11.29.17

PTAB Will Survive the Supreme Court, Admit Even Foes of PTAB Based on This Week’s Hearings

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “swamp” is sinking again

Paul Morinville sickened

Summary: Having found themselves in quicksand, the few people who care enough to try to undermine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), refuse to let go and are going under

THE Supreme Court case which we have dealt with the most recently is Oil States. We write about it, on average, about once a day. It’s an important case.

As one PTAB foe put it today (with direct link to the original PDF), the annual report says PTAB should “remain vigilant in ensuring fair and transparent processes and proceedings in order to render wellgrounded decisions.”

So they expect it to remain.

Here is the part that touches on software patents (or abstract patents more generally):

Regarding Section 101: the USPTO should (a) continue to update the stakeholder community and examiner corps on recent jurisprudence and where appropriate, continue to issue memoranda that describes the relevant court decision; (b) finalize the MPEP updates in Section 2106 directed to “Patent Eligible Subject Matter,” so the stakeholder community has one central repository on the USPTO’s website to receive the latest updates; and (c) should continue stakeholder outreach programs and workshops on Section 101 developments due to the critical nature of this area.

The subject of software patents and the USPTO will be covered separately later this week. As things stand, patent quality in the USPTO is rising and lawsuits over software patents aren’t being filed every single day like they used to. “Thanks to PTAB,” says this new tweet, “companies no longer have to pay ransom to make lawsuits based on questionable patent claims go away.” This links to an article from the New York Times. It’s a week old.

At the start of the week we observed the views of the new Justice, Mr. Gorsuch (Trump nominee and appointee). As Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer‏ put it a short time ago: “Are we surprised that the new judge takes a Pro-patent position?”

Not surprising to us. At all. But it could be worse. We thought he could be a lot more blatant about it; he had been more or less a blank slate in the domain/area of patents.

Tim B. Lee, who has covered software patents for many years, reports from a position closer to the action. He wrote that the “Supreme Court seems reluctant to blow up a key weapon against patent trolls” and here are his opening words:

In Supreme Court oral arguments on Monday, justices seemed skeptical of arguments that a patent office process for challenging patents runs afoul of the Constitution.

The issue matters because the challenged process—which was created by the 2011 America Invents Act—has emerged as a key weapon against patent trolls wielding low-quality patents. Overall, defending a patent lawsuit can easily cost millions of dollars. By contrast, the new process, known as inter partes review, allows a patent to be invalidated for a sum in the low six figures.

Lee later added: “I will be very surprised if the Supreme Court pulls the trigger here, because ruling for Oil States would have sweeping consequences. [] If they say “court-like” administrative procedures are unconstitutional, they’re going to face an avalanche of litigation arguing that procedures in other areas of law are too court-like. [] If they straight up say that patents are private property, it could substantially strengthen patent rights across the board, the opposite of the recent trend by the Supreme Court.”

Patents are certainly not property; it’s an old lie that’s being pasted into the media by the patent microcosm.

Based on the above, PTAB will be fine. Moreover, based on PTAB bashers, the Supreme Court has just rejected cases with a potential to broaden patent scope. To quote:

The Supreme Court has denied Openet’s petition for writ of certiorari in Openet v. Amdocs. The petition asked “whether the Federal Circuit erred by looking beyond the claims to the patent specification to assess patent eligibility?” The court also denied certiorari in the pro se case of Poniatowski v. Matal.

Better this way.

Want to see something funny? Watch IAM’s one-sided coverage of the case.

Some father and his kids, who barely know what patents are, are not really staging a ‘protest’ but engaging in a publicity stunt. There are a few tweets about it (with photos). Basically, daddy has a bunk patent which PTAB is probably going to invalidate, so the kids will hold a sign daddy made with a MAGA-inspired slogan. Marvelous! Parents who exploit their kids for patent propaganda might seem about as ‘professional’ as “US Inventor” — basically a cowboy hat-wearing, MAGA-inspired lunatic from Watchtroll, whom the media mistakes for a group. His infamous, long-planned ‘protest’ attracted less than a dozen people.

The above was barely a protest, except in IAM’s mind. Here is how IAM put it:

Even though patent cases have become a regular feature of the Supreme Court’s docket in recent years, for the IP community there was an extra buzz about the place yesterday as the justices heard two disputes concerning inter partes review (IPR).

For starters, around 20 protesters from the small inventor community, who remain bitterly opposed to IPRs, were gathered on the courthouse steps brandishing signs such as “the PTAB killed my start-up”. The protest may have been relatively small and well behaved, but its impact could be heard inside the court’s press room where seasoned Supreme Court reporters got perhaps their first glimpse at just how deep feelings run on this issue. “Protesters? For a patent case!” one of them muttered.

Then inside the courtroom there was a smattering of the great and the good from the IP stakeholder community, including USPTO acting head Joe Matal, Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) David Ruschke and his number two Scott Boalick, several aides who helped author the America Invents Act (AIA), leaders from the various IP law associations and numerous members of the patent bar from private practice.

“Around 20 protesters,” says IAM. That’s generous. Based on the photos, it’s not even that. At the end, however, IAM cares enough to admit that this case is dead in the water. PTAB will endure and IPRs shall overcome!

EPO Spreads Two Lies Today, One About Patent ‘Production’ and Another About ‘Quality’

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Measuring what’s not immeasurable using false yardsticks

Calipers

Summary: Today’s face-saving lies from the EPO focus on the very serious scandals that worry stakeholders while at the same time distracting from ongoing attacks on EPO staff and basic rights

THE EPO tries hard to distract from the latest scandals. Today it was recycling an old EU-IPO ‘study’, then returned to its daily repetition of the pro-UPC nonsensical ‘study’ and daily repetition of the “SME” thing. None of this is new. It’s weeks old.

Also today, the EPO issued two “news” items, which is unusual (sometimes it goes on for a month with not even one). Both regurgitate familiar propaganda. The first notes that the EPO has been granting lots of crappy patents (too fast, too leniently, which necessarily means decline in patent quality). The global patent bubble grows bigger, but the EPO is a large contributor to this bubble, having experienced ‘growth’ four times higher than the IP5 average (top five patent offices). When it comes to patents, quality should matter, not quantity, but watch what the EPO wrote: (warning: epo.org link)

To cope with increasing demand, the EPO has put in place a series of quality [sic] and efficiency measures, which in 2016 led to an 8.5% rise in products (completed searches, substantive examinations and oppositions), and 40% more patents granted.

Terrible. Nothing to be proud of. Never mind the fact that they’re rapidly running out of ‘stock’. They have been granting, among other things, patents on algorithms and patents on life (these later turned out to be null and void). This leads us to the second “news” item, which is more of the old CPVO spin (CPVO is not what many people assume it to be). Read the “quality” nonsense further down (including the heading which precedes it). To quote the “news”: (warning: epo.org link)

Martin Ekvad, CPVO President, emphasised the importance of formalising cooperation in an agreement concluded last year between the EPO and CPVO…

[...]

At the EPO less than one in three patent applications in biotechnology becomes a European patent, while the overall grant rate in all fields of technology is around 48%.

That says almost nothing and fails to account for what happened earlier this year. Many patents on life/organisms were instantaneously invalidated. How about that? Why were these granted in the first place? The sentence above, along with that paragraph, is constructed to help Battistelli lie about patent quality. Who does he need to lie to? Gullible people like Dr. Ernst, who continues to publicly deny the issue (even when directly challenged by concerned users of the patent system).

Ernst has done far too little to earn trust from SUEPO (judging by the tone of the site) and every comment about him in Kluwer Patent Blog has been negative. Here are the latest two. They’re about the expectation that he will go along with Battistelli and again punish all the workers:

dear you two again : the document is NOT OFF THE TABLE at all.

DG 4 submits it for information in December with changes : from 100% contracts to (only) 40 % (which will put the entire structure under even more production pressure than it is now) and, cherry on the cake, now they introduce the option to transform the contract into a permanent one after FIFTEEN YEARS (…or not).

This document will be submitted for decision in March 2018.

so please stop doing as if it was off the table since this new proposal is equally bad as the previous one, totally non adapted to a stable international organisation like the EPO, the aim of which being to serve the PUBLIC on the long run and certainly not to produce cash surplus for its Member States (surplus which nowadays fall in their (deficit) national budgets) this at the expenses of the health of staff hundreds of employees who go burned-out, in-treatments, in depressions, or even commit suicide when they cannot cope any more (6 non-investigated suicides over the past 5 years, a 7th miraculously avoided for 3 months).

I want to make one thing clear: the documents on 5 years contracts for EPO staff should end up in the bin. I have never had a different opinion on it.

The new proposal is even more ludicrous. Even if after 15 years there is a possibility to get a permanent job, which person sound in its mind would leave its national security and social protections systems to hire at the EPO? Such a stupid idea can only germ in the minds of people who are playing manager, but do not really know what it means to manage in the interest of the body they rule. It makes me sad to see that a reputable office like the EPO is run by such people.

The net result will be more younger people at the EPO, as I do not know anybody having a stable job for a few years leaving this in order to hire at the EPO. There will be also more Germans in Munich and more Dutch in The Hague, trends which are already existing today.

Here Mr Ernst has to resist the fools running the office by not putting such a proposal on the agenda of the AC.

If a measure with such a long term effect is decided three months before a new president comes, then it shows the esteem shown to his successor by the present holder of the function. As another commenter said it makes you want to puke.

Several days ago a reader told us that the EPO had adopted a notorious French model which makes workers very stressed (sometimes/often suicidal) and as of today there’s this ruling from the French Supreme Court about public mockery of patent infringers. It’s not very new, but this was covered some hours ago by IP Kat, which said:

The French Supreme Court last month affirmed that a patentee is free to publish a decision of patent infringement on their website. In doing so, the patentee neither tarnishes the name of the defendant nor breaches any other principle of tortious liability towards the defendant.

This is a matter of free speech; we recently covered the matter in relation to the EFF getting sued repeatedly for mocking patents. At the EPO workers get in a lot of trouble if they say that patent quality is declining. We covered examples of such incidents earlier this year.

Links 29/11/2017: Lakka 2.1, Huge Apple Flaw

Posted in News Roundup at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 open source technology trends for 2018

    Technology is always evolving. New developments, such as OpenStack, Progressive Web Apps, Rust, R, the cognitive cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and more are putting our usual paradigms on the back burner. Here is a rundown of the top open source trends expected to soar in popularity in 2018.

  • Open Source Software Developers Find A Home At Gitcoin

    Open source software is often the ugly stepchild of technology development. Because developers are largely donating their time and efforts, progress lags on building better versions of apps, blockchains and other software. That stifles progress, and leaves advancement in the hands of for-profit ventures, many of them without the public’s best interests at heart.

  • Open source grows up, needs to learn to play with others

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are expanding their presence within service provider environments, emerging as a critical solutions set for operators looking to drive agility and cost efficiency in their infrastructure through automation and digitalisation. That role will only increase with technologies like containers, MEC and 5G come online to drive up demands on the network and deliver new service architectures and capabilities. But even as OpenStack matures inside service provider environments, it must now learn to play with others that form the greater service provider ecosystem, including other open source communities like ONAP and ETSI NFVI, says Ericsson’s Susan James.

  • Will Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?

    To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of yesteryear, which attempted to gain dominion over the emerging online world by pushing exclusive use of its Windows OS and for-pay Internet Explorer browser.

    “Microsoft was wrong for a long time,” says Ault, who is Senior Research Engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Group at Purdue University. “They wanted to own the internet. Now they’re a huge open-source shop” — joining what Ault calls the “business model of success” found today at Android, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

    Agricultural technology needs a similar open-source awakening, Ault says. The current state of ag data, he says frankly, “stinks.” Most farmers don’t share their data, and often justify their stance by noting there’s not much data out there anyway so what does it matter. And because the little data that is out there isn’t used much, a perception lingers that it doesn’t have to be particularly good data.

  • Inocybe aims to take complexity out of open source

    Anyone who’s trying to navigate the telecom waters that are open source these days may appreciate that there are entities out there that want to help.

    Montreal, Canada-based Inocybe is targeting Tier 2 and 3 wired/wireless service providers globally and enterprises to talk open source. The company has been involved with OpenDaylight since the beginning and is one of its top five contributors, and it wants to help entities that don’t have the type of resources the bigger Tier 1 operators have to devote to open-source projects, of which there are many.

  • Events

    • From 0 to Kubernetes

      Although you hear a lot about containers and Kubernetes these days, there’s a lot of mystery around them. In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “From 0 to Kubernetes,” Amy Chen clears up the confusion.

      Amy, a software engineer at Rancher Labs, describes containers as baby computers living inside another computer that are suffering an “existential crisis” as they try to figure out their place in the world. Kubernetes is the way all those baby computers are organized.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s WebRender Making Good Progress, Can Be Tested On Firefox Nightly

        Mozilla engineers aren’t letting up after their Quantum work in Firefox 57 that made the browser much faster. Next they have been improving WebRender and can be tested easily with Firefox Nightly.

        WebRender as a reminder is Mozilla’s GPU-based renderer used currently within the Servo engine and has also been fitted into Firefox with Gecko. Those unfamiliar with WebRender can learn more about its architecture on their GitHub Wiki and this Mozilla Hacks blog post from last month.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Is Now Available on Flathub, the Flatpak App Store

      Its arrival allows anyone running a modern Linux distribution to install the latest stable release of LibreOffice in a click or two, without having to hunt down a PPA, tussle with tarballs or wait for a distro provider to package it up.

      A LibreOffice Flatpak has been available for users to download and install since August of last year and the LibreOffice 5.2 release.

      What’s “new” here is the distribution method. Rather than release updates through their own dedicated server The Document Foundation has opted to use Flathub.

    • Dialog Tunnelling

      I’m simply going to talk about what I’ve been currently working on in Collabora Online or LibreOffice Online, as part of my job at Collabora.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital To Begin Shipping Devices Using RISC-V

        RISC-V has a big new hardware backer… Western Digital.

        Western Digital just announced at the RISC-V Workshop conference that they will be getting behind RISC-V for the next generation of big data and fast data. They plan to switch over “one billion cores per year to RISC-V.” By the time their transition is complete, they anticipate to be shipping two billion RISC-V cores per year.

      • SiFive and Microsemi Expand Relationship with Strategic Roadmap Alignment and a Linux-Capable, RISC-V Development Board

        SiFive, the first fabless provider of customized, open-source-enabled semiconductors, and Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC), a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, at the 7th RISC-V Workshop today announced the companies have formed a strategic relationship to meet the growing interest and demand in the RISC-V instruction set architecture. The companies have previously collaborated to provide RISC-V soft CPU cores for Microsemi’s PolarFire® FPGAs, IGLOO™2 FPGAs, SmartFusion™2 system-on-chip (SoC) FPGAs and RTG4™ FPGAs, currently available as part of the Microsemi Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem.

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 best practices for getting started with DevOps

      DevOps often stymies early adopters with its ambiguity, not to mention its depth and breadth. By the time someone buys into the idea of DevOps, their first questions usually are: “How do I get started?” and “How do I measure success?” These five best practices are a great road map to starting your DevOps journey.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Judge rules against 84-year-old doctor who can’t use a computer

    A New Hampshire state judge has dismissed a case brought by an elderly doctor who recently gave up her medical license following a handful of allegations against her.

    Among other accusations, Dr. Anna Konopka, 84, has refused to use a computer and participate in the state’s new law for an online opioid monitoring program.

    “The Court has admiration for Dr. Konopka’s devotion to her patients,” Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger wrote in his Monday order to dismiss the case, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Seven Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves From Outrageous Medical Bills

      A doctor offers a surgical add-on that leads to a $1,877 bill for a young girl’s ear piercing. A patient protests unnecessary scans to identify and treat her breast cysts. A study shows intensive-care-level treatment is overused.

      ProPublica has been documenting the myriad ways the health system wastes money on unnecessary services, often shifting the costs to consumers. But there are ways patients can protect themselves.

      We consulted the bill-wrangling professionals at Medliminal, one of a number of companies that negotiate to reduce their clients’ charges for a share of the savings. After years of jousting with hospitals, medical providers and insurers, their key advice for patients and their families is to be assertive and proactive.

    • A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much.

      Her daughter emerged from surgery with her tongue newly freed and a pair of small gold stars in her ears.

      Only months later did O’Neill discover her cost for this extracurricular work: $1,877.86 for “operating room services” related to the ear piercing — a fee her insurer was unwilling to pay.

      At first, O’Neill assumed the bill was a mistake. Her daughter hadn’t needed her ears pierced, and O’Neill would never have agreed to it if she’d known the cost. She complained in phone calls and in writing.

    • How Patents Have Contributed To The Opioid Crisis

      Over at Quartz, there’s a very interesting article about how patents may have contributed to the opioid crisis in the US. It’s based on a recent paper, May Your Drug Price Be Ever Green, by law professor Robin Feldman (who has done lots of great work about problems in our patent system) and law student Connie Wang.

      For many years, we’ve written about how the pharmaceutical industry has become so overly reliant on patents for their business model, that’s it’s become destructive. We’ve argued that the misaligned incentives of the patent system, especially in pharmaceuticals has so distorted incentives that the big drug companies basically have become focused solely on keeping exclusivity that it has lead to a lot of tragic game playing, where the cost has literally been people’s lives. This went into overdrive a decade or so ago when big pharma realized that many of their biggest sellers had patents expiring, and their pipeline had failed to come up with new drugs to replace the monopoly rents of the old. This resulted in all sorts of gamesmanship designed to allow big pharma to retain monopoly rights even after a drug should have gone off patent. This included pay for delay schemes, whereby big pharma effectively paid off generic makers to keep them out of the market for longer.

    • Expert panel recommends that the WHO move forward on transparency and delinkage

      On Monday, 27 November 2017, the WHO published the recommendations of the overall programme review of the global strategy and plan of action on public, health innovation and intellectual property (EB142/14). The full report of the overall programme review (OPR) will be published on Tuesday, 28 November 2017. The mandate for this work is provided resolution WHA68.18 (2015) which requested the Director-General to establish a “panel of 18 experts” to conduct an OPR of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property. (Source: EB142/14). The composition of this expert panel can be found here: http://www.who.int/medicines/innovation/gspa-review/members-list/en/

      The expert panel provided 33 recommendations which included 17 forward looking”high-priority actions” including on transparency and delinkage.

    • TWN – Proposed WHO Criteria On Medicines In Transit Open Door For Seizures
    • WHO Issues Two Reports Detailing Global Problem Of Substandard And Falsified Medicines

      WHO launched its Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medicines, vaccines and in-vitro diagnostic tests in July 2013. This first report is based on data collected during the first 4 years of operation up to 30 June 2017.

      The second report is a study on the public health and socioeconomic impact of substandard or falsified medical products conducted by WHO and the Member State Mechanism

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • British support of Saudi Arabian military should shame us all, says SNP MP

      BRITISH support of the Saudi Arabian military “should appal us all”, according to the SNP’s spokesman for international affairs, amid claims that Scottish regiment has been training a Saudi unit in Yemen.

      The role of the UK armed forces in the conflict has come under scrutiny after a picture was posted on a Scottish battalion Facebook page which appeared to members of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) helping to train Saudi troops.

      The battalion are said to be teaching Irregular Warfare (IW) techniques to officers from the Royal Saudi Land Forces Infantry Institute.

    • US gun violence spawns a new epidemic: conspiracy theorists harassing victims

      Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friend’s chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.

      Cronk’s story of surviving the worst mass shooting in modern US history went viral, but many people online weren’t calling him a hero. On YouTube, dozens of videos, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, claimed Cronk was an actor hired to play the part of a victim in the Las Vegas mass shooting on 1 October.

    • The Latest: Pentagon believes NK launched ballistic missile

      The Pentagon says it detected and tracked a single North Korean missile launch and believes it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

      Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Tuesday that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

      Manning says the Pentagon’s information is based on an initial assessment of the launch. He says a more detailed assessment was in the works.

    • Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya

      Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

      The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are being sold in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

      In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Moammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the Qadhafi government’s ability to resist rebel forces. American and European leaders initially claimed the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons, but political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy, 3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

    • Saudi Arabia’s Mysterious Upheaval

      Change is clearly afoot in Saudi Arabia — with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) engineering the dubious resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and arresting some of the kingdom’s richest businessmen and rivals within the royal family on charges of corruption — but exactly what it foretells is hard to read.

      The Saudis also are reeling from the apparent defeat of Saudi-backed Sunni jihadists in Syria, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. So what are the consequences for Saudi Arabia and its regional allies?

      On Nov. 20, after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left Saudi Arabia and resurfaced in France, I spoke with Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. (Hariri has since returned to Lebanon where he remains prime minister at least for the time being.)

    • After two months of quiet, North Korea launches another ballistic missile [Updated]

      In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan [Province], to the east direction. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the US side.”

      The US Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have made an initial assessment that the missile was an ICBM, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesperson Col. Robert Manning. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers, flew over Japan, and landed in the sea east of Japan within its exclusive economic zone.

      The launch comes as South Korea is preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. South Korean officials had hoped that North Korea would forego any further provocations in hopes of an “Olympics of Peace.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA and NSA codes are on the web, and the leakers could be in the agencies

      WikiLeaks published new information thought to be from the CIA in mid-November, releasing source code from a tool known as “Hive,” which allows operators to control malware. The dump, dubbed Vault 8, marked the first time WikiLeaks has released source code for a CIA spying tool.

      In a post on its website, WikiLeaks said: “This publication will enable investigative journalists, forensic experts and the general public to better identify and understand covert CIA infrastructure components. Source code published in this series contains software designed to run on servers controlled by the CIA. Like WikiLeaks’ earlier Vault 7 series, the material published by WikiLeaks does not contain 0-days or similar security vulnerabilities which could be repurposed by others.”

      Over the past several months, WikiLeaks has released information detailing the extent and sophistication of the CIA’s offensive cyberspace efforts. Despite countless hours searching, investigators still don’t know who is behind the CIA leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Radioactive land around Chernobyl to sprout solar investments

      A mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the damaged reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a one-megawatt, $1.2 million solar panel installation will likely be commissioned next month, according to Bloomberg. Back in summer 2016, the Ukrainian government said it was eager to get solar projects on the 1,000 square miles of radioactive land, and Ukrainian engineering firm Rodina Energy Group appears set to be an early arrival on the scene.

    • Jonathan Bartley: HS2 is an environmental disaster – we have to stop it in its tracks

      As the co-leader of the Green Party, I’ve seen some pointless environmental destruction in my time. But I’m starting to think that HS2 might be this government’s most outrageous attack on our natural world yet.

      A high speed rail link might sound like a sensible enough idea – or a benign extravagance at worst. But the truth is that it’s environmental vandalism of the highest order, and it has to be stopped.

  • Finance

    • The early history of the 58 Brexit sector analyses

      This post tells the early story, based on public domain sources, of the UK government’s 58 analyses of sectors which will be affected by Brexit.

      There has now been a binding vote by the House of Commons for the government to provide these panalyses to Parliament.

    • What the Tax Bill Would Look Like for 25,000 Middle-Class Families

      The tax bill being debated in the Senate this week would affect nearly every American. Numerous analyses have estimated the average impact of the bill on household finances, and advocates on both sides have produced examples of “typical” families that would win or lose under the plan.

      Such analyses, however, tend to gloss over the remarkable diversity of Americans’ financial situations. In truth, there is no “typical” American household. Even families that look similar on the surface can differ in ways that radically alter their situation come tax season.

      The 25,000 dots on the chart above each represent an American household in the broadly defined middle class. The vertical axis represents income; the horizontal axis represents how big a tax cut (or tax increase) each household would get under the bill in 2018, according to a New York Times analysis using the open-source tax-modeling program TaxBrain. (For details on how we did this analysis, including how we defined the middle class, see the note at the end of this article.)

    • The Hidden Hazards of GOP’s Tax-Cut Plan

      The Democrats and the entire progressive community are up in arms about the Republican tax-cut plans, which budget experts say will shower the wealthy with tax breaks while raising taxes on some middle- and working-class families. The plans also could flood the federal debt with another $1.5 trillion in red ink over the next decade.

    • How bitcoins became worth $10,000

      On Tuesday evening, the value of one bitcoin shot above $10,000. It has been a remarkable run for a currency that was only worth about $12 five years ago.

      The run has been particularly remarkable because it’s still not clear what Bitcoin is useful for. During its early years, the cryptocurrency garnered a lot of optimistic talk about how it would disrupt conventional payment networks like MasterCard or Western Union. But almost nine years after Bitcoin was created, there’s little sign of it becoming a mainstream technology. Few people own any bitcoins at all. Even fewer use it as a daily payment technology.

      Yet that hasn’t prevented the cryptocurrency’s value from zooming upward. One factor driving Bitcoin’s growth has been the emergence of a broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin serves as the reserve currency for the Bitcoin economy in much the same way that the dollar serves as the main anchor currency for international trade.

    • CFPB’s ‘NSA-like’ surveillance in limbo with leadership tussle

      The ongoing fight for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have significant effects on the bureau’s mass acquisition of private financial records, according to privacy advocates.

      The CFPB pools vast quantities of data for research purposes, including millions of Americans’ credit card records, which it says are anonymized, commercially available and tracked to help consumers, not to spy on them.

      Critics doubt the adequacy of safeguards, however, and liken the credit data-collection to the National Security Agency’s monitoring of internet and phone records under laws that allow tracking of spies and terrorists.

    • Strip away the layers and Brexit becomes ever more murky

      I clearly remember pondering, on 24 June 2016, why there was not more public and political outrage at the idea of a British government putting itself above the law, and using the royal prerogative to execute the referendum result. I find myself in exactly the same mindset in terms of the potential undermining of our democracy, government and sovereignty by a hostile foreign power – Russia – in what appears to be a secretive coup.

      As a transparency campaigner and a passionate believer in our British values, as well as political and democratic systems, I am worried. People were told that walking out of the EU would liberate us from the clutches of unaccountable bureaucrats and would allow us to “take back control”. Auberon Waugh’s “junta of Belgian ticket inspectors” would be sent packing, the British people would reclaim sovereignty and British courts would decide British law for British people. The fog of bureaucracy would be blown away by the accountability and transparency that we supposedly enjoyed in the days before 1973.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Democrats Rely on Blame-Shifting

      Victories in state-level elections in New Jersey and Virginia on Nov. 7 have buoyed Democratic hopes for an anti-Trump wave among the population that will lead to a big victory in next year’s mid-term elections, and permanently damage President Trump heading towards 2020. Yet there is significant risk in hoping that anti-Trump sentiment will be enough for the Democrats to return to power.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • To Protect our Democracy, We Need to Protect Anonymous Low-Cost Online Political Speech

      As Congress and the Federal Elections Commission explore ways to counter foreign influence in U.S. elections through greater campaign finance disclosures, EFF has filed comments reminding policy makers of the danger of going too far. While the FEC’s goals are understandable, it must take care not to undermine the right of ordinary Americans to speak anonymously about political issues. What we need is transparency from Internet companies about their advertising practices across the board—not laws that strip ordinary people of their constitutional rights and undermine our democratic values.

      For everyday Americans, the Internet offers one the most effective and inexpensive ways to make their voices heard in our nation’s political debate. It’s also a way to do so without fear of retaliation if your voice offers an unpopular view. An LGBTQ individual who is not “out” to their family or employer may fear ostracism, harassment, or threats of violence if they openly purchase a small ad on a social media platform advocating for a candidate who supports federal legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And a conservative person living in a small liberal community may fear social or professional harm if they openly spent a small sum to amplify on social media their support for a conservative local political candidate. But today both people can avoid that retaliation by purchasing these small ads anonymously.1

      The FEC should not prevent that choice. Anonymous speech is a critical component of our online political debate. Not only do we need to protect it, we need to be doing more as a society to bolster the power of those who lack access to resources to make their voices heard.

      What we really need is for Internet companies to provide more transparency regarding the mechanics of how and why all manner of advertisements are targeting them, and to give users greater control over the data collected about them and how it is used.

    • Proposed “Right to Know Act” Would Empower Users of Digital Devices to Decline NYPD Searches

      New York City is considering a range of legislative measures to increase civilian control over the New York Police Department (NYPD). Earlier this year, EFF endorsed the proposed Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act to increase transparency into the NYPD’s acquisition of surveillance technology, such as license plate readers and cell site simulators. Now EFF also supports the proposed Right to Know Act to guard the digital rights of New Yorkers and visitors impacted by so-called “consent” searches of their digital devices during stop and frisks.

      The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department, with global operations and an unfortunately long history of acting outside its authority. Given its size and presence among domestic law enforcement agencies, NYPD policies can set national norms, which are why its abuses—and policies enacted to curtail them—are important not only to New Yorkers but all Americans.

      In New York, the frequency of racially disparate detentions and searches of innocent New Yorkers exploded under an era of “broken windows policing” championed by former police commissioner Bill Bratton. (Bratton also worked in similar capacities in Boston and in Los Angeles, where his record prompted sustained criticism from local residents and communities.) “Broken windows policing” encourages police to aggressively pursue low-level crimes, driving NYPD officers to issue 1.8 million summonses between 2010 and 2015 for quality-of-life misdemeanors and infractions such as public drinking.

    • Twitter’s fight to kill Uncle Sam’s censorship of spying numbers edges closer to victory

      In October 2014, the microblogging and incitement platform filed a lawsuit against the Feds for permission to publish, as part of its government surveillance transparency report, the number of secret court orders it received seeking twits’ data.

      In the US, authorities can slap companies with National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders for information that prohibit recipients from telling anyone about the demand, based on the claim disclosure would harm national security.

    • “Upload A Selfie” — Facebook May Soon Ask For Your Picture To Confirm You’re Not A Robot

      The social networking giant Facebook is testing a new type of captcha to verify your identity. According to a report, the company may soon ask you to upload your picture to prove you’re not a robot.

      As per a screenshot shared on Twitter, this new selfie upload prompt says — “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face.” The prompt also promises to check the picture and permanently erase it from the servers. In a somewhat similar story, Facebook had already suggested asked users to upload their nude photos to fight revenge porn.

    • The Struggles of ‘A Good American’

      A new documentary tells the story of ex-NSA official William Binney and his fight to get the federal bureaucracy to accept an inexpensive system for detecting terrorists while respecting the U.S. Constitution, writes James DiEugenio.

    • Treasury Department Report Shows ComputerCOP Used Bogus Endorsement Letter To Get Police To Distribute Keylogger

      There are enough problems with police these days and how they interact with the public. They shouldn’t be contributing to making computer security worse by handing out dangerous software.

    • Yet Another Legal Action By Dogged Privacy Activist Brings Good News And Bad News For Facebook In EU’s Highest Court

      The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has appeared a few times on Techdirt, as he conducts his long-running campaign to find out what Facebook is doing with his personal data, and to take back control of it. In 2011, he obtained a CD-ROM (remember those?) containing all the information that Facebook held about him at that time. More dramatically, in 2015 Schrems persuaded the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the Safe Harbor framework for transferring personal data from the EU to the US was illegal under EU laws because of the NSA’s spying, as revealed by Edward Snowden. As Schrem’s detailed commentary (pdf) on that CJEU judgment explains, the case was specifically about Facebook, although it applied much more generally. Last month, we wrote about another case, currently being referred to the CJEU, concerning Facebook’s use of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) (pdf), also known as “model clauses”. It’s an alternative legal approach for transferring data across the Atlantic, and if the CJEU rules against Facebook again, it could make things rather difficult for the big US Internet companies (but ordinary businesses won’t be affected much.)

    • Navy Officer Tried To Use The NSA To Tap Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      A curious Navy officer on deployment in Iraq in 2011 got in hot water with the National Security Agency when she used a top-secret NSA signals intelligence database to snoop on the prepaid-phone habits of boyfriend’s son, according to a just-released, heavily redacted NSA inspector general’s report.

    • NSA Caught Navy Officer Illegally Trying To Pry Into American’s Phone

      A Navy officer stationed in Iraq “deliberately and without authorization” used an NSA database to try to pry into the mobile phone of her boyfriend’s son, according to a top secret NSA inspector general report obtained by BuzzFeed News.

      The 2014 report — one of dozens the NSA just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how the spy agency responded to an instance of illegal surveillance on an American citizen.

      The Navy officer did not access the information on the phone — she was halted by a warning signal. But the inspector general’s report says the officer, whose name was redacted, violated federal regulations and a presidential executive order designed to protect Americans from being spied on by intelligence agencies without a warrant.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Good Technology Collective

      The Good Technology Collective (GTC), a new European think-tank addressing ethical issues in technology, will officially open its doors in Berlin on December 15th. The grand opening will kick off at 7:30PM (CET) at Soho House Berlin and I shall be one of the guest speakers.

    • Court Says Cop’s Theft Of Evidence Shouldn’t Have Any Effect On Man’s 15-Year Drug Sentence

      How do we get to 26 kilos from less than a gram of actual cocaine? It happens like this…

      Martin Pena needed money for rent. He agreed to meet some other men at a taqueria to run some sort of an errand for $500. One of the men took Pena’s car and returned with it a short while later. When he returned, there was a black ice chest in Pena’s car. Pena was instructed to drive it to another location and park his vehicle, leaving the keys inside.

      Pena was pulled over by Houston police officers who arrested him for an outstanding warrant. The vehicle was impounded and an inventory search performed. The 26 kilos of “cocaine” in the ice chest were discovered and Pena was convicted of transporting 400 grams of cocaine — enough to trigger a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.

    • Uber Waymo Trial Delayed After Justice Department Jumps In, Unprompted, To Tell Judge That Uber Was Withholding Evidence

      So lots of people were gearing up for the Waymo/Uber trial starting next week over Uber’s alleged efforts to get Waymo’s (Google’s self-driving car project) trade secrets. There are a whole bunch of issues around this case that are interesting — from questions involving what really is a trade secret to where the line is between controlling former employees and allowing people to switch jobs within an industry. But… all of that has been completely tossed out the window as more and more evidence piles up that beyond those key legal issues, Uber sure did some shady, shady stuff. This morning, the latest bombshell (in a long line of bombshells) is that the judge has delayed the trial after the Justice Department got involved, totally unprompted. No, really.

    • Oklahoma Looks To Clamp Down On Uninsured Driving With Traffic Cams And Perverse Incentives

      Oklahoma is home to a large percentage of uninsured drivers. Nearly a quarter of the state’s drivers get behind the wheel as latent threats to insured drivers’ insurance rates. The state thinks it’s found a solution to this problem — one that will net a private company and the state’s district attorney offices lots of money.

    • Judge delays trial after ex-Uber employee describes rogue behavior

      US District Judge William Alsup has delayed an upcoming trial, Waymo v. Uber, in which Alphabet’s self-driving car division has accused Uber of massive data theft.

      The postponement came as a former Uber security employee, Richard Jacobs, made startling accusations in court Tuesday about his former colleagues’ tactics of what he dubbed “overly aggressive and invasive” actions, including seeking code accidentally made available on GitHub and internal use of “ephemeral and encrypted” communications including through Wickr and “non-attributable machines.”

    • ‘We, Too, Are Survivors.’ 223 Women in National Security Sign Open Letter on Sexual Harassment
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal

      For years, Comcast has been promising that it won’t violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn’t block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn’t create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

      This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn’t necessary because ISPs won’t violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 145: Tom Wheeler Reacts To Trump’s FCC

      If you’re a Techdirt reader or just a general regular on the ol’ internet, our topic this week — the current situation with net neutrality and the FCC — needs little introduction. And we’ve got two very special guests joining us to discuss it: former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler (author of the rules that Ajit Pai is currently undoing) and his former advisor Gigi Sohn (who joined us on the podcast in February to predict pretty much exactly what is now happening). There are few people as qualified to talk about these issues, so enjoy this week’s episode looking at Trump’s FCC and the future of the internet as we know it.

    • Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support

      Internet users have made it clear to US telecom regulator Ajit Pai that his proposal to scrap net neutrality rules is unpopular with the masses. But with two weeks left before the Federal Communications Commission votes to eliminate net neutrality rules, Pai today blamed actress/singer Cher and other celebrities for boosting opposition to his plan.

    • Judge Backs AT&T, Comcast Nuisance Suit Against Google Fiber In Nashville

      There’s numerous methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why Americans pay more money for slower broadband than most developed nations. Keeping this dysfunction intact despite a growing resentment from America’s under-served and over-charged broadband consumers isn’t easy, and has required decades of yeoman’s work on the part of entrenched duopolies and their lobbyists.

      Case in point: Google Fiber recently tried to build new fiber networks in a large number of cities like Nashville and Louisville, but ran face first into an antiquated utility pole attachment process. As it stands, when a new competitor tries to enter a market, it needs to contact each individual ISP to have them move their own utility pole gear. This convoluted and bureaucratic process can take months, and incumbent ISPs (which often own the poles in question) often slow things down even further by intentionally dragging their feet.

    • Comcast throttling BitTorrent was no big deal, FCC says

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has consistently argued that FCC regulation of net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.”

      Pai’s claim is frequently countered with the actual history of Internet service providers blocking or throttling Internet traffic or applications. The most prominent example is Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing. Pai thus had to contend with these real-world examples in his new proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules.

    • Looking Towards A Retrospective Future

      The Internet hasn’t been healthy for a while. Even with net neutrality rules in the United States, I have my Internet Service Provider neutrally blocking all IPv6 traffic and throttling me. As you can imagine, that now makes an apt update quite a pain. When I have asked my provider, they have said they have no plans to offer this on residential service. When I have raised the point that my employer wants me to verify the ability to potentially work from home in crisis situations, they said I would need to subscribe to “business class” service and said they would happily terminate my residential service for me if I tried to use a Virtual Private Network.

11.28.17

EPO Budget (Users’ Money) Has Been Corrupting Media and Academia

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money down the drain, draining everyone’s reputation

More budget cuts

Summary: EPO stakeholders (mostly users who apply for European Patents and their renewal) have inadvertently contributed to quite a disease which not only jeopardises the integrity of the Office but also the worth of patents, the integrity of media, and integrity of academia

THE EPO certainly knows how to control the media. The secret? Throw money at the media. Failing that, threaten the media.

The EPO has, for at least a decade, notoriously used IAM for all sorts of propaganda (UPC, patent ‘quality’ etc.) — to the point where IAM now seems to shy away from even covering EPO matters. It’s a sensitive relationship. Well, reposted from IAM earlier today was this article regarding “Deferral Of Examination” at the EPO — a subject previously covered here (when it was posted in IAM’s Web site and the firm’s own). There’s not much to see there because it was composed by UPC and software patents proponents. It’s one big club and litigation is its currency. And speaking of UPC (litigation), recently the EPO had two universities (academia) paid in order to promote the UPC. This means that the EPO moved on from corrupting media to corrupting academia. Some allege that this was done very specifically in order help influence the German courts system regarding the UPC (i.e. against Europe’s interests). “Read more about the impact of #patent protection on trade & FDI in innovative industries in this study,” the EPO wrote today, not quite noting who was behind this so-called ‘study’.

The EPO’s corruption of the media/public outlets, including stacking of panels and manipulation of public debates, is truly troubling. It’s like we’re dealing here with Monsanto/Bayer (a big scandal in Germany about this today), not a public institution.

And speaking of media, watch today’s terrible puff piece from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR). It’s about the interview we’ve mentioned 3 times already (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). They found a way to spin it and this spin was poorly-received (by EPO staff [1, 2]). Regarding the spin on this, one insider said: “Let me guess who’s next in-line publishing a preposterous article about the disturbed situation at the EPO? Perhaps IAM? It would add insult to injury…”

It’s a lot of gross revisionism by those willing to put their name behind their words, i.e. those who suck up to the EPO rather than risk alienation. It’s a salad of supportive words for Battistelli basically; “A spokesperson for the EPO said the office was pleased with the interview,” said the author, “which reflected the “overall support of the Council to the reforms and the acknowledgement of their very positive results, in particular in terms of quality of products and services delivered by the EPO”.”

Incredible! What a bunch of liars. Here is how it started:

Benoît Battistelli’s tenure at the European Patent Office (EPO) has been “undoubtedly positive” but there has been a “heavy-handed approach”, the chairman of the Administrative Council has said.

Christoph Ernst was interviewed in November by legal news website JUVE, which asked him the following question: “The EPO is constantly dogged by infighting between the Council’s management and its staff; the launch of the Unified Patent Court is clouded with uncertainty. The outlook is rather dismal, isn’t it?”

His response was that the situation was “certainly not as bad as that”.

Then starts a series of (almost) compliments to Battistelli. Shame on WIPR for quoting the firm the EPO sent to bully me several times. Here it is:

Joshua Marshall, associate at Fieldfisher, said: “Battistelli’s tenure has not been without its challenges. Many of the issues have been internal in terms of the EPO’s procedures and the staff which it employs.”

They are belittling the issues after Battistelli paid them to literally threaten me and try to silence Techrights (several times in fact, through several members of staff).

The EPO is a sick, sick place. Seeing it from the outside is enough to sicken. One can only imagine how dark and sickening (depressing if not leading to literal illness) it is from the inside. The sickness is infectious and now we have media and academia falling ill, too. The ‘virus’ propagates using stakeholders’ (users’) money and spreads in a fashion that severely undermines Europe’s reputation and European democracy.

Wilbur Ross, Connected to Putin’s Direct Family, Puts Iancu (Patent Microcosm) in Charge of the USPTO

Posted in America, Patents at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously: Putting Radicals and Foes of Technology in Charge of Patents

Trump commerce secretary's business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files

Summary: A government which is run by billionaires, some of whom work directly with Putin’s family (Wilbur Ross for example), is choosing for the USPTO to be run by the very industry it’s supported to govern (just like the FCC, EPA, and soon HHS, to name a few)

“President Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is doing business with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, a bombshell new report revealed Tuesday.” That’s today. The report was published just a short while ago and confirmed what was alleged before, based on leaks.

“Classic “revolving doors” example.”That’s the man who, just earlier today, put Iancu (the name is apparently Romanian, not Russian) from the patent ‘industry’ in charge of the USPTO. Classic “revolving doors” example. The new USPTO Director is Iancu, as noted 10 or so hours ago here (see direct link to the source; it’s not textual).

Who needs to “drain the swamp”? Whoever comes after Trump (and his cabal of oligarchs), who nominated Iancu after Wilbur Ross had conducted interviews. This is a Director whose view on patents we covered here before [1, 2, 3]. Truly disturbing.

Buzzwords/Terms Like “Industry 4.0” or ICT as Cover for CII (Software Patents) at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Georg Weber
Photo source

Summary: The EPO went to the “Science Days” event in Munich, wherein a proponent of software patents delivered a presentation that seems to allude to software patents (but not directly because these are not allowed)

EARLIER today the EPO linked to its site, which said (warning: epo.org link) about Munich “Science Days”: “The EPO also contributed to the event with a lecture by Director for ICT Georg Weber on “Industry 4.0 – the technology landscape of tomorrow”. Attended by some 200 people, the presentation shed light on the information side of patents and its benefits for the public, and generated numerous comments and questions from the audience.”

“Industry 4.0″ is the sort of buzzword/term that Grant Philpott, his colleague, often appears to be using when he pushes software patents. We covered some examples before.

“This is hogwash as he promotes software patents in Europe and these are notorious when it comes to crushing startups.”Earlier this year Georg Weber also openly advocated software patents in Europe (not legal as it stands, but the EPO does not obey rules anyway). EPO managers try to emulate China (SIPO), where anything goes, including any software patent.

The event’s organiser quoted George [sic] Weber as saying that the “EPO is committed to supporting #startups & #MSMEs to reducing Patent pendency, complexity & cost~”

This is hogwash as he promotes software patents in Europe and these are notorious when it comes to crushing startups.

Links 28/11/2017: Linux 4.15 RC1, Fedora 25 End Of Life, Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Officially Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 open source alternatives to Microsoft Publisher

    The paperless utopia I imagined I would be living in by now remains a work in progress. As I’ve thought more about why, I’ve decided it’s the long tail of paper that’s holding me back. Sure, almost all of my communications are electronic these days, and my scanner makes quick work of almost everything that comes to me in a dead tree format.

    But as I look around my home office and wonder why there are still stacks of paper here and there, I realize there are some things that just make more sense in physical form, at least for part of their existence. I see calendars and brochures and instruction guides. I see posters from events, and even a piece of origami. While you could argue that some of these items could be made obsolete by their digital equivalents, they haven’t been, and digitizing them myself is more work than the payoff would justify.

  • AT&T champions white box routers for open operating system

    AT&T gave a glimpse into its vision of a Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) in a recent white paper titled “Toward an Open, Disaggregated Networking Operating System” with a push toward software-defined networking (SDN) and white box hardware.

    As part of its vision, AT&T coined the term dNOS to refer to the beginning of “an industry discussion on technical feasibility, build interest in participating in the formulation of technical detail, and determine suitable vehicles (standards bodies, open source efforts, consortia, etc.) for common specification and architectural realization.”

  • Hack4Climate – Saving Climate while Sailing on the Rhine

    Everledger’s CEO, Leanne talked about women in technology and swiftly made us realize how we need equal representation of all genders to tackle the global problem. I talked about Outreachy with other female participants and amidst such a diverse set of participants, I felt really connected with a few people I met who were open source contributors. Open source community has always been very warm and fun to interact with. We exchanged what conferences we attend like Fosdem, DebConf and what projects we worked on. Outreachy current round 15 is ongoing however, the applications for the next round 16 of Outreachy internships will open in February 2018 for the May to August 2018 internship round. You can check this link here for more information on projects under Debian and Outreachy. Good luck!

  • The new workspace currency is open source

    Open source can be more than just a technology: it can be a hand up. The transparency and the community all come together to create a unique software experience. In this article, Tracy Miranda explains how she got her start in open source and how these skills have proved to be irreplaceable in her career.

  • Events

    • Death of a closed-source enterprise software salesman

      In a humorous All Things Open 2017 Lightning Talk, “Death of an Enterprise Software Salesman,” Corey Quinn calls out the slick, but not substantive, methods used to market closed-source enterprise software.

      In just under five minutes, the author of Amazon Web Services news roundup site Last Week in AWS tears apart closed-source enterprise software marketing by pretending to be a salesman. His mock presentation is filled with nonsensical business jargon and meaningless charts, but Corey’s undertone of bitng sarcasm makes his message clear: Closed-source enterprise software is successful because of its glossy image and fearmongering sales tactics, even though open source software is superior.

    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 3

      Thanks to the Student President of the School of Electric Engineering, Yelstin Soltelo, we were able to celebrated our third session as it was planned in the Wiki.

      This time we have started with the online support of Carlos Soriano with his newcomer talk to clone a GNOME project using Builder. First we needed to the check the version of Flatpak (>9.25) followed by downloading the Builder software. After that, we did clone GNOME To Do, and we were waiting for the installation of Sdk. It was taking so long because we had a bandwith speed of the 80’s. Meanwhile, Carlos was explaining the tools GNOME offer in the developed center Website, and the initiatives and to do list the some GNOME applications have in GitLab. Thanks so much Carlos Soriano!

    • Linux Foundation 2018 events list

      The Linux Foundation has released its entire 2018 events schedule.

      The nonprofit organisation insists that it maintains a mission focused on the ‘creators, maintainers and practitioners’ of open source projects.

      Looking back at the current year, the Foundation says that this years’ events attracted over 25,000 developers, sysadmins, architects, community thought leaders, business executives and other industry professionals from more than 5,000 organisations across 85 countries.

    • KDE Around the World: FOSSCOMM 2017, Greece

      On the 4th and the 5th of November, the FOSSCOMM 2017 conference took place at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. The KDE Community had a presence at the conference. Our Greek troops gave a talk on Sunday about the past, present and future of KDE, focusing on the vision of the community.

  • Web Browsers

    • Firefox Quantum Vs Chrome – Who’s The New Boss?

      Mozilla has worked for years to give back the stardom their open source web browser lost with the release of Google Chrome. Firefox’s revival journey started with the addition of multiprocess earlier this year, followed by the head-to-toe overhaul of Firefox which now uses Project Neon as its new face.

      Firefox 57 is hailed as a strong competitor to Google Chrome. Now, whether we like it or not, comparisons of the two browsers will be made. So, going along similar lines, this Firefox Quantum vs Chrome post tries to put the two web browsers in front of each other.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Is Available to Download, Final Release Coming January 2018

      That’s right, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is now available to download, and while it’s been released mostly for those involved in the bug hunting sessions arranged by The Document Foundation to triagge and resolve as many issues as possible before the final release, it can also be installed by early adopters.

      A second Beta release could arrive early next month if there’s still some critical bugs present, but the development cycle will continue in the second half of December with the first Release Candidate (RC) milestone, followed by the second and third RCs in January 2018. The final LibreOffice 6.0 release is expected at the end of January 2018.

    • Second Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0

      After the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0, which was held on October 20th 2017, we’re glad to announce the Second Bug Hunting Session on November 27th – this time being held on a Monday, for the first time!

      LibreOffice 6.0 will be announced at the end of January 2018, and so far, almost 800 bugs have been fixed in this version, with more than 700 people reporting, triaging or fixing those bugs. More info can be found here. Besides that, a large number of new features, which are summarized in the release notes, have been added.

  • CMS

    • Choosing a system for the blog

      Let me start by saying that I’m biased towards systems that use flat files for blogs instead of the ones that require a database. It is so much easier to make the posts available through other means (such as having them backed up in a Git repository) that assure their content will live on even if the site is taken down or dies. It is also so much better to download the content this way, instead of pulling down a huge database file, which may cost a significant amount of money to transfer that amount of data. Having flat files with your content with a format that is shared among many systems (such as Markdown) might also assure a smooth transition to a new system, should the change become a necessity at some point.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Bye Bye Cilk Plus: GCC Lightened By 82k L.O.C.

      Earlier this month I reported on Intel’s plans for removing Cilk Plus from GCC 8 since this parallel programming effort of theirs was depreciated in GCC 7 and hadn’t seen much adoption. It’s now official with the code being stripped out of the GCC 8 code-base.

      As of this morning, it’s official and Cilk Plus was removed. This marks an end to Cilk Plus in GCC that had only been in GCC since 5.0 and this multi-threaded parallel computing extension for C/C++ that was originally devised at MIT in the late 90′s.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM have announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the most widely-used open source software licenses, covering, among other software, critical parts of the Linux ecosystem. When GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it introduced an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a more reasonable approach to errors and mistakes, which are often inadvertent. This approach allows for enforcement of license compliance that is consistent with community norms,

      To provide greater predictability to users of open source software, Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM today each committed to extending the GPLv3 approach for license compliance errors to the software code that each licenses under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Tech leaders join forces to increase predictability in Open Source licensing
    • ‘Big four’ Linux companies shift open-source licensing policies

      The GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2) is arguably the most important open-source license for one reason: It’s the license Linux uses. On November 27, three Linux-using technology powers, Facebook, Google, and IBM, and the major Linux distributor Red Hat announced they would extend additional rights to help companies who’ve made GPLv2 open-source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GPLv2 and its close relative, GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are widely-used open source software licenses. When the GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it came with an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a way for companies to repair licensing errors and mistakes. This approach allows license compliance enforcement that is consistent with community norms.

    • Tech leaders team up to improve predictability in open source licencing

      Red Hat, Inc., Facebook, Inc., Google, and IBM Corp. are joining forces to help alleviate open source licence issues, including compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and GNU General Public Licence (LGPL) are two of the most common open source software licences, covering almost all software, including parts of the Linux system. The third version of GPL (GPLv3) includes an express termination approach that gives users the opportunities to fix errors in licence compliance in a faster and more efficient manner than before.

      Now, the trio has committed to extending the express termination feature to the previous two versions of GPL to provide better predictability to users of open source software.

    • Four companies extend terms of open source licensing

      Google, Facebook, IBM and Red Hat have taken steps to increase the predictability of open-source licensing, extending additional rights to fix open source licence compliance errors and mistakes.

      The move follows a recent announcement by many kernel developers about licence enforcement.

      The Linux kernel, which is used widely by the four companies named, is released under the GNU General Public Licence version 2.0. A later version of this licence includes an approach that offers users an opportunity to comply with the licence.

    • Adopting a Community-Oriented Approach to Open Source License Compliance

      Today Google joins Red Hat, Facebook, and IBM alongside the Linux Kernel Community in increasing the predictability of open source license compliance and enforcement.

      We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM and Red Hat team up on open-source license compliance

      “We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together,” Chris DiBona, director of open source for Google, wrote in a blog post.

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

    • Copyleft Licensing: Applying GPLv3 Termination to GPLv2-licensed Works

      Today a coalition of major companies—led by Red Hat and including Google, IBM and Facebook—who create, modify and distribute FOSS under copyleft licenses have committed to the use of GPLv3’s approach to license termination for all their works published under the terms of GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. Following last month’s statement to similar effect by the developers of the Linux kernel, the world’s most widely-used GPLv2 program, today’s announcement establishes a broad consensus in favor of the “notice and cure period” approach to first-time infringement issues that Richard Stallman and I adopted in GPLv3 more than a decade ago. This adoption of GPLv3’s approach for GPLv2 programs is an enormously important step in securing the long-term viability of copyleft licensing. All computer users who wish to see their rights respected by the technology they use are better off.

      GPLv2, which was written by Richard Stallman and Jerry Cohen, is a masterpiece of legal innovation and durability. First released in mid-1991, GPLv2 transformed thinking around the world about the viability of copyright commons, and gave birth to a range of “share alike” licensing institutions, not only for software but for all forms of digital culture. It is still in unmodified use after more than a quarter-century, attaining a degree of institutional stability more often associated with statutes and constitutions than with transactional documents like copyright licenses.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat give GPL code scofflaws 60 days to behave – or else

      The tech giants, which release a fair amount of GNU-GPL-licensed source code, have committed to extend the GPLv3′s 60-day “cure period” to license compliance errors under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat Strengthen Open Source License Protection

      Facebook, Google, IBM, and Red Hat today announced they’re going to provide greater legal protection for some of the open source code they license. The companies committed to extend more rights to cure open source license compliance errors.

      Their announcement relates to two widely used open source software licenses: The GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). The GPL version 3 (GPLv3) introduced an express termination approach that offered users an opportunity to cure errors in license compliance, especially mistakes that are inadvertent.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • 4 ways to engage your organization’s various stakeholders

      I’ve spent most of my professional life helping organizations be more open to their stakeholders. I’m a partner in a consulting company in Chile, whose typical customer is a for-profit organization wishing to develop some kind of public works project (for example, an electricity generation station, a transmission line, a mine, a road, an airport, or something similar). Projects like these typically aim to fill a social need—but they’re often intended for locations where development and operation can have negative impacts (or, in economic terms, “externalities”).

    • What ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ taught me about open scientific research

      I haven’t taken a biology class in years, but the TV show Grey’s Anatomy keeps me acquainted with some aspects of the scientific world. I never expected that an episode of the medical drama series would inspire me to explore open source principles in scientific research.

      Maybe you’ve seen the episode: the characters Derek and Callie, surgeons in neuroscience and orthopedics, are doing a research study using brain sensors to control the movement of prosthetics. When the White House recruits Derek for a brain-mapping initiative, officials mention that the sensors necessary for the work will become proprietary, available only to Derek’s project. The proprietary policy leads to an argument about ownership of the sensor technology and whose research is of greater importance.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC Lands Cannonlake, Skylake Costs; LLVM/Clang Gets Intel CET

      In addition to the GCC plugin support on Windows/MinGW, there are more compiler happenings this weekend.

      Hitting mainline GCC since that earlier post about the MinGW plugin support is this commit landing the -march=cannonlake target for these next-gen Intel CPUs. It’s among the many GCC 8 features and previously covered the Cannonlake enablement while now it’s been merged to mainline.

    • LLVM Picks Up 3DNow! Improvements In 2017

      As a flashback to the past, hitting the LLVM Git/SVN code today were improvements for those still running with processors supporting AMD’s 3DNow! extensions.

    • Why Python and Pygame are a great pair for beginning programmers

      Last month, Scott Nesbitt wrote about Mozilla awarding $500K to support open source projects. Phaser, a HTML/JavaScript game platform, was awarded $50,000. I’ve been teaching Phaser to my pre-teen daughter for a year, and it’s one of the best and easiest HTML game development platforms to learn. Pygame, however, may be a better choice for beginners. Here’s why.

    • Update to Linux perf report

      Linux perf is an immensely useful and powerful tool suite for profiling of C/C++ applications.
      I have used it extensively and successfully on various customer projects, both for desktop applications as well as automotive or industrial projects targeting low-end embedded Linux targets running on ARM hardware.

    • The big break in computer languages

      My last post (The long goodbye to C) elicited a comment from a C++ expert I was friends with long ago, recommending C++ as the language to replace C. Which ain’t gonna happen; if that were a viable future, Go and Rust would never have been conceived.

      But my readers deserve more than a bald assertion. So here, for the record, is the story of why I don’t touch C++ any more. This is a launch point for a disquisition on the economics of computer-language design, why some truly unfortunate choices got made and baked into our infrastructure, and how we’re probably going to fix them.

      Along the way I will draw aside the veil from a rather basic mistake that people trying to see into the future of programming languages (including me) have been making since the 1980s. Only very recently do we have the field evidence to notice where we went wrong.

      I think I first picked up C++ because I needed GNU eqn to be able to output MathXML, and eqn was written in C++. That project succeeded. Then I was a senior dev on Battle For Wesnoth for a number of years in the 2000s and got comfortable with the language.

    • GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.9

      About 3 months, a GStreamer Conference and two bug-fix releases have passed now since the GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.8.0. Today version 0.9.0 (and 0.9.1 with a small bugfix to export some forgotten types) with a couple of API improvements and lots of additions and cleanups was released. This new version depends on the new set of releases of the gtk-rs crates (glib/etc).

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Vulkan 1.0.66 Introduces Three New Extensions

      Vulkan 1.0.66 was released this morning as the newest version of the Vulkan 1.0 graphics and compute specification.

      Vulkan 1.0.66 has a number of fixes pertaining to the documentation as well as some clarifications. There are also three new extensions.

Leftovers

  • In pursuit of Otama’s tone

    It would be fun to use the Otamatone in a musical piece. But for someone used to keyboard instruments it’s not so easy to play cleanly. It has a touch-sensitive (resistive) slider that spans roughly two octaves in just 14 centimeters, which makes it very sensitive to finger placement. And in any case, I’d just like to have a programmable virtual instrument that sounds like the Otamatone.

  • Science

    • Actress Hedy Lamarr laid the groundwork for some of today’s wireless tech

      Throughout Bombshell, animated sketches illustrate Lamarr’s inventions, but the film doesn’t dig deep into the science. The primary focus is the tension between Lamarr’s love of invention and her Hollywood image. With commentary from family and historians, as well as old interviews with Lamarr, Bombshell paints a sympathetic portrait of a woman troubled by her superficial reputation and yearning for recognition of her scientific intellect.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicines Excitement In The Netherlands – New Health Minister Announces Firm Action On “Absurd” Medicines Pricing And Gets The European Medicines Agency

      He specifically told the Dutch parliament that he plans to “extensively explore” the use of compulsory licensing of patents of medicines that are too expensive. (See here for media coverage in Dutch). Compulsory licensing lifts the monopoly effect of a patent by allowing others to produce generic versions. The Dutch patent law provides for compulsory licensing, including for reasons of public interest, which presumably covers addressing “absurd pricing” of needed medicines. EU medicines regulations may stand in the way of the Minister’s plans when data exclusivity rules prevent the registration of the generic. For a detailed discussion of the need to ensure coherence in EU law on this matter see our paper here. He will also explore if he can authorise pharmacists to prepare medicines al lower cost for individual patients.

      The Minister follows the recommendations of the Netherlands Council for Public Health and Society, an official government advisory body, which published its report on eight November. The Council’s report – Development of new medicines: Better, faster, cheaper – outlines a number of actions the Dutch government can take to immediately address high drug pricing, including the use of compulsory licensing to strengthen the government’s position in price negotiations.

    • Access To Affordable Healthcare: A Global Wake-Up Call Fosters Coalition Of The Like-Minded

      Few topics in the global health agenda are as contentious as access to affordable medicines and medical care, and expectedly, divergent views permeated the discussions at a high-level conference in New Delhi, India last week. But if there is one thing that the three-day meet made amply clear, it was this: access to affordable healthcare has emerged as a global problem, and an emerging coalition of the like-minded, cutting across the developed and developing countries, is determined to have their voices heard in international policy circles on the issue.

      The 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was held in New Delhi from 21-23 November.

    • Creeping quackery: “Integrative” cancer care spreading in NIH-supported centers

      For instance, the number of centers providing patients with information on “healing touch”—a type of “energy medicine”—increased nearly 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. Cancer patients at 26 of the 45 government-designated comprehensive centers around the country can now learn about that hocus-pocus along with actual cancer therapies. Likewise, inclusion of Ayurveda—a pseudoscience involving herbal, mineral, and metal treatments—increased by 10 percent in the same timeframe. Now, 18 of 45 cancer centers supported by the National Cancer Institute provide patients with information on that sorcery.

      While the data may alarm evidence-based physicians and health experts, an accompanying article on the semantics of “integrative medicine” may be of more concern. In it, advocates of “integrative medicine” try to define what “integrative medicine” is, exactly. But rather than a clear definition, they create a vague and broad one that includes “mind and body practices.” It involves everything from the “medicalized” components of a healthy lifestyle (such as simple exercise) to what can charitably be described as magic.

  • Security

    • Open source nameserver used by millions needs patching

      Open source DNS software vendor PowerDNS has advised users to patch its “Authoritative” and “Recursor” products, to squish five bugs disclosed today.

      None of the bugs pose a risk that PowerDNS might itself be compromised, but this is the DNS: what an attacker can do is fool around with DNS records in various ways.

      That can be catastrophic if done right: for example, if a network is tricked into advertising itself as the whole of the Internet, it can be hosed, or if the wrong network promises it’s the best way to reach YouTube, then YouTube is blackholed.

    • Looking for scrubs? Nah, NHS wants white hats – the infosec techie kind

      The UK’s National Health Service will pay white hat hackers up to £20m to protect its IT systems, it announced today.

      NHS Digital is looking to make a deal with consultants to create a security operations centre, which it says will ensure the safety of staff and patient data nationwide.

      Speaking to The Telegraph, NHS Digital said the contract “will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team to proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities.”

      This comes against the backdrop of the Wannacry ransomware attack in May this year, which demonstrated the NHS’ lack of preparedness for dealing with a large attack across several locations at once.

    • Hackers [sic] stole information from 1.7 million Imgur accounts in 2014
    • Pentagon’s move toward open source software isn’t going to enhance security [Ed: Guy Podjarny is the CEO of Snyk who is now attacking FOSS in articles and press releases like Microsoft-connected firms do.]
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Potential impact of the Intel ME vulnerability

      Intel’s Management Engine (ME) is a small coprocessor built into the majority of Intel CPU chipsets[0]. Older versions were based on the ARC architecture[1] running an embedded realtime operating system, but from version 11 onwards they’ve been small x86 cores running Minix. The precise capabilities of the ME have not been publicly disclosed, but it is at minimum capable of interacting with the network[2], display[3], USB, input devices and system flash. In other words, software running on the ME is capable of doing a lot, without requiring any OS permission in the process.

      Back in May, Intel announced a vulnerability in the Advanced Management Technology (AMT) that runs on the ME. AMT offers functionality like providing a remote console to the system (so IT support can connect to your system and interact with it as if they were physically present), remote disk support (so IT support can reinstall your machine over the network) and various other bits of system management. The vulnerability meant that it was possible to log into systems with enabled AMT with an empty authentication token, making it possible to log in without knowing the configured password.

      This vulnerability was less serious than it could have been for a couple of reasons – the first is that “consumer”[4] systems don’t ship with AMT, and the second is that AMT is almost always disabled (Shodan found only a few thousand systems on the public internet with AMT enabled, out of many millions of laptops). I wrote more about it here at the time.

    • Chinese nationals indicted on federal computer hacking [sic] charges

      Beginning in at least 2013, the defendants “and others known and unknown to the grand jury” used spearphishing emails containing malicious attachments or customized malware to hack into networks used by U.S. and foreign businesses, according to the indictment.

    • Security firm was front for advanced Chinese hacking operation, Feds say

      Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei face federal charges that they conspired to steal hundreds of gigabytes of data belonging to Siemens AG, Moody’s Analytics, and the GPS technology company Trimble. The indictment, which was filed in September and unsealed on Monday, said the trio used spear phishing e-mails with malicious attachments or links to infect targeted end users. The defendants used customized tools collectively known as the UPS Backdoor Malware to gain and maintain unauthorized access to the targeted companies’ networks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What if This Had Happened on the Day After 9/11?
    • Pentagon likely to acknowledge 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria: U.S. officials

      The U.S. military had earlier publicly said it had around 500 troops in Syria, mostly supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces group of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State in the north of the country.

      Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon could, as early as Monday, publicly announce that there are slightly more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. They said there was always a possibility that last minute changes in schedules could delay an announcement.

      That is not an increase in troop numbers, just a more accurate count, as the numbers often fluctuate.

    • Syria: Dozens of Civilians Killed in Last 24 Hours

      In Syria, dozens of civilians have been killed in the last 24 hours by shelling and airstrikes reportedly carried out by the Syrian regime and Russia. The attacks occurred in the ISIS-controlled eastern province of Deir Az Zor and the rebel-controlled district of Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital Damascus.

    • New Drone Strikes Underscore, Again, How Much Power We Give Trump

      Residents later reported that the region spent much of the day under attack from Saudi jets and American drones, which hovered overhead and intermittently fired missiles from above.

      The attacks were described as a success in most Western newspapers. The Daily Mail in London highlighted the fact that “10 Al-Qaeda Suspects” were killed in the attacks, as confirmed by government officials.

    • The colonial roots of Trump’s discourse on Iran

      Donald Trump is unpredictable and erratic, yet the ulterior motive for a lot of his decisions seems fairly unsophisticated: as Ta Nahisi Coates points out in his brilliant piece, Trump’s ultimate motive is to obliterate the legacy of Barack Obama. The more Obama prided himself on an achievement, the more adamant Trump becomes on destroying it. The Iran deal was a policy Obama advocated passionately. No wonder Trump stubbornly pursues its destruction.

      Trump has given a few speeches about the Iran deal. He is yet to come up with any substantial argument against it. He throws in talking points and threadbare clichés about Iran, without saying anything new. Most likely without realizing it, Trump is in fact yet another figure in the long line of imperial leaders who have tapped into a certain image of Iran, without caring whether it bears any resemblance to its reality.

    • Guatemala is the Future: Neoliberal Democracy and Authoritarian Populism

      For decades the United States held itself up as Latin America’s ideal future even as it crushed post WWII nationalist projects for economic independence and social democracy. After decades of brutal counterinsurgency, the US promoted neoliberal democracy—free elections and free markets—as the path to peace and prosperity in Guatemala. Twenty years after historic peace accords, Guatemala’s democratic transition is a failure by every standard metric. Modest reforms were gutted while poverty and inequality grew worse, perpetuating the exploitation of working people and the indigenous underclass—the root causes of the armed conflict. Crime has skyrocketed. Dozens are murdered weekly in the capitol, and brutal killings of hundreds of women go uninvestigated. Gangs rule giant swaths of territory by terror. Narco-violence has killed thousands. Millions flee to the US for work and safety. Institutionalized corruption drains public coffers while infrastructure and state services decay. Food insecurity and malnutrition are epidemic. These appalling conditions are the predictable result of the violent imperialist imposition of free market reforms on a poor, unequal, and war torn country. Guatemalan society convulses in a permanent state of collapse, at war with itself, riddled with expanding zones of environmental sacrifice and social abandonment and lives in a constant state of risk and precarity, not unlike a prison or labor camp. This year, when forty-three girls died in a fire in an overcrowded and understaffed state run “safe home” for victims of violence, abuse, and abandonment, it became for many Guatemalans a perfect symbolic condensation of patriarchy, economic violence, and official negligence.

    • As Aid Groups Warn of Yemen ‘On the Brink,’ Iran Says US Just Admitted Its Complicity in ‘Atrocities’

      As the United Nations children’s fund warned Sunday that nearly every Yemeni boy and girl—that’s more than 11 million children—is in acute need of humanitarian assistance, Iran said the United States admitted its own complicity “in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia” in the warn-ravaged country.

      The comments by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, follow a statement released Friday by the White House, which said that the U.S. remains “committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law.” The statement also praised Saudi Arabia for opening the port in Hodeidah and airport in Sanaa “to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.”

      Aid groups, however, said the partial opening of the nearly three-week long blockade is “a minor and insufficient concession” that “still leave[s] the population of Yemen in a worse situation than they were two weeks ago before the blockade started” and the country still “on the brink.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fears for world’s rarest penguin as population plummets

      Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

      The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

    • Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity a year than Ireland

      According to Digiconomist the estimated power use of the bitcoin network, which is responsible for verifying transactions made with the cryptocurrency, is 30.14TWh a year, which exceeds that of 19 other European countries. At a continual power drain of 3.4GW, it means the network consumes five times more electricity than is produced by the largest wind farm in Europe, the London Array in the outer Thames Estuary, at 630MW.

    • ‘We Do Not Want That to Be Our Legacy’

      This week on CounterSpin: As Americans celebrate a fairly tale about the relationship between Native Americans and settlers, Native Americans are mourning the pollution of more of their land, and lives, by fossil fuels. The November 16 spill of more than 200,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone pipeline occurred adjacent to the South Dakota reservation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

    • Earthquake Risk Keeps Heat on Vulnerable Nuclear Reactors

      A proposal by a California administrative law judge has given safe energy advocates new hope that two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors will be shut before an earthquake on the San Andreas fault turns them to rubble, potentially threatening millions of people.

      The huge reactors—California’s last—sit on a bluff above the Pacific, west of San Luis Obispo, among a dozen earthquake faults. They operate just 45 miles from the San Andreas. That’s half the distance from the fault that destroyed four reactors in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Diablo’s wind-blown emissions could irradiate the Los Angeles megalopolis in less than six hours if an earthquake destroyed the plant.

  • Finance

    • Amazon Merchants Continue to Find Ways to Cheat

      He visited the product page on Amazon.com and suspected he was the victim of “sniping,” when one merchant sabotages another by hiring people to leave critical reviews of their goods and then voting those reviews as being helpful, making them the most prominent feedback seen by shoppers. Freelancers in China and Bangladesh willing to do this for $10 an hour are easily found online. Even though the toy has a 4.8 star rating out of 5 based on more than 1,100 reviews, shoppers first see a string of critical one-star reviews and many may get scared away.

    • A false hope for Remainers

      26th November 2017

      Since the referendum result there has been a lack of realism about Brexit by the UK government and many Leavers.

      The current difficulties about the Irish border are one of many examples.

      But lack of realism is not a monopoly of those wanting the UK to depart the EU.

      There is wishful thinking – indeed, magical thinking – by those who want the UK to remain in the EU, or at least by those who want to have a Brexit significantly “softer” than which is currently likely to happen.

      The (grim or glorious) truth is that the UK will be leaving the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019, unless something exceptional happens to change that legal position.

    • Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds

      The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    • Bitcoin cracks $9,600 just hours after breaking $9,000 level

      The largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., Coinbase, added about 100,000 accounts between Wednesday and Friday — just around Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday — to a total of 13.1 million. That’s according to public data available on Coinbase’s website and historical records compiled by Alistair Milne, co-founder and chief investment officer of Altana Digital Currency Fund. Coinbase had about 4.9 million users last November, Milne’s data showed.

    • Bitcoin Price Crosses $9,000

      While you might be still struggling to recover from all the goodies you gulped over the Thanksgiving dinner, Bitcoin has continued hustling to make its way towards the magical mark of $10,000.

    • City of London voices in unison on Brexit threat to investment

      Next week, the City of London Choir begins its Christmas season with a charity concert at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. Were it in need of an extra bass or alto, it need not look far. Because the number of City voices expressing deep concern over UK finances is fast becoming a chorus.

      In space of two days, a series of City figures have lined up to intone publicly on the impact of Brexit on inward investment. But not all expect an audience as appreciative as the choir’s.

    • Bernie Sanders hits the trail again, this time to fight GOP tax bill

      Sen. Bernie Sanders is traveling to Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania this weekend to rally against the Republican tax bill, his office told NBC News, keeping up a brisk pace of political activity since leaving the presidential race last year and ahead of a potential second one in 2020.

      Sanders, who held a similar series of rallies across the country this year to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, is using his “Protecting Working Families Tour” to pressure on-the-fence GOP senators before a vote on the tax bill, President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

    • Theresa May ‘Rigging Parliament’ With New Emergency Move To Curb Changes To Budget 2017

      Theresa May is facing fresh accusations of “rigging Parliament” with an unprecedented move to prevent MPs from changing legislation on the Budget.

      Labour attacked May’s latest “power grab” after it emerged that the Government will deploy a little-used procedural device to effectively eliminate any attempts to amend the Finance Bill.

      The tactic will severely restrict MPs’ ability to secure alternative tax measures, such as a DUP-backed plan to abolish VAT on all domestic fuel after Brexit.

      It also ensures that no backbench rebels can join Labour or other parties in ambushing the Government on particular plans – as they have in recent years on issues like the ‘tampon tax’ or taxes on solar panels.

    • Brexit and tribalism

      But Leave do not have a monopoly in their lack of realism.

      Some Remainers seem to think that the Article 50 process, once triggered, can be ended lightly.

      Just a matter of politics; just a quick fix; just some tinkering; it will all be alright in the end.

      And there is some force to this: if the politics of Brexit change, then the legal process can be ended (or paused).

      If a lever is pulled then the conveyor belt to the big industrial jagged saw will jolt and then halt.

    • British government accused of being soft on tax avoidance

      The British government has been accused of being weak on tax avoidance after failing to block the EU from taking the first step in naming and shaming its overseas territories in a tax haven blacklist.

      Ministers in recent weeks fought to prevent Brussels from sending of letters informing 12 countries that they would be listed unless they promised to change their tax rules. The final EU blacklist is due to be published on 5 December.

      The correspondence was eventually sent to the British overseas territories, but only following a ruling by members states’ experts sitting on a European council code of conduct group, which trumped the initial British protests.

    • International Court Of Justice Judges Getting Pulled Into Investor-State Cases

      According to a study by a watchdog group released this week, numerous judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have worked or are working on at least 90 investor-state dispute settlement cases, despite a prohibition on them doing work outside their ICJ duties. Fees paid to the judges ranged above USD 1 million among three judges in a number of cases.

    • British meat exports to EU set to fall by 90% in ‘hard Brexit’ scenario, report warns

      ‘Crisis – The EU Meat Industry in a Hard Brexit Scenario’ report, commissioned by Europe’s meat industry body UECBV, analyses the potential impact of a hard Brexit on the European and UK meat industry.

      It found that a ‘no-deal’ outcome would lead to a collapse in trade, with a 90% drop in beef exports and 53% drop in lamb exports from the UK to the EU.

      In this scenario, meat products would face greater burdens than almost any other sector.

      According to the report, the industry would face higher WTO tariffs than any other sector, and face additional costs of veterinary checks, in addition to the customs checks faced by all goods.

    • The EU could blacklist Britain as a tax haven after Brexit

      On Dec. 5 the EU will publish a blacklist of countries that have “harmful tax practices.” By its own criteria, that should include six EU member states, according to a report by the Tax Justice Network, an NGO.
      Those countries are Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, and the UK. The first five don’t have to worry since the EU says it won’t blacklist its own members, but when Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 it could find itself named and shamed.
      The EU has three criteria it uses to assess whether a country is a tax haven. These countries fail on “fair taxation,” which is pretty vague. The Tax Justice Network’s report is based on a (seemingly slightly playful) “best guess at what their criteria mean,” according to Alex Cobham, director of the group and co-author of the report. Britain falls short because it acts as a “tax conduit,” the report says, with low taxes on moving capital that allow multinationals to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions while paying little or nothing where it was earned.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban for Staff

      The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven’t yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president.

    • White House reportedly considering banning staff from using personal phones at work
    • Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world?

      For the time being, though, Zuckerberg’s possible political ambitions are not really the issue. Far more important is what we know already: that his power is titanic, and Facebook is shaping millions of people’s understanding of who they are and their place in the world, often in grim ways.

    • Trump’s Sinister Attacks on CNN
    • [Older] Russia used Twitter bots and trolls ‘to disrupt’ Brexit vote
    • [Older] Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows
    • [Older] Facebook Has Finally Opened The Door To Admitting Russia Meddled In Brexit
    • [Older] Here’s the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit
    • [Older] Researcher finds just 400 tweets from Russia aimed at Brexit vote

      The claims around alleged Russian meddling in British politics has been stirred by allegations that fake Twitter accounts attempted to influence the Brexit vote. But while the mere suggestion was enough to make mainstream headlines, little was said about the “infinitesimal” quantity of tweets involved.

    • No Moore Pretense

      On one side are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. They have disowned Roy Moore, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, over allegations that he targeted, and in some cases molested, minors and other teen girls. On the other side are social conservatives, including Alabama’s state auditor, who argue that courtship between an older man and a teenage girl is consensual, biblical, good for the girl, and grounded in the natural attraction of a godly man to the “purity of a young woman.” Alongside the purity camp is the tolerance camp, led by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. These Republicans don’t deny the allegations or endorse Moore’s conduct, but they support him anyway, reasoning that other issues are more important.

      Many Republicans are afraid to take sides in this debate. They want to stick with the GOP nominee, or at least avoid antagonizing voters who support him. But they don’t want to defend the sexual exploitation of minors. So they’ve staked out a neutral position: Moore is innocent until proven guilty. President Trump adopted this position on Tuesday, urging voters not to elect Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. A reporter asked Trump: “Is Roy Moore, a child molester, better than a Democrat?” The president replied: “Well, he denies it. … He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”

    • Meet the Socialist Marine & Anti-Police Brutality Protester Who Won Democratic Seats in November

      Can the emergence of non-traditional candidates help revive a faltering Democratic Party that is facing its lowest approval rating in nearly a quarter century? We speak with two Democrats who won key races with support from grassroots sources outside of the Democratic Party. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Braxton Winston is a former middle school football coach who took to the streets in 2015 along with hundreds of people to protest the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. We also speak with Lee Carter, a Democratic Socialist and former Marine who unseated the Republican majority whip of Virginia’s House of Delegates.

    • While honoring Native American veterans, Trump lobs his favorite Native American insult

      The “code talkers” were Native American soldiers who were deployed during the world wars to send messages between units using a nearly uncrackable code: their native languages. During World War II, Navajo men were recruited by the Marines and served in the Pacific theater, aiding in the defeat of the Japanese army. Their story has become well known, including being featured in a 2002 film.

    • The Right Returns to the Religion Well

      What has many observers far more concerned are connections among the new attraction’s principal funders and the right wing. Here its mission becomes suspect, more political than religious, although with the right wing, it is always difficult to separate the two, each possessing a will to dominate.

      [...]

      In the words of historian of religion Randall Ballmer, “You have a movement that has so totally embraced a particular political party that it’s willing to go along with any outrage as long as it’s within the tent of party.”

      Fortunately, there are Christians who say no. In Alabama itself, dozens of pastors signed a letter condemning Moore. It reads, in part:

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?
    • Google’s de-ranking of RT in search results is a form of censorship and blatant propaganda

      Who is the true propagandist? The man who offers you information which you can freely choose to believe or disregard — or the man who tries to control what you see, for fear you might start using your own brain to distinguish truth from lies?

      That is essentially what Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is doing when it comes to news articles from this website, RT. Schmidt was closely involved in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and in a recent interview he admitted that Google is creating special algorithms to filter RT’s news and make it appear less prominently in Google’s search results. In his own words, Google is trying to “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible.

    • A Workshop On Cartoons And Censorship In The Heart Of Westminster

      Yesterday, on a trip into London to see the Christmas lights of Regent Street and Carnaby Street, and a subsequent walk across the Thames saw me stop by the Westminster Reference Library with my two kids for a cartoon workshop as part of their Gagged exhibition on censorship, with the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation raising awareness of – and money for – cartoonists who have been fired, imprisoned or even killed for their work. It’s a subject I’d been discussing with my kids of late anyway, and it seemed a way to bring some of the realities of creativity into sharp relief.

      [...]

      A news team from Al Jazeera also popped by, so be warned, you may see our ugly mugs on a screen near you sometime. Here’s how the whole thing looked, including from my kids, Eve and Alice, who decided that their rebellion against authority – would be against me, in their collaborative alter ego, The Savage Kid.

    • The Dark Inevitability of Zionism

      Among the growing assaults on freedom of speech is an Israeli-driven campaign to criminalize a campaign to boycott Israel over its racist persecution of Palestinians, writes Lawrence Davidson.

    • Art Censorship at Guantánamo Bay

      Moath al-Alwi’s prayer rug is stained with paint. Every day, he wakes before dawn and works for hours on an elaborate model ship made from scavenged materials — one of dozens of sculptures he has created since he was first detained at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in 2002. Mr. al-Alwi is considered a low value detainee, but is being held indefinitely. His art is his refuge.

      The sails of Mr. al-Alwi’s ships are made from scraps of old T-shirts. A bottle-cap wheel steers a rudder made with pieces of a shampoo bottle, turned with delicate cables of dental floss. The only tool Mr. al-Alwi uses to make these intricate vessels is a pair of tiny, snub-nosed scissors, the kind a preschooler might use. It is all he is allowed in his cell.

      Three of Mr. al-Alwi’s model ships are currently on view in an exhibit at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, along with 32 other paintings and sculptures from other prisoners or former detainees. My colleagues and I curated this exhibit after learning that many lawyers who have worked with detainees have file cabinets stuffed full of prisoners’ art. In the atmosphere of surveillance and control that is Guantánamo, these artworks are among the only ways detainees have to communicate with the outside world.

    • We’re Being Pushed Towards Silence, Self-Censorship: Anand Gandhi

      National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi says he feels “restless” and “anxious” when he sees fundamental rights of the artistes being attacked in the country today.

      The 37-year-old director says the kind of threats, both commercial and indie projects are facing from different sections of the society, the creative freedom is at stake.

    • Johar takes middle path on censorship

      Panaji: Speaking about censorship, film producer Karan Johar said filmmakers like himself aspire for certification according to age brackets and not censorship. This, he says, will tremendously enhance the possibilities of content.

    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan against censorship of films
    • ‘Coco’ Got All Of Its Ghosts Past China’s Superstition-Hating Censors

      China’s film censorship bureau surprised practically everyone recently when it authorized Pixar’s newest animated feature, Coco, to release in Chinese theaters.

    • Author of fires report slams data protection commission ‘censorship’

      Xavier Viegas, the University of Coimbra academic who coordinated and wrote the report, said in a column published on Tuesday that “nothing justifies the decision to censor” one of its chapters and pledged to do all he could to ensure that the stories of the victims of the fires in Pedrógão Grande and Góis, in central Portugal, are known.

      The fires in Pedrógão and neighbouring municipalities that started on 17 June and burned for several days claimed 64 lives, and left 200 people injured, some seriously.

      In the opinion column in Publico newspaper, Viegas condemned the CNPD’s decision to bar the publication of parts of chapter 6 of the report, saying that in order to protect the constitutional rights to privacy and personal data of the families of the victims, only the families should see it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Age verification legislation will lead to porn habit database

      The UK powers that be consider online porn to be akin to cyber matches: you just can’t let kids play with that stuff, lest they set their eyeballs on fire.

      It’s a well-established, thoroughly legislated angst, with the most current relevant legislation tucked into the Digital Economy Act. The problem – well, one of many – is that this angst seems poised to set the adult population of the country up for Ashley Madison-esque breaches.

      The country is eager to protect children from porn. It’s a worthy goal, mind you, given that research shows that exposing kids to porn can be damaging. Unfortunately, it’s a quixotic goal, given that porn is impossible to block. Nevertheless, the UK is now on the brink of creating a database of the country’s porn habits.

      It also seems poised to hand the age verification piece of that puzzle over to an outfit that Vice refers to as “the shady company that controls the majority of free porn tube sites.”

    • Vulnerability Equities Process Gets A Facelift From The New Administration

      The Trump Administration has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process — one nominally slanted towards greater transparency and outside participation. The previous process was broken in multiple ways, not the least of which was intelligence oversight’s general belief everything was fine even though the NSA didn’t follow the previous rules, despite statements to the contrary.

      It’s unclear why this new VEP is appearing now. The new administration doesn’t seem particularly concerned about surveillance overreach or the legality of tactics deployed by the Intelligence Community. On the other hand, the up-cycling of undisclosed NSA exploits by malicious hackers has probably forced the government’s hand. It’s impossible to get ahead of criticism, especially when so many of the exploited exploits dated back several years. But perhaps it’s possible to head off future criticism with a diplomatic gesture, which is what this appears to be.

    • Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there’s still time to unplug it

      On a walk across the show floor at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed.

      As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

      But I did. I could feel it in my gut and heard it from everyone else who’d spent a career working in technology. It isn’t just that a few megacorporations nearing trillion-dollar valuations have sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, it’s that they’ve become so big they’ve started to warp the fabric of reality.

      Facebook got caught out in May using real-time emotional profiling to target vulnerable teenagers with commercial offers.

      Google was caught out last week tracking Android users even when they’re not supposed to.

    • CBP Reveals How Agents Implement New Policy Not to Access Cloud Content

      President Trump’s nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Kevin McAleenan, revealed during his confirmation process how the agency implements its new policy not to access cloud content during border searches of digital devices.

      In response to written questions for the record submitted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. McAleenan explained that in accordance with CBP’s new policy to access only information that is “physically resident” on a device, border agents must “ensure that network connectivity is disabled to limit access to remote systems” (page 92).

      While Mr. McAleenan did not provide details, disabling network connectivity can mean a few things, such as putting a phone or other device into “airplane mode,” or individually toggling off cellular data and Wi-Fi. It could also mean making sure a laptop is not connected to an Ethernet cable, or bringing a device into a SCIF-type room that blocks electromagnetic signals.

    • Facebook rolls out AI to detect suicidal posts before they’re reported

      This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.

      Facebook previously tested using AI to detect troubling posts and more prominently surface suicide reporting options to friends in the U.S. Now Facebook is will scour all types of content around the world with this AI, except in the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation privacy laws on profiling users based on sensitive information complicate the use of this tech.

    • Ex-Facebook Engineer Creates Wikipedia Dark Web Version

      Wikipedia, the internet’s free encyclopedia is accessible on the dark web. But, it isn’t track-proof as the traffic has to go outside the boundaries of the Tor network.

      Now, we have an unofficial dark web version that can help netizens use Wikipedia without someone spying on them–thanks to the ex-Facebook engineer Alec Muffet who has worked on a personal project and is the first to create the specially crafted onion website.

    • Judge Tosses Long-Running Section 215 Surveillance Lawsuit

      A federal judge has issued the final word in one long-running dragnet surveillance suit. The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman immediately after the first Snowden leak, alleged the Section 215 phone records program — targeting Verizon Business customers according to the leaked document — was unconstitutional. DC district court judge Richard Leon agreed, issuing an injunction in December 2013 demanding a cessation of the Section 215 dragnet.

      This order was immediately stayed to allow the government to appeal (and to continue harvesting domestic phone records in bulk). The Appeals Court disagreed with Leon, sending the case back for another ruling. It didn’t change anything at the lower level. Judge Leon still found the program unconstitutional and ordered the NSA to stop collecting the phone records of the two named plaintiffs.

    • FBI Leaves It To Journalists To Notify US Government Targets Of Russian Hacking

      The last year-and-a-half has provided plenty of evidence that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, most of the evidence confirming this has been delivered by entities outside the US government. The government has released reports but has omitted plenty of key details.

      This hasn’t done much for those affected by Russia’s efforts. In almost every case, individuals targeted by Russian government-directed hacking entity Fancy Bear were made aware of this by journalists, not the FBI, despite the fact both had access to the same evidence.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?

      In August 2016, a mysterious entity calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” began releasing the first of several troves of classified documents and hacking tools purportedly stolen from “The Equation Group,” a highly advanced threat actor that is suspected of having ties to the U.S. National Security Agency. According to media reports, at least some of the information was stolen from the computer of an unidentified software developer and NSA contractor who was arrested in 2015 after taking the hacking tools home. In this post, we’ll examine clues left behind in the leaked Equation Group documents that may point to the identity of the mysterious software developer.

    • Is There a Mole at the NSA, or Is It Russian Disinformation?

      Back in March, we speculated that the point behind the Russian hacks and Wikileaks document dumps during the 2016 election was to create a mole hunt in our intelligence agencies. There now are indications that our speculation was spot on.

      The New York Times recently reported that, largely as a result of Wikileaks and the publication of other documents, the National Security Agency (NSA) is in the midst of a mole hunt.That report also tends to confirm speculation which we have privately heard from people in the intelligence community: that Russia may have multiple sources within the NSA that are supplying it with some of our most closely guarded secrets.

    • Aadhaar now mandatory for Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana

      [...] Aadhaar has been made mandatory for getting benefits under the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) pension scheme, according to a notification by the finance ministry on November 20.

    • Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers

      Congress will return from its weeklong Thanksgiving break facing a rapidly-shrinking timeline to reform and renew an authority the intelligence community says is critical to identifying and disrupting terrorist plots.

      The key piece of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as Section 702 and passed in 2008, is set to expire at the end of the year. It allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant — even when the subjects communicate with Americans in the U.S.

      Throughout the fall, privacy advocates on Capitol Hill pushed for changes to the law to curtail what critics say is a violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections — a push that seemed to gain some momentum despite the objections of the Trump administration.

    • Why Tencent Could Become an Advertising Powerhouse Like Facebook

      Tencent is counting on its user data — from the music people play, the news they read and the places they go — to deliver targeted commercials and capture a bigger share of China’s 350 billion yuan ($53 billion) online advertising market. Success in games and social media has meant the company hasn’t had to rely on ads, a business that generates just 17 percent of its revenue compared with 97 percent for Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police tell one story of what happened in Barangay 19. Security cameras tell another.

      The police report was clear. Anti-drug officers shot and injured three men in this poor district of the Philippine capital, then “rushed” them to hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.

      But security camera footage obtained by Reuters tells a different story of what happened just after midday on October 11 in Barangay (district) 19. It shows that police took at least 25 minutes to haul away the men they had shot. The victims show no signs of life; police are seen carrying them by their arms and legs and loading their limp bodies onto pedicabs to take them to hospital.

      The footage casts new doubts on the official accounts of police killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s 17-month war on drugs.

    • Why We Had to Buy Racist, Sexist, Xenophobic, Ableist, and Otherwise Awful Facebook Ads

      Were these actual ads? No. And as someone who’s spent the past month on a New York City apartment hunt, I’m pretty confident that no one would mistake our “real estate company” for an actual brokerage.

      But here’s the question: could they have been real? Yes — and our ability to limit the audience by race, religion, and gender — among other legally protected attributes — points to the same problem my colleagues Terry Parris Jr. and Julia Angwin reported out a year ago, exciting much outrage from people who care about fixing discriminatory housing practices.

    • Libya “Chose” Freedom, Now It Has Slavery

      NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 has justifiably earned its place in history as an indictment of Western foreign policy and a military alliance which since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been deployed as the sword of this foreign policy. The destruction of Libya will forever be an indelible stain on the reputations of those countries and leaders responsible.

      But now, with the revelation that people are being sold as slaves in Libya (yes, you read that right. In 2017 the slave trade is alive and kicking Libya), the cataclysmic disaster to befall the country has been compounded to the point where it is hard to conceive of it ever being able to recover – and certainly not anywhere near its former status as a high development country, as the UN labelled Libya 2010 a year prior to the ‘revolution’.

      Back in 2011 it was simply inconceivable that the UK, the US and France would ignore the lessons of Iraq, just nine years previously in 2003. Yet ignore them they did, highlighting their rapacious obsession with maintaining hegemony over a region that sits atop an ocean of oil, despite the human cost and legacy of disaster and chaos which this particular obsession has wrought.

    • House Intel Committee to Subpoena Leftist Comedian and Civil Rights Activist Randy Credico in Russia Investigation

      The House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation has taken an unexpected turn, with investigators homing in on a New York City-based comedian and veteran civil rights activist named Randy Credico. Credico received a letter this month from Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Michael Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation. The lawmakers requested that Credico “participate in a voluntary, transcribed interview at the Committee’s offices” during the first half of December.

      Credico informed the House committee through his legal counsel that he would not submit to the voluntary interview. Soon after, his lawyer informed him that the committee planned to issue a subpoena to compel his presence.

      Credico is among the unlikeliest characters to have surfaced as a player in the ongoing Russiagate drama. For over two decades, he split time as a comedy professional while waging a tireless crusade against the war on drugs. The former host of a radio show on the Pacifica affiliate WBAI, Credico’s activism eventually brought him into the company of a who’s who of political dissidents. The most prominent among them was Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder accused by CIA Director Mike Pompeo of overseeing a “hostile intelligence service” and by Hillary Clinton of having collaborated with the Russian government to subvert the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

    • Support Lauri Love, Computer Expert and Activist, Who Faces Extradition to the US in a Life-Threatening Betrayal of Justice

      This Wednesday and Thursday, November 29 and 30, a hearing is taking place at the High Court in London to assess whether Lauri Love, a computer expert with Asperger’s Syndrome, should be extradited to the US for acts of online activism — allegedly targeting US government websites in the wake of the suicide of computer expert and activist Aaron Swartz in January 2013, along with many other online activists.

      There is no evidence that any harm was caused in the US, Lauri has never set foot in the US, the British government has brought no case against him in the UK, and yet, under the terms of the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty, the US is able to demand that he be sent to the US to be imprisoned (in isolation in a maximum-security prison) and subsequently tried (in a broken, punitive system in which huge pressure is exerted to accept a plea deal and a 10-20 year sentence rather than fight and lose and be imprisoned for life). Worryingly, Lauri Love has been openly stating that he could not bear punitive isolation in the US, and would kill himself rather than be extradited, and those closest to him do not dispute this intent.

      I have some experience of the chronic unfairness of the US-UK Extradition Treaty, because, back in 2012, I worked to oppose the injustice of the treaty with reference to the cases of Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad, who ended up being extradited in relation to a UK website encouraging Muslim resistance to oppression, which was run from the UK, but had, at one point, involved a server in Connecticut — enough, apparently, for extradition to take place.

      Both men had been imprisoned for six and eight years respectively in the UK, without charge or trial, while they resisted extradition, and in neither case was there any sign that they would or could have been successfully prosecuted in the UK, but in October 2012 home secretary Theresa May allowed their extradition to take place, and then boasted about it to the Conservative Party Conference.

    • My partner Lauri Love could be saving the world from cyber attacks but instead he faces a 99-year prison sentence

      Lauri Love is an activist, a physicist, a computer scientist, an angel and the person I want to spend my life with. He is stubborn and smart, near to the point of arrogance, and he fights every battle he can against injustice. Next week Lauri will be in court appealing against extradition to the United States where he faces a 99-year prison sentence on allegations British authorities investigated and decided not to charge him for.

      Lauri is a much nicer person than I am and he is a much more positive and hopeful person. Where I see climate destruction and oppressive regimes, he sees opportunities to overcome. His hacker mind is hard-wired to solve problems and this world has many.

    • Sheriff Says He Won’t Deploy Body Cameras Because He Doesn’t Want His Deputies Criticized

      Something’s very wrong with Albuquerque-area law enforcement. The Albuquerque Police Department has been described as a “criminal enterprise.” These words didn’t come from an activist group or an enraged op-ed in the local paper, but rather from a departing District Attorney in a letter to the DOJ.

      The DOJ is at least partially aware of the Albuquerque PD’s criminal activities. Its 2014 investigation concluded APD officers routinely engaged in indiscriminate force deployment. Worse, those above the officers did almost nothing to curb misconduct and brutality. Beyond shooting citizens at an alarming rate, APD officers were found to be tampering with camera footage — an accusation brought by a private employee of the department in an affidavit presented to a judge.

      It seems the APD isn’t the only law enforcement agency in the Albuquerque area prone to unchecked acts of violence. Nor is it the only one actively disinterested in any form of accountability. In the last four months, the Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department deputies have shot nine people. One deputy — Charles Coggins — shot two people in 22 days, killing one of them.

    • A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

      The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

      But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

    • Trump and Sessions Keep Trying to Institute Anti-Immigrant Policies

      Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.

      President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.

      A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.

    • EFF at Cyberspace Events in Delhi: Protecting the Public Core of the Internet

      Last week EFF attended the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) in New Delhi, India, as one of a small handful of nonprofit organizations invited to participate. This was the fifth in a series of conferences sometimes called the London Process, after the first event that was held in London in 2011. Focusing on international cybersecurity issues, it is a counterpart to other regular government-organized Internet conferences, such as the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) conference which focuses on Internet freedom and human rights, China’s World Internet Conference which focuses on the digital economy, and the International Telecommunications Union’s WSIS Forum which tracks Internet for development goals.

    • Tech Ageism and the Myth of the ‘Digital Native’

      When we think of the term ageism in the IT sector, we generally think of how employers and project managers will systematically or casually discriminate against individuals simply on the basis of their age.

    • Without Public Editor, NYT Ducks and Dismisses Criticism of Its Sympathetic Nazi Profile

      This past June, when the New York Times unceremoniously killed off its public editor position, publisher Arthur Sulzberger tried mightily to characterize the move as addition by subtraction. In a newsroom memo, he promised that a newly created “Reader Center” would make the paper’s reporting “more transparent” and its journalists “more responsive.” As FAIR (6/1/17) noted at the time, these excuses were disingenuous “rationalizations, not legitimate rationales,” and were more likely to make the paper less accountable and transparent in the long run. And this past weekend proved these fears were well-justified.

      It started on Saturday, when the Times (11/25/17) ran a naive, normalizing profile of a Nazi sympathizer from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. Almost immediately, the paper (rightly) faced outraged comments online, as serious critiques of the piece’s flawed framing rolled in. As @magi_jay wrote in a detailed Twitter thread: “The Times failed in many respects, but, above all, they failed by enthusiastically allowing [Tony] Horvater to drive the narrative of his own white supremacy.”

    • Woman reports rape to police – and is arrested on immigration charges

      A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.

      The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police.

      The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why we should be wary of ending net neutrality

      Buried in the same news dump ahead of the national holiday were further liberalisation rules for media ownership including a limit on how many homes in the US a single broadcaster can reach. At the moment the cap is set at 39%, but the FCC has indicated it might revise or scrap that limitation entirely. A second measure would also allow TV stations to use different frequency channels that count less against this overall cap on broadcasting reach.

    • Portugal’s Internet shows us a world without net neutrality, and it’s ugly

      After paying a fee for basic service, subscribers can add any of five further options for about $6 per month, allowing an additional 10GB data allotment for the apps within the options: a “messaging” tier, which covers such services as instant messaging, Apple FaceTime, and Skype; “social,” with liberal access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and so on; “video” (youTube, Netflix, etc.); “email and cloud” (Gmail, Apple’s iCloud); or “music” (Spotify, Pandora).

      Portugal isn’t the only country allowing tiering of internet services. In Britain, the internet service provider Vodaphone charges about $33 a month for basic service but offers several “passes” allowing unlimited video or music streaming, social media usage, or chat, at additional tariffs of up to $9.30 per month.

      Although both countries are part of the European Union, which has an explicit commitment to network neutrality, these arrangements are allowed under provisions giving national regulators some flexibility. These regulators can open loopholes permitting “zero-rating,” through which ISPs can exclude certain services from data caps. That’s what the Portuguese and British ISPs essentially are doing.

    • Net neutrality’s opponents are speaking up — especially tech giants

      The letter added, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.”

    • Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality

      But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire [I]nternet ecosystem.

    • Arrogant overreach: Ajit Pai’s plan to totally destroy net neutrality may doom him in court

      If Trump FCC chairman Ajit Pai had confined his attack on Net Neutrality to merely rolling back the 2015 Title II rules, he might have gotten away with it; but like the Republic plan to kill Obamacare, the Republican plan to rob the middle class to enrich billionaires, and, well, every other Republican plan in this administration, Pai’s plan is so grotesque, so overreaching, so nakedly corrupt that it is likely to collapse under its own weight.

      That’s because the Supreme Court has held that a federal agency contemplating a significant change in policy must “examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action.” But there are no new facts in evidence since the first Net Neutrality rules were enacted in 2004 to justify a change. We don’t know what evidence Pai will bring to court when it comes time to fight his plans, but the cards he’s played so far are hilariously weak: for example, he claims that the 2015 Title II rule led to a decrease in infrastructure investment by telcos. In fact, the telcos’ own filings and investor calls reveal that the reverse is true (Pai is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own fact).

    • Fake Americans Dominated the Net-Neutrality Debate

      Americans do not want internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon controlling what websites they can see, or how quickly they can load them. When pollsters ask U.S. voters whether they support net neutrality — regulations that require ISPs to treat all web traffic equally — a large bipartisan majority answers in the affirmative.

      Among Americans who care deeply about the issue, support for net neutrality is even more overwhelming. When the Federal Communications Commission considered unwinding those regulations in 2015, so many Americans posted pro-net-neutrality messages to the FCC’s webpage for public comments, the site crashed.

      The ISPs, however, are quite keen on accruing more power to curate your internet experience (a.k.a. extort content creators into paying for competitive broadband speeds). And the Trump administration’s regulatory philosophy is, ostensibly, that powerful corporations should be able to do whatever unpopular thing they want (so long as they purchase an indulgence from a Republican campaign committee).

    • Net Neutrality is necessary regulation as a short-term emergency fix to previous bad regulation

      Net Neutrality is a huge topic, again. But it’s important to realize that Net Neutrality is mostly being discussed in the United States — not because it is ahead, but because it is behind. In countries where fiber is the norm to households and they typically have 15-20 ISPs to choose from, Net Neutrality is so taken for granted, it is not a discussion at all.

    • Ajit Pai’s Big Lie

      You might think that the “Big Lie” is the idea that the 2015 rules killed investment. And that is a lie. Actual evidence from financial reports has proven that completely false repeatedly. But, that’s a smaller lie here. Ajit Pai’s Big Lie is the idea that gutting all net neutrality protections is somehow returning FCC policy to the way things were two years ago, and that “for decades” the FCC kept out of this debate. All of that is wrong. And, unlike the other lie concerning investment — where Pai and others can fiddle with numbers to make his claims look right — Ajit Pai knows that the Big Lie is false.

      Pai likes to point back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as his starting point in claiming that the internet is free from regulations, and suggests that things just changed with the 2015 FCC order. But he literally knows this is wrong. First of all, for all his talk of using 1996 as the starting date to show “decades” of supposedly unchanged FCC positions on this, he conveniently leaves out that the FCC didn’t actually classify cable broadband as an information service… until 2002. That’s from the FCC’s own announcement about it. And this was fought out in court, eventually leading to the Brand X Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that said the FCC had the right to determine if broadband was an information service or a telco service (which is why the 2015 order has been upheld).

    • NY Attorney General Investigating Why Dead People Supported The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality

      So as we’ve been noting for a while, the FCC’s policy order taking aim at net neutrality has been rife with all kinds of bizarre and fraudulent behavior, from the agency’s made up DDOS attack (apparently a ham-fisted PR attempt to downplay the “John Oliver effect”) to the numerous fake or otherwise dead people that have oddly supported the agency’s unpopular plan in the FCC’s comment proceeding. It’s clear the FCC’s plan is extremely unpopular, and it’s also clear the agency, ISPs and some policy groups have engaged in some extremely dodgy behavior to try and downplay that fact.

      The GAO is already investigating the FCC’s bogus DDOS claims, and the FCC is already being sued for turning a blind eye to the problem and ignoring FOIA requests. The fraudulent comments by fake or otherwise non-breathing individuals will surely play a starring role in the inevitable lawsuits against the agency. If evidence is found that the FCC violated procedural norms (or hey, the law), it could help to reverse the agency’s myopic and unpopular hand out to the nation’s telecom duopolies.

    • Breitbart, Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange, and Trump’s Right-Wing Base Reject Plan to Axe Net Neutrality
    • The FCC is about to repeal net neutrality. Here’s why Congress should stop them.

      On Wednesday November 22, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai published his draft order outlining his plan to undo the net neutrality protections that have been in place in the U.S. since the beginning of the Internet. His proposal would leave both the FCC and the states powerless to protect consumers and businesses against net neutrality violations by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon that connect us to the Internet.
      His plan discards decades of careful work by FCC chairs of both political parties, who recognized and acted against the danger ISPs posed to the free markets that rose out of and depend on the Internet. If his plan takes effect, ISPs would be free to disrupt how the Internet has worked for 30 years.

    • A Lump of Coal in the Internet’s Stocking: FCC Poised to Gut Net Neutrality Rules

      In a new proposal issued last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set out a plan to eliminate net neutrality protections, ignoring the voices of millions of Internet users who weighed in to support those protections. The new rule would reclassify high-speed broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” (remember, the FCC is forbidden from imposing neutrality obligations on information services). It would then eliminate the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play (as well as the more nebulous general conduct standard) in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement. In other words, your ISP would be free to set itself up as an Internet gatekeeper, as long as it is honest about it.

    • Comcast Spent Millions Repealing Net Neutrality, Now Wants You To Believe It Won’t Take Full, Brutal Advantage

      Despite the nation’s biggest ISP and cable company having spent millions of dollars and lobbying man hours on repealing broadband privacy rules and soon net neutrality protections, executives at the least-liked company in America hope you’re dumb enough to believe they won’t be taking full advantage.

      Comcast has spent months now falsely claiming that it will still adhere to “net neutrality” once the FCC’s rules are gutted by Ajit Pai. But the company’s pet definition of net neutrality is so narrow as to be effectively meaningless. For example, last week as the FCC was trying to hide its obvious handout to telecom duopolies behind the cranberry and stuffing, Comcast issued a tweet again insisting that you can trust them to be on their best behavior despite the fact there will soon be no meaningful rules holding their feet to the fire

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA Opposes Trademark Application For Dog-Walking Company Called Woof-Tang Clan

        The last time we mentioned the Wu-Tang Clan here at Techdirt, we were discussing the group’s bizarre yet inventive attempt to curtail digital music’s infinite goods problem by releasing a single copy of an entire album for $1 million. It was a creative approach, though one that likely isn’t a model that transfers well to the music industry as a whole. But it seems that the copyright arena isn’t the only intellectual property venue in which Wu-Tang wants to play, as RZA, a member of the group, has filed a trademark opposition to a dog-walking company calling itself Woof-Tang Clan.

        [...]

        All that’s left of Wu-Tang Clan is the name https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171122/10384838670/wu-tang-clans-rza-opposes-trademark-application-dog-walking-company-called-woof-tang-clan.shtml they had some good tracks (in the 90s)

    • Copyrights

      • Out of Office #15 ‘EU copyright reform: where are we now?’

        We are happy to invite you to the 15th edition of Out of Office on 8 December 2017 from 17:00 to 19:00 at Spring House. During this Out of Office we will reflect with Ms Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament, on the recent developments concerning the ongoing copyright reform in Europe. Come and join us in search of new insights, encounters and inspiration, while enjoying music, drinks and snacks!

        Julia Reda is Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group and a co-founder for the Parliament’s current Digital Agenda intergroup. She is an advocate for a free Europe with open borders, open communication structures and the relaxation and harmonisation of copyright laws. Reda will share her thoughts on the ongoing copyright reform and whether progress has been made since the DSM Directive (more info below) was proposed by the European Commission.

      • Rightscorp: Revenue From Piracy Settlements Down 48% in 2017

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has filed its latest set of financial results and they reveal yet more misery for the company. Its traditional revenue stream, comprised of cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates, is down 48% on the same period last year. This contributes to the company turning in net losses of $1.45 million for the first nine months of the year. But could value lie elsewhere?

      • Dropbox collaboration: ‘World-first’ as University of Sydney goes all in for all

        The first university in the world to deploy Dropbox wall-to-wall in what is a multi-million dollar, 67,000-user agreement and deal “to power greater collaboration” is the University of Sydney.

      • Court: Accused Pirate Doesn’t Have to ‘Spy’ on Family Members

        A German court has ruled that a man, whose Internet connection was used to share pirated films, cannot be required to ‘spy’ on his family members. The law firm representing the Internet subscriber stresses that these kinds of investigations violate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects respect for private and family life.

With Oil States Case Heard in the US Supreme Court, a New Justice’s (Neil Gorsuch) Positions on Patents Expressed

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform

Neil Gorsuch
Reference: Neil Gorsuch

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is being decided on at the highest level (US Supreme Court) and the new arrival at the court weighs in on the subject, based on reporting and transcript from inside the court (the case officially began yesterday)

TODAY’S US Supreme Court is pro-patent reform. We have seen many decisions to that effect, especially in recent years, and with Scalia’s death we have a Trump nominee/appointee added to the mix. Not much is known about him as far as patents go, so people are left to mostly speculate/interpolate based on past judgments.

Oil States (a PTAB case dealing with the abilities, such as inter partes reviews, to thwart or ‘steal’ so-called ‘property’ like patents) officially began yesterday as far as hearings go. There’s no set deadline for this case’s decision, but it is not imminent.

The corporate media (even in London) took note of it yesterday and so did Wall Street media. The coverage, however, isn’t exactly great. It’s not too accurate and may sometimes seem one-sided. Susan Decker’s premise, for example (one she put right in her headline), is an old and famous lie. It says that PTAB controversy is about “tech versus pharma” rather patent trolls/lawyers (with low-quality patents) versus the rest of us. We recently saw this same falsehood disseminated by the corporate media of London [1, 2], which the EPO had incidentally paid. To quote Decker:

Tech companies like Google and Apple Inc. cheered in 2011 when Congress created a review system for deciding whether the federal agency that issues patents is getting it wrong.

Thousands of invalidated patents later, the Supreme Court is considering whether Congress got it wrong.

The high court hears arguments Monday on whether to put a halt to a system that lets companies go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to challenge patents rather than relying only on courts. It’s designed to be a low-cost alternative to lawsuits, and the review system is popular with tech companies and retailers that get sued often by patent owners.

Critics call the review board a “death squad” because it uses a different legal standard than courts and is more likely to cancel a patent. Drugmakers such as AbbVie Inc., which rely on patents to fend off competitors, say the system violates their constitutional right to a jury trial.

The misleading and offensive term “death squad” (comparing judges on patent matters to executioners) is believed to have come from a disgraced/corrupt judge, Mr. Rader. Why does the media keep repeating this term? Decker even put it right inside her headline (“Patent ‘Death Squad’ Pitting Tech and Pharma Heads to Supreme Court”).

Do we want a serious debate about this? One in which patents don’t get “killed” or “survive”? One in which patents are not being called “property” which is “owned” or whatever? The article was composed using the terminology of the patent ‘industry’. It impacts the readers’ (mis)understanding of the subject at hand.

Looking directly at blogs of the patent ‘industry’, we are starting to see clues about where the hearings are going. The patent ‘industry’ will attempt “trial by media”, so we need to watch and counter any falsehoods. According to Patently-O, finally we can see where Gorsuch stands on patents (he is relatively young and has no prior experience in this area). He said: “[W]e have a number of cases that have arguably addressed this issue already, like McCormick, for example, in which this Court said the only authority competent to set a patent aside or to annul it or to correct it for any reason whatever is vested in the courts of the United States.”

Well, PTAB is a bit like a court, in a similar sense that BoA at the EPO has the authority to deliver enforceable decisions. PTAB has a chief judge, just like BoA has various technical judges. So what’s the issue? Gorsuch should know that the issue at stake here is whether the government can, in general, regard patents to be “property” and then assert that it can violate so-called ‘property’ ‘rights’ (patents are neither, contrary to how Patently-O tries to spin it).

Patently-O has also just published this reasonably long article from Dmitry Karshtedt, who concluded as follows (with highlight on Gorsuch):

Returning to the public-private rights debate, Chief Justice Roberts discussed the Schor test and whether the multi-factor analysis of Schor is conducive to investment backed-expectations. Mr. Stewart contended that, whatever the test, PTAB adjudicates private rights because liability for past money damages are not involved. The question then came up whether the PTAB can adjudicate infringement, to which Mr. Stewart responded that probably not because money damages are involved. Justice Gorsuch then asked whether the PTAB can perhaps declare non-infringement, to which Mr. Stewart responded that there is no tradition of the PTO’s making that determination. Justice Gorsuch asked about the PTO’s tradition of cancelling patents, and Mr. Stewart’s response was that the issue is really about deciding patentability, which the PTO has been doing since 1836.

In rebuttal, Ms. Ho reiterated her point that Congress cannot condition a grant of a patent on taking away litigants’ structural rights and reinforced the point that appeals are not a sufficient form of Article III supervision. She ended with the point that, again, IPRs resolve disputes between two private parties.

There’s so much spin there and the problem is often ill-defined. They try to assert that patents are a “property” (they are not) and that determining patentability is equivalent to verifying one’s guilt in a scene of a crime. That’s nonsense!

In the USPTO, based on another new article, PTAB says it “will not place the burden of persuasion on a patent owner [sic] with respect to the patentability” and instead leave petitioners/challengers to do so. To quote what is outside the paywall:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board confirms that In light of the Aqua Products decision it will not place the burden of persuasion on a patent owner with respect to the patentability of substitute claims presented in a motion to amend

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has released guidance in light of the Federal Circuit’s en banc Aqua Products opinion.

The very concept of amending patents that have already been granted seems odd to us. Once a patent has been granted, it is what it is. It can then either be defended or invalidated, not edited. In any event, PTAB bashers will throw at PTAB anything they can in an attempt to discredit it and thus influence the judges, especially Justices.

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