industry over crypto backdoors

      GCHQ’s director, Robert Hannigan, used a speech he gave yesterday at MIT to try to cosy up to the tech industry in order to promote what he called “a constructive dialogue.” That’s a dramatic reversal of his position less than 18 months ago, when he wrote in the Financial Times that Internet companies were “command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals,” and “in denial” about it.

      On Monday, Hannigan admitted that his comments in the FT had caused “a bigger stir than I expected, and were widely seen as an attack on the tech industry.” Now, he said, “we recognise that we need a new relationship between the tech sector, academia, civil society and Government agencies. We should be bridging the divide, sharing ideas and building a constructive dialogue in a less highly-charged atmosphere.”

      Encryption is the key area where Hannigan believes that dialogue is needed, and he devoted most of his speech to the topic. “The idea that we do not favour strong encryption is alien to anyone who has worked in my organisation,” he said, and went on to emphasise: “I am not in favour of banning encryption. Nor am I asking for mandatory backdoors.”

    • Some impressions from the TorDevMeeting and the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) in Valencia

      Overheard at the Tor Dev meeting in Valencia, from people speaking about online identities: “You were on top of the list of the people I thought were you.”

    • Advanced Tor Browser Fingerprinting

      The ability to privately communicate through the internet is very important for dissidents living under authoritary regimes, activists and basically everyone concerned about internet privacy.

      While the TOR network itself provides a good level of privacy, making difficult or even practically impossible to discover the real I.P. address of the tor users, this is by no means enough to protect users privacy on the web. When browsing the web, your identity can be discovered using browser exploits, cookies, browser history, browser plugins, etc.

      Tor browser is a firefox browser preconfigured and modified to protect user privacy and identity while browsing the web using TOR. Browser plugins are disabled, history and cache aren’t persistent and everything is erased after closing the browser, etc.

  • Civil Rights

    • In blow to inmates’ families, court halts new prison phone rate caps

      Prison phone companies today were granted a judicial stay that halts implementation of new, lower rate caps on inmate calls. The court did not halt new limits on certain ancillary fees related to inmate calls, though, so the overall price of prison calling should go down.

      Global Tel*Link (GTL) and Securus Technologies had asked the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia to stay new price regulations until a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission is decided, arguing that they have a high likelihood of prevailing in the case. The companies argue that the FCC overstepped its authority and that the new limits fall short of what prison phone companies are contractually obligated to pay in “site commissions” to correctional facilities. Despite protest from the FCC, the court today partially granted the stay request.

    • DOM Defense Department Seeks SUB Hackers, Tech Companies For Partnership Built On Distrust

      Despite these limitations, Defense Secretary Ash Carter thinks the program will be a success. He believes the DoD and whatever hackers actually make it past the vetting process will “enhance national security” by playing controlled cyberwar games in a controlled environment.

    • International Women’s Day

      On a lighter note, it is also rather charming that International Women’s Day, designed by Communists as a rather heavy handed propaganda vehicle, morphed through the actions and desires of ordinary human beings into a celebration of romance. Throughout the Eastern Bloc, International Women’s Day became indistinguishable from the Western practices of Valentine’s Day, only with the gifts and flowers and dining taken to even higher levels of corniness. Restaurants throughout the UK will be busy today as couples involving at least one partner from our brilliant new large Eastern European population go out to celebrate. Including us.

    • Read Bernie Sanders’ 1961 Testimony on His University’s Racist Housing Policy

      On the campaign trail, Sen. Bernie Sanders often mentions his work as a civil rights activist in the early 1960s, when he was a campus organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). As a leader of the University of Chicago chapter, he led sit-ins to protest racial discrimination at university-owned properties and picketed a Howard Johnson’s restaurant.

      Now we know a little bit more. L.E.J. Rachell, a researcher with the CORE Project, which is dedicated to collecting and preserving the records of CORE, recently uploaded four documents offering more details about Sanders’ involvement with the group. During this period in 1961, UChicago’s CORE chapter was sending white and black volunteers to university-owned housing facilities in the neighborhood to determine if the school was honoring its anti-discrimination policy.

      The most interesting of the CORE Project documents is a testimonial written by Sanders himself. In it, he details a “test” he conducted of a hotel just off campus. He visited to see if it would rent a room to his older brother, Larry, and the clerk assured him that they would. When UChicago CORE finished its testing, the results were clear—rooms that were available to white students were not available to black students. The next year they launched a series of sit-ins to force the university’s hand.

    • What Do Children’s Doctors and Nuns Have in Common? They Both Support Women’s Access to Contraception.

      The premiere pediatric association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Coalition of American Nuns are among a diverse group of organizations and individuals who recently filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the latest Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception requirement. Nearly 30 briefs were filed in support of the federal government’s argument that women are legally entitled to insurance coverage for contraception coverage with no co-pay, regardless of their employer’s religious beliefs.

    • Harvard Law School Wants to Remove Slaveholder’s Crest From Logo

      After months of student protests, Harvard Law School could soon stop using its official symbol, a shield based on the crest of an 18th-century slaveholder whose donation paid for the first professorship of law at the university.

      In a letter to the university’s president and fellows released on Friday, the dean of the law school, Martha L. Minow, argued that the time had come to dissociate the school from the legacy of Isaac Royall, who left Harvard part of a fortune acquired through the labor of slaves at his father’s sugar plantation in Antigua.

      Every year, the dean wrote, she welcomes new students with a discussion of the benefactor’s portrait in which she notes “that while Harvard University at that time acted legally in accepting the gift, it is crucial that we never confine ourselves to solely what is currently lawful, for the great evil of slavery happened within the confines of the law.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • ICANN Meeting In Marrakesh: More Hiccups On Way To IANA Transition

      The 55th meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Marrakesh this week is expected to finalise the last proposal necessary for the transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a set of core functions necessary for the running of the internet.


      Sharply criticising the transition proposal, Ismailov said it appeared that ICANN would remain a US corporation and the functions of the NTIA would just be resolved within the ICANN procedures, and be totally laid on US ground. “We hope that will be a temporary situation,” he said, adding concerns about “internal contradictions” in the US, pointing to recent letters from Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UN Global Dialogue On Innovation And Access To Medicines This Week

      The United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines is holding a global dialogue this month, attended by governments, civil society, industry and academia, to discuss potential solutions to promote innovation and at the same time increase access to medicines. The first public dialogue session is this week, on 10 March in London.

      The High-Level Panel was established in November. In December, the panel issued a call for contributions to address the issue of alignment of the rights of inventors, and international human rights laws, trade rules and public health (IPW, Public Health, 1 February 2016).

    • Copyrights

      • Perfect 10 and the RIAA Still Trying to Rewrite Copyright to Give Hollywood A Veto Right Over Innovation: EFF Files Brief In Support of Giganews and Sound Copyright Policy

        Some people just never learn. For decades, porn purveyor Perfect 10 has been fighting a losing battle to deputize service providers to police potentially infringing uses of its works. Indeed, at this point Perfect 10 spends far more time on litigation than creation. But court after court has rejected those efforts. In fact, Perfect 10′s main achievement in the courts has been to inadvertently make good copyright law. For example, its litigation led to key decisions ruling that an image search engine was fair use and confirming that rightsholders must follow DMCA Section 512′s clear rules for takedown notices.

      • Author Sues Google For Copyright Infringement For Copying His ‘Philosophy’ In A TV Ad

        Yeah, by now, we get it. The legacy copyright folks have spent decades beating into the minds of the public that every idea and concept and philosophy is “owned” and that you need to get permission for just about everything that it’s no surprise to see crazy, nutty copyright lawsuits pop up every here and there. At least, usually, the really nutty ones are filed pro se (i.e., without a lawyer) and quickly dumped. However, it’s doubly amazing when you get a lawsuit that feels like a pro se lawsuit, but is actually filed by a real lawyer. In this case, the lawyer is Joel D. Peterson, whose website lists “intellectual property” as one of his specialties. If that’s the case, he may want to demand a refund from his law school.

      • Dutch Govt Denies Blame For Movie Piracy Losses

        The Dutch Government has no intention of compensating local film companies for the piracy losses they have allegedly suffered. A coalition of filmmakers is demanding 1.2 billion euros in piracy damages claiming that the Government failed to deter illegal downloading, but the Dutch Minister of Justice denies any liability.

      • “Disgusted” Member of Parliament Intervenes in Internet Piracy Case

        A Member of Parliament has intervened after an 83-year-old grandmother was accused of illegally downloading the Robert Redford movie The Company You Keep and hit with a demand for £600. Ian Austin MP has called on the UK Business Secretary to safeguard consumers from copyright trolls and will also raise the matter in Parliament.

      • Google Asked to Remove 100,000 ‘Pirate Links’ Every Hour

        Copyright holders are continuing to increase the number of pirate links they want Google to remove from its search results, which have now reached a record-breaking 100,000 reported URLs per hour. This remarkable milestone is more than double the number of pirated links that were reported around the same time last year.

4,062 of Staff Vote on EPO Strike, Over 91% in Favour

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



Summary: Overwhelming support for the imminent strike, demonstrating that the vast majority of the staff at the European Patent Office wants change and Battistelli’s relationships are anything but “excellent”

WHILE we don’t know the original source (e.g. E-mail, phonecall) of these numbers, Kieren McCarthy now has them and it is looking like the call for strike was a great success:

Staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) have voted overwhelmingly to strike for a third time in a direct challenge to EPO president Benoît Battistelli.

Over 91 per cent of the 4,062 employees who voted on Tuesday were in favor of the strike, which was called in large part to protest continued disciplinary hearings against three leaders of the organization’s main union, SUEPO.

The timing is significant. The EPO’s Administrative Council – which is made up of 38 country representatives – is due to meet in Munich next week and one of the items on its agenda is the president’s handling of a breakdown in communications between his team and the staff union, which represents roughly half of all EPO employees.


When staff threatened to strike, Battistelli restricted their rights to do so, which led to actual strikes that then drew media attention to the problems.


It remains to be seen whether Battistelli will be able to persuade the council not to take action against him next week. That already-difficult task is going to be made a whole lot harder, however, by the sight of half the organization’s staff walking out the building in protest against his rule.

A lot of this agrees with our predictions (thousands voting in favour, leaving Battistelli humiliated). It also looks like SUEPO got the job done.

Microsoft is Turning Eclipse Into Proprietary Software Tool by Sinking its Claws Into the Eclipse Foundation

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Embrace, extend, extinguish” (EEE) is what they call it…

Azure trap

Summary: Microsoft is spreading proprietary software and surveillance, extorting Linux with software patents and also contaminating FOSS frameworks, all in less than a single day

LESS than a day after the latest "loves Linux" nonsense we begin to see puff pieces, e.g. [1, 2, 3], which seem more like Microsoft advertisements than actual journalism. No critical thinking, no background/research, no fact-checking. Nothing. Just parroting Microsoft’s marketing/propaganda.

“Microsoft today announced that it is joining the Eclipse Foundation,” one ‘journalist’ wrote, “the open source group that’s probably best known for its Eclipse IDE, but which also offers a number of other developer tools.”

This is “embrace, extend, extinguish,” for reasons we already explained in the following past articles:

Eclipse is actually against software patents, which Microsoft uses against Linux even this week. What was the leadership of Eclipse thinking here? That Microsoft has changed? That there’s a ‘new’ Microsoft? No such thing, it’s all marketing/reputation laundering.

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Claim and Perception: Under Battistelli, EPO More Permissive on Software Patents Than USPTO, In Spite of the EPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents in Europe

Summary: Software patents in Europe have become an issue so serious that some companies now consider the European Patent Office (EPO) more friendly towards software patents than their country of origin (US/USPTO)

OUR core concern (and original concern) about the EPO was its growing lenience on and friendliness towards software patents, contrary to the EPC (on the basis of which the EPO exists). A patent system without quality control/assurance is bound to collapse, devaluing all the patents it ever granted.

According to this new post from IP Kat, “Dennis Crouch, in a post titled “US Patent Applicants Heading to the EPO,” notes that many practitioners believe that the EPO is less restrictive in its application of patent eligible subject matter than the USPTO. [Is that the beginning of a new myth? What do you think?] Interestingly, he also notes that recent data from the EPO supports that belief and that the Unified Patent Court will only make those EPO patents more valuable. Others have said it, but will the UPC be a troll friendly zone?”

The UPC means an open door to yet more software patents, more patent trolls, and more litigation. Good for patent lawyers, trolls, and non-European corporations, that’s for sure. In the comments section a regular reader wrote the following response:

Mike you ask what we the readers think, on the issue whether the EPO is more permissive on patent eligibility than the USPTO.

Well, given that the EPC, Art 52, is more restrictive on eligibility than Section 101 of the US patent statute, it certainly would be interesting, if it were indeed the case. Me, I am sceptical that Europe really is more permissive on business method eligibility than the USA.

Mike, I suggest to you and other readers that an important factor in the USPTO’s current strictness on eligibility is nervousness about the consequences of letting claims through to issue. Owners of issued US patents can use them to intimidate accused infringers in ways not known in Europe. That’s because of the notion in the USA that it has a “strong” patent system which deters folks from infringing. If you choose to operate within the ambit of a duly issued claim, you are “betting the farm” ie putting your entire business at risk. The US patent system is one in which there is a high presumption that issued patents are valid and enforeceable, and that wilful infringement can be punished by triple damages.

Whereas in Europe there is far less fear of infringing.

In Europe, nobody gives any deference to the work of the EPO. A patent owner has to prove the fact of infringement and the infringer has only to get to a “more likely than not” standard of proof to blow away the asserted claim. That being the case, the EPO can take a relatively relaxed view on eligibility/patentability, and let 50:50 claims through to issue, to give the striving Inventor his or her “day in court”.

Readers, keep in mind that the filtering the USPTO does on “eligibility” the EPO chooses not to do under Art 52 EPC. The strongest filtering is left at the EPO till we get to obviousness under Art 56 EPC. No other Patent Office in the world confines itself to technological obviousness, or has a “technological arts” test for obviousness. That’s how it can filter out business methods under the obviousness filter. Nobody else has the “Problem and Solution Approach” so everybody else (including the USPTO) has to do the difficult filtering under the “eligibility” section of its Statute.

It is troubling to see that a professor such as Crouch, whose knowledge in this area is beyond doubt (it’s what he does for a living), believes that the perception of the EPO under Battistelli is this bad. It’s perhaps widely perceived to be a software patents-friendly zone now. When Marshall Phelps worked for patent aggressor Microsoft he said the the EPO “can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” (pretty damning if true).

In the mean time, one of our readers is assessing the stance on software patents as it relates to the only person who (so far) is rumoured to be Battistelli’s replacement (Christoph Ernst). Germany is known to be more software patents-friendly than most of Europe, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that Ernst would misinterpret the EPC in the same way that Brimelow and Battistelli did. Here is what this reader wrote to us this afternoon:

It’s hard to find much of anything. That which is found is neutral, political in wording. He’s mentioned several times in these annual reports, but no detail:




Either he’s not in the 2015 report or there is no such report ready yet.

This one appears to be him also, but I am not able to wade through it:


It did also have an alternate spelling of his name in addition to the common spelling.


I’ve skimmed a few more from other authors but, again, can’t wade through them. Though I might be misinterpreting it looks like there is a large pool of people who wish to interpret number of resulting patents with ‘quality’ of research.

It is of couse perfectly reasonable to believe that Ernst is just one among several who will be considered as Battistelli’s replacement. It’s also plausible that the rumours are false and that he is not at all being considered for this job.

Microsoft Hates Linux: Patent Extortion Continues With New Software Patents Deal (Wistron)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft killing Linux

Summary: Microsoft is still killing (free) Linux with software patents whilst at the same time telling the media that it “loves Linux”

THIS morning we wrote about Microsoft layoffs and an effort to engulf GNU/Linux with proprietary Microsoft software. The PR/charm offensive from last night hasn’t even had much time to cool down and here is another puff piece from the Microsoft-occupied BBC (many Microsoft UK executives became managers there). Hours later we discovered that Microsoft’s hatred of Linux is still bragged about. As this new article by Bogdan Popa put it, Microsoft’s patent extortion of Linux is to net “$3 billion every years without moving a single finger,” or, to quote the summary in full: “Microsoft has just announced that it reached an agreement with Wistron to renew their Android patent licensing agreement, so the company can continue using Redmond’s technology on its tablets, smartphones, e-readers and other devices powered by Android or Chrome OS.”

“This is technically called patent stacking and it artificially elevates the price of devices with Linux on them, for the personal financial gain of Bill Gates and his growing patent network.”Wistron was not only extorted by Microsoft (over patents) but also by Microsoft's troll, Intellectual Ventures, which we wrote about yesterday. This is technically called patent stacking and it artificially elevates the price of devices with Linux on them, for the personal financial gain of Bill Gates and his growing patent network.

Yes, the 'new' Microsoft. Does anyone still believe this sordid myth? The company wants to blackmail companies which use Linux (like it did Acer last month) whilst insisting that it “loves Linux”. Microsoft is just provoking or trolling the GNU/Linux community with pictures that have a heart symbol in them. Corporate media is foolishly reposting these tongue-in-cheekish images. When did basic fact-checking cease to matter?

Rumoured Successor of Battistelli, Christoph Ernst, Previously Seen as Antagonist of Battistelli But What About UPC?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Christoph Ernst of EPO ACSummary: A deeper look at Battistelli’s succession (or contrast), which is rumoured to be Christoph Ernst from Germany

A number of readers of ours have been searching the Web for clues regarding Ernst’s stance on software patents but were not successful. There’s not much information about him in English and not even in German. It was reported that German delegates to the Administrative Council, based on what we learned back in December, had expressed concerns about Battistelli. That would probably have to include Ernst, who is rumoured (based on German media) to be the person who’s going to replace Battistelli.

“Will that be enough to convince delegates (Administrative Council) to vote against Battistelli?”An injunctions-friendly* UPC would go a long way in supporting software patents and we do know that Ernst previously worked towards the previous incarnations of the UPC. Here we have a longtime proponent of software patents and UPC doing it again. No word from this UPC booster (who profits from it in her recently renamed/rebranded employer) about the antidemocratic nature of the UPC or its many downsides, just the borrowing of the UK-IPO’s name to make it seem like an imminent reality (it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy tactics). Public input is currently an obstacle to the UPC, so the lawyers who conspire or collude to make it a reality behind closed doors pretend it’s not needed. The public, in their view, is just a negligible nuisance. Battistelli has been acting the same way when it comes to the UPC, which is far from a reality. Spain is probably the biggest barrier to the UPC and it needs sufficient access to real information in Spanish (not PR/lies from Battistelli and his FTI Consulting-funded UPC propagandists).

Speaking of propaganda, the EPO has just sunk some propaganda into British sites too**, probably serving to distract from reports such as “Deutsches Arbeitsrecht gilt hier nicht”. As SUEPO put it yesterday: “The audio report is close to the report made by the Bayerischer Rundfunk on TV on 2 March 2016.”

SUEPO also publicly shared the videos from Bayerischer Rundfunk some time yesterday (around lunchtime). “On 2 March 2016,” it wrote, “the Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcast a 18-minutes report (from 12’25”) about the EPO. A similar report was broadcast via the radio (Deutschlandfunk; audio is available here) on Sunday 6 March 2016. Subtitles in English are provided.”

This came out in time for the vote on strike action. Will that be enough to convince delegates (Administrative Council) to vote against Battistelli? Or is there still overwhelming fear of retribution? Is Kongstad on Battistelli’s “naughty” (perceived enemies) list now, due to the letter he drafted? At the end of next week the EPO’s staff will almost definitely go on strike and the Administrative Council should defend Kongstad, not the psychopath Battistelli. When Battistelli told Dutch media last week that his "relationships are excellent" he was probably thinking of Bergot and her husband, who is loyal to Battistelli. It’s all one big happy family at the top [1, 2, 3, 4] (Team Battistelli), but the Administrative Council quickly reaches the verge of divorce.
* MIP has this new report about EPO and injuctions, noting that “The Athens Single Member Court of First Instance recently granted a preliminary injunction based on a patent despite the fact that the Opposition Division of the EPO, a few days before the preliminary injunction hearing, had revoked the same patent.”
** MIP also has this new report about Battistelli and his new allies in Tunisia, as “[v]alidation of European patents in Tunisia will soon become a reality,” making all sorts of jokes possible about Ben Ali Battistelli and other tyrants.

Apple’s Software Patents Tax on Android (Linux) Devices Put in Perspective

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For the time being, only patent lawyers make a lot of money in the process and the public is paying for it

Loads of money

Summary: A look at recent news about Apple and its patent cases, which the company is trying to escalate up to SCOTUS, as is Samsung (depending on the case)

THE reality of patents is more complex than patent lawyers (and other patent maximalists) typically put it. Injunctions are never beneficial to the population (whether one calls them “customers” or uses the more derogatory word, “consumers”) and the costs of products are artificially elevated to make up for lawyers' fees.

“Apple wants not only its own phones to cost nearly a thousand bucks.”Alluding to this patent case against Apple, Patently-O writes that: “It will be interesting to See how Apple responds. The court asked for responses from Apple, Mangrove, and Director Lee to be filed next week.”

“This isn’t just a US problem by the way.”In another case, one in which Apple is a patent aggressor, the judge “issues a warning to Apple lawyers,” according to this recent report about Apple’s fight against Samsung (SCOTUS intervention may be next). Well, only the lawyers win in this case (or war), which has gone on for 6 years. Apple wants not only its own phones to cost nearly a thousand bucks. Along with Microsoft, the Microsoft-dominated (hijacked) Nokia and CPTN partners like Microsoft and Oracle, Apple tries to make Android equally expensive, using software patents for the most part.

This isn’t just a US problem by the way. The EPO‘s President (for now) Battistelli is clueless about the Office's operations and role in the Apple litigation. This cannot be seen as acceptable.

The Federal Circuit, a So-called ‘Court’, Increasingly Refuted by US Courts and the Appeal Board (PTAB)

Posted in America, Patents at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sanity fights its way back into a system which is dominated by large corporations and trolls-leaning ‘think tanks’

CAFC corruption
The above [1, 2, 3, 4] are symptoms of a much broader and systemic problem

Summary: The US Federal Circuit (initiator of software patents), or “CAFC” as it’s commonly referred to, gets increasingly involved in patent cases and spreads its bias on such matters in ways that even patent professionals find dubious

“The data released from the USPTO in its annual report shades the truth somewhat,” wrote Patently-O yesterday. “but includes a number of important signals.”

“The Federal Circuit may as well just become synonymous with or renamed to Federal Patent Court.”The EPO‘s report also shaded the truth. That’s what these self-serving (and not independent) reports do. In the case of the USPTO — as is increasingly the case under Battistelli at the EPO — only numbers count, not quality. The integrity of the processes (notably examination) is severely compromised in the name of short-term monetary gains. This is not acceptable.

Another new article from Patently-O says that “the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) hears patent appeals, but some readers may be surprised when told that the CAFC also hears, inter alia, appeals from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“CAVC”).”

Techrights spent years writing about the Federal Circuit, which is rife with corruption and patent maximalism, including software patents which originally came about from there. Anything that gives CAFC even more power would put at risk the entire system. Patently-O says that the “Federal Circuit Now Receiving More Appeals Arising from the PTO than the District Courts”. It’s all about patent feuds now. Good for patent lawyers, not for anybody else except their biggest clients (large corporations). “Appeals arising from district court patent infringement cases,” wrote Patently-O, “have historically made up about a third of the court’s docket. In 2011, for example, appeals from the district courts constituted 33% of appeals filed, while appeals from the PTO were about 9%.”

The Federal Circuit may as well just become synonymous with or renamed to Federal Patent Court. Here is a patent lawyer (from Troutman Sanders) writing about CAFC, bemoaning the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), as usual, as PTAB helps crush software patents. To quote one paragraph, “Judge Newman wrote in dissent that the PTAB’s interpretation runs afoul of the AIA’s intent to create an efficient alternative forum for resolving patent disputes, since a failure to resolve all claims before the PTAB leads to duplication in district court.”

Actually, the district courts would not be needed if the USPTO properly did its job in the post-Alice era and PTAB completed the job by throwing in the trash invalid (e.g. abstract) patents that the USPTO erroneous of fraudulently (for personal gain) granted. Years ago we noted that the USPTO had been giving financial incentives to accept patent applications rather than reject/decline them. What kind of system is that? Is there any illusion left of objectivity?

MIP, another patent maximalism site, wrote yesterday about “PTAB issues to watch in 2016″. It said that the “Patent Trial and Appeal Board is taking a harder line on institution, while PTAB watchers eagerly await a face-off at the Supreme Court over claim construction and the Federal Circuit increasingly pulls the Board up on procedural issues” (SCOTUS has already issued its judgment on that in the Alice case).

Writing about CAFC, Patently-O says that “In a split decision [it] has again rejected a jury verdict” (so much for justice). “Here,” said the author, “the alleged infringing meters are designed to be bolted down to exterior walls and left in place for years. Of course, it is fairly easy for an electrician to move these meters and install them, but they are designed to operate in a fixed location once installed. The majority ruled that the best (and only reasonable) construction of the term involves both of these requirements (portability and non-permanent location).”

“Decades after CAFC brought all sorts of ludicrous patents to the US (notably software patents) they seem to be fading or ebbing away.”Another new Patently-O post by Dennis Crouch says: “In an interesting and important mandamus ruling, the Federal Circuit has ordered the district court to withdraw its order compelling discovery of communications with non-attorney patent agents.”

The Federal Circuit sure isn’t doing much to improve its image. It engages not only in its own turf wars but also others’. Consider some belated comments on the recent Lexmark case (EN | ES) that appear in patent maximalism blogs [1, 2]. It increasingly seems like CAFC is so biased that it merely works for corporations, not for justice.

“US courts have become much more defendant friendly,” wrote a software patents proponent yesterday, “district courts routinely find against plaintiffs asserting patents – particularly NPEs [patent trolls] – and if they don’t the Federal Circuit (CAFC) often overturns district court judgments.”

This patent maximalist, Joff Wild, basically bemoans courts which don’t support software patents (the trolls’ favourite weapon) and he adds: “Specific decisions from the Supreme Court – Alice, Myriad and Mayo, for example – have had a direct impact on patentability in areas such as software, biotech and business methods.”

This is of course a good thing. Decades after CAFC brought all sorts of ludicrous patents to the US (notably software patents) they seem to be fading or ebbing away. Patent maximalists (which include patent lawyers) won’t tolerate this defeat. Neither will CAFC.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts