Gemini version available ♊︎

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

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