Good Luck to Apple in Exposing the Network of Patent Trolls That is Connected to Microsoft, Nokia, Ericsson, BlackBerry and Other Failed Mobile Players

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When all else fails, throw patents at the competition (through trolls so as to avert counteraction)?

Nokia trolls
Image from BusinessKorea

Summary: With billions of dollars at stake (maybe over a trillion in the long run), the attempt to claw revenue using patents rather than actual sales has become complicated because of plurality of intermediaries, which Apple is trying to tackle with a new antitrust complaint

“In a major antitrust lawsuit Apple charged that Acacia is illegally breaking terms of patents acquired from Nokia,” according to The Street. This is pretty major news and definitely something that warrants a 2 AM article. Florian Müller has already produced a long blog post about it, accompanied by or coupled with the relevant documents.

“Readers can find details like a detailed history in our Wiki page about Acacia, including the hiring (by Acacia) of people from Microsoft and this troll’s repeated attacks on GNU/Linux.”As a reminder to our readers, Acacia is a Microsoft-connected troll. Readers can find details like a detailed history in our Wiki page about Acacia, including the hiring (by Acacia) of people from Microsoft and this troll’s repeated attacks on GNU/Linux.

“For a long time,” Müller wrote today, “I had hoped someone would finally do this. Last year I called out Nokia and others on their privateering ways, and it turned out that Nokia had industrialized the concept of privateering to a far greater extent than anyone else. My list of PAEs fed by Nokia contained all of the defendants in Apple’s antitrust suit–Acacia and Conversant (technically, Apple is also suing particular subsidiaries of those)–and more. That post prompted attempts by Ericsson and Nokia to explain away their privateering ways.”

Nokia‘s patents have also been passed to another anti-Linux/anti-Google troll called MOSAID (renamed “Conversant” since). These were, for a fact, passed at Microsoft’s instructions, as reported in the mainstream media at the time. There’s more on that in the Korean media. When it comes to patents, Nokia is still enslaved by or subservient to Microsoft.

“What does the future of dying mobile giants have in store then?”The full story isn’t just Apple hitting back at Nokia. “Breaking news,” Müller wrote later, “Nokia sues Apple in US and Europe over alleged patent infringement [] Venues: Eastern District of Texas, three German courts: Düsseldorf Mannheim Munich…”

Europe is a growing and increasingly attractive hub for patent parasites already, I’ve told Müller (who probably agreed). Germany and sometimes the UK (London) are favoured among those parasites (see Ericsson's troll choosing London for legal attacks — quite unprecedented a move for such an entity). “For the troll that Nokia is now,” Müller noted, “suing Apple in the ED of Texas is very appropriate. [] When Nokia was still making mobile devices, it had a predilection for the District of Delaware. Now: Eastern District of Texas. Times change…”

I told him that BlackBerry does the same thing now, having lost the market (to which Müller nodded with a retweet). We wrote about this earlier this week and earlier this year.

What does the future of dying mobile giants have in store then? Passage to trolls (the PAE type) that will tax everyone, everywhere? “Something big always seems to happen at Christmas in the patent market,” IAM wrote. “Remember the RPX Rockstar patents purchase a couple of years ago?”

Remember that IAM is partly funded by MOSAID/Conversant, i.e. part of the same ‘gang’. As for Rockstar, we wrote quite a few articles about it, e.g. [1, 2]. It’s like a front for Microsoft (Rockstar Consortium is a patent troll owned by Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony). As for RPX, it’s also a patent troll, with Microsoft having joined it 6 years ago.

“My list of PAEs fed by Nokia contained all of the defendants in Apple’s antitrust suit–Acacia and Conversant (technically, Apple is also suing particular subsidiaries of those)–and more.”
      –Florian Müller
Nina Milanov, an occasional EPO sceptic, told Müller, “I hope Apple sees it through. Every time you settle, to some extent the troll has won.”


“Last time Nokia sued Apple in Germany,” Müller responded, “it was extremely lucky. Key patents have expired. Will be more interesting this time around.”

If Apple gets to the bottom of all these satellite proxies that are patent trolls, it will be a good service not just to Apple but also to Android/Linux. iOS and Android command the market and all that the losers can do right now is attempt to tax those two. Even Oracle is trying to accomplish that.

Accusations of Administrative Council (of the EPO) Complicity in Illicit Retaliation Against Appeal Boards at the Behest of Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Chinchilla Man of the Administrative Council too, under Battistelli’s instructions (tail wagging the dog), tried to remove a judge

The Chinchilla Man of the Administrative Council

Summary: The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation is coming under fire for its role in weakening the appeal boards and the confidence in already-granted EPs (European Patents) continues to erode

EARLIER TODAY we noted that a comments thread about the EPO‘s patent scope had turned more interesting than the ‘article’ (self-promotional piece) itself. People have been noting that this diversionary tactic from the EPO can backfire pretty badly on the EPO.

“Julian Cockbain” (possibly a pseudonym but not for sure) said that “the problem is not with Tomatoes II but with the EBoA’s craven reaction to the Biotech Directive in G-1/98. Correctly decided then, the problem would not have arisen now…”

“One more example of the fundamental lack of accountability of the executive in the European patent system.”
We have been writing about this for a number of years. The EPO should never have granted patents on plants, seeds and animals in the first place. Now it pays the price and people will lose confidence in their EPs. The following three comments were all posted anonymously, presumably by domain experts afraid of retaliation for their open expression of views. “The decision by the President of the EPO [that's Battistelli] to stay all the concerned proceedings cannot be appealed before the Boards. One more example of the fundamental lack of accountability of the executive in the European patent system,” said one comment. Yes, it helped expose how out-of-control the EPO has become.

Another comment said that “it’s clear that in the long term the Enlarged Board cannot remain independent of the EU, particularly once [sic] the UPC is up and running” (that should be if, not once). The boards are in general under attack from Battistelli, who is pushing hard for the UPC and will sort of oversee the boards until a UPC booster finally becomes their President (see some background on Carl Josefsson's role in UPC training). To quote the full comment: “The EPO chose to bring itself under the jurisdiction of the EU when it brought the Biotech Directive into the EPC rules. Now it has to stay proceedings to sort this all out. There is no point granting/maintaining patents which are not valid according the Biotech Directive. It’s clear that in the long term the Enlarged Board cannot remain independent of the EU, particularly once the UPC is up and running and presumably the CJEU will then be looking at patent cases at lot more regularly as the final appeal court for the UPC. We clearly cannot have 2 final patent courts in Europe and this is a good opportunity to start the process of allowing the CJEU to take over the responsibilities of the Enlarged Board.”

“As the EBA did not abide by the wishes of the AC (and of the president) in this matter, it was relocated to Haar.”
One person asked: “Why bother about separation of powers? It started with the house-ban of a member of the BA by the president of the EPO a while ago. It continued. As the EBA did not abide by the wishes of the AC (and of the president) in this matter, it was relocated to Haar. As long as the AC has not amended the Rules, there is no objective reason to stay any proceeding. By staying the proceedings, the BA are also touched. Another good way to retaliate.”

We recently argued that the Administrative Council was complicit and under the control of Battistelli rather than it being the other way around (as it ought to be). As the Administrative Council is controlled by Battistelli's pet chinchilla (alluding to the darker side of his life), this is hardly surprising.

With Lucy Neville-Rolfe Out (Confirmed Today!) and Chaos in the EPO’s Management, the UPC’s Prospects Look Worse Than Ever in the UK and Europe as a Whole

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So long Lucy and thanks for nothing…

Neville-Rolfe and Battistelli

Summary: ‘Battistelli’s women’ seem to have been removed from their job, only days after Battistelli’s Vice-President Mini Minion (Minnoye) quietly announced his early exit from the EPO

THE EPO‘s management is starting to shake up as affairs have been rocky and criticism comes from the European media (except German media) on a more regular basis. As for Lucy, showing off her connections to Battistelli (see photo above), she too is out, not long after we leveled/directed criticism at her, speaking against what she did (as did other people, usually anonymously).

For details regarding what Lucy did, revisit this 7-part series:

Combine this with the planned departure of Minnoye, a principal/key part of Team Battistelli. We are not the only ones celebrating the news about EPO’s Vice-President Minnoye resigning. Here is a new comment (from today) about it:

Let VP1 never forget that life and the world are what we make them by our social character; by our adaptation or want of adaptation to the social conditions, relationships, and pursuits of the world.

To the selfish, the cold, and the insensible, to the haughty and presuming, to the proud, who demand more than they are likely to receive, to the jealous, ever afraid they shall not receive enough, to those who are unreasonably sensitive about the good or ill opinions of others, to all violators of the social laws, the rude, the violent, the dishonest, and the sensual, to all these, the social condition, from its very nature, will present annoyances, disappointments, and pains, appropriate to their several characters.
The benevolent affections will not revolve around selfishness; the cold-hearted must expect to meet coldness; the proud, haughtiness; the passionate, anger; and the violent, rudeness.

Those who forget the rights of others, must not be surprised if their own are forgotten; and those who stoop to the lowest embraces of sense must not wonder, if others are not concerned to find their prostrate honour, and lift it up to the remembrance and respect of the world.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe is out too, only a few weeks after her UPC debacle. Here is the only report about it (that we have found so far). Interesting timing. Perhaps she didn’t like what people said or maybe her supervising authority took into account what people had said about her appalling decisions. Hard to tell without some leaks that help shed light on that foolish, ill-informed move from Lucy…

“Out,” MIP says this afternoon, “Baroness Neville-Rolfe.” This news is evidently very fresh: “The government announced today that Baroness Neville-Rolfe has been appointed as Commercial Secretary (Minister of State) at the Treasury, meaning she will leave her current post at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).”

What will that mean for the Unitary Patent? Nothing good, that’s for sure. The assurances came from Lucy (intention to ratify), so what happens now?

This following new comment suggests somewhat of a chaotic situation in EPO HR (and by extension the management) right now, just shortly after Bergot had another go at entrapping SUEPO (only to be rebuffed). Someone who looked at the phone book said this about Bergot and Nadja Merdaci-Lefèvre (mentioned last year):

Also heard another interesting development so far remained rather unoticed but which shows that there are big cracks in Battistelli’s galaxy:

The FR ex Lieutnant-colonel from intelligence services (don’t laugh) who had been recruited at administrator’s level by PD HR to officially deal with “social dialogue and communication” (actually she worked at preparing files to charge SUEPO officials to get them fired) and then bombarded within no time at director’s level (after another fake selection procedure), would now be back to square one (see the phone book).

Game over, exit the “social dialogue” work with PD HR.

Apparently a sudden and rather unexpected change of both dept and function (now she is simple Private “head of service” position in charge of security). At first glance this position would suit better her profile but when one remembers the shamble around the dismissals…one may worry for “security at EPO”.

In any case something big must have happened between the two ladies who once were the best pales in town. Trusting PD HR is a risky bet: the later acts exactly as her mentor (Battistelli) does: find one to blame with her wrongdoings.

Loyalty is really overrated

If anyone could kindly take it upon him/herself to investigate this and send us some information, we would greatly appreciate it. Where there is smoke there is usually a fire.

Links 21/12/2016: Red Hat’s Results Not Positive, Raspberry Pi Goes for Debian

Posted in News Roundup at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • OECD STI Outlook 2016: more open source in software, hardware and wetware

    Open source development practices will create further communities of developers, not only in software but also in hardware (Open Source Hardware, OSH) and “wetware”, for example in do-it-yourself synthetic biology. Together with the continued fall in the costs of equipment and computing, this creates greater opportunities for new entrants — including individuals, outsider firms and entrepreneurs — to succeed in new markets.

  • Google Open Up a Cool Collection of Cryptographic Security Tests

    With 2016 closing out, there is no doubt that cloud computing and Big Data analytics would probably come to mind if you had to consider the hot technology categories of the year. However, steady progress has been made in security software as well, and now Google has released Project Wycheproof, a collection of security tests that check cryptographic software libraries for known weaknesses that are used in attacks.

    This newly open sourced project, named for Mount Wycheproof, apparently the smallest mountain in the world, features a code repository on GitHub.

  • Kickstarter Open Sources its Own iOS and Android Apps

    If you’re familiar with Kickstarter, you know that it and other crowdsourced funding sites have helped fund numerous open source applications. Kickstarter actually has its own engineering team, though, and now that team has made the announcement that it is open sourcing its own Android and iOS creations.

    You can go to the team’s Android or iOS Github pages and find repositories. “The native team at Kickstarter is responsible for building and maintaining features for Android and iOS,” the team reports. The open source toolsets may be especially useful for startups to leverage.

  • Events

    • 2016 Hacktoberfest ignites open source participation

      DigitalOcean launched Hacktoberfest in 2014 to encourage contribution to open source projects. The event was a clear success, and in terms of attendance and participation goals reached, it’s also clear that Hacktoberfest has become a powerful force in driving contributions to open source. The lure of a t-shirt and specific, time-limited goals help new contributors get started and encourage existing contributors to rededicate themselves and their efforts.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Announces “MUFFIN” User Interface

      The Document Foundation today announced MUFFIN, a new user-interface concept for LibreOffice.

      MUFFIN is short for “My User Friendly & Flexible INterface.” MUFFIN focuses on a “personal UI” depending upon a user’s habits, is deemed user-friendly, and is flexible. These different UI elements will be available with the upcoming LibreOffice 5.3 and offer options for the default UI, a single toolbar UI, a sidebar with a single toolbar, and a new experimental “notebook bar” interface.

    • LibreOffice 5.3 to Launch with MUFFIN, a User-Friendly and Flexible UI Concept

      Immediately after informing Softpedia today, December 21, 2016, about the launch of a new LibreOffice Extension & Templates website, The Document Foundation company announced MUFFIN, a new tasty user interface concept for LibreOffice 5.3 onwards.

    • The Document Foundation announces the MUFFIN, a new tasty user interface concept for LibreOffice

      The Document Foundation announces the MUFFIN, a new tasty user interface concept for LibreOffice, based on the joint efforts of the development and the design teams, supported by the marketing team.

    • Oracle is cracking down on Java SE users who think it’s free

      ORACLE HAS begun an aggressive campaign of chasing licence fees for use of payable elements of its Java software.

      The company, which acquired Java owner Sun Microsystems in 2010, has already lost a case over the fair use of Java APIs in Google’s Android operating system, but as it awaits another appeal hearing, it’s going after a myriad of other companies that are using elements of the open source software that aren’t actually free.

      Oracle has been hiring a legal team this year to bolster its License Management Services, which in turn has forced companies to hire compliance specialists, as it looks like Oracle has made 2017 the year of kicking ass.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


  • Velvet Underground, Sly Stone to Receive Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

    The Velvet Underground, Sly Stone and Nina Simone are among the artists who will be awarded the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2017, the organization behind the Grammys announced Monday.

  • How Apple Alienated Mac Loyalists

    To die-hard fans, Apple Inc.’s Macintosh sometimes seems like an afterthought these days.

    Mac upgrades, once a frequent ritual, are few and far between. The Mac Pro, Apple’s marquee computer, hasn’t been refreshed since 2013. The affordable and flexible Mac mini was last upgraded in 2014. And when a new machine does roll out, the results are sometimes underwhelming, if not infuriating, to devotees.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The thousands of U.S. locales where lead poisoning is worse than in Flint

      A Reuters examination of lead testing results across the country found almost 3,000 areas with poisoning rates far higher than in the tainted Michigan city. Yet many of these lead hotspots are receiving little attention or funding.

      ST. JOSEPH, Missouri – On a sunny November afternoon in this historic city, birthplace of the Pony Express and death spot of Jesse James, Lauranda Mignery watched her son Kadin, 2, dig in their front yard. As he played, she scolded him for putting his fingers in his mouth.

    • Old Dutch potato chips recalled over salmonella concern

      OTTAWA – Old Dutch Foods Ltd is recalling one of its potato chip brands because of possible salmonella contamination.

      The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Old Dutch brand Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chips are sold in 66 gram and 255 gram bags.

    • China’s marriage rate is plummeting because women are choosing autonomy over intimacy

      One of the greatest fears of Chinese parents is coming true: China’s young people are turning away from marriage. The trend is also worrying the government.

      After a whole decade of increases in the national marriage rate, China witnessed its second year of decline in the number of newly registered unions in 2015, with a 6.3% drop from 2014 and 9.1% from 2013. This was accompanied by a rise in the age of marriage, which increased by about a year and a half in the first 10 years of this century.

  • Security

    • 5 Open Source Network Security Tools SMBs Should Consider

      You might think that because your business is small you aren’t an attractive target for hackers.

      But you would be wrong.

      According to the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), 82 percent of small business owners believe that they are not a target for cyberattacks, but 43 percent of last year’s cyberattacks targeted SMBs. And a single attack can cost SMBs up to $99,000.

      Cyberattacks of all kinds are on the rise with data breaches increasing 15 percent over the past year, NCSA says. And ransomware, attacks that freeze up organizations’ systems until they pay a ransom, has become particularly prevalent; in just the first three months of 2016, U.S. ransomware victims paid out $209 million to attackers, compared to $25 million for all of 2015.

    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • Rakos Malware Is Infecting Linux Servers And IoT Devices To Build Botnet Army

      In case you’re facing a problem of your embedded devices going overloaded with networking and computing tasks, there are chances that it might be due to some foreign elements trying to lure your ‘smart’ device into joining a botnet cult.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Two Derby terror suspects are ‘strict Muslims who fell out with neighbour for wearing shorts’

      A refugee who says he lives below the home where two Derby men were arrested for alleged terror offences said they were strict Muslims who fell-out with him for wearing shorts.

      Haji Ahmadi said he “had the shock of his life” when he discovered his neighbours in Leopold Street had been held in a major anti-terror probe in which six people were arrested – four were from Derby.

      Mr Ahmadi has lived on the ground floor of the home for five months and the former Afghan soldier said two of the four city men who have been arrested lived there when he arrived.

    • Can Indigenous Okinawans Protect Their Land and Water From the US Military?

      Three weeks ago, on a bus ride to Takae, a small district two hours north of Okinawa’s capital of Naha, a copy of a local newspaper article was passed around. “Another Takae in America,” the headline read, over a photograph of the Standing Rock Sioux marching against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. At the top of the page, someone had scribbled “water is life” in red ink. As we drove through the foothills along the coast, the article made its way around the bus—behind me, a woman said to another, “It’s the same struggle everywhere.”

      We were headed to the US military’s Northern Training Area, also known as Camp Gonsalves, which stretches over 30 square miles of Okinawa’s subtropical forest. Founded in 1958 and used for “terrain and climate-specific training,” the US military likes to call the training area a “largely undeveloped jungle land.” What they don’t like to acknowledge is that the forest is home to some 140 villagers, thousands of native species and dams that provide much of the island’s drinking water. Though Okinawans have long opposed US presence on the group of islands, their purpose on this day was to protest the construction of a new set of US military helipads in the forest of the Northern Training Area, which they consider to be sacred.

      Since 2007, Okinawans have been gathering in Takae to disrupt the construction of six helipads for the US Marine Corps, which come as part of a 1996 bilateral deal between Japan and the United States. Under the agreement, the US military would “return” 15 square miles of its training ground in exchange for the new helipads—a plan Okinawans say will only bolster the US military presence on the islands and lead to further environmental destruction.

    • US ‘got it so wrong’ on Saddam Hussein, says CIA interrogator of the Iraq dictator

      The US “got it wrong” about Saddam Hussein and Iraq, the CIA analyst who interrogated the former dictator has said.

      John Nixon had numerous conversations with the deposed leader and now says that America was critically mistaken about their intervention Iraq in a number of ways.

      In particular, he claims, the CIA’s view of Hussein’s attitude to using chemical weapons was wrong.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Solar and wind power keep breaking cost records – but Poland and Hungary resist
    • President Obama bans some ocean drilling areas forever

      President-elect Donald Trump may be staffing his administration with anti-environmentalists, but that isn’t stopping President Barack Obama from using his final weeks in office to protect the planet.

      The president is invoking a provision in a 1953 law known as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act in order to indefinitely block drilling in large sections of the Arctic and Atlantic, according to CNBC on Tuesday. This will include most of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic.

    • Trump’s coal revival plan won’t work; clean energy tech is already cheaper

      Trump is likely to roll back several of the current administration’s clean energy policies, such as the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power deployments, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and U.S. support for the 195-nation Paris Agreement.

    • Going green in China, where climate change isn’t considered a hoax

      In mid-November, while Americans were preoccupied with election returns, China sent some of its clearest signals yet that it will continue to pursue an international leadership role on issues including climate. At an international climate change summit in Marrakech, the Chinese government reasserted its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The government announced that its aggregate emissions will peak by 2030 or earlier, and that its emissions per dollar of economic output will decline sharply.

  • Finance

    • Uber’s Loss Exceeds $800 Million in Third Quarter on $1.7 Billion in Net Revenue

      Even as Uber Technologies Inc. exited China, the company’s financial loss has remained eye-popping. In the first nine months of this year, the ride-hailing company lost significantly more than $2.2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. In the third quarter, Uber lost more than $800 million, not including its Chinese operation.

      At the same time, the company’s revenue has continued to grow even after leaving the world’s most populous country. Uber generated about $3.76 billion in net revenue in the first nine months of 2016 and is on track to exceed $5.5 billion this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

    • Multilateral investment court would impede measures on climate change

      A multilateral investment court would lock in greater exposure, larger scope and the “highest possible level of legal protection and certainty”. Furthermore, due to inherent systemic issues with specialised and supranational courts a multilateral investment court would create a high risk on expansive interpretations of investors’ rights.

      A multilateral investment court would strengthen investments vis-à-vis democracy and fundamental rights. This undermines our values and ability to respond to crises.

    • EU court rulings a ‘real disappointment’ to multinationals in state aid cases, says expert

      A Spanish tax break that was only available to Spanish companies acquiring foreign companies constituted a ‘selective’ tax advantage in breach of EU state aid rules, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said in two cases, overturning previous decisions of the EU General Court.

    • India surpasses Britain to become world’s fifth largest economy

      As Britain grapples with a depreciating pound sterling in a post-Brexit era and India continues to grow rapidly since its economic liberalization in 1991, the two have swapped spots in the rankings of world economies.

      For the first time in 150 years, India has surpassed its erstwhile colonial master in terms of GDP, which is now the fifth largest in the world after the U.S., China, Japan and Germany.

    • ECJ Advocate General Says EU Commission Cannot Make Trade Deals Without Member States

      Not all parts of the European Union-Singapore trade agreement “fall within the EU’s exclusive competence and therefore the agreement cannot be concluded without the participation of all of the Member States.” This is the result of an opinion of the European Court of Justice Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston published today.

      The Singapore Free Trade Agreement can only be concluded by the European Union and the member states acting jointly, according to the decision which clearly divides issues that fall under EU competency compared to such that need member states acting as well.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Electoral College Desecrates Democracy—Especially This Time

      The Electoral College was created 229 years ago as a check and balance against popular sovereignty. And, with its formal endorsement of Donald Trump for the presidency, this absurd anachronism has once again completed its mission of desecrating democracy.

      As of Monday afternoon, the actual vote count in the race for the presidency was: Democrat Hillary Clinton 65,844,594, Republican Donald Trump 62,979,616. That’s a 2,864,978 popular-vote victory. Yet, when the last of the electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia had completed their quadrennial mission early Monday evening, the Electoral College vote was: Trump 304, Clinton 227.

      So-called “faithless” electors split from Trump and Clinton, casting votes for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former secretary of state Colin Powell, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former congressman Ron Paul, and Native American elder (and Dakota Access Pipeline critic) Faith Spotted Eagle.

    • Trump’s still going wrong on Twitter

      When the President-elect speaks, people listen — and governments, businesses and ordinary citizens scramble to parse, interpret and, given his power, make snap decisions about how to respond.
      The post-election, pre-presidential Donald Trump has used social media with the same abandon as his campaign self — yes, to get his message out, unfiltered by the media he loathes, but also as a bludgeon against critics, a tool for disseminating misinformation and, as he nears the inaugural, an outlet for breeding confusion in business and international relations, purposefully or not.

    • Trump Leading Folks Astray

      During the election campaign, Trump used Twitter as a means to sidestep legitimate news media which tended to criticize or add commentary. He wanted to control everything in his stream of propaganda.

      However, while skilled at producing his content in volume, he had a very high error rate and/or showed himself to be a compulsive liar. He’s still doing that. He must know that one can fool some of the people all of the time but not all the people. Mustn’t he?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Dental Firm Tries To Dodge Section 230 With Trademark Claims; Runs Headfirst Into Anti-SLAPP Law

      Abbey Dental of Las Vegas doesn’t like the number of negative reviews that are piling up at Pissed Consumer. But that’s about all it (and its lawyers) know. It seems to understand that taking on Pissed Consumer with a defamation lawsuit would be a complete failure, as would be any effort it made to sue individual reviewers. Nevada has an anti-SLAPP law in place, which would fit Abbey Dental’s attempt to artificially resuscitate its reputation to a tee.

      So, instead of handling this in the normal way (which would also be the route least likely to succeed), the company has decided to take a more oblique approach: a lawsuit filed in federal court (to better dodge the state’s anti-SLAPP law) centered on a variety of tremendously stupid trademark infringement claims.

    • South Carolina Senator Wants To Charge Computer Purchasers $20 To Access Internet Porn

      A state senator from South Carolina thinks he can save his constituents from a mostly-imaginary parade of horribles by erecting a porn paywall. Only none of this paywall money will go to porn producers or actors. Instead, it will all go to the fine state of South Carolina… you know, theoretically… if there were actually any way to effectively enforce this.

    • Encryption App ‘Signal’ Fights Censorship With a Clever Workaround

      Any subversive software developer knows its app has truly caught on when repressive regimes around the world start to block it. Earlier this week the encryption app Signal, already a favorite within the security and cryptography community, unlocked that achievement. Now, it’s making its countermove in the cat-and-mouse game of online censorship.

      On Wednesday, Open Whisper Systems, which created and maintains Signal, announced that it’s added a feature to its Android app that will allow it to sidestep censorship in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, where it was blocked just days ago. Android users can simply update the app to gain unfettered access to the encryption tool, according to Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike, and an iOS version of the update is coming soon.

    • Thailand’s military-appointed Assembly unanimously passes an internet law combining the world’s worst laws

      On Dec 15, an amendment to Thailand’s 2007 Computer Crime Act passed its National Legislative Assembly — a body appointed by the country’s military after the 2014 coup — unanimously, and in 180 days, the country will have a new internet law that represents a grab bag of the worst provisions of the worst internet laws in the world, bits of the UK’s Snooper’s Charter, America’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the dregs of many other failed laws.

      Under the new law, sending “false computer data” is a criminal offense, as is transmitting material affecting “the maintenance of national security, public security, national economic security or public infrastructure serving public interest or cause panic in the public” — and ISPs are co-liable with their users if they fail to pre-emptively censor this broadly defined material.

      The statue mandates vaguely defined cryptographic back doors, and bans possession of “information that the court has ordered to be destroyed” — while also appointing a committee to order the removal of “dangerous content.”

    • Rosset by Barney Rosset review – a publisher’s fight against censorship
    • Turkey maintains Tor block, flicks social networks offline for 12 hours
    • Turkey’s answer to most problems is Internet censorship as it blocks Tor and social media
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • All General Obligations To Retain Traffic Data Found Illegal Under EU Law

      Combining a case brought by a group of UK politicians and organisations (698/15 Watson) and a Swedish case started by telecom operator Tele Sverige (C-203/15 Tele2 Sverige), the court declared both the British and Swedish data retention provisions illegal under EU law.

      Only targeted retention fighting serious crime is possible, with tight limitations applying, also with regard to access, according to the judges. Exfiltrated data for these cases must be stored inside the EU, too, the decision notes. Once more the court with this ruling reminded EU legislators about the severity of indiscriminate data collections.

    • US State Police Have Spent Millions on Israeli Phone Cracking Tech

      When cops have a phone to break into, they just might pull a small, laptop-sized device out of a rugged briefcase. After plugging the phone in with a cable, and a few taps of a touch-screen, the cops have now bypassed the phone’s passcode. Almost like magic, they now have access to call logs, text messages, and in some cases even deleted data.

    • CJEU judgment says UK Government’s bulk retention of our communications data is illegal

      The Court of Justice of the European Union today published the final judgment in relation to the Tom Watson MP (and formerly David Davis MP) case regarding the lawfulness of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA).

    • 4 Most Common Myths About Tor You Should Learn About

      Tor has become such a popular application in online anonymity circles that people have been using its name mistakenly to refer to the concept it operates under (onion routing). What it is, how it works, and what it can do is still mostly unclear to most people who use it on a daily basis which often leads to complacency based on certain slight misconceptions about its mechanism. Although using onion routing offers several advantages, it’s important to note what its limitations are. Understanding the risks associated with Tor can help you better protect yourself from measures that would compromise your privacy.

    • Investigatory Powers law setback: Blanket data slurp is illegal—top EU court

      The UK’s recently passed Investigatory Powers Act hit a major snag on Wednesday morning, when Europe’s highest court ruled that the “general and indiscriminate” retention of citizens’ data communications is unlawful where it is not being slurped for serious crime cases.

    • European Information Security Advisory Says Mandating Encryption Backdoors Will Just Make Everything Worse

      More and more entities involved in government work are coming out in support of encryption. (Unfortunately, many governments are still periodically entertaining backdoor legislation…) While recognizing the limits it places on law enforcement and surveillance agencies, they’re not quite willing to sacrifice the security of everyone to make work easier for certain areas of the government.


      One agent’s facially-invalid search warrant is the same agent’s legally-unassailable judicial order. This is enough of a problem in the US, where multiple federal districts have resulted in contradictory opinions on identical legal arguments. In the European Union, the problem is only exacerbated. Not only are there multiple courts, but also multiple nations, all with their own laws. Sure, there’s an attempt to unify guidance on technical/legal issues under the EU, but only so much can be done. Deciding what is or isn’t abusive use of government-mandated backdoors is going to be far from consistent. And that, of course, requires a unified European stance on encryption backdoors, which isn’t likely to happen either.

      Ultimately, ENISA concludes that tech advancements do pose legitimate challenges to law enforcement/national security efforts, but backdoors are no way to solve the problem. But the solution it does suggest isn’t much better. Here in the US, courts routinely defer to Congress when the remedy sought isn’t within their power. Over in the EU, ENISA suggests legislative measures are the wrong approach.

    • EU’s highest court delivers blow to UK snooper’s charter

      “General and indiscriminate retention” of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, the EU’s highest court has ruled, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the UK’s new Investigatory Powers Act – the so-called snooper’s charter.

      Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime is justified, according to a long-awaited decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

      The finding came in response to a legal challenge initially brought by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, when he was a backbench MP, and Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, over the legality of GCHQ’s bulk interception of call records and online messages.

    • EU accuses Facebook of misleading it in WhatsApp takeover probe

      The European Commission has charged Facebook Inc (FB.O) with providing misleading information during its takeover of the online messaging service WhatsApp, opening the company to a possible fine of 1 percent of its turnover.

      However, the statement of objections sent to Facebook will not affect the EC’s approval of the $22 billion merger in 2014, the Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.

      Facebook becomes the latest Silicon Valley target of EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has demanded Apple (AAPL.O) pay back $14 billion in taxes to Ireland and hit Google (GOOGL.O) with two market abuse investigations.

    • EU charges Facebook with giving ‘misleading’ information over WhatsApp

      The European commission (EC) has filed charges against Facebook for providing “misleading” information in the run-up to the social network’s acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp after its data-sharing change in August.

      The charges will not have an affect on the approval of the $22bn merger and is being treated completely separately to other European cases against Facebook, but could lead to Facebook being fined up to 1% of its global turnover in 2014 when the merger was approved, which was greater than $10bn for the first time.

    • EU Commission calls out Facebook over terms of Whatsapp takeover

      FACEBOOK HAS been accused of misleading regulators over its $19bn (later upped to $22bn) takeover of mobile chat platform WhatsApp.

      The European Commission is investigating the possibility that Facebook either out-and-out lied or negligently withheld data that was relevant to the takeover, specifically regarding the company’s ability to swipe data from the app to power its “personalisation”.

      Facebook will have until the end of January next year to respond to a “Statement of Objections” which will then potentially lead to a full investigation.

      If it turns out that Facebook really did lead the commission a merry dance, it could impose a fine equivalent to 1 percent of turnover, or $180m based on 2015 revenue.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Being an Apostate at Christmas

      “Don’t tell them you took me to Church yesterday and for God’s sake, don’t bring up Christianity.”

      These were the words hissed at me a few years ago by my mother, as we prepared for the onslaught of relatives coming over for dinner. If I am spending it with my mother’s side of the family, then this is how the standard Christmas Day begins — and this conversation sets the scene for the rest of the day.

      For those of you that are wondering, I left the religion that was assigned to me by my family at birth — Islam — when I was 19, and I was halfway through my first year of university. I found several different flaws with its teachings and had several objections to various parts of the Qur’an. I discovered Christianity a year later when a friend casually asked if I fancied going to a church service. I went on to explore it until, finally, I was baptised in December, 2014.

    • A three-second laser strike cost Barry Bowser everything

      That led to a 21-month prison sentence, though Bowser was released after 11. Prison cost him more than time; Bowser also lost several teeth.

      As we drove the few miles to the scene of his crime, Bowser told me that he had just come from a denture-fitting appointment at an orthodontist’s office, needed after a race riot at the county jail where he had been held at the request of federal authorities.

      “I got busted in the mouth with a lock in a sock, knocked my teeth out,” he said. “That was my first day in Fresno County jail.”

      And all for making a poor decision with a laser pointer.

    • “Her Life Depends on Obama Taking Action Now”: 100,000+ People Demand Obama Free Chelsea Manning

      As President Obama’s term nears to a close, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition urging Obama to commute the sentence of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 classified files and videos to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. foreign policy. Manning has been held since 2010 and been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. In a letter to President Obama, Chelsea Manning wrote, “The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members. I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks as the person I was born to be.” For more, we speak with Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU, who is representing Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon.

    • Google sued over policies ‘barring employees from writing novels’

      Google is being sued over its internal confidentiality policies which bar employees from putting in writing concerns over “illegal” activity, posting opinions about the company, and even writing novels “about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley” without first giving their employer sign-off on the final draft.

      The lawsuit, revealed by industry news site The Information, accuses Google of breaching California labour laws through its confidentiality provisions, by preventing employees from exercising their legal rights to discuss workplace conditions, wages, and potential violations inside the company.

      It has been brought by an individual employee under a Californian act that allows employees to sue on behalf of co-workers; if the employee wins, the state gets 75% of the penalty, while the remaining payout would be split among Google’s employees. The maximum fine in Google’s case is almost $4bn.

    • Hope Not Hate reports huge response to Nigel Farage legal fund appeal

      Hope Not Hate says it has been overwhelmed by the response to an appeal to crowdfund possible legal action against Nigel Farage after he said the organisation, which combats political militancy, was itself extremist.

      Farage attracted significant criticism after saying the widower of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox was tainted by extremism for supporting Hope Not Hate, which Farage called “violent and undemocratic”.

      Hope Not Hate, which campaigns mainly against rightwing extremism but also on areas such as militant Islamism, wrote to Farage warning him to withdraw the comments and apologise or face legal action.

    • First Amendment Defense Act Would Be ‘Devastating’ for LGBTQ Americans

      Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, through his spokesperson, told Buzzfeed they plan to reintroduce an embattled bill that barely gained a House hearing in 2015. But this time around, they said, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was likely to succeed due to a Republican-controlled House and the backing of President-elect Donald Trump.

    • Poland is in the middle of an existential struggle over the shape of its democracy

      Over the past week, the Polish parliament controlled by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party passed legislations dismantling the current primary education system, finalizing its overhaul of the country’s constitutional court, and de facto limiting the freedom of assembly. A chaotic night on Friday has both sides of the political conflict accusing each other of a coup d’etat. Since then, opposition lawmakers have been occupying the parliament’s main hall. Meanwhile, on the streets of the country’s cities, people have been protesting tirelessly nearly every day. The desperation is palpable: some protesters have been blocking politicians’ cars with their own bodies, while others are camping out in front of the parliament in the middle of Poland’s frigid December. We’re only days away from Christmas, when Poles usually turn to the hearth. This year, for many of them, far more stressful than last-minute gift-shopping and making heaps of holiday pierogi is a political crisis for the history books. What is going on in Poland, which was supposed to be the former Soviet bloc’s beacon of democracy and a poster child of European Union integration?

    • Exclusive: Pirate Party MP Meets Edward Snowden In Moscow

      Birgitta Jónsdóttir has been back on Icelandic soil for less than twelve hours when we meet. During the previous three days, the Pirate Party MP, privacy activist and former Wikileaks volunteer quietly travelled to Moscow, where she took part in a documentary with Dr. Lawrence Lessig, and the world’s most famous whistleblower: Edward Snowden. The three were brought together by French journalist and documentarian Flore Vasseur, who has previously interviewed Birgitta and Lessig for the French media in her ongoing coverage of the current troubled state of democracy.

    • UK Police, GCHQ May Have Arrested Innocent Refugee, Not People Smuggling Kingpin

      The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) and secret intelligence service GCHQ are facing an embarrassing failure as it appears that the Eritrean man they accused as being one of the world’s “most wanted people smugglers” may actually be a victim of mistaken identity, according to Italian prosecutors.

      The high profile investigation has taken an embarrassing turn for the worst as the NCA and GCHQ appear to have seized the wrong man and the real criminal, a man named Medhanie Yehdego Mered, remains at large.

      In June 2016, British authorities claimed they had captured a human trafficking kingpin, nicknamed ‘The General.’ Mered was arrested and extradited to Italy on suspected charges of running a trafficking network, where he sent thousands of migrants to Europe, with many of them perishing at sea.

  • DRM

    • The kickstarted Pebble smartwatch is now a division of Fitbit, so they may “reduce functionality” on all the watches they ever sold

      If you’re one of the 60% of Pebble employees who didn’t get a job offer from Fitbit, the company’s new owner, you’re probably not having a great Christmas season — but that trepedation is shared by 100% of Pebble customers, who’ve just learned (via the fine print on an update on the Pebble Kickstarter page) that the company may soon “reduce functionality” on their watches.

      The watches are among the many cloud-based Internet-of-Things products that are reliant on the ongoing maintenance of server infrastructure for normal functionality. This problem is exacerbated by the widespread IoT deployment of DRM to lock devices into manufacturer-controlled infrastructure — thanks to laws like section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, developers who create software to replace cloud functions with alternative/self-hosted servers, or with local computing, face potential jail sentences and millions in fines. Add to that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which has been used to threaten and even jail researchers who improved services but violated their terms of service to do so, and the IoT space is the land of the contingent, soon-to-be-bricked devices: memory cards, cars, car batteries, phones, and home automation systems — not to mention printers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

No Justice at the EPO, Whose Underlying Purpose Was (Originally) to Do Patents Justice

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Those who will suffer the most are investors in EPs that no longer have a high perceived (or even practical) value


Summary: People correctly point out that the institutional crisis at the EPO extends to aspects other than fake trials against staff and affects actual stakeholders, who have pumped billions of Euros into the EPO only to see EPs turn to dust (or their value diminish considerably)

THE EPO has been rather quiet after the latest meeting of the Administrative Council, but union-busting attempts are still being made, even a week or so before Christmas.

At IP Kat, writers are still publishing friends’ and colleagues’ pieces. First it was Bristows that 'hijacked' IP Kat for UPC propaganda (to reach a broader audience and promote an agenda); now it’s EIP that sort of does the same with Darren Smyth having a colleague over, at least with disclosure (“This Kat is grateful to his colleague Andrew Sharples”). As a reminder, Smyth too is part of the UPC echo chamber and this article about the EPO was mentioned here briefly earlier this week. We will cover this today because the comments are noteworthy, more so than the article itself. As nearly everyone points out, the EPO behaves irresponsibly, as usual, probably in preparation for spin about patent quality at the EPO.

“One could argue that there is no provision in the EPC to deny applicants the patent they are entitled to by staying the proceedings and that the EPO is therefore acting “contra legem”,” one person wrote. Here is another take on it:

It is outrageous that the EPO is staying proceedings, whilst presumably still collecting renewal fees. I would love to know the legal basis for doing this.

The staying of opposition proceedings is perhaps even more absurd. This will simply mean that opposed patents will remain valid and enforceable unless and until a national court decides on their validity. If the EPO thinks the patents aren’t valid the indefinitely staying opposition proceedings is achieving the exact opposite as it has completely removed an Opponent’s opportunity to invalidate a granted European Patent.

“I can understand the EPO carrying on with searches for first applications and PCT filings but for other EP application,” another person insisted, “it does not make sense. If the EU guidance finds its way into the EPC, applicants might wish to withdraw their application and the search fee will only be refunded if the search has not yet started. Further, with publication of the search report, the applicant would be required to respond to the objections raised, for which they would not have the benefit of knowing how the rules were to be changed.”

“Jurisprudence is not highly esteemed in the EPO These days,” noted another person. “The EU-Commission, responsible for the BioT Directive, the model for Rule 26 EPC, can dictate how Article 53b and Rule 26 EPC are to be applied. Separation of Powers?”

Well, that is long gone! Look at the EPO itself. It’s a clusterfunk [sic]. Another person wrote that “the evidence, moral argument or even legal basis for “Patent protection is not appropriate for such procedures and their products” appears nowhere. Wish I could say that this surprised me.”

Lack of respect for actual laws is now a hallmark of everything that happens at the EPO, including so-called ‘disciplinary procedures’. A comment from another thread claimed that the attack on actual “independent” judges (collective punishment) whom Battistelli does not like “is mere retaliation, not only from the president but also from the AC.” Here is the full comment:

By no means I approve the transfer to Haar. But one thing has to be clear: it is mere retaliation, not only from the president but also from the AC.

Both have never accepted that the EBA has not acted in the way they wanted in the case of the suspended member.

It therefore remains a disgrace if the legislative and the executive try to interfere with the judicial. Separation of powers is a fundamental guarantee which should not be tampered with.

One of the members of the EBA who participated in the decision Art 23 has retired. Normally when a chairman of a BA retires, there is an article in the internal journal of the EPO (the Gazette). For this chairman, there is nothing. Is this a mere coincidence? I doubt it.

And going back to the other thread, another comment along the same lines:

It would be very interesting to read or watch an interview with the Administrative Council members presenting their vision(s) on the implementation of rule of law at the European Patent Office.

In particular, how the cornerstones of rule of law are seen by the Administrative Council:

Legality, i.e. legislative powers belonging to a representative body;

Balance/separation of powers, i.e. balance of legislative, executive, and judicial powers;

Independent judiciary, i.e. review of decisions and interpretation of law by an independent body.

The European Patent Office is in charge of taking generally binding decisions for the territory of 38 European countries, which implies adherence to rule of law as a fundamental principle of governance.

“The European Patent Office is in charge of taking generally binding decisions for the territory of 38 European countries,” says the key part, yet not many people — certainly not the German media — ever bother reporting about the many scandals. A comment posted in The Register offered the following advice to EPO staff (similar to advice from Florian Müller):

Find alternative work?

Those who really matter, those who scrutinize patents, are highly skilled. Surely they would be warmly welcomed in almost any tech company. When the EPO just grinds to a halt that should concentrate a few of those flabby minds.

Leaving the EPO can actually make things worse in the sense that it lets Team Battistelli replace veteran staff with temporary, clueless, inexperienced “rubber-stampers”, fulfilling what seems to be his awful vision for the EPO (replace the “P” with an “R” for Registration).

“China” is to Watchtroll (and the Bucket of Patent Maximalists) What “Russia” is to Clinton and DNC

Posted in America, Asia, Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 8:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scare tactics and vengefulness from the Patent Maximalists’ Lobby


Summary: The growing embrace of “China” as the convenient bogeyman for those who oppose patent reform and wish to see a resurgence of patent chaos, from which they personally profit at victims’ expense

THE USPTO may be in self-perpetuating denial about it, but software patents are a dying breed in the US as courts don’t tolerate them. The EPO, in the mean time, moves in the opposite direction, but we’ll leave the EPO out of this post’s scope.

Unhappy With Insufficient Number of Lawsuits and Collateral Damage

Paul Morinville, a prominent opposer of patent reform in the US (and part of Watchtroll’s ilk), whines that “PTAB procedures are now invalidating nearly 90% of all patents they evaluate.” Yes, so what? Alice and other cases are pretty clear about it and PTAB, unlike patent examiners, is not being pressured to just bless every patent in the name of “production” or “success” (again, a growing problem at today’s EPO).

Morinville picks on Google (large company as his latest scapegoat) and some of his online friends already heckle me for pointing that out. To quote his article: “Over the next decade, the Supreme Court would eliminate injunctive relief and then for all intents and purposes, invalidate their patents first under Bilski and then under Alice. The courts also changed the way claims were written, thus invalidating thousands of patents retroactively. The America Invents Act’s PTAB procedures are now invalidating nearly 90% of all patents they evaluate. The courts also radically reduced damages for patent infringement.”

That’s good. But wait until Morinville brings up the bogeyman again — the same bogeyman that David Kappos has been summoning recently.

Let’s Envy China

“With China strengthening its patent system,” Morinville says, in probably the most ludicrous part of the whole article. China is actually weakening patents by granting almost everything that comes through SIPO’s doors, causing a patent hyper-inflation and an epidemic of trolling. How is that desirable to anyone but the patent microcosm? These anti-AIA think tanks and lobbyists (like Morinville), who want more lawsuits and more litigation, continue to infest the Web and a lot of them congregate around Watchtroll these days. This pattern of China-blaming or China-shaming mirrors what the Democratic Party in the US has been doing with Russia as of late.

Watchtroll wants the USPTO and the courts to start another race to the bottom and give/approve patents on everything, just like SIPO in China. One might call it “the litigation lobby” — for all it want is more and more lawsuits (which the lobby profits from). Watch another new Watchtroll article, this time by Steve Brachmann, the henchman of Quinn. So people who don’t even develop anything insist that “China” is the threat and that “Chinese patent guidelines” are a threat to the US rather than to China itself.

What kind of post-truth nonsense have we sunk to here?

Watchtroll, in another new article, says “Keep it Cordial” while Quinn attacks everyone who does not agree with him, even judges (see the image at the top).

What a nasty Web site this is. For IBM’s patent chief to occasionally link to it probably takes some guts because it says a lot about IBM, which has gone rogue (even IBM employees now protest/object to the management over that infamous Trump fawning).

China’s Growing Trolls Epidemic

China’s situation with regards to patents is not good. As we have been pointing out since the summer, SIPO grants far too many patents, including software patents. “This is especially true for software patents where the scope of patent protection is rather vague,” says this new article from China, which also mentions Xiaomi, a company that got trolled through India, as we noted before. To quote the relevant part:

As Chinese smartphone brands work to carve out a spot in the major-league global smartphone industry, they are increasingly being dragged into an international patent war with foreign tech firms.

The latest case saw San Francisco-based audio tech firm Dolby Laboratories lodge a lawsuit against Chinese smartphone companies Oppo and Vivo in India, accusing them of infringing on its patented technology. Back in 2014, Chinese tech firm Xiaomi was barred from selling phones in India after Sweden-based Ericsson filed a complaint with an India court alleging patent infringement.

The Ericsson-Microsoft patent trolls strategy (using trolls as proxies) was mentioned here twice this month [1, 2] and Xiaomi is again being mentioned by the Microsoft Windows-powered IAM (with other Microsoft connections). It is again embellishing Microsoft's patent extortion against Linux as follows:

The May agreement between Microsoft and Xiaomi was undoubtedly the IP deal of the year and it was also an excellent example of how patents can play a role in broader commercial agreements. Under the terms of the deal, Xiaomi undertook to pre-load Microsoft products on to more of its mobile devices, the two sides agreed to a cross-licence and the US software giant transferred 1,500 patent assets to the Chinese company. The transaction provides an excellent foundation for Xiaomi as it looks to grow its business in the US and for Microsoft as it continues its penetration of the Chinese market.

This is misleading. All we have here is patent extortion by Microsoft against Linux, even in China where the government of China took a strong stance against it (even leaking a list of Microsoft patents that are secretly being sued to blackmail Chinese companies like ZTE). We believe that Huawei, the world’s leading Android OEM these days, is still able to resist Microsoft’s Mafia-like tactics. Microsoft repeatedly failed to sign a patent deal.

The bottom line is, China has become a dangerous place patents-wise. Is that desirable to anyone but the patent microcosm? Of course not.

Bringing the Patent System Into Closer Alignment With Interests of the Public, Including Small Businesses (i.e. Most Employers)

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

Because protectionism alone does not breed creativity and innovation


Summary: Signs that the patent system is on the one hand improving, thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), but on the other hand it continues to deny choices in the market by altogether blocking products

THE Justices of SCOTUS may soon be ending patent trolls' business model, irrespective of patent scope restrictions (like Alice at SCOTUS), which USPTO barely cares to respect anyway (it’s left for courts to do the job that USPTO examiners fail to do). As one new article puts it: “In a move that may shake-up U.S. patent law, the Supreme Court this week decided to hear a case about where patent owners can file lawsuits—a case that will likely put an end to a special Texas cottage industry that has been a thorn in the side of big business.”

Not just “big business”. In fact, that mischaracterises the entire problem because big businesses can usually afford going to court where they challenge the trolls. Small businesses cannot afford to do this and they suffer the most, usually quietly (under gag orders/instructions upon settlement).

Who does the current patent law work for best if not big businesses? Merck recently got awarded 2.5 billion dollars in supposed 'damages' in one single case. Who lost this patent case? Poor people who will die as a result of lowered/no access to drugs. As a medical news site put it the other day: “A federal jury awarded $2.54 billion in royalties to Merck, which owns the patents that Gilead allegedly infringed upon to create its two blockbuster hep C drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni.”

So Merck not only gets a lot of money but also maintains a monopoly that will enable Merck to further jack up prices. Who benefits from this?

Another item of news deals with the ITC‘s decision to block Arista products — a subject on which we wrote in the past [1, 2]. MIP says the following about the latest twist:

The ITC’s ruling, administered by Judge Mary Joan McNamara, found that Arista had imported into the US two components for routers and networking systems that infringe upon Cisco’s patents, in violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act. Arista plans to request a full review by the Commission, according to its press release.

As we pointed out before, when denying sales of Arista products those who suffer the most are ordinary people, not just Arista employees (the smaller company). Getting the patent system in tune with or in alignment with public interests is crucial. Otherwise people will simply cease to respect patent law — in the same way (and for similar reasons) a lot of people already regard copyright law to be tilted in favour of conglomerates and non-producers.

Links 21/12/2016: New BlackArch Linux and BusyBox 1.26 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Merry Linux to you!

    Get ready to start caroling around the office with these Linux-centric lyrics to popular Christmas carols.

  • 5% Market Share, Linus Upset, Wonderful Bluestar

    Monday was a busy day in the Linux world, there were way too many good headlines to cover. One of the more interesting was a prediction from Jack Wallen who said that Linux should reach 5% market share in 2017. Bad news is, vulnerability discoveries are liable to increase as well. Elsewhere, Mr. Wallen reviewed Bluestar Linux, an Arch derivative featuring a customized Plasma desktop, making it sound so good it will be my next experiment. The Register spotted another scolding from Linus Torvalds and blogger Dedoimedo said Fedora 25 GNOME is “an interesting distro.” Bryan Lunduke revived old 1992 BBS gaming and Adobe released an update for Flash.

  • Desktop

    • How can Linux get 5 percent desktop market share?

      Many people have been predicting the “year of the Linux desktop” for quite a while now, but it’s never happened. A redditor recently asked what it will take for Linux to actually achieve 5% desktop market share, and he got some interesting answers in the Linux subreddit.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • ‘Upset’ Linus Torvalds gets sweary and gets results

      Linus Torvalds has unleashed a little ripe language on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, and quickly got results for having done so.

      “This piece-of-shit branch has obviously never been even compile-tested”, Torvalds wrote after receiving a pull request for some fixes to the KVM hypervisor that it was hoped might make it into Linux 4.10.

      Torvalds’ ire looks justifiable, as the code he was asked to review included errors that the contributors added to their own branch.

      “Am I upset?” Torvalds asked on the list, answering “You bet I am. Get your act together. You can’t just randomly revert things without checking the end result.”

    • Towards Enterprise Storage Interoperability

      With Dell EMC’s contribution of the CoprHD SouthBound SDK (SB SDK) we’re staking a claim for better interoperability. The SB SDK will help customers, developers and every day users be able to take some control over their storage interoperability, with an assist from the OpenSDS community. Right now, you can create block storage drivers pretty easily, with the ability to create filesystem and object storage drivers coming up later next year. The reference implementation you see in the GitHub code repository is designed to work with CoprHD and ViPR Controller, but over time we hope to see other implementations in widespread use across the industry.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA 375 vs. RADV+RadeonSI Mesa 13.1-dev Vulkan Benchmarks For Ending 2016

        The latest installment of our year-end benchmarks is focusing upon the performance of the NVIDIA Linux driver against the open-source Radeon Vulkan (RADV) driver found within Mesa 13.1-dev. This comparison is particularly interesting given the continuous flow of improvements into Mesa Git, the NVIDIA 375.26 driver release from last week, the big Dota 2 7.00 update debuted earlier this month, and Croteam’s Vulkan improvements have rolled into TTP stable.

        Tested on the AMD side were the followign graphics cards that are supported (non-experimental) by AMDGPU DRM for RADV compatibility include the R9 285, RX 460, RX 480, and R9 Fury. Experimental GCN 1.0/1.1 benchmarks with RADV to come in its own article. For those curious about AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 fresh benchmarks on that front, I’ll post some more soon albeit there obviously is no changes over my earlier 16.50 benchmarks given the infrequent hybrid driver releases.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Icon Widget Properties

        A feature that went missing in the transition from Plasma 4 to Plasma 5 was the ability to configure the icon widget. The upcoming Plasma 5.9 release is where this dialog will finally make its entry into the 5.x series.

      • How input works – pointer input

        In the last blog post I discussed keyboard input. This blog post will be all about pointer devices – mostly known as “mouse”. Like my other posts in this series, this post only discusses the situation on KWin/Wayland.

      • QtCon Talks here

        Many KDABians attended QtCon and contributed to the unique new Qt event we co-created in Berlin, the summer of 2016, along with Qt Contributors, KDE Akademi, VideoLan and FSFE.

      • Embedded Devices with Qt and the INTEGRITY RTOS

        Qt 4.8 support has been available for a long time on the INTEGRITY RTOS. We are now pleased to announce that a proof-of-concept port of Qt 5.7 to INTEGRITY has been completed by Green Hills engineers. During the work, we tested the port on all major embedded HW platforms, including ones that have OpenGL ES support available. Work continues together with The Qt Company and the Qt ecosystem and thanks to this initial prototype, the upcoming Qt 5.9 is expected to contain INTEGRITY support.

      • What I’ve been upto

        Yup, this project has been in the pipeline for months. While it (mostly) works on a clean install of KDE, it has some bugs with copying with mtp:/ device slaves and isn’t very well integrated with Dolphin yet. It is in my best interest to have this shipped with KDE Frameworks as soon as possible, so I’m looking into patching Dolphin with better, more specific action support for my project.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 review

        For users with older computers, some of the modern Linux distributions can be too resource intensive. Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 is a lightweight distribution designed for those users. The minimum system requirements are a 500MHz processor, 128MB of RAM, and 4GB of disk space. The recommended requirements are a 1.0GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 10GB of disk space. Available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as well as a “Legacy” release for really old 32-bit systems, Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 can easily bring new life to older computers.

        Bodhi Linux offers a couple of download options beyond the 32-bit/64-bit choice. There is a Standard release and an AppPack version. The Standard release is very bare-bones with only a minimal set of pre-installed options, while the AppPack version comes with a larger number of bundled applications. The ISO for the 64-bit Standard version is 647MB and the 64-bit AppPack version is 1.21GB (about twice the size). For the purposes of this review, I opted for the Standard version, so I could customize my system as I wished. However, I will be mentioning some of the AppPack version’s additional software throughout this review.

      • Everything you wanted to know about Zorin OS 12

        Windows XP along with Windows 7 is one of the most favored operating system for millions of users around the world as of today, even though Microsoft has washed their hands off these operating system. No support for these platforms means, you will not get any security updates anymore and your data may be at risk. But there’s always a solution for all you Windows users, Linux is there for your rescue. And Zorin OS is one of the best desktop distribution for Linux desktops and with the new release Zorin OS 12, it only got better.

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 for Raspberry Pi: An intriguing option for data centers

        SUSE announced recently that it managed to take its enterprise-grade platform, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), and marry it with the Raspberry Pi. Fancy that—a platform created to support massive workloads and mission-critical services running on a $35 computer.

        You can download a 60-day evaluation of SUSE Enterprise Server 12 SP2 for Pi (login required). Be sure to check out the quick start guide. If you have trouble with subscription codes for SUSE Enterprise Server 12 SP2 for Pi, check out this forum thread.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Linux Kernel 4.9 Now Available in the Unstable Repos of Debian-Based SparkyLinux

          On December 20, 2016, the developers of the Debian-based SparkyLinux operating system announced the availability of the latest stable Linux 4.9 kernel series in the unstable repos of the GNU/Linux distribution.

          If you’re reading the news lately, you should be aware of the fact that Linux kernel 4.9 was officially released more than a weeks ago, on December 11, 2016, as announced by Linus Torvalds himself. This means that most Linux OS vendors should soon start preparing to migrate to the latest Linux 4.9 kernel branch.

          It might take some time for the new Linux kernel 4.9 packages to land in the stable repositories of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions available today, including Arch Linux, Solus, Ubuntu, etc., but it looks like it landed earlier on the unstable repository of SparkyLinux.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • This Intel board computer can be a powerful Ubuntu 16.04 Linux PC

            If you want a PC with Ubuntu Linux, you can turn to Intel’s Joule single-board computer instead of buying an expensive machine.

            Support for Ubuntu 16.04 desktop OS has been added to the Joule board, according to developer notes for Intel IoT Developer Kit 5.0 released late last week.

          • Where Does Ubuntu Fit Into the Internet of Things?

            Ubuntu Linux started off as a desktop focused Linux distribution, but has expanded to multiple areas of the years. Ubuntu Linux is today a leading Linux server and cloud vendor and has aspirations to move into the embedded world, known today as the Internet of Things (IoT).

            In a video interview, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical Inc., details some of the progress his firm has made in 2016 in the IoT world.

            Ubuntu has made past announcements about phone and TV efforts. While multiple Ubuntu phones exist, the standalone Ubuntu TV effort has evolved somewhat. Shuttleworth explained that Ubuntu Core, which is an optimized distribution of Ubuntu for embedded systems, is making some headway with TVs.

          • Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Daily Builds Coming Soon, Budgie Desktop 10.2.9 Has Landed

            The development team behind the newest Ubuntu Linux flavor build around the lightweight Budgie desktop environment produced by the Solus Project, Ubuntu Budgie, published an informative newsletter about the latest news of the project.

          • Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Linux OS to Use Swapfiles Instead of Swap Partitions

            Canonical’s Dimitri John Ledkov announced recently plans to drop Swap partitions for new installations of upcoming Ubuntu Linux operating system releases, and replace them with so-called Swapfiles.

            Not that this is big news for most of us who own computers with SSD or NVMe flash drives and a lot of RAM (system memory), but we thought it might be of interested to those who will attempt to install future versions of Ubuntu on PCs from ten years ago. If you’re not aware, Swap partitions or space is used when the amount of RAM) is full.

          • Canonical Patches 15 Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities in All Supported Ubuntu OSes

            On December 20, 2016, Canonical published several new USN (Ubuntu Security Notice) advisories to inform users of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution about the general availability of kernel updates for their operating systems.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Happy Holidays: Linux Mint get a major upgrade

              With this long-term support Linux desktop, which is based on Ubuntu 16.04, Linux Mint is better than ever. Since I’ve already found Linux Mint 18 to be the best desktop out there of any sort, that’s saying something.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source challenger takes on Google Translate

    Researchers have released an open source neural network system for performing language translations that could be an alternative to proprietary, black-box translation services.

    Open Source Neural Machine Translation (OpenNMT) merges work from researchers at Harvard with contributions from long-time machine-translation software creator Systran. It runs on the Torch scientific computing framework, which is also used by Facebook for its machine learning projects.

  • Op-ed: Why I’m not giving up on PGP

    Every once in a while, a prominent member of the security community publishes an article about how horrible OpenPGP is. Matthew Green wrote one in 2014 and Moxie Marlinspike wrote one in 2015. The most recent was written by Filippo Valsorda, here on the pages of Ars Technica, which Matthew Green says “sums up the main reason I think PGP is so bad and dangerous.”

    In this article I want to respond to the points that Filippo raises. In short, Filippo is right about some of the details, but wrong about the big picture. For the record, I work on GnuPG, the most popular OpenPGP implementation.

  • Coopetition: All’s fair in love and open source

    PostgreSQL vs. MySQL. MongoDB vs. Cassandra. Solr vs. Elasticsearch. ReactJS vs. AngularJS. If you have an open source project that you are passionate about, chances are a competing project exists and is doing similar things, with users as passionate as yours. Despite the “we’re all happily sharing our code” vibe that many individuals in open source love to project, open source business, like any other, is filled with competition. Unlike other business models, however, open source presents unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to competition.

  • Illinois Turns Its Eye Toward Blockchain for Statewide Innovation

    Blockchain technology is the poster child for innovation in the financial tech space, but Illinois is taking an ambitious step forward by attempting to boldly adopt distributed ledger technology into several of its state agencies.

    The state announced last month at the Blockchain Conference Chicago that it was forming the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, a private-public partnership dedicated to exploring and utilizing blockchain in real-world and compelling ways, reports StateScoop.

    Blockchain technology “is a shared digital ledger, or a continually updated list of all transactions. This decentralized ledger keeps a record of each transaction that occurs across a fully distributed or peer-to-peer network, either public or private,” according to an article from international auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

  • Blockchain and the public sector – What happened in 2016

    Blockchain, also known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), was the technology buzzword of 2016. The technology has been around since 2008. It underpins the digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and was conceptualised as a solution to the problem of making a database both secure and not requiring a trusted administrator.

  • Kickstarter Apps Go Open Source on iOS and Android Apps to Help Startups

    Kickstarter is known for giving startups the boost they need to get going. And independent developers will now get similar help by getting access to the functional programming used to create the app.

    Kickstarter announced recently the company had released open source iOS and Android. The announcement was made on the company’s official company blog.

    Kickstarter launched in 2009, but an official mobile app didn’t come around for some time. The site now has an Android and iOS version, and the company is doing one better by open sourcing the code for these native apps.

  • Open Source, Free Riders and Crowdfunding

    Until about ten years ago, “free as in speech, not as in beer,” was an often repeated expression heard in open source circles. These days, the same sentiment is usually phrased as “free as in freedom.” Even though it’s fallen out of favor, I prefer the former. I think it more clearly explains the philosophy behind the open source development model. At the same time, it explains a problem that many essential open source projects face finding funding.

    Open source software is free to use, but as another old expression points out, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Open source or not, software doesn’t get written for free — nor can it be maintained without cash flow. Another old saying that fits here: If you’re going to dance, you have to pay the piper.

  • Coreboot

    • Google “Poppy” Kabylake Board Added To Coreboot

      While Chromebook / ChromeOS fans have been looking forward to the Kabylake-based “Eve” device, it looks like another device is possibly forthcoming making use of these latest-generation Intel CPUs.

      A new board for “Poppy” was added yesterday to Coreboot Git. This Google Poppy board is indeed making use of an Intel Kabylake processor.

    • 100% Of The 289 Coreboot Images Are Now Built Reproducible

      Reproducible builds have been a big theme in particularly the last year or two with being able to verify the binaries offered by open-source projects are bit-for-bit the same against the same set of sources. With the latest Coreboot work, all of their generated images are now reproducible from source.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 5 Essential LibreOffice Writer Tips to Improve Your Productivity

      LibreOffice is the frugal (or Linux) person’s choice of office suite, offering all the robustness of Microsoft’s dominant software while being fully open-source and not costing you a penny.

      While even the latest version of the word-processing part of LibreOffice, Writer, looks a little old-hat without the fancy ribboned interface of Microsoft office or WPS, don’t be fooled. It has all the tools you need to create quality documents quickly. Here are a bunch of tips to hone your LibreOffice craft.

  • Funding

    • Databricks $60 Million in New Funding to Advance its Spark Efforts

      People in the Big Data and Hadoop communities have been becoming increasingly interested in Apache Spark, an open source data analytics cluster computing framework originally developed in the AMPLab at UC Berkeley. IBM has made a huge financial commitment to advancing Spark, and companies like Databricks are focused on it as well.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source core to Greek govt procedure documentation

      The use of open source technology is a core part of a project to document Greek government procedures. The project, involving 200 public administration staff and university researchers, is creating or completing the documentation for Greece’s public sector procedures. Started in 2015, the Diadikasies project has so far completed documentation for 1652 procedures.

    • France, Germany promote open source in industry

      Industry in France and Germany should embrace open source, the governments of both countries say in the closing statement of the German-French digital conference in Berlin on 13 December. Open source is a key driver for digital innovation, the countries say.

    • France And Germany Get Free/Libre Open Source Software
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Seeking Open Access Deal, 60 German Academic Institutions Ditch All Subscriptions With Elsevier

        In the struggle to provide open access to academic research, one company name keeps cropping up as a problem: Elsevier. Techdirt has written numerous stories about efforts to rein in the considerable — and vastly profitable — power that Elsevier wields in the world of academic publishing. These include boycotts of various kinds, mass resignations of journal editors, as well as access to millions of publicly-funded papers in ways that bypass Elsevier altogether.


  • 2017 predictions from IT leaders on the future of technology

    As we approach 2017, we asked IT leaders what they see on the horizon for the future of technology. We intentionally left the question open-ended, and as a result, the answers represent a broad range of what IT professionals may expect to face in the new year.

  • Science

    • Brexit will damage world-class science in the UK; throwing money at it won’t help

      The UK gets more money for research from the EU—£8.8 billion between 2007 and 2013—than it contributes (£5.4 billion for the same period). Fortunately, that shortfall is a relatively easy problem to solve by throwing money around, and the UK government has done that, as a new report from the House of Lords titled A time for boldness: EU membership and UK science after the referendum notes. Importantly, this boldness comes in the form of new money: “It is an additional commitment from the Treasury to underwrite EU research funding.”

      However, the report also points out that “Reassurances on funding are welcome but if they were to expire, and are not replaced, this would undermine some of the benefit of the major increase announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.” In other words, the UK government’s commitment to make up the shortfall needs to be long-term if it is to be effective.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • After Two Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Bills Pass, We Have to Ask: What’s the Matter With Ohio’s Lame Duck Legislature?

      It’s lame duck season in the state of Ohio and this year seems like the “super special” version. During the lame duck session, the legislature has just a few short weeks to pass laws before all bills have to start over from scratch in the new year.

      In a matter of 72 hours, Ohio’s super-majority party has managed to attach, pass, and push through a nearly unbelievable amount of legislation.

    • Former Flint emergency managers, others charged in water crisis

      Michigan prosecutors on Tuesday charged four former government officials in Flint, including two city emergency managers, with conspiring to violate safety rules in connection with the city’s water crisis that exposed residents to dangerous levels of lead.

      Former state-appointed emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose and former city employees Howard Croft, a public works superintendent, and Daugherty Johnson, a utilities manager, were the latest to be charged in the case, Attorney General Bill Schuette said.

      The defendants conspired to operate the city’s water treatment plant when it was not safe to do so, he told a news conference in Flint.

      “Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and failure of management, an absence of accountability,” Schuette said.

    • ‘The Trump Administration Looks Like Bad News for Almost Every Element of Drug Policy Reform’ – CounterSpin interview with Ethan Nadelmann on John Kelly

      They were hard-won and a long time coming, but there were clear signs of hope that the punitive, racist, violent and ineffective war on drugs was not just fading away, but maybe being consciously reconsidered. And however cynical you want to be about motives, nascent bipartisan moves around over-incarceration and sentencing disparities looked set to change the lives of real people.

    • Media Legitimizing GOP’s ‘Universal’ Health Plan That Doesn’t Exist

      Members of the GOP leadership were likely jubilant when they read the New York Times (12/15/16) and saw the following headline: “GOP Plans to Repeal Health Law with ‘Universal Access.’”

      The Times’ decision to include the words “universal,” “health” and “plan” in the headline was extremely misleading and irresponsible. It gave readers the distinct—and deceptive—impression that Republicans have something resembling a “universal” health plan, and will use it to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

      It appears that the same corporate media who misled us into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Extra!, 4/10) are now misleading us out of it—and the Times’ reporting on the GOP’s health care agenda is a particularly egregious example of this.

    • Exxon Mobil Is Fighting to Keep Its Dangerous Chemicals in Children’s Toys

      Most of us know Exxon Mobil Corp. as an energy giant, which makes sense given that it is the world’s largest publicly held oil and gas company. Rex Tillerson, the company’s CEO, has spent his entire professional life prioritizing Exxon Mobil’s corporate interests over human rights, the environment, and the diplomatic interests of the U.S., all of which has prompted many journalists and commentators to point out that his appointment as secretary of state is not just a terrible idea but a joke seemingly ripped from the pages of a Marxist comic book.

      What’s less well known is that Exxon Mobil is also one of the world’s biggest chemical companies, and that its chemical interests also sometimes run counter to those of people in the U.S. and beyond. Petrochemicals accounted for more than a quarter of Exxon Mobil’s $16 billion in net profits last year and wound up in wide range of consumer products such as plastics, tires, batteries, detergents, adhesives, synthetic fibers, and household detergents.

      Among Exxon Mobil’s chemical products are phthalates, a family of chemicals widely used to make plastic pliable. Phthalates are in everything from food containers and plastic wrap to rattles, pacifiers, bottle nipples, and teething toys for babies. More than 75 percent of Americans have at least five of the chemicals in their body, according to a 2000 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • ‘We’ve Seen Exxon Leading the Charge to Go After Groups That Criticized Them’

      A widely circulated news article on the appointment of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of State opens with the note that “the brash Texas oilman…helped forge or supervise exploration, production, and refinery projects in 50 countries on six continents.” But corporate media really only appear interested in one country, and that’s Russia.

  • Security

    • ADUPS Android Malware Infects Barnes & Noble

      ADUPS is an Android “firmware provisioning” company based out of Shanghai, China. The software specializes both in Big Data collection of Android usage, and hostile app installation and/or firmware control. Google has blacklisted the ADUPS agent in its Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).

      ADUPS recently compromised many BLU-phone models and was found to be directly transmitting call logs, SMS, contacts, location info, nd more from handsets within the US to Chinese servers using DES (weak) encryption.

    • New Linux/Rakos threat: devices and servers under SSH scan (again) [Ed: No, it’s not a “Linux” problem that some people or developers use a crappy and predictable password]

      Apparently, frustrated users complain more often recently on various forums about their embedded devices being overloaded with computing and network tasks. What these particular posts have in common is the name of the process causing the problem. It is executed from a temporary directory and disguised as a part of the Java framework, namely “.javaxxx”. Additional names like “.swap” or “kworker” are also used. A few weeks ago, we discussed the recent Mirai incidents and Mirai-connected IoT security problems in The Hive Mind: When IoT devices go rogue and all that was written then still holds true.

    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • OpenSSL After Heartbleed by Rich Salz & Tim Hudson, OpenSSL

      In this video from LinuxCon Europe, Rich Salz and Tim Hudson from the OpenSSL team take a deep dive into what happened with Heartbleed and the steps the OpenSSL team are taking to improve the project.

    • OpenSSL after Heartbleed
    • Container Security: Your Questions Answered

      To help you better understand containers, container security, and the role they can play in your enterprise, The Linux Foundation recently produced a free webinar hosted by John Kinsella, Founder and CTO of Layered Insight. Kinsella covered several topics, including container orchestration, the security advantages and disadvantages of containers and microservices, and some common security concerns, such as image and host security, vulnerability management, and container isolation.

    • Google scales tiny mountain to hunt down crypto bugs

      Google’s Project Wycheproof is a new effort by Google to improve the security of widely used cryptography code.

      Many of the algorithms used in cryptography for encryption, decryption, and authentication are complicated, especially when asymmetric, public key cryptography is being used. Over the years, these complexities have resulted in a wide range of bugs in real crypto libraries and the software that uses them.

    • Mysterious Rakos Botnet Rises in the Shadows by Targeting Linux Servers, IoT Devices

      Somebody is building a botnet by infecting Linux servers and Linux-based IoT devices with a new malware strain named Rakos.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Marine Le Pen denies cash-for-support deal with Russia

      French far-right leader Marine Le Pen may have received funding from Russian-backed banks as thanks for supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, French investigative news site Mediapart reported Tuesday, citing text messages exchanged between two Russian officials.

      In the messages, which Mediapart said it had obtained thanks to a hacking group called “Anonymous International,” Kremlin official Timur Prokopenko mentioned Le Pen dozens of times in exchanges with a person identified as Kostia. Anonymous International identified Kostia as Konstantin Rykov, a former pro-Putin MP who has a house in France and is known to have met with Le Pen.

      A few days before Crimea was due to hold a referendum on Russia’s annexation, in March 2014, Prokopenko wrote to Kostia asking to bring Le Pen to Crimea as an “observer” during the referendum. “We really need it. I told my boss you were in contact with her???”

    • Berlin terror suspect released

      The man arrested by Berlin police in connection with Monday’s deadly attack on a Christmas market in Berlin has been released, the federal prosecutor said in a statement Tuesday.

      “The investigations thus far have not produced urgent suspicion against the suspect,” the statement said.

      The man who was released is believed to be a Pakistani asylum seeker who had evaded immigration authorities’ attempts to question him after he arrived in the country a year ago, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said at a press conference earlier on Tuesday. The man had not been identified as a suspected terrorist prior to Monday’s events.

    • ISIS claims responsibility for Berlin attack, says driver was ‘soldier of the Islamic State’

      The German capital was on high alert Tuesday with one or more suspects still at large in the deadly truck assault on a Christmas market, even as the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an act that struck at the heart of Europe’s Christian traditions.

      Chancellor Angela Merkel decried the assault — which left 12 dead and 52 injured after a truck carrying a payload of steel careened into festive stalls and fairgoers in Berlin — as a presumed “terror attack,” even as German police scrambled to find the culprit. The only suspect to date — a Pakistani asylum seeker taken into custody shortly after Monday’s bloodshed — was released by police late Tuesday because of insufficient evidence.

    • Families Of Orlando Shooting Victims Sue Twitter, Facebook, And Google For ‘Supporting Terrorism’

      Remember that time when Google, Twitter, and Facebook helped shoot up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida? Me neither. But attorney Keith Altman does. He’s representing the families of three of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in a lawsuit alleging [sigh] that these tech companies are somehow responsible for this act of terrorism.

    • Eva Bartlett and Joey Johnson

      For the first half of the program, Peter and Mickey discuss the conflict in Syria; their guest is independent journalist Eva Bartlett, who recently returned from Aleppo and is now on a US speaking tour. She explains why most corporate media coverage of Syria, and even some progressive coverage, doesn’t depict the actual situation there. In the second half of the program, the guest is Joey Johnson, whose burning of an American flag in 1984 became a US Supreme Court free-speech case, where they ruled in his favor in 1989. Johnson is facing charges again over the burning of a flag outside the 2016 Republican National Convention.

    • The Terrifying Executive We Need for the Wrong Reasons

      I understand why all of the often false, usually bombastic, reporting on Trump is angering me.

      You know the stuff — take a “fact,” real or fully made up, and conflate it with some apocalyptic prediction. Watch: Trump alternates between wearing boxers and briefs. Will his indecisiveness cause him to pull back when America is attacked by the Russians?

      The other story everyone writes now is based on the journalist’s apparent post-November 9 discovery of an element of fascism, racism and/or parts of the Constitution and presidential practice. And so someone is shocked that Trump will be able to choose drone kill targets, or have access to everything the NSA sweeps up about his enemies.

    • Trump’s Pick for Interior Secretary Was Caught in “Pattern of Fraud” at SEAL Team 6

      A Montana lawmaker tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to be secretary of the interior committed travel fraud when he was a member of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6, according to three former unit leaders and a military consultant.

      In announcing the nomination of Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL commander, Trump praised his military background. “As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win,” Trump said last week.

      But when Zinke was a mid-career officer at SEAL Team 6, he was caught traveling multiple times to Montana in 1998 and 1999 to renovate his home. Zinke claimed that the travel was for official duties, according to the sources.

      He submitted travel vouchers and was compensated for the travel costs.

    • How Many Children Were Shot Dead Today? An Interview with Gary Younge

      Every day, on average, seven children and teenagers are shot dead in the United States. November 23, 2013 — the day Gary Younge chose randomly as the setting for his book Another Day in the Death of America — was “just another day in America.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Former church member launches ‘Mormon Wikileaks’ for anonymous tips and whistleblowers

      A former member of the Mormon church has launched a “Wikileaks”-inspired website in an effort to make the famously private Latter Day Saints more transparent.

      MormonWikiLeaks went live on Tuesday after two-and-a-half months of planning and, like the original WikiLeaks, will seek to expose validated documents or videos anonymous tipsters choose to send in. The group also plans to have social media pages.

      Founder Ryan McKnight, a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, conceived of the idea for the site after he helped an anonymous source leak videos of senior church members at a twice-yearly conference in October. He has been “bombarded” with people looking to share information since.

    • Every month a whistleblower wants to report misconduct

      Since going public in June 2013, Commonwealth Bank whistleblower Jeff Morris is contacted at least once a month by company insiders asking for advice about reporting corporate misconduct.

      “When I explain the potential cost to them: the loss of not just their job but also their career, due to vindictive back channel smear campaigns; the lack of any effective protection or compensation, let alone rewards; most walk away,” he says.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate scientists are launching an anonymous hotline for government workers to report Trump meddling

      Climate scientists are predicting rough weather for their profession in 2017. US president-elect Donald Trump’s statements on climate change, his appointments to head environmental agencies, and the threatening actions of his transition team all have the nation’s weather professionals on alert and preparing for the worst.

      The Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has established a hotline for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employees to report political meddling. There’s currently concern among NOAA scientists about who Trump’s pick to head the agency will be. “I am hearing a lot of worry,” union director Andrew Rosenberg told Bloomberg. “The worry is that they will be putting another ideologue in place.”

    • 70,000 Demand Obama Protect Climate from Trump Denialism

      ust one month from inauguration and with confirmation hearings looming for President-elect Trump’s climate-denier cabinet, an international coalition of human rights and environmental groups is appealing to President Obama to take one final action to advance justice and action on climate change in spite of Trump.

    • Collapse of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Reveals Inadequacy of Current Climate Strategies

      With president-elect Donald Trump and his army of climate deniers preparing to take office, it could be a hard battle to get the US to adhere to any sort of climate policy anytime soon. This is hard news because today’s suggested but nowhere-implemented climate policy was already much less restrictive than the climate policy from the mid-1990s. In a world where we have emitted as much carbon dioxide since 1987 as was emitted in the previous 230 years, why has policy not become more stringent? This outdated emissions reductions policy has earned the title “legacy,” not because it is worthy of recognition, or something we want to pass on to future generations, but because it is like “legacy software,” in that “it is difficult to replace because of its wide usage.”

      The climate policy strategy that we are attempting to implement in the face of Trump’s intransigence is conceptually similar to what we were supposed to adopt with the Kyoto Protocol back in the 1990s. That is, it involves a reduction of annual greenhouse gas emissions. The two relevant actions that we are now struggling to implement are the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and Obama’s Paris Climate Conference commitment. The CPP is still not implemented and has been sent back to District Court for further litigation. On paper, its emissions reductions are a fraction more restrictive than the initial Kyoto targets but overall, the CPP is significantly less restrictive than Kyoto because Kyoto targets were supposed to have been achieved in 2012. The CPP pushed the deadline back 18 years to 2030.

  • Finance

    • I make $2.35 an hour in coal country. I don’t want handouts. I want a living wage.

      I grew up in Dickenson County, Va. Like many who were raised in the heart of Appalachia, I come from a long line of coal miners. My great-grandfathers, grandfathers, uncles and cousins all went underground to dig the coal that kept the lights on for communities across our country.

      My family members, like thousands throughout coal country, took pride in their work. We stuck together and fought to make our jobs good jobs. In April 1989, the Pittston Coal Co. cut health care for mineworkers, and 2,000 miners walked out on strike. My pawpaw was one of them. When Pittston brought scabs in to work at lower wages and called on state troopers to break up the strike, the mineworkers, with their community behind them, didn’t back down — they fought harder. Through months of civil disobedience, blocking roads and mine entrances and holding public demonstrations, the United Mine Workers of America won the wages and benefits our families deserved in February 1990.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Teaching Civics in the Time of Trump

      Do we need a new Schoolhouse Rock! to remind us how to run a democracy?

    • Can We Fire the Electoral College? Probably Not, but We Can Put It Under New Management

      The electors of the Electoral College met this afternoon in their respective states and anointed as president the candidate who won the popular vote in a larger number of states — Donald Trump — regardless of the fact that another candidate — Hillary Clinton — won the larger number of votes by several million.

      The ACLU has opposed the Electoral College since 1969 for non-partisan reasons. By now — everyone, Republicans, Democrats, and none-of-the-aboves — should be fed up with its undemocratic and unpredictable nature.

      Unfortunately, amending the Constitution to eliminate this atavistic system is a practical impossibility for the same reason the Electoral College is a problem: The less populous states have a disproportionate share of voting power. Constitutional amendments require approval by three-quarters of the states, not a national majority or even super-majority of voters. Most states are currently Republican-dominated, and Republicans may believe at the moment that the peculiarities of the Electoral College will help to serve their partisan goals in future elections.

    • Republicans Will Review Recount Process

      But some Republicans say the recount surfaced issues that must be researched, and maybe fixed.

      “While the recount was more of a publicity stunt than anything else, at the very least it proved that our state has a fair and trustworthy system because of our efforts to reduce fraud with the implementation of voter ID,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

      “Moving forward, we will investigate additional ways to reform our election laws to reduce any chance of fraud,” Vos added. “The Assembly Republican caucus will also discuss changes to the recount statute to insure Wisconsin taxpayers don’t bear any of the costs of future recounts.”

    • Why US liberals are now buying guns too

      Gun ownership has traditionally been associated with the right wing in America but the election of Donald Trump has prompted some left-wingers to join gun clubs – and even start preparing for the collapse of society.

      “I really didn’t expect to be thinking about purchasing a gun. It was something that my father did and I rolled my eyes at him.”

    • Green Party Activist: No, Jill Stein’s Recount Was Not A ‘Front’ For The Clinton Campaign

      By now, it is clear that the two main corporate-backed political parties will never allow ballots to be re-counted in any U.S. Presidential election.

      I am writing on the morning that the electoral college will be voting on who will become the next president of the United States. Even at this late date the evidence mounts that hundreds of thousands of voters cast legitimate ballots in the 2016 elections that were never counted. Yet the Democratic Party and its candidate, Hillary Clinton, have refused to file any court challenges to the elections machinery, oversight, or illegitimate processes.

      And the Republican Party continues to go all-out to block Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s attempt to force three states to count every ballot by hand.

      One would think: “Who could be opposed to counting every ballot?”

      Both the Democrat and Republican parties and their candidates each twist rationalizations like pretzels to prevent a re-count.

    • The Electoral College Desecrates Democracy—Especially This Time

      The Electoral College was created 229 years ago as a check and balance against popular sovereignty. And, with its formal endorsement of Donald Trump for the presidency, this absurd anachronism has once again completed its mission of desecrating democracy.

      As of Monday afternoon, the actual vote count in the race for the presidency was: Democrat Hillary Clinton 65,844,594, Republican Donald Trump 62,979,616. That’s a 2,864,978 popular-vote victory. Yet, when the last of the electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia had completed their quadrennial mission early Monday evening, the Electoral College vote was: Trump 304, Clinton 227.

      So-called “faithless” electors split from Trump and Clinton, casting votes for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Congressman Ron Paul and Native American elder (and Dakota Access Pipeline critic) Faith Spotted Eagle.

    • What Trump’s Cabinet of ‘best people’ lacks

      You’re hired. That’s what President-elect Donald Trump has been telling the select group of individuals whom he has chosen for his Cabinet. On Thursday he named Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, to lead the Department of the Interior. “America is the most beautiful country in the world and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands,” Trump said in a statement. Now, with only the slots for secretary of agriculture and veteran’s affairs still open, it seems highly unlikely that any Latinos will have a spot in Trump’s Cabinet.

    • Detroit’s election woes: 782 more votes than voters

      Whether the result of machine malfunction, human error or even fraud, the unexplained voting discrepancies in Detroit last month were not sizable enough to affect the outcome in Michigan of the presidential election, according to a new Free Press analysis of voting precinct records.

      In 248 precincts, there were a total of 782 more votes tabulated by voting machines than the number of voters listed as picking up ballots in the precincts’ poll books. That makes up just three-tenths of 1% of the total 248,211 votes that were logged in Detroit for the presidential election. That number was far too small to swing the statewide election results, even in this year’s especially tight race that saw a Republican win Michigan for the first time since George Bush in 1988.

    • My President Was Black

      Obama’s ties to the South Side tradition that Washington represented were complicated. Like Washington, Obama attempted to forge a coalition between black South Siders and the broader community. But Obama, despite his adherence to black cultural mores, was, with his roots in Kansas and Hawaii, his Ivy League pedigree, and his ties to the University of Chicago, still an exotic out-of-towner. “They were a bit skeptical of him,” says Salim Muwakkil, a journalist who has covered Obama since before his days in the Illinois state Senate. “Chicago is a very insular community, and he came from nowhere, seemingly.”

    • Only one-third of Americans say Russia influenced 2016 election

      Just one-third of Americans say they believe Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

      Forty-four percent of the 2,000 voters polled Dec. 15 through Dec. 17 said they do not think Russia influenced November’s election, while a quarter are still unsure.

    • Trump on Free Speech and Freedom of the Press

      No one can know for sure what the incoming Trump administration will do, but President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized and threatened the media in the United States. In lieu of attempting the impossible and predicting the future, we’ve gathered all of Trump’s stated positions on free speech and freedom of the press. If you are aware of any additional statements that we have not included, please email kate@eff.org with a link to your source material, and we will consider it for inclusion.

      While running for president, Trump made his general feelings about the press very clear. He has called the media “dishonest” and described reporters as “scum,” “sleaze,” and “horrible people.” At a rally last February, he famously said, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

    • Why Hillary Lost, According to Hillary

      It wasn’t her fault.

      The Clinton campaign, and Hillary herself, summed up her loss by blaming FBI Director Comey as an individual, the FBI as an organization, and of course the Russians and the Russians and the Russians and Putin himself for the loss. “Angry white men” got tagged as well. Nobody likes Huma Abedin anymore, either. That’s pretty much it.

    • Clinton’s Defeat and the Fake News Conspiracy

      There is an astounding double standard being applied to the US presidential election result.

      A few weeks ago the corporate media were appalled that Donald Trump demurred on whether he would accept the vote if it went against him. It was proof of his anti-democratic, authoritarian instincts.

      But now he has won, the same media outlets are cheerleading the establishment’s full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of a Trump presidency. That campaign is being headed by the failed candidate, Hillary Clinton, after a lengthy softening-up operation by US intelligence agencies, led by the CIA.

      According to the prevailing claim, Russian president Vladimir Putin stole the election on behalf of Trump (apparently by resorting to the US playbook on psy-ops). Trump is not truly a US president, it seems. He’s Russia’s placeman in the White House – a Moscovian candidate.

    • The Left’s Risk in Blaming Russia

      This week began with a mass email from the head of the Democratic National Committee, who declared: “By now, Americans know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian government orchestrated a series of cyberattacks on political campaigns and organizations over the past two years and used stolen information to influence the presidential campaign and congressional races.” DNC chair Donna Brazile went on: “The integrity of our elections is too important for Congress to refuse to take these attacks seriously.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How Tech Companies Can Fight for Their Users in the Courts

      There are a lot of political uncertainties around the incoming Trump administration, but the threats to civil liberties are potentially greater than ever. President Obama failed to rein in the surveillance state, and Mr. Trump has nominated cabinet members like Mike Pompeo who are big fans of bulk surveillance. Now, given Mr. Trump’s campaign posture of being a “law and order” candidate who has openly criticized Apple for standing up for strong encryption, tech companies need to be even more vigilant in fighting for their users in the courts.

      EFF stands ready to support those who will be pioneers in these efforts. Below, we highlight a few ways companies can stand up for their users, along with some prominent examples of from the past. In addition, for the last six years EFF has produced an annual “Who Has Your Back?” report evaluating the practices of technology companies in categories such as insisting on a warrant for user content and issuing transparency reports. Companies can look at these reports to get a sense of best practices in the industry.

    • Trump and His Advisors on Surveillance, Encryption, Cybersecurity

      On encryption, Trump said in early 2016 that Apple should have to make available data stored on an iPhone linked to the shooter in last year’s attack in San Bernardino, California. Apple repeatedly challenged the FBI’s demands that the company build a tool to access the secure data on the encrypted device.

      “But to think that Apple won’t allow us to get into her cell phone,” Trump said in an interview. “Who do they think they are? No, we have to open it up.”

      Trump also famously called for a boycott of Apple until the company helped to unlock the device, criticizing Apple CEO Tim Cook for “looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is.”

    • ORG’s first take on the leaked e-Privacy Regulations

      The leaked e-Privacy Regulation (ePR) brings many improved protections to our communications data, which are now extended to communications devices and internet services, not just traditional telecom providers. At the same time this modernisation has brought other fundamental changes that could have less welcome consequences.

      Here we focus on the basic changes to electronic communications. Most other analyses of the leaked ePR will probably focus on cookies and the impact on online advertising, and rightly so as this is really important. We don’t have the space here for a proper take on both here, but in the coming months we will also engage with those other areas: cookies, marketing, nuisance calls, as well as the enforcement aspects.

    • Court Says Abandoned Phone Locked With A Passcode Still Has Expectation Of Privacy

      A Florida Court of Appeals has handed down a somewhat surprising ruling [PDF] in a case centering on evidence obtained from a teen’s cellphone. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      Two juveniles fled their vehicle during a traffic stop, with one of them (referred to as “K.C.” in the ruling) leaving behind his cellphone on the car’s seat. This phone — whose lockscreen featured a photo of someone who “looked similar” to “K.C.” — was taken by the officer.

      Several months later, the PD’s forensic lab was asked to determine ownership of the phone. The phone was locked with a passcode, but the lab was able to unlock and retrieve this information. No warrant was obtained and the search apparently wasn’t limited to determining ownership. The use of evidence obtained from the phone was challenged, but the state felt it had plenty of warrant exceptions to save its search.

    • EFF urges companies to prepare for more surveillance and censorship

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation – a group of tech pioneers trying to keep the Internet open and free – have published an open letter to tech companies pleading them to prepare for an era of increased Internet surveillance and censorship. The EFF is citing statements by Trump and his advisors regarding Internet control, net neutrality, and freedom of speech and the press.

    • Donald Trump’s future NSA director met with Austrian party founded by Nazis

      The leader of Austria’s Nazi-founded Freedom Party has signed a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party — only weeks after meeting with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who will soon be national security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump. This muddies the waters as to the United States’ place in a geopolitical world that could be dominated by Russia in the near term.

      Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the Freedom Party, announced that he had signed the agreement with Putin’s own United Russia party on his Facebook page, The New York Times reported on Monday. The announcement also mentioned that Strache had visited Flynn a few weeks earlier in Trump Tower. The cooperation agreement itself includes plans for collaboration between United Russia and the Freedom Party on economic, business, and political projects over the next five years.

      Founded in the 1950s by former Nazis, the Freedom Party nearly captured the Austrian presidency (which is largely ceremonial) in May but lost a runoff election on Dec. 4. It nevertheless remains a potent force in Austrian politics, where it leads all opinions polls ahead of the two mainstream parties, and is best known for its hardline stance against immigration and its defensiveness toward Russia. Indeed, Russia’s signatory Sergei Zheleznyak identified Europe’s “migration crisis” as one of the key areas where the two parties could work together.

    • Report: Shadow Brokers Leaks Trace to NSA Insider
    • Report: ShadowBrokers Obtained Stolen NSA Info Via Rogue Insider
    • ShadowBrokers got NSA spy tools from rogue insider

      The ShadowBrokers didn’t break into the United States National Security Agency after all. The latest research into the group of cybercriminals selling alleged NSA spy tools reinforced the idea that they’d received the classified materials from an insider within the intelligence agency, security company Flashpoint said.

      Analysis of the latest ShadowBrokers dump, which was announced earlier in the month on the blogging platform Medium by “Boceffus Cleetus,” suggests the spy tools were initially taken directly from an NSA code repository by a rogue insider, Flashpoint said. The company’s researchers analyzed the sample file containing implants and exploits and various screenshots provided in the post and have “medium confidence” that an NSA employee or contractor initially leaked the tools, said Ronnie Tokazowski, senior malware analyst with Flashpoint. However, they were still “uncertain of how these documents were exfiltrated,” he said.

    • Shadow Brokers are back with ‘stolen NSA cyberweapons’, now 99.9% off

      That’s the self-styled, pseudo-semi-literate but surely satirical hacker group that claimed in August 2016 to have penetrated the NSA, or some other organisation of that sort, and made off with “cyberweapons” worth more than $500 million.

      They dumped a few files as tasters, with the claim that the files they were keeping back to sell were “better than Stuxnet.”

      That’s a bold claim, given that Stuxnet was the airgap-jumping USB virus that was allegedly written to sneak right into the heart of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.

    • Facebook charged with misleading EU on $22 billion WhatsApp merger

      Brussels’ competition officials issued a charge sheet against Facebook on Tuesday, in which it is alleged that the free content ad network failed to disclose that “the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users’ IDs with WhatsApp users’ IDs already existed” at the time of the merger.

      Antitrust chief Margerthe Vestager said that companies must provide “accurate information” during routine competition probes into planned acquisitions.

      “They must take this obligation seriously,” she said. “In this specific case, the commission’s preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp. Facebook now has the opportunity to respond.”

    • James Clapper’s Office To Finally Reveal NSA’s ‘Incidental Collection’ Numbers

      Prior to the Snowden leaks making it unignorable, the NSA denied the incidental collection of Americans’ communications was much of a problem. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall were two of the few members of the NSA’s oversight willing to ask tough questions. One of the questions they asked — all the way back in 2011 — was how many Americans were spied on by the NSA’s programs. The answer may shock you/cause uncontrollable eyerolling.

    • EFF’s full-page Wired ad: Dear tech, delete your logs before it’s too late

      EFF has run a full-page ad in this month’s Wired, addressed to the technology industry, under the banner “Your threat model just changed,” warning them that the incoming administration has vowed to spy on and deport millions of their fellow Americans on the basis of religion and race, and that they are in grave risk of having their services conscripted to help with this effort. (Trump is also an avowed opponent of net neutrality)

    • GCHQ should do more to guard against financial cyber crime, Tory MP urges
    • NCSC boss asked to detail efforts to protect financial services sector against cyberattacks
    • GCHQ must do more to protect banks against cyber attacks, Tory MP urges
    • Notable Analyst Coverage Update: Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT), Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE)
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Unequal Sentences for Blacks and Whites

      In Flagler County, Fla., blacks convicted of robbery were given prison sentences nearly triple those of whites, even though the circumstances of the crimes were the same.

    • Malcolm Gladwell Likes Leaks When They Bolster Government Power

      But maybe more surprising than the class bias of the New Yorker’s resident deep-thinker is his take on the role of anonymous leaks. In a properly functioning media system, Gladwell argues, the purpose of leaks is to fool people into accepting government indoctrination—and it would be a shame if that system were to break down.

      Gladwell borrows (of course) this argument from Columbia law professor David Pozen (Harvard Law Review, 12/20/13), writing, “Pozen argues that governments look the other way when it comes to leaks because it is in their interest to do so.” Pozen makes a distinction between unauthorized “leaks” and “plants”—the latter being “a leak made with the full authorization of the White House.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T, Verizon Laugh At The FCC’s Last-Minute Attempt To Crack Down On Zero Rating

      So we’ve noted several times how the FCC’s decision to avoid banning zero rating when crafting net neutrality rules was a bad idea, as it opened the door wide to all manner of net neutrality violations — provided incumbent ISPs were just creative about it. And like clockwork, companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast quickly got to work exempting their own content from usage caps, while penalizing competitors (and non-profits or educational services). Meanwhile companies like Sprint and T-Mobile began charging users a steep premium unless they wanted games, video and music throttled by default.

      Unlike many other countries (Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, India), the FCC decided to avoid banning these kinds of practices as part of neutrality rules, instead saying they’d step in and act on a “cases by case” basis should ISP behaviors prove anti-competitive. But as ISPs increasingly made it very clear they were using arbitrary usage caps as anti-competitive weapons against competing streaming video services, the FCC did nothing. That is, until the agency reached out to AT&T and Verizon last month, formally accusing both companies of violating net neutrality.

      It’s a strange, belated decision by an FCC that, by most analyst accounts, is about to be defunded and defanged. Both the GOP and incoming Trump administration have clear they see no role for the agency as a consumer or competition watchdog. With FCC boss Tom Wheeler having just stepped down, both AT&T and Verizon are well aware the current FCC is a lame duck. As such both companies responded to the FCC’s inquiries this week with the legal equivalent of laughter.

    • Trump and His Advisors on Net Neutrality

      Through the combined efforts of EFF and a coalition of public interest groups — and four million of you who wrote in to the FCC — we won carefully tailored and essential net neutrality protections in 2015 and defended them in court in 2016. But how will the incoming Trump administration impact net neutrality in 2017? We’ve collected a range of statements on the positions of Trump, his transition team, and those who are likely to guide the new administration on this issue.

      Trump took a swipe at net neutrality in a November 2014 tweet, stating, “Obama’s Attack on the Internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target Conservative Media.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • How The DMCA And The CFAA Are Preventing People From Saving Their Soon-To-Be-Broken Pebble Watches

        I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think smartwatches are really wonderful, even as lots of people scoff at the concept (and sales have been disappointing across the board). The first device that clued me in to the possible power of the smartwatch was the original Pebble smartwatch, which I (and many, many others) backed on Kickstarter. I ended up backing their second Kickstarter campaign as well — but was disappointed in the end product and ended up moving on to another smartwatch instead (the Moto 360, though now it looks like Motorola is dumping that business as well). I didn’t end up backing Pebble’s latest Kickstarter campaign, which turned out to be a good thing, because as you may have heard, the company announced last week that it had sold its assets to Fitbit, and no more work would be done on Pebble watches (and people who backed the latest project would eventually get refunds, but no watches).

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