Links 28/2/2018: X.Org Server 1.20, Falkon 3.0

Posted in News Roundup at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • In a two-OS mobile world, there is no room for Linux [Ed: As if Sam Varghese does not know Android uses Linux (surely he knows)? Maybe he means GNU here...]

    After the demise of the Ubuntu Phone, Linux users appear to be placing their hopes for a mobile device on the Librem 5, a smartphone that managed to raise much more than it asked for in a crowd-funding drive. The company behind it, Purism, has said that it hopes to have phones ready next year.

    But it seems unlikely that the phone will have any kind of mass appeal. What seems more likely is that it will cater to a fringe market, putting its log-term viability in doubt.

    At least, those who are waiting for the Librem 5 are not deceiving themselves by pretending that Android phones are actually Linux phones, as the head of the Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin does.

  • ​Purism adds open-source security firmware to its Linux laptop line

    If you really believe in having the most possible control over your computer and operating system, then Purism, maker of free software and Linux-powered laptops, is the company for you.

    In its latest news, Purism announced that it has successfully integrated Trammel Hudson’s Heads security firmware into its Trusted Platform Module (TPM)-equipped Librem laptops. Heads is an open-source computer firmware and configuration tool that aims to provide better physical security and data protection.

  • Purism Integrates Trammel Hudson’s Heads security firmware with Trusted Platform Module, giving full control and digital privacy to laptop users
  • Librem adds tamper-evident features, now most secure laptop under full customer control
  • Looking Back: What Was Happening Ten Years Ago?

    A decade passes so quickly. And yet, ten years for open source is half its life. How have things changed in those ten years? So much has happened in this fast-moving and exciting world, it’s hard to remember. But we’re in luck. The continuing availability of Linux Journal’s past issues and website means we have a kind of time capsule that shows us how things were, and how we saw them.

    Ten years ago, I was writing a regular column for Linux Journal, much like this one. Looking through the 80 or so posts from that time reveals a world very different from the one we inhabit today. The biggest change from then to now can be summed up in a word: Microsoft. A decade back, Microsoft towered over the world of computing like no other company. More important, it (rightly) saw open source as a threat and took continuing, wide-ranging action to weaken it in every way it could.

    Its general strategy was to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). At every turn, it sought to question the capability and viability of open source. It even tried to convince the world that we no longer needed to talk about free software and open source—anyone remember “mixed source”?

    Alongside general mud-flinging, Microsoft’s weapon of choice to undermine and thwart open source was a claim of massive patent infringement across the entire ecosystem. The company asserted that the Linux kernel violated 42 of its patents; free software graphical interfaces another 65; the OpenOffice.org suite of programs, 45; and assorted other free software 83 more. The strategy was two-fold: first to squeeze licensing fees from companies that were using open source, and second, perhaps even more important, to paint open source as little more than a pale imitation of Microsoft’s original and brilliant ideas.

  • Chrome OS may allow for running Linux apps via Containers

    While the average Chromebook user tends to stick with Chrome OS, Chromebooks are really just lightweight Linux machines capable of a lot more. For years, crafty Chromebook owners have been using Crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment) to run Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali Linux systems within Chrome OS. When set up properly with an extension called Xiwi, you can use a keyboard shortcut to switch between Chrome OS and a standard Linux desktop environment. It’s a hack, but it looks a future version of Chrome OS will add native support for Linux applications via containers.

  • Desktop

    • System76 Plans Major HiDPI Update for Their Ubuntu-Based Pop!_OS Linux Distro

      According to System76, the team is ready to deploy one of the biggest updates to Pop!_OS Linux’s HiDPI (High Dots Per Inch) daemon, which should be soon available for all of their customers running Pop!_OS Linux on any of the laptop or desktop computers bought from the computer reseller. The update will add a new and improved layout engine, as well as support for saving resolutions and layouts.

      “We are getting ready to release major updates to the HiDPI daemon for all System76 customers. The new release will include a new and improved layout engine, the ability to use saved layouts and resolutions, and several bug fixes,” said System76 in a blog post. “We are also working toward making the HiDPI daemon available in Pop!_OS and elsewhere. If you are interested in seeing HiDPI in action, please come see our booth at Scale!”

    • Purism Now Sells the Most Secure Linux Laptops with Heads Integrated TPM Chips

      Purism sells security-oriented Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops running PureOS, a Linux-based operating system designed with security in mind and based on Debian GNU/Linux. Earlier this month, the company announced that they’ve managed to boot PureOS with the coreboot (formerly known as LinuxBIOS) open-source extended firmware platform, and all new laptop shipments with come with coreboot.

      Coreboot enables Purism’s Librem laptops to boot fast and offer users a secure boot experience. Today, Purism raises the bar on security by integrating Trammel Hudson’s Heads security firmware with TPM (Trusted Platform Module) support into their coreboot-enabled laptops, giving users full control over the boot process. In addition, users will be able to freely inspect the code, and even build and install it themselves.

    • When It’s Time for a Linux Distro Change

      It’s common for Linux users to hop between distributions and survey the field, and I recently reached a point where I had to seriously rethink the one I was using most of the time.

      Between hardware compatibility issues with my old standby and some discouraging missteps with other go-to choices, I felt the time had come to reassess my pool of preferred distributions and repopulate it from scratch.

      As my journey progressed, I realized that as often as I’ve discussed the field of Linux-based systems, I had not addressed how to pick one out. To give you an idea of how to approach distribution selection, I wanted to volunteer my recent search as one template. This is certainly not the only or best way to go about it — everyone has their own criteria and priorities — but my intention is to provide some reference points for mapping out your own way.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation Announces 36 New Silver and 6 New Associate Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the addition of 36 Silver members and six Associate members. Linux Foundation members help support development of the greatest shared technology resources in history, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation.

      • Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer Courses Coming to a Conference Near You
      • Adrian Cockcroft on the Convergence of Cloud Native Computing and AWS

        Cloud native computing is transforming cloud architectures and application delivery at organizations of all sizes. Via containers, microservices, and more, it introduces many new efficiencies. One of the world’s leading experts on it, Adrian Cockcroft, Vice President of Cloud Architecture at Amazon Web Services (AWS), focused on cloud native computing within the context of AWS in his keynote address at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon.

      • How to Manage Kubernetes Apps with Helm Charts

        Helm can make deploying and maintaining Kubernetes-based applications easier, said Amy Chen in her talk at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. Chen, a Systems Software Engineer at Heptio, began by dissecting the structure of a typical Kubernetes setup, explaining how she often described the basic Docker containers as “baby computers,” in that containers are easy to move around, but they still need the “mommy” computer. However, containers do carry with them all the environmental dependencies for a given application.

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLAMOR & xf86-video-modesetting Get Deep Color Support In X.Org Server 1.20

        Independent developer Mario Kleiner has spent the past several months working on plumbing the Linux graphics stack for better “deep color” or 30-bit color depth support. His latest work on the X.Org Server has now been merged to mainline.

      • RandR CRTC/Output Leases Lands In X.Org Server

        One big piece of Keith Packard’s work on improving Steam VR for Linux or particularly VR HMD handling is now merged to Git master.

        Keith’s work on RandR leases is now rounded out with the work hitting the X.Org Server Git tree today. RandR leases allows for CRTCs/outputs to be made available to a client for direct access via Linux’s KMS/DRM kernel APIs. When leased to a client, the output(s) are not in the way of the X.Org Server. The focus here is on allowing a VR compositor to have direct access to the VR head-mounted display without any X.Org Server interference.

      • xserver 1.20 RC1 tomorrow

        I’d like to call the (xfree86) ABI frozen in RC1, and I think for the remaining changes I’d like to see landed for 1.20 we can mostly land them without ABI breaks.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 Release Candidate Due For Release Tomorrow

        Indeed it turns out that the landing today of RandR leases and deep color / color depth 30 support for GLAMOR/modesetting is because Red Hat’s Adam Jackson is finally wrangling the xorg-server 1.20 release together.

        No major X.Org Server release materialized in 2017 and the plans for releasing xorg-server 1.20 around January didn’t pan out. But out of the blue, Adam Jackson announced today that he is planning on the 1.20 RC1 release tomorrow, 28 February.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Updated With Better Vega Support, VR Fixes

        The AMD developers working on their official, cross-platform “AMDVLK” Vulkan driver code have just pushed out another batch of changes to their open-source code repository.

      • RADV Now Exposes Async Compute Support For Southern Islands

        For those of you with a Radeon GCN 1.0 “Southern Islands” GPU, the RADV Vulkan driver support for these first Graphics Core Next graphics processors continues to be improved.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Where’s Xfce 4.14? Current Development, Roadmap & Future

      Xfce is one of the most common desktop environments on Linux and other Unix-like systems. it’s fast, lightweight and gets the job done. However, Xfce developers announced their roadmap to Xfce 4.14 around 3 years ago, but we are still not there yet.

      In this report, we post the ongoing development of Xfce, what’s missing and what’s being worked on, and we highlight some aspects regarding the adorable DE.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calamares 3.2 Linux Installer Will Integrate a Module for the KDE Plasma Desktop

        Calamares is a distribution-independent system installer featuring advanced partitioning with full-disk encryption support used in popular GNU/Linux distros like KaOS, KDE Neon, OpenMandriva, Netrunner, Sabayon, Siduction, Tanglu, Bluestar Linux, Chakra GNU/Linux, GeckoLinux, and others.

        Calamares 3.2 will be the next major update of the universal installer framework, promising a plethora of attractive new features and enhancements for OS developers who want to implement it as default graphical installer in their next releases, such as Lubuntu Next 18.04 (Bionic Beaver).

      • First Version of Falkon Web Browser Released

        The first release of Falkon, the KDE web browser formerly known as QupZilla, is available to download.

        Falkon 3.0.0 is the first formal release of the rebadged Qt-based web navigator, and follows a name change in summer of last year.

        As this is more of a rebranding than a brand new app you won’t notice too many visual differences between the latest stable release of QupZilla 2.2.5, and the first hatching of Falkon 3.0.

      • Falkon 3.0 Released As The Successor To The QupZilla Browser

        Falkon 3.0 has been released today as the first version since its rebranding from QupZilla as an open-source, Qt-powered web-browser.

      • Falkon 3.0.0 released!

        Falkon is a new KDE web browser, previously known as QupZilla. Following this release, there will only be one last final QupZilla release.

      • Animated Plasma Wallpaper: Asciiquarium

        Years ago, for KDE 3, I had ported a console “asciiquarium” to operate as a KDE screensaver, called “KDE asciiquarium“. By KDE 4.2, it was included as part of the kdeartwork module by default.

        Since the KDE 3 times when I started this screensaver, our desktop concept has changed around a bit. We’ve developed the Plasma desktop, and have effectively deprecated the idea of screensavers (which are increasingly less popular), though lock screens are still important.

      • KDE Plasma 5 Should Soon Finally Be Ready For FreeBSD Ports

        Adriaan de Groot continues working on improving the KDE stack for FreeBSD. The moment is finally near where KDE Plasma 5 along with the modern KDE Applications stack should soon be available via the FreeBSD Ports collection.

        In preparation for finally having the modern KDE desktop stack available via FreeBSD Ports, the older KDE4 ports have been moved aside (but are still accessible via x11/kde4). KDE4 will continue to work for those who have already installed it on FreeBSD, but they are reorganizing these packages in preparation for pushing out the modern KDE Plasma 5 + Apps stack.

      • Clazy

        Clazy is a Clang plugin which extends the compiler with over 50 warnings related to Qt best practices ranging from unneeded memory allocations to API misuse. It’s an opensource project spawned by KDAB’s R&D efforts for better C++ tooling.

      • Hotspot

        Hotspot is a KDAB R&D project to create a standalone GUI for performance data. It is a replacement for perf report. Hotspot’s GUI takes a perf.data file, parses and evaluates its contents and then displays the result in a graphical way.

        Hotspot’s initial goal was to provide a UI like KCachegrind around Linux perf. In future versions we will be supporting various other performance data formats under this umbrella. You can find the source code on our GitHub page.

      • KStars 2.9.3 is out with numerous fixes

        After some heavy lifting in KStars January v2.9.2 release, we dedicated February to fix all those KStars issues that have been accumulating for a while. Today, KStars v2.9.3 is released with many several important fixes, mostly in Ekos scheduler and capture modules.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Notes 3.27.90

        I know, I’m late, but after releasing 3.27.90 I took some days off GNOME Notes development to enjoy my holidays with my son – girls stayed at home, doing girls stuff, this time.

        When I get back, I was involved in trying new Linux distros to see how my workflow would work with them. That took some days too, so here we go with my thoughts on GNOME Notes 3.28.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ashnik launches Tech Insights, a platform for open source technologies shaping digital transformation
  • The global open source services market size is expected to grow from USD 11.40 billion in 2017 to USD 32.95 billion by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.65%
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Introduction to Neutrino

        If you want to learn more about Neutrino, Eli Perelman (original author of the project) wrote about Neutrino at hacks.mozilla.org. You can find the official documentation at https://neutrino.js.org.

      • Firefox 59 new contributors

        With the upcoming release of Firefox 59, we are pleased to welcome the 53 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 49 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • 5 Ways to Take Screenshots Further

        If you’re a veteran of using old-style screenshot tactics, you know it used to involve a lot of saving to the desktop or cloud, re-finding the image files in a mass of similar file names, then having to crop or otherwise “fix up” the images before re-saving them and getting them into a google doc, presentation, or other platform.

      • Come Join the Rust and WebAssembly Working Group!
      • This Week in Rust 223

        Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed.

      • Django, K8s, and ELB Health checks

        As you may have seen in several of our SRE status reports, we’re moving all of our webapp hosting from Deis to Kubernetes (k8s). As part of that we’ve also been doing some additional thinking about the security of our deployments. One thing we’ve not done as good a job as we should is with Django’s ALLOWED_HOSTS setting. We should have been adding all possible hosts to that list, but it seems we used to occasionally leave it set to ['*']. This isn’t great, but also isn’t the end-of-the-world since we don’t knowingly construct URLs using the info sent via the Host header. In an effort to cover all bases we’ve decided to improve this. Unfortunately our particular combination of technologies doesn’t make this as easy as we thought it would (story of our lives).



        That was a long way to go to get to some simple health checking, but we believe it was the right move for the reliability and security of our Django apps hosted in our k8s infrastructure on AWS. Please check out the repo for django-allow-cidr on Github if you’re interested in the code. Our hope is that releasing this as a general use package will help others that find themselves in our situation, as well as helping ourselves to do less copypasta coding around our various web projects.

  • Blockchain

    • Spotlight On Copyright Issues Of Blockchain Technology

      There is a large number of different open source licenses with significantly different terms (some prominent licenses used for blockchain projects are GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License [LGPL], Apache License 2.0, MIT license). These licenses impact the way of how the software proliferated under the license may be used, modified and redistributed. Particular attention needs to be paid to the redistribution rights and obligations because several open source licenses require that software or at least the derivative part of the software incorporating the open source software is redistributed again under the same open source terms (“copy-left”, GNU and LGPL).

    • Blockchain Powered 3D and VR Open Source Platform MARK.SPACE Announces the Launch of CRYPTO.VALLEY Virtual City

      MARK.SPACE is delighted to announce the mega launch of CRYPTO.VALLEY, a new virtual infrastructure project that promises to be a cynosure of the global crypto community as an interactive and informational pool. In its fully functional form, CRYPTO.VALLEY will be a virtual city completely compatible with the 3D and VR technologies.

    • Op-Ed: The Potentially Fatal Flaw of Open-Source Blockchain Protocols

      The most important question to ask any decentralized blockchain protocol is: “How do you protect your protocol from ‘incumbent’ companies?” While many emerging protocols promise disintermediated commercial interactions between people, it is critical that these protocols are weary of corporate giants with FOMO . After all, most decentralized protocols are open-source – copying their code is free and 100 percent legal.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • FundRequest raises $12.5 million to fund Open Source Development

      FundRequest, a blockchain based platform for incentivizing open source development, has recently completed their crowd sale where they raised $12.5 million from investors and the public. The token sale also drew some big-name investors such as 1kx, an angel fund who pursues companies committed to creating distributed ledger technology-based solutions; Connect Capital, a blockchain and digital asset investment fund; Tetras Capital, a New York City-based hedge fund focusing on blockchain and crypto asset classes; and ZestAds, a digital advertising firm with offices in Southeast Asia.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • DoD announces open source software experiment

      The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced the launch of Code.mil, an open source initiative that allows software developers around the world to collaborate on unclassified code written by federal employees in support of DoD projects.

      DoD is working with GitHub, an open source platform, in an experiment aimed at fostering collaboration between federal employees and private-sector software developers on software projects built within the DoD. The Code.mil URL directs users to an online repository that will store code written for a range of projects across the DoD for individuals to review and make suggested changes.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Can Open-source Hardware Be Like Open-source Software?

        Hardware and software are certainly different beasts. Software is really just information, and the storing, modification, duplication, and transmission of information is essentially free. Hardware is expensive, or so we think, because it’s made out of physical stuff which is costly to ship or copy. So when we talk about open-source software (OSS) or open-source hardware (OSHW), we’re talking about different things — OSS is itself the end product, while OSHW is just the information to fabricate the end product, or have it fabricated.

        The fabrication step makes OSHW essentially different from OSS, at least for now, but I think there’s something even more fundamentally different between the current state of OSHW and OSS: the pull request and the community. The success or failure of an OSS project depends on the community of people developing it, and for smaller projects that can hinge on the ease of a motivated individual digging in and contributing. This is the main virtue of OSS in my opinion: open-source software is most interesting when people are reading and writing that source.

      • GreenWaves Intros Open-Source AI Processor GAP8

        The company’s new processor is based on the RISC-V open-source processor architecture, with the focus being on handling low-power AI processing in sensory devices that other mainstream chips would not typically be designed to handle specifically. In fact, GreenWaves has designed the processor with image, sound and vibration analysis at its heart, with a number of new algorithms being included in order to execute a wide variety of tasks. These tasks will also consume minimal amounts of energy due to the integrated 8-core cluster that is coupled with a separate core designed to handle any pre-analysis communication, control, and information. It is because of this low power consumption that GreenWaves has designed the processor with battery-powered devices in mind, although it hopes the chip will result in a number of new connected products with support for artificial intelligence such as smart toys, certain wearables, or even the implementation of always-on facial recognition in mobile devices. However, the new processor isn’t just energy-efficient, but also relatively affordable, with the handling of machine vision potentially costing less than $15 to implement. The product should also help relieve pressure on networks due to the fact that all processes will happen wherever the sensors are placed, removing the need for a secondary product while also reducing the costs of data management and speeding up the processing, according to the company.

      • RISC-V RV64GC High-Performance Extendable Platform Kit For Fast Linux Execution Released by Imperas

        “The RISC-V movement has tremendous potential but it is absolutely reliant on a robust ecosystem, including early software development solutions,” noted Simon Davidmann, President and Chief Executive Officer, Imperas Software, Ltd. “Imperas has uniquely solved this problem, providing RISC-V developers with commercial-grade processor simulation to accelerate software verification as well as hardware validation.”

  • Programming/Development

    • Compilers Fortify Critical Embedded Software [Ed: Proprietary software merely provides access to Free software]

      Green Hills Software introduces its Compiler 2018.1 for creating highly optimized 32-bit and 64-bit embedded C and C++ software applications for all common embedded processor architectures, including Arm, Intel and Power Architecture. As a result, users see 3x faster vector processing speeds, and scores beating the LLVM Compiler even on LLVM’s own benchmark suite. Other highlights of Compiler 2018.1 include full C++14 support, Spectre mitigations and support for the highest functional safety levels. As per Green Hills, compiler 2018.1 enables designers to bring their products to market more quickly, meet safety and security requirements and extract maximum processor performance in all embedded markets including automotive, industrial control, high performance computing (HPC), digital storage and consumer products.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Wellcome Trust Report Recommends UK-EU Agreement On Research & Innovation

      The EU and UK should agree on how to maintain the free flow of personal data for research. This would ideally be achieved through a comprehensive ‘adequacy’ agreement (where it is agreed that there are adequate levels of data protection to allow personal data to be transferred without more safeguards). A practical alternative is agreeing sector-specific safeguards to allow the free flow of personal data for research as part of a research and innovation agreement.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #148
    • Fixing Spectre/Meltdown in [Slackware] 14.2
    • Intel didn’t tell CERTS, govs, about Meltdown and Spectre because they couldn’t help fix it

      Letters sent to the United States Congress by Intel and the other six companies in the Meltdown/Spectre disclosure cabal have revealed how and why they didn’t inform the wider world about the dangerous chip design flaws.

      Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to the seven in January, to seek answers about the reasons they chose not to disclose the flaws and whether they felt their actions were responsible and safe.

      All the letters go over old ground: Google Project Zero spotted the design errors, told Intel, which formed a cabal comprising itself, Google, AMD, Arm, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. The gang of seven decided that Project Zero’s 90-day disclosure deadline had to be extended to January, then spoke to others to help them prepare fixes. But stray posts and sharp-eyed Reg hacks foiled that plan as we broke the news on January 3rd.

    • Serverless Security: What’s Left to Protect? [Ed: "Serverless" is a junk buzzword; it's server-'full' and it just means passing one's server or control/access to that server to some other company, which occasionally gets cracked too.]

      Serverless is an exciting development in the modern infrastructure world. It brings with it the promise of dramatically reduced system costs, simpler and cheaper total cost of ownership, and highly elastic systems that can seamlessly scale to what old-timers (like me) call a “Slashdot moment” – a large and immediate spike in traffic.

      The cost savings Serverless offers greatly accelerated its rate of adoption, and many companies are starting to use it in production, coping with less mature dev and monitoring practices to get the monthly bill down. Such a trade off makes sense when you balance effort vs reward, but one aspect of it is especially scary – security.

      This article aims to provide a broad understanding of security in the Serverless world. We’ll consider the ways in which Serverless improves security, the areas where it changes security, and the security concerns it hurts.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Slams Trump’s Idea to Arm Teachers

      This all comes as, in Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is facing increasing calls to resign over his department’s inability to stop the mass school shooting, which included his department’s failure to take seriously dozens of previous calls about the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, about whom residents had expressed fears for years. One of his deputies, Scot Peterson, has resigned after details emerged that he took cover outside the school during the shooting. He is now claiming that he didn’t enter the school because he thought the shooting was happening outside.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

      Lately I’ve been enjoying watching re-runs of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It’s somewhat reassuring to watch a previous generation get through a period of political angst as we go through this current one, especially as there are quite a few parallels that can be drawn.
      I mention this because as people call for Amazon, Apple, Roku, and YouTube to drop NRA-TV, I realize that we’ve seen calls for censorship like this before.

    • Dundee’s student union accused of ‘regressive censorship’ over Daily Mail ban bid

      A motion was backed by Dundee University Students’ Association’s ruling body to remove the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun from its shops.

      Sean O’Connor, the DUSA president, said the newspapers “do not match our values” and run “inflammatory and sensationalised articles that demean and insult members of our community”.

      But the move has been condemned by critics as an erosion of freedom of speech.

      Ross Starke, a politics student who works as a Dundee United kit man, leads a group of students opposed to the ban.

    • Caesar Rodney censorship indicative of a certain reactionary mentality here in Delaware

      I hope you’ve heard — even better — read, Amy Cherry’s story about the Caesar Rodney school district’s censorship of dissenting views on the district’s official Facebook page.

    • Elgin U46 school official: Social media guidelines encourage censorship

      An Elgin-area U46 official is blasting proposed changes to guidelines for school board members as an attempt to censor her social media statements about school district policies.

      Jeanette Ward is taking issue with direction that elected officials “carefully consider what they post on social media before they post it, avoiding statements that might be volatile,” which is part of proposed changes to a series of board agreements.

    • EU’s new copyright law will effectively create censorship machines

      Last week, the European Parliament’s MEP in charge of overhauling the EU’s copyright laws did a U-turn on his predecessor’s position. Axel Voss is charged with making the EU’s copyright laws fit for the Internet Age, yet in a staggering disregard for advice from all quarters, he decided to include a obligation on websites to automatically filter content.

      In 2016 the European Commission proposed a new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. While there are other serious concerns about the proposals, Article 13, which sets out how online platforms should manage user-uploaded content appears to have the most dangerous implications for fundamental rights. Since then, European Parliament committees have done some good work improving the draft law — which makes Voss’ 180° spin all the more alarming.

    • Facebook censors 30000 year-old Venus of Willendorf as ‘pornographic’

      Cases of art censorship on Facebook continue to surface. The latest work deemed “pornographic” is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf, part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna.

    • Ali Schofield muses on censorship in the art world

      Millennials, we keep hearing, are too easily offended. The slightest whiff of troubling female sexualisation, for instance, and they’ll default straight to indignant outrage.

      Earlier this month Manchester Art Gallery took down a pre-Raphaelite painting showing young nude “femmes fatales”. The gallery put a sign up in place of Hylas and the Nymphs by John Williams Waterhouse encouraging visitors to comment.

    • When Humphrey Bogart Tackled Movie Censorship in 1941

      “While people are always quick to take up the cudgels against censorship of the press, or radio, any crackpot can advocate new forms of censorship for the movies,” the screen star wrote, “and not a voice is lifted in protest.”

    • Censorship, product placement, and pandering: inside Hollywood’s doomed attempts to conquer China

      Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 futuristic sci-fi film starring Idris Elba, was a resounding flop, recouping just $106 million in United States cinema ticket sales from a budget of $190 million. The critical reception wasn’t much better: “You might as well watch the birth of an elephant,” lamented one reviewer.

    • São Paulo Court Rules That Censorship of Play About Trans Jesus Is Unconstitutional
    • Brazilian Court Ends Censorship of Play About Transgender Jesus
    • DOJ Tells Congress SESTA/FOSTA Will Make It MORE DIFFICULT To Catch Traffickers; House Votes For It Anyway

      As we’ve been discussing, this afternoon, the House voted both on Rep. Mimi Walters’ bad amendment to attach SESTA to FOSTA, and then on the combined bill — and both sailed through Congress. Somewhat incredibly, this happened even though the Justice Department weighed in with a last minute letter saying that the language in the combined SESTA/FOSTA is so poorly drafted that it would actually make it more difficult to prosecute sex traffickers, and also calling into question whether or not the bill was even Constitutional.

      You would think that with the DOJ pointing out these fairly fatal flaws with the bill, that perhaps (just perhaps), the House would delay voting on this. As noted last week, bringing the amendment to the floor without having it go through the House Judiciary Committee (as is supposed to happen), seemed to be the House’s way of washing its hands of the bill, and tossing the issue back to the Senate. But rushing through a bill with huge implications is no way to make law.

    • House Vote on FOSTA is a Win for Censorship

      The bill passed today 388-25 by the U.S. House of Representatives marks an unprecedented push towards Internet censorship, and does nothing to fight sex traffickers.

      H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), allows for private lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against Internet platforms and websites, based on the actions of their users. Facing huge new liabilities, the law will undoubtedly lead to platforms policing more user speech.

      The Internet we know today is possible only because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prevents online platforms from being held liable for their users’ speech, except in certain circumstances. FOSTA would punch a major hole in Section 230, enabling lawsuits and prosecutions against online platforms—including ones that aren’t even aware that sex trafficking is taking place.

    • Final push to fight underage sex trafficking hiding in plain sight
    • US bill holds websites liable for online sex trade
    • Hamilton Public Library fights literary censorship with ‘blackout poetry’

      It’s an art form that’s used to push back against censorship, and it’s happening at the Hamilton Public Library right now.

      It’s called “blackout poetry” — a form of visual and intellectual art that uses contentious books that have been banned in the past to create a piece that celebrates free expression.

      These pieces are being created at the library’s central branch as part of Freedom to Read Week, which is a national celebration of free expression, born of a protest against censorship that stretches back decades.

    • Stanford Professor Drops Stupid SLAPP Suit Against Critics; Still Mad Online

      Back in November, we wrote about a pure SLAPP lawsuit filed by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson against another scientist, Christopher Clack, and the National Academy of Sciences. Jacobson claimed that Clack and others defamed him by publishing a rebuttal of a paper that he and some others had published earlier. In other words, this was a standard kind of academic dispute, with different scientists taking different positions. Rather than continue to debate it in academic settings, Jacobson sued the critics. We went through all of the details of the case, and why it was so ridiculous in the original article, so we won’t rehash that here.

    • Concerns over censorship order

      The interim order issued by Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli to the Press Council instructing pre-censorship of news concerning the discrepancies in his birth-date mentioned in his official documents has drawn widespread criticism from different sides.

      The order that came from the bench presided by Parajuli himself on Sunday, following a series of news story about his birth-date controversy published in Kantipur daily, has been seen as an attack on free press by the advocates of democracy. Many of them took to social media to voice their concern on Tuesday. They were strident in their reactions against Parajuli’s attempt to muzzle the media.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Has New Opportunity to Protect Device Privacy at the Border

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has a new opportunity to strengthen personal privacy at the border. When courts recognize and strengthen our Fourth Amendment rights against warrantless, suspicionless searches of our electronic devices at the border, it’s an important check on the government’s power to search anyone, for any or no reason, at airports and border checkpoints.

      EFF recently filed amicus briefs in two cases, U.S. v. Cano and U.S. v. Caballero, before the Ninth Circuit arguing that the Constitution requires border agents to have a probable cause warrant to search travelers’ electronic devices.

      Border agents, whether from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), regularly search cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices that travelers carry across the U.S. border. The number of device searches at the border has increased six-fold in the past five years, with the increase accelerating during the Trump administration. These searches are authorized by agency policies that generally permit suspicionless searches without any court oversight.

      The last significant ruling on device privacy at the border in the Ninth Circuit, whose rulings apply to nine western states, was in U.S. v. Cotterman (2013). In that case, the court of appeals held that the Fourth Amendment required border agents to have had reasonable suspicion—a standard between no suspicion and probable cause—before they conducted a “forensic” search, aided by sophisticated software, of the defendant’s laptop. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit also held that a manual search of an electronic device is “routine” and so the traditional border search exception to the warrant requirement applies—that is, no warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing is needed.

    • Can India’s Biometric Identity Program Aadhaar Be Fixed?

      The Supreme Court of India has commenced final hearings in the long-standing challenge to India’s massive biometric identity apparatus, Aadhaar. Following last August’s ruling in the Puttaswamy case rejecting the Attorney General’s contention that privacy was not a fundamental right, a five-judge bench is now weighing in on the privacy concerns raised by the unsanctioned use of Aadhaar.

      The stakes in the Aadhaar case are huge, given the central government’s ambitions to export the underlying technology to other countries. Russia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand have expressed interest in implementing biometric identification system inspired by Aadhaar. The Sri Lankan government has already made plans to introduce a biometric digital identity for citizens to access services, despite stiff opposition to the proposal, and similar plans are under consideration in Pakistan, Nepal and Singapore. The outcome of this hearing will impact the acceptance and adoption of biometric identity across the world.

      At home in India, the need for biometric identity is staked on claims that it will improve government savings through efficient, targeted delivery of welfare. But in the years since its implementation, there is little evidence to back the government’s savings claims. A widely-quoted World Bank’s estimate of $11 billion annual savings (or potential savings) due to Aadhaar has been challenged by economists.

      The architects of Aadhaar also invoke inclusion to justify the need for creating a centralized identity scheme. Yet, contrary to government claims, there is growing evidence of denial of services for lack of Aadhaar card, authentication failures that have led to death, starvation, denial of medical services and hospitalization, and denial of public utilities such as pensions, rations, and cooking gas. During last week’s hearings , Aadhaar’s governing institution, the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), was forced to clarify that access to entitlements would be maintained until an adequate mechanism for authentication of identity was in place, issuing a statement that “no essential service or benefit should be denied to a genuine beneficiary for the want of Aadhaar.”

    • Apple Agrees To Store Chinese iCloud Data In China, Making It Much Easier For The Chinese Gov’t To Access It [Ed: Apple does for China what it has already done for ages for Western governments. Because it doesn't (and never did) care about privacy. Ignore its show trial (like Microsoft's). Mere PR stunts to make them seem like they care for privacy.]

      This will allow the Chinese government to quell dissent and hunt down wrong-thinkers much more efficiently. It also shows the company is willing to drastically change the way it does business in order to maintain a large foreign customer base. This move will prompt questions from Congressional reps and FBI officials about Apple’s refusal to work with the US government to provide access to locked devices and encrypted communications. Thanks to its acquiescence to the Chinese government, these questions won’t be so easy to answer.

      This change in policy won’t budge the needle much in terms of US lawful access. US authorities will now have to route requests for Chinese data through the Chinese government, but it’s unlikely there’s much of that going on now. Requests for domestic data and communications stored in Apple’s iCloud will be handled the way they always have been. Apple’s always held keys domestically for iCloud accounts, which makes the cries of “going dark” a bit melodramatic.

      But it does indicate Apple is willing to change policies for governments far less freedom-friendly than ours. And if it’s willing to do that, why won’t it stash encryption keys for locked devices where US law enforcement can access them?

    • Government could face greater burden of proof in NSA espionage case

      A federal judge has thrown a wrench in the government’s case against National Security Agency Contractor Harold T. Martin III by questioning how much foreknowledge a federal contractor needs to have for their possession of NSA documents to constitute theft of government information.

      On Feb 16, 2018, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis ordered a legal hearing to take place before March 6, 2018, at which both the defense and prosecution must define what they think the government must legally prove to convict Martin of theft, as originally reported by Politico.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Atlantic Bravely Confronts Twitter Insults, Ignores Threat of Decades in Prison

      New York Times editorial page deputy editor Bari Weiss—a boilerplate neocon warmonger, anti-Arab racist, and sexual abuse soft-peddler—got into hot water when she sent a tweet last week praising Asian-American Mirai Nagasu (born in California) for being “an immigrant” who “got things done.” When several people noted not only that Nagasu was born in the US–and thus not an immigrant–but that the assumption that Asian-Americans are inherently foreign is a pervasive, deeply toxic trope that should be apologized for, Weiss had a classic Twitter meltdown, ending in claims that animosity leveled at her was “another sign of civilization’s end.”

      Right on cue, fellow blue-checkmark Serious People rushed to her defense, most prominently—and uniformly—from the ultimate arbiter of seriousness, Atlantic Magazine. The centrist outlet published not one but two articles on the topic of Twitter being mean to Weiss: “The Excesses of Call-Out Culture“ by Conor Friedersdorf (2/19/18) and “Bari Weiss and the Left-Wing Infatuation With Taking Offense” by Shadi Hamid (2/17/19).

    • Homeland Security Unlawfully Ended DACA Protections for Some Dreamers

      A federal court orders the government to reinstate DACA status that it unlawfully revoked without due process.

      As part of its anti-immigrant agenda, the Trump administration has been revoking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals grants based on unproven allegations or minor offenses that should have no effect on whether a person can protected from deportation under DACA. This policy has caused many young immigrants to lose their permission to live and work in the United States with no notice, explanation or opportunity to respond.

      But on Monday night, a federal court in Los Angeles put a stop to the practice, ruling that the government violates its own rules and the Administrative Procedure Act when it terminates DACA status without notice or a chance to contest the government’s actions. The APA is a 1946 law that regulates federal agencies and provides judicial oversight over their behavior.

    • Jeff Sessions’ Culture War

      Sessions’ gay panic is just one example of his efforts to diminish rights and protections for certain groups, while intensifying the nation’s mass incarceration culture. He recently announced that he would end Obama-era protections for marijuana users in states that have legalized possession. While marijuana possession is still a federal crime — one based on retrograde, anti-scientific laws — he is using his authority to counter the will of voters in states where the public supports decriminalization of marijuana. He is doing this based on a comically outdated view of marijuana — that “good people” don’t smoke it — and a tragic resuscitation of the failed war on drugs more broadly.

    • How Chicago Ticket Debt Sends Black Motorists Into Bankruptcy

      By last summer, Laqueanda Reneau felt like she had finally gotten her life on track.

      A single mother who had gotten pregnant in high school, she supported her family with a series of jobs at coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores until she landed a position she loved as a community organizer on Chicago’s West Side. At the same time, she was working her way toward a degree in public health at DePaul University.

      But one large barrier stood in her way: $6,700 in unpaid tickets, late fines and impound fees.

      She had begun racking up the ticket debt five years earlier, in 2012, after a neighbor who saw her riding the bus late at night with her infant son sold her her first car, a used Toyota Camry, for a few hundred dollars. She was grateful for the shorter commute to work but unprepared for the extra costs of owning a car in Chicago.

    • The Many Roads to Bankruptcy

      We’ve been reporting on how unpaid parking and automated traffic camera tickets can quickly spiral out of control for Chicago’s working poor, and particularly for African Americans.

      Thousands of drivers file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy each year to cope with ticket debt, getting a chance to lift license suspensions or to protect their vehicles from the city’s boot list.

      But bankruptcy often leaves drivers in worse financial shape.

    • Top Lawmakers Call for Investigation of DEA-Led Unit in Mexico

      Powerful Democrats in both the House and Senate called Tuesday for an investigation into Drug Enforcement Administration-led operations in Mexico that played a role in triggering violent drug cartel attacks. These attacks left dozens, possibly hundreds, of people dead or missing, including many who had nothing to do with the drug trade.

      The call was issued in a letter signed by ranking members of the committees that oversee America’s foreign law enforcement operations and draws heavily on two stories last year by ProPublica and National Geographic that documented the attacks and the DEA’s role. One story reconstructed a 2011 massacre by the Zetas cartel in the Mexican state of Coahuila. It revealed that the wave of killings was unleashed after sensitive information obtained during a DEA operation wound up in the hands of cartel leaders, who ordered a wave of retaliation against suspected traitors.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • NRA Gives FCC Boss An Award For ‘Courageously’ Killing Net Neutrality, May Have Violated Ethics Rules

      The NRA last week thought it would be a good idea to give FCC boss Ajit Pai an award for killing net neutrality. More specifically, the NRA gave Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage at the CPAC conference for killing the popular consumer protections. The entire affair was a tone deafness supernova from beginning to end, with American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider making it abundantly clear that he and other attendees have absolutely no coherent idea what net neutrality even is.

    • Tell Congress to Protect the Open Internet

      Today, EFF is participating in a national Day of Action to push Congress to preserve the net neutrality rules the FCC repealed in December. With a simple majority, Congress can use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the FCC’s new rule. We’re asking for members of the House and Senate to commit to doing so publicly.

      On Thursday, February 22, the FCC’s so-called “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” was published in the Federal Register. Under the CRA, Congress has 60 working days to vote to overturn that Order. We’re asking representatives to publicly commit to doing just that. In the House of Representatives, that means supporting Representative Mike Doyle’s bill, which has 150 co-sponsors. In the Senate, Senator Ed Markey’s bill is just one vote away from passing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Second Circuit Gouges TVEyes With Terrible Fair Use Ruling

        In a decision that threatens legitimate fair uses, the Second Circuit ruled against part of the service offered by TVEyes, which creates a text-searchable database of broadcast content from thousands of television and radio stations in the United States and worldwide. The service is invaluable to people looking to investigate and analyze the claims made on broadcast television and radio. Sadly, this ruling is likely to interfere with that valuable service.

        TVEyes allows subscribers to search through transcripts of broadcast content and gives a time code for what the search returns. It also allows its subscribers to search for, view, download, and share ten-minute clips. It’s used by exactly who you’d think would need a service like this: journalists, scholars, politicians, and so on in order to monitor what’s being said in the media. If you’ve ever read a story where a public figure’s words now are contrasted with contradictory things they said in the past, then you’ve seen the effects of TVEyes.

      • How To Use uTorrent Web To Download And Stream Torrents In Your Browser?

        An appealing user interface is a de facto requirement in modern software that has become better and better over the years. The world of BitTorrent clients is no different. While we still have those somewhat ugly but feature-packed torrent downloaders, there are many good looking options available for everyday torrent downloaders.

      • US v. Lundgren: When Recycling is a Crime

        A pending case against recycler Eric Lundgren has now moved to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lundgren pled guilty to criminal copyright infringement and was sentenced to 15 months incarceration. The basics are that he manufactured over 28,000 discs containing Dell/Microsoft Restore Discs and shipped them from China to the U.S. Lundgren argued that the discs should be seen as publicly available since they don’t work without an access code and his actual plan involved using legitimate access codes that he had obtained from purchasers. Microsoft apparently pushed the Miami FBI to pursue Lundgren for counterfeiting and last year he pled guilty to both Criminal Copyright Infringement and Conspiracy to Traffic in Counterfeit Goods.


        The conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods is, I imagine, what really drove the charges — the problem with the discs was not only that they were Microsoft Restore discs, but that he had printed on them the Dell and Microsoft logos. Of course, one trick with Conspiracy is that it is a future-crime – an agreement to commit a crime at some time in the future.

      • ‘I got in Microsoft’s way’: Recycler sentenced over free Windows recovery CDs tells RT

        Recycling advocate Eric Lundgren, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for making free Windows recovery discs, told RT that he will use his appeal to continue fighting against planned obsolescence by Microsoft and others.
        “I was very, very shocked when I was given a prison sentence for extending the lifecycle of electronics, practicing recycling and trying to empower people,” Lundgren said of the one year and three months conviction handed to him by a Florida court earlier in February.

        Lundgren was found guilty of “conspiracy and copyright infringement” after burning 28,000 copies of recovery discs for Windows back in 2016, despite the fact that the CDs, which had absolutely no retail value, were seized by the authorities. He was also slapped with a $50,000 fine but luckily avoided repaying $420,000 that Microsoft sought in restitution for lost sales.


East Asia — Mainland China in Particular — Already Becoming a Victim of Its Patent Policy as Software Patent Trolls Prey on Producing Companies

Posted in Asia, Patents at 1:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Neither bad decisions nor term limits can stop ‘Pooh the Bear’

Pooh the Bear

Summary: The highly misguided patent policy (disregarding quality control) has so far led to a saturation of patent trolls and a lot of predation which already drives LG out of China and might soon cause other companies (maybe Samsung) to do the same; the ‘MPEG cartel’, whose Western patents are expiring, is going on a fishing expedition in China

As many concerned observers have warned for number of years (us included), China is becoming a haven for patent trolls. It has become friendly towards software patents and mass litigation (the EPO imitates this, whereas the USPTO goes in the opposite direction, which helps explain the surge of patent trolls in Europe — even before a UPC-like regime — and their demise in the US).

Some hours ago IAM said that large companies are becoming prime targets of Chinese patent trolls (IAM did not use the term “patent trolls” because it’s a denialist, paid by the ‘industry’ that stands to benefit from such denials). To quote:

Last November, IAM reported that Samsung Electronics, already locked in a high-stakes litigation battle with Huawei, was also facing multiple NPE suits in Chinese courts. One of the NPE plaintiffs was Shenzhen Dunjun Technology, and it was asserting a patent originally assigned to none other than Huawei. A search of Chinese court rulings reveals that this suit was not necessarily a one-off connected to the Samsung-Huawei dispute. Dunjun’s assertions go back several years, and include very large companies, both foreign and domestic.

According to an article published in the Chinese media, Dunjun is a licensing company set up in 2014, whose executive team includes former employees of Huawei, Foxconn and other technology companies with a major presence in the Shenzhen area. The assignments record shows that the company acquired several patents from Huawei during the summer of 2015. Beyond that transaction it is unclear whether Dunjun has any kind of ongoing relationship with Huawei.

This is the kind of thing which China possibly hopes will drive away foreign competitors. Perhaps that was all along the strategy of Pooh the Bear.

IAM is of course delighted; remember who IAM fronts for!

“A very positive step in China for Fraunhofer,” IAM wrote earlier about the MPEG-LA cabal getting revenue from China (we wrote about it this morning). Huawei has already come under attack from Microsoft-connected trolls and now this? “Via Licensing and Sisvel announced remarkably similar multi-generation SEP licensing programmes yesterday,” IAM added. “Press releases just 33 minutes apart… coincidence?”

Sisvel is a bully, not just an enforcer for trolls. Here’s the press release in question:

Via Licensing, the leading provider of intellectual property solutions, announced today that it is launching a new multi-generational licensing program for wireless technologies. The program offers one of the largest combined cellular standard-essential patent portfolios for licensing connected devices, including smartphones, tablet computers, connected motor vehicles and other IoT devices.

Via is Taiwanese and Via Licensing licences MPEG-2 AAC, MPEG-4 etc.

What’s interesting about all this is that acceptance of software patents in Asia seems to be having a ripple effect even at a time when many MPEG patents expire. Those were, without exception, software patents.

CAFC and PTAB Are Both Being Insulted by the Patent Maximalists, Who Resort to Offensive Cartoons and Lies

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 1:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Judge Reyna

Summary: The plaintiff-hostile patent courts, which have become strict on patent scope, are receiving scorn and abuse from the patent ‘industry’; the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), for example, sees a judge of Mexican heritage caricaturised as shown above

SOFTWARE patents continue their rapid demise in the United States.

Earlier on the Docket Navigator highlighted this new decision wherein a USPTO-granted patent got invalidated (under 35 U.S.C. § 101). “The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment that the asserted claims of plaintiff’s gaming machine patents encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims lacked an inventive concept,” said the summary.

“Unified Patents has also just noted that its PTAB petition was likely successful and the “Walker Innovation” [sic] patent likely invalidated.”One can imagine that the court/trial fees (attorneys etc.) were a lot higher than the cost of PTAB petitions (IPRs).

Unified Patent has also just noted that its PTAB petition was likely successful and the “Walker Innovation” [sic] patent likely invalidated. To quote:

On February 23, 2018, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,549,310 owned and asserted by Certified Measurement, a subsidiary of Walker Innovation and well-known NPE. The ’310 patent, directed to a “method and apparatus for secure measurement certification,” has been asserted in multiple cases against such companies as Yokogawa America, ABB, and Alstom.

This has become the norm rather than a rarity. The patent micrososm is just trying to cause a controversy and allege that PTAB does not assess evidence/facts. It’s an old and easy-to-debunk lie (typically promoted in sites of patent trolls) which Patently-O contributed to with a silly (potentially racist) meme he had made about Federal Circuit Judge Rayne (see above, we had made a copy before he removed it and apologised). There’s this new example of efforts to push this lie all the way up to the Supreme Court. We’re not worried because the Supreme Court repeatedly rejected petitions to review Alice-type cases.

“The patent micrososm is just trying to cause a controversy and allege that PTAB does not assess evidence/facts.”We don’t expect the patent micrososm to quit trying all sorts of tricks. Patently-O has already attempted to slow down PTAB and CAFC. Patently-O‘s Dennis Crouch was even asking his students to write essays which suit his agenda some years back (which raises ethical questions about his employer) and days ago he returned to student essays, this time from Lauren Kimmel about “Science Fiction Law”. It wasn’t long ago when we saw high school students exploited by Watchtroll for anti-PTAB propaganda, shrewdly constructed in a “think about the children!” fashion.

Another site of the patent micrososm wrote a PTAB rant last week. Andrew Williams said:

Last year, the Federal Circuit decided the Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal case en banc in what could be considered the epitome of a fractured decision. After 148 pages and five separate opinions, the only agreed-to result could be summed up in two conclusions: (1) that the PTO had not adopted a rule regarding the burden of persuasion, and that (2) because there was nothing that was entitled to deference, “the PTO may not place that burden on the patentee.” Nevertheless, Judge Rayne’s concurrence-in-part, at Part III, articulated a rule regarding the burden of production, even if there was disagreement whether it was a judgement of the Court or mere “cogitations.” This conclusion was that, in the absence of a properly promulgated rule, “the Patent Office must by default abide by the existing language of inter partes review statute and regulations, § 316(d) and 37 C.F.R. § 42.121, which only allocate a burden of production to the patent owner.” At the time, we did not know whether the Board would follow Judge Rayne’s pronouncement. But in the interim, the picture has become clear.

That’s the same Judge Rayne which Crouch did an offensive cartoon about. Considering what we showed in the previous post, they now have an ally in the Koch Brothers, who are deep-pocketed and notoriously reckless when they intervene in policy. They cannot get the Supreme Court to revisit patent scope, so right now they meddle in Oil States, hoping to undermine the principal or most prolific enforcer of patent scope (PTAB).

Richard Epstein From a Koch-Funded Think Tank Attacks PTAB Because PTAB Squashes Weak Patents That Only Exist for Protectionism and Offense

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Under the guise of ‘small government’ or ‘limited government’ (the slant used by billionaires to thwart regulations)

Richard Epstein
Richard Epstein’s bio above. Basically a serial lobbyist for keeping the government from intervening in the business affairs of plutocrats like the Koch Brothers (serial polluters).

Summary: A think tank of the Koch Brothers, typically known as “Fed Soc” (a misnomer), is the latest example of corruption/perturbation of the law by billionaires; they are not happy to see patent quality being improved or the threshold/bar raised

EARLIER THIS year we wrote about how and why the Koch Brothers are attacking the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Earlier today we wrote about one of their ‘scholars’, who are basically just drinking off billionaires’ duds in exchange for corrupt (paid-for) ‘research’. Right now, for example, their eyes are set on Congress, the Supreme Court, and the USPTO. This isn’t “normal” and it is definitely not “acceptable”. What we have here is a bunch of billionaires just trying to virtually if not literally ‘buy’ the law. We also know what they want: more for themselves and less for everyone else. They want protectionism, tax cuts, relaxation of regulations and so on.

Watch how villainous staff of theirs (bio above, showing direct affiliation) fires away another very long rant about PTAB. We know who’s paying for this and it’s not Richard Epstein’s pro bono endeavour. “MUST READ by Richard Epstein,” a patent maximalist called it, latching onto a think tank (or AstroTurfing for billionaires) because that suits his personal agenda. To quote the concluding words:

Oil States gives the Supreme Court the chance to stop a process that has already run off the rails. And if it does not, Congress should take steps to restore the proper constitutional balance.

Epstein also writes for SCOTUS Blog, which actually raises all sorts of questions about Koch influence over the Supreme Court. Is everything up for sale? Even the law or court rulings? It’s no secret that SCOTUS Blog has a special relationship with SCOTUS itself, as noted several times in the past (ethical questions brought up).

We already know why these people want PTAB squashed (for example by influencing the outcome of Oil States). Charles Bieneman, for example, has just covered this new district court decision (mentioned here a few days ago) that very obviously involves software patents (clearly a bunk/bogus patent). To quote: “Claims reciting a “method of playing back a recorded signal” are “directed to the [patent-ineligible] abstract idea of choosing to playback media with or without playback preferences,” held the court in D&M Holdings, Inc. v. Sonos, Inc., No. 16-141-RGA (D. Del. Feb 16, 2018). The court thus granted summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of U.S. Patent No. 7,995,899.”

This is more of what we’ve become accustomed to. Here’s a new PTAB example (not even court):

In constructing a term in the independent claim in the inter parte review of Kranos Corporation v. Riddell, Inc., (Case IPR2016-01649, Final Written Decision on Feb. 7, 2018), the Patent Trial & Appeals Board rejected the application of the doctrine of claim differentiation based on a clear definition of the term that was provided in the specification.


This is another example of how clear definitions and consistent use of those definitions can be beneficial for claim construction. This case can be compared to another recent post in which a district court did apply the doctrine of claim differentiation to determine the broadest reasonable interpretation of a claim term.

Another site, this one dedicated to PTAB matters, is now cherry-picking to find those very rare cases where appealing a PTAB ruling results in anything but more lawyer fees. Remember that they profit from appeals too, which they oversell as it’s another “transaction” for them.

Here’s this exception:

Obtaining a remand on an appeal from the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) is of course a win for the Patent Owner, but may result in an ultimate loss when the case is revisited at the PTAB. The Feb. 12, 2018 Federal Circuit opinion, In Re Hodges, No. 2017-1434, (Fed. Cir. Feb. 12, 2018), highlights the importance of anticipating appellate review when developing the IPR record and choosing response strategies during patent prosecution to put the Patent Owner in the best position possible for a full reversal of the PTAB’s decision rather than a remand.

What’s currently at stake at Oil States is AIA/PTAB/IPRs but more precisely the authority of PTAB to invalidate patents that were granted (potentially years beforehand). If the lobbying of the Koch Brothers (they’re not alone in this) succeeds, there’s danger to PTAB’s very existence. It’s therefore important to point out where the money comes from and why. These people (Kochs) couldn’t care any less about the quality of patents; it’s not even an ideological question to them as it’s mostly about the government’s ability to take back what they deem ‘private’ ‘property’ ‘rights’ (it's none of these things). They disguise themselves as Libertarian, but what they really stand for is limitless greed and absence of regulations.

The EPO’s Appeal Boards Remain Utterly Dependent and Far From Impartial After Battistelli’s Assault on Their Independence

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Team Chinchilla’ is very pleased about the exile/exodus of judges

Boards of Appeal President Carl Josefsson, EPO Vice President Raimund Lutz, Haar Mayor Gabriele Müller, Administrative Council Chairman Christoph Ernst

Summary: In spite of their mass ‘relocation’ (exile) to Haar, judges of the Boards of Appeal do not feel independent and the recent forced exile (to another country) of their colleague Patrick Corcoran reaffirms this perception, not to mention the Appeal Boards’ Vice President, who is also oddly chosen (like Carl Josefsson above, on the left)

THE MANAGEMENT of the EPO is having another go at changing perceptions because of the UPC. It wants the public, the stakeholders, German judges etc. to actually believe that all problems at the BoA (Boards of Appeal) have been resolved. The EPO, moreover, tries to interject the perception of public input on BoA. We wrote about this several times before and earlier today too the EPO wrote: “Help us improve the efficiency and predictability of proceedings before the EPO Boards of Appeal.”

“The EPO, moreover, tries to interject the perception of public input on BoA.”“A good start would be to reinstate Patrick Corcoran in his old role,” I told them. That’ll never happen though. They cannot accept the idea of a ‘dissenting’ judge, i.e. a person who does not speak Battistelli’s gospel (e.g. about the integrity of Battistelli’s appointees and patent quality).

As a matter of fact, things are getting worse at BoA, which months ago was sent to Haar as punishment (with the spin that relocation was really an attempt at enhancing independence). A few days ago someone in IP Kat (comments of course, as the posts are worthless propaganda and self-promotion these days) alluded to the Appeal Boards’ Vice President, i.e. deputy to Battistelli’s ‘approved’ pick of President.

“Tenures/terms are long enough to outlive Battistelli’s reign of terror.”“In Distribution of Business,” a source told us cryptically, “Vice President of the Appeal Boards is part of some Appeal Board. Can other members of Appeal Boards be independent if he will be deciding appointments of them?”

Of course not. Then again, the President too is selected in a sham process and Battistelli put his loyal 'chinchillas' in key managerial positions at BoA. Tenures/terms are long enough to outlive Battistelli’s reign of terror. He got his ‘dynasty’ all worked out, more so with former colleagues from INPI in many top roles. The next EPO President, who is also French, was Battistelli’s choice.

Links 27/2/2018: Linux 4.16 RC3, Wayland 1.15 Alpha, Mesa 17.3.6

Posted in News Roundup at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Top 10 open source legal stories that shook 2017

    Like every year, legal issues were a hot topic in the open source world in 2017. While we’re deep into the first quarter of the year, it’s still worthwhile to look back at the top legal news in open source last year.

  • Has OSS finally come into its own?

    Many moons ago – more than 15 years, in fact – South Africa’s government decided it would go open source.

    Back in 2002, the Government Information Officers’ Council (Gito) – a body of government CIOs – released a policy framework document recommending government `explicitly’ support the adoption of open source software (OSS) as part of its e-government strategy.

    Some eight years after the policy document was released, open source as a solution got the nod, with some government departments actually making the move. Back then, open source was seen as a way to stimulate skills development.

  • Improving teamwork by engineering trust

    Even in highly mature open organizations, where we’re doing our best to be collaborative, inclusive, and transparent, we can fail to reach alignment or common understanding. Disagreements and miscommunication between leaders and their teams, between members of the same team, between different teams in a department, or between colleagues in different departments remain common even in the most high-performing organizations. Responses to their intensity and impact run the gamut, from “Why did someone take our whiteboard?” to “Why are we doing this big project?”

  • Community metrics: The challenge behind the numbers

    We are all obsessed with the numbers and statistics we can measure in our lives. We are concerned about our health, so we monitor our weight, blood pressure, and calorie intake. We also observe ourselves and our work environments to evaluate our efficiency and team dynamics. This mindset of focusing on the numbers carries over to how we evaluate open source communities.

  • Events

    • 6 Days Left to Submit a Proposal to Speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China

      Submit a proposal to speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China (LC3), taking place in Beijing this June 25 – 27, and share your expertise with 3,000+ open source technologists, executives and community members.

    • Yet Another Perl Conference :: Europe :: 2018

      The Perl Conference – which in the Perl community is usually referred to as Yet Another Perl Conference Europe (YAPC::EU) – is the annual meeting of Perl Mongers, developers, administrators, technical managers and interested parties in Europe. In 2018 the European Perl Conference will be held at The Studio in Glasgow between 13th-17th August.

    • SiFive to Host RISC-V Hackathon at Embedded Linux Conference

      SiFive will hold its first hackathon at the Embedded Linux Conference, providing an opportunity for developers to test SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, the industry’s first RISC-V based, 64-bit quadcore processor running Linux.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • It’s Resilient CSS Week

        Writing code that works in all web browsers at the same time is one of the most important things we do. New technology is coming out all the time. Yet many of the people visiting the websites we build are using old browsers. How can we use new CSS if it’s not supported in every browser — especially when users keep using old, crufty browsers? Do we have to wait until 100% of people have a browsers with the new feature? Don’t we have to wait until Internet Explorer is dead before we can use the new stuff?

      • Speed Without Wizardry

        Most of the improvements that mraleph implemented are desirable regardless of the programming language that is our medium. Excessive allocation rates make any garbage collector (or malloc and free implementation) a bottleneck. Monomorphization and inlining are crucial to eking out performance in both Rust and JavaScript. Algorithms transcend programming languages.

      • This Week In Servo 105

        Welcome back to This Week in Servo, and apologies for the long delay since the last update! Servo has continued making progress throughout that time, including shipping the Stylo CSS engine in Firefox among many other things. We’re resuming weekly updates now that the pressure has let up a bit!

        In the last week, we landed 87 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • Mozilla removes individual cookie management in Firefox 60

        The most recent version of Firefox Nightly, currently at version 60, comes with changes to Firefox’s cookie management. Mozilla merged cookie settings with site data in the web browser which impacts how you configure and manage cookie options.

        If you run Firefox 59 or earlier, you can load about:preferences#privacy to manage privacy related settings in Firefox. If you set the history to “use custom settings for history” or “remember history”, you get an option manage cookie settings and to remove individual cookies from Firefox.

      • Using Permissions to Establish Trust

        I used to work in an industry where being ISO 9001 certified was necessary in order to remain competitive. If you are unfamiliar with ISO 9001, it is a set of standards that requires a business to document each process, and then follow those documented processes. And every autumn, sure as the leaves falling from the trees, an independent auditor would show up to verify we were indeed documenting and following our processes. It’s like a tax audit you impose on yourself (and about as unpleasant).

        The idea behind ISO 9001, though, is that a certified business can be trusted, both in its business dealings and its delivered products. It is meant to convey a sense of quality and security to customers.

      • Firefox 59 Beta 14 DevEdition Testday, March 2nd

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, 2nd of March, we are organizing Firefox 59 .0b14 DevEdition Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on the following features: Toolbars & window controls and Default & custom theme support.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Weighing Open Source’s Worth for the Future of Big Data

      The open source software movement began in earnest 20 years ago, when a group of technology leaders in Silicon Valley coined the term as an alternative to the repugnant “free software.” Fast forward to 2018, and the concept has been cemented in our psyches. But does open source have the staying power to drive the next 20 years’ worth of innovation?

      There was, of course, open source software before 1998. Linus Torvalds created the first Linux kernel in the open back in 1991, and even IBM engaged in sharing of operating system internals going back into the 1950s.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB launches innovation labs

      he open source database company MariaDB is launching a research division aimed at tackling the most pressing issues in the database field.

      Speaking at the M18 user conference in New York yesterday, MariaDB CEO Michael Howard identified that the labs will focus on three key areas: “Machine learning, distributed computing and the use and exploitation of new chips, persistent storage and in-memory processing.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6 Review

      LibreOffice is an office productivity suite that is similar to Microsoft Office Suite. It has word processor program called Writer, spreadsheet known as Calc, and presentation as Impress. Other than these programs it also has a Draw, Base, and a Math program. LibreOffice can be installed on almost all platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux and certain UNIX OS.

  • CMS

    • SuiteCRM brings open source CRM to new level

      SalesAgility has announced the release of the latest version of SuiteCRM and a new online documentation platform.

      SuiteCRM is the worlds largest open source CRM, it was created after SugarCRM stopped its open source development of the product. It was first released in October 2013 as version 7.00. The latest release is 7.10 and comes with a series of enhancements.

      The second announcement around the documentation platform sees SugarCRM bring online documentation to the wider community. One of the changes is that it enables non developers from customers to add value to the community.

    • SalesAgility, the driving force behind SuiteCRM, joins Open Source Initiative as Corporate Sponsor
    • SalesAgility joins open Source initiative

      SalesAgility has joined the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a Premium Corporate Sponsor. In some ways it is surprising that it has taken this long for SalesAgility to have joined OSI. SalesAgility are the developers of SuiteCRM, the leading open source CRM software. It was created in 2013 when it forked from SugarCRM. Prior to 2013 SugarCRM had an at times fractious relationship with OSI.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • An Open Letter to BSD-powered Companies and Projects

      For three years, the Tor BSD Diversity Project (TDP) has worked to bring the BSDs into the mainstream of the privacy-enhancing technology ecosystem (PETs).

      We aim to expand the use of the BSDs as a platform for Tor relays, public nodes in the Tor anonymity network. Tor is a critical tool for maintaining privacy online, frequently employed by journalists, human rights workers and those residing in repressive and censored environments.


      iIf your entity isn’t ready to run a Tor node, but you’re interested in donating resources such as bandwidth, hardware or some type of monetary support, contact us. TDP looks forward to assisting your staff in configuring and maintaining BSD relays.

    • [llvm-dev] [6.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 3 source, docs and binaries available
    • LLVM 6.0 Release Candidate 3 Arrives As The Official Release Nears

      The third release candidate is available today of LLVM 6.0 and its associated components like Clang, Compiler-RT, libc++, LLDB, etc.

      Hans Wennborg just announced the 6.0.0 RC3 milestone that is now available for download.


    • GNU Automake 1.16 Preps For More Changes Ahead Of Automake 2.0

      While Meson+Ninja remains all the hype these days when it comes to open-source build systems, the GNU build system isn’t going away any time soon and a key component of that was just updated, Automake 1.16.

      GNU Automake 1.16 has fixes around its automatic dependency tracking, improvements around dealing with the reproducible builds effort, a custom test suite driver for the Guile Scheme SRFI-64 API, and various other minor changes.

    • GNU Automake 1.16 released

      We are pleased to announce the GNU Automake 1.16 minor release.

      This release follows 1.15.1 which was made 8 months ago.

      See below for the detailed list of changes since the previous version, as summarized by the NEWS file.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • GREEN WAVES : GreenWaves Technologies Unveils GAP8, the Industry’s Lowest Power IoT Application Processor, Enabling Groundbreaking Embedded Artificial Intelligence at the Very Edge
      • GreenWaves Technologies unveils Gap8 processor for AI at the edge

        Grenoble, France-based GreenWaves is announcing its Gap8 internet of things (IoT) application processor today to handle low-power AI processing in sensor devices. The chip is based on the RISC-V open source processor architecture, and it is meant to solve problems that a lot of other processors were not designed to handle.

      • CEVA Extends its IP Platforms for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with RISC-V

        Mobile World Congress – CEVA, Inc. (NASDAQ: CEVA), the leading licensor of signal processing platforms and artificial intelligence processors for smarter, connected devices, today announced that its market-leading RivieraWaves Bluetooth and Wi-Fi intellectual property (IP) platforms are now offered with an optional integrated open-source RISC-V MCU.

      • RISC-V Gains Its Footing

        The RISC-V instruction-set architecture, which started as a UC Berkeley project to improve energy efficiency, is gaining steam across the industry.

        The RISC-V Foundation’s member roster gives an indication who is behind this effort. Members include Google, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Rambus, Samsung, NXP, Micron, IBM, GlobalFoundries, and Siemens, among many others.

      • IoT apps processor boasts eight RISC-V cores

        Fabless startup Greenwaves Technologies has announced the availability of its GAP8 IoT application processor.

        Martin Croome, vp of business development, said: “GAP8 is aimed at battery powered devices performing content understanding and control applications. Examples include keyword spotting, beam forming and speech analysis. It could also be used for vibration analysis and face detection.”

      • 5 keys to building open hardware

        The science community is increasingly embracing free and open source hardware (FOSH). Researchers have been busy hacking their own equipment and creating hundreds of devices based on the distributed digital manufacturing model to advance their scientific experiments.

        A major reason for all this interest in distributed digital manufacturing of scientific FOSH is money: Research indicates that FOSH slashes costs by 90% to 99% compared to proprietary tools. Commercializing scientific FOSH with open hardware business models has supported the rapid growth of an engineering subfield to develop FOSH for science, which comes together annually at the Gathering for Open Science Hardware.

  • Programming/Development

    • Introducing Qt Automotive Suite 2.0

      We are excited to announce the Qt Automotive Suite 2.0, a great leap forward towards a unified HMI toolchain and framework for digital cockpit, available end of February 2018.

    • Qt Automotive Suite 2.0 Released

      Two years after unveiling Qt Automotive Suite 1.0 for designing digital cockpits for the ever increasing number of screens within cars, The Qt Company has today announced Qt Automotive Suite 2.0.

    • Conan package manager brings C and C++ to devops

      Conan, a distributed, open source package and dependency manager, promises to bring C and C++ into devops.

      The multiplatform package manager builds and shares native binaries. Conan’s ability to quickly create builds, port packages, and run them on different operating systems (Windows, Linux, MacOS, and FreeBSD) helps make C and C++ suitable for devops, said Harry Manley, a senior solutions engineer at JFrog, which sponsors the Conan project.

    • An ethical oath for programmers

      Nick Johnstone’s “Programmer’s Oath” is billed as “An oath for programmers, comparable to the Hippocratic Oath.” Naturally, it’s on Github and you can create a pull request if you think that Johnstone got something wrong.

    • Compiler bug? Linker bug? Windows Kernel bug.

      Flaky failures are the worst. In this particular investigation, which spanned twenty months, we suspected hardware failure, compiler bugs, linker bugs, and other possibilities. Jumping too quickly to blaming hardware or build tools is a classic mistake, but in this case the mistake was that we weren’t thinking big enough. Yes, there was a linker bug, but we were also lucky enough to have hit a Windows kernel bug which is triggered by linkers!

      In September of 2016 we started noticing random failures when building Chrome – 3 out of 200 builds of Chrome failed when protoc.exe, one of the executables that is part of the build, crashed with an access violation. That is, we would build protoc.exe, and then run it to generate header files for the next build stage, but it would crash instead.


  • Apple confirms it now uses Google Cloud for iCloud services

    Apple has confirmed that it uses Google’s public cloud to store data for its iCloud services in its latest version of the iOS Security Guide last month, as spotted by CNBC. Reports that Apple relied on Google’s cloud services surfaced in 2016 but were previously never confirmed.

    Apple had previously used remote data storage systems provided by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Apple’s edition of the iOS Security Guide in March 2017 still listed Microsoft Azure instead of Google Cloud Platform.

    The new edition describes its iCloud service: “The encrypted chunks of the file are stored, without any user-identifying information, using third-party storage services, such as [Amazon] S3 and Google Cloud Platform.”

  • Science

    • ‘Two-way signaling’ possible with a single quantum particle

      Classically, information travels in one direction only, from sender to receiver. In a new paper, however, physicists Flavio Del Santo at the University of Vienna and Borivoje Dakić at the Austrian Academy of Sciences have shown that, in the quantum world, information can travel in both directions simultaneously—a feature that is forbidden by the laws of classical physics.

    • Largest molecular spin found close to a quantum phase transition

      An international research team headed by Professor Dr. Annie Powell, a chemist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and Professor Dr. Jürgen Schnack, a physicist at Bielefeld University, has synthesized a new magnetic molecule. The team has reported the largest ground state spin ever attained. It is publishing its new findings today (26.02.2018) in the new Nature partner journal npj Quantum Materials.

    • Going with the DNA flow: Molecule of life finds new uses in microelectronics

      For sheer versatility, there’s no molecule quite like DNA. The iconic double-helix carries the genetic blueprint for living forms ranging from single-celled organisms to human beings.

      Recently, researchers have found that DNA’s remarkable properties of self-assembly and its ability to conduct electrical charge over considerable distance make it ideally suited for myriad applications, including tiny electronic circuits and computing devices, nanorobots and new advances in photonics.

    • MIT boffins reckon private browsing still leaks data, but they have the answer

      At MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the smart folk found that so-called private browsing modes aren’t nearly private enough. The researchers noted that such modes still leak data like DNS cache, file system info and “on-disk reflections of RAM such as the swap file”.

    • Stanford, MIT, Johns Hopkins University and Waterloo University eye Hong Kong as regional base for stem cell research

      Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and Waterloo University want to form a consortium in the city to engage in biotechnology R&D, source says – but hurdles remain

    • China spirals past US in genome research

      The US government’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is studying if every American baby should undergo extensive DNA sequencing and analysis at birth, while China and other countries are already more advanced toward that goal despite rights concerns.

      DNA, the double helix of deoxyribonucleic acid, can reveal a person’s physical and psychiatric health, identity, relatives and other details. But databases of people’s DNA could also enable governments, police, hackers, corporations, forgers and others to abuse the information.

    • Forecasts of genetic fate just got a lot more accurate

      When Amit Khera explains how he predicts disease, the young cardiologist’s hands touch the air, arranging imaginary columns of people: 30,000 who have suffered heart attacks here, 100,000 healthy controls there.

      There’s never been data available on as many people’s genes as there is today. And that wealth of information is allowing researchers to guess at any person’s chance of getting common diseases like diabetes, arthritis, clogged arteries, and depression.

  • Hardware

    • Secretive U.S. security panel discussing Broadcom’s Qualcomm bid – sources

      A national security panel that can stop mergers that could harm U.S. security has begun looking at Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom Ltd’s plan to take over rival Qualcomm Inc, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

      CFIUS, an opaque inter-agency panel, has been in touch with at least one of the companies in the proposed merger, one source said, and met last month to discuss the potential merger of the two big semiconductor companies, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The high-tech medicine of the future may be biased in favor of well-off white men

      The promise of precision medicine is that all sorts of information about you—your genetics, ethnicity, diet, even neighborhood—could be used to create highly personalized treatments for whatever ails you, replacing the one-size-fits-all medicine of the past.

      Doctors hope this will make everyone healthier. But a new report by the Data & Society Research Institute in New York says certain groups in the US are in jeopardy of being worse off when medicine is tailor-made. The one group notably not at risk: white men who can afford health insurance and a decent lifestyle.

    • Federal Watchdog Identifies New Workplace Safety Problems at Los Alamos Lab

      Los Alamos National Laboratory has failed to keep track of a toxic metal used in nuclear weapons production, potentially exposing workers to serious health consequences, a federal watchdog has found.

      The New Mexico lab’s failure to adequately track beryllium — small amounts of which can cause lung disease and cancer — violates federal regulations put in place to prevent worker overexposure, according to a report last week from the Department of Energy’s inspector general.

    • Trump Era Threatens the Rights of People with Disabilities

      In the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly threatened the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to Rewire, repealing the ADA would force significant cuts to Medicaid, compromising health care for people with disabilities. Medicaid pays for personal care assistants to help with employment, education and integrating in society for those with disabilities. Michelle Diament of Disability Scoop says that as of early January, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also rescinding guidance documents related to ADA.

      The possible repeal of the ADA and the rescinding of documents by Sessions are alarming to the disabled community. Guidance documents define expectations on everything from “service animals to accessible building practices as well as a 2016 letter on employment of people with disabilities.” Documents such as these are important because they offer civil rights and protections to people with disabilities. One of the documents, established in 2016, enforces opportunities for people with disabilities to be gainfully employed. The main concern is that without such guidance people with disabilities will be employed in sheltered workshops, away from other employees.

    • Trump White House Releases Biopharmaceutical Pricing Reform White Paper

      The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently released a report titled, “Reforming Biopharmaceutical Pricing at Home and Abroad.” [Report] The Report points to basically two problems: 1) overpricing in the United States; and 2) underpaying outside the United States.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Developer gets prison after admitting backdoor was made for malice

      An Arkansas man has been sentenced to serve almost three years in federal prison for developing advanced malware that he knew would be used to steal passwords, surreptitiously turn on webcams, and conduct other unlawful actions on infected computers.

    • New bypass and protection techniques for ASLR on Linux

      Many important application functions are implemented in user space. Therefore, when analyzing the ASLR implementation mechanism, we also analyzed part of the GNU Libc (glibc) library, during which we found serious problems with stack canary implementation. We were able to bypass stack canary protection and execute arbitrary code by using ldd.

      This whitepaper describes several methods for bypassing ASLR in the context of application exploitation.

    • Who Wasn’t Responsible for Olympic Destroyer?

      Evidence linking the Olympic Destroyer malware to a specific threat actor group is contradictory, and does not allow for unambiguous attribution. The threat actor responsible for the attack has purposefully included evidence to frustrate analysts and lead researchers to false attribution flags. This false attribution could embolden an adversary to deny an accusation, publicly citing evidence based upon false claims by unwitting third parties. Attribution, while headline grabbing, is difficult and not an exact science. This must force one to question purely software-based attribution going forward.

    • A Technical Deep Dive: Securing the Automation of ACME DNS Challenge Validation

      Earlier this month, Let’s Encrypt (the free, automated, open Certificate Authority EFF helped launch two years ago) passed a huge milestone: issuing over 50 million active certificates. And that number is just going to keep growing, because in a few weeks Let’s Encrypt will also start issuing “wildcard” certificates—a feature many system administrators have been asking for.

    • Linux 4.16 Receives More Spectre & Meltdown Fixes/Optimizations

      The in-development Linux 4.16 kernel has already received a few rounds of updates for the mitigation work on the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities while more is on the way.

      Thomas Gleixner today sent in another batch of “x86/pti” updates for Linux 4.16 in further addressing these CPU security vulnerabilities that were made public in early January.

    • SecOps Spends Its Days Monitoring

      Developers, Security and Operations: DevSecOps. The operations part of the term usually refers to IT operations. However, today narrows in on SecOps, that work in security operations centers (SOCs) and cyber incident response teams (CIRTs). The Cyentia Institute’s survey of 160 of these security analysts shows they face some of the same challenges developers and IT operations teams do. They spend more time on monitoring than any other activity, but they much rather solve problems and “hunt” new threats. SecOps does not like reporting or something called Shift Ops — the actual details of change control and making sure the team doesn’t burn out. Given the shortage of information security professionals, it is concerning that only 45 percent of respondents said their job experience was meeting their expectations.

    • Covert ‘Replay Sessions’ Have Been Harvesting Passwords by Mistake

      Bulk data collection is always a privacy red flag. But the Princeton research group that first published findings about session replay scripts has uncovered a troubling series of situations where seemingly well-intentioned safeguards fail, leading to an unacceptable level of exposure.

    • How to Check if Your Password Has Been Stolen
    • More than half of IT pros believe their organization was breached at least once in 2017
  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Slovakian journalist investigating claims of tax fraud linked to ruling party shot dead

      Ján Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, were discovered shot dead in the home they shared after worried relatives alerted police, saying it had been a week since they had heard from the couple.

      Slovakia’s most senior police officer, Tibor Gašpar, told reporters the murders “likely have something to do with [Kuciak’s] investigative activities”.

    • The mediation proposal on the Assange case “has not enhanced”

      Ecuador’s proposal to the United Kingdom for a mediation on the case of Julian Assange “has not enhanced,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Maria Fernanda Espinosa. “To mediate you need two parties, Ecuador is willing, but not necessarily the other party”, she explained.

    • Julian Assange: Ecuador says UK ‘at fault’ as talks on future break down

      Julian Assange looks set to continue his “refugee” status indefinitely after Ecuador admitted talks with the UK over his exit from its London embassy have failed.

      Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the South American country’s foreign minister, suggested British officials had been unwilling to negotiate over the Wikileaks founder’s potential release.

      Earlier this month, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot upheld the warrant for the arrest of Mr Assange for skipping bail – saying he should have the courage to face court and not feel he is “above the law”.

      His legal team again argued that the outstanding warrant – which dates back to 2012 – should be dismissed because it had “lost its purpose and function” after a Swedish investigation over sex-related allegations was dropped last year.

    • Ahead of Trial, Government Vilifies NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner

      As whistleblower Reality Winner nears trial, prosecutors for the United States government have focused on framing Winner as “anti-American,” denying her bail and due process, and depriving her defense attorneys of adequate access to resources.

      Winner, an Air Force veteran working for an intelligence contractor in Augusta, Georgia, printed out and mailed a classified NSA document to The Intercept in May 2017. The document reported that Russian hackers conducted cyberattacks against a United States voting software supplier and sent phishing emails to more than 100 election officials leading up to the November 2016 election, though the data used to develop this analysis was not included in the report.

    • Julian Assange hung out to dry — yet again

      Italian investigator Maurizi, using freedom of information requests, and with the support of her newspaper Repubblica, has unearthed some of the real motives underlying the British attitude. It has nothing to do with “justice” and everything to do with kowtowing to the Americans — the latter making no secret of their desire to see Assange prosecuted for treason and locked up for a very long time.

      Maurizi showed that the Swedish authorities wanted to drop the sexual assault charges back in 2013, but were persuaded by the British to keep the case going.

      The British efforts included dissuading the Swedish authorities from coming to London to interview Assange, despite repeated offers from him, and a history of such interviews in 44 other extradition cases involving Sweden and the United Kingdom.

      The Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service on 18 October 2013, advising her British contacts that Swedish law would not allow the extradition case to continue. This followed an earlier email from the British to the Swedish authorities, saying ‘don’t you dare get cold feet’.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Are Driving Bans Coming for German Cities?

      A court ruling could ban millions of diesel cars from German city centers, rendering the vehicles worthless. The federal government has considered responding with free public transportation and by forcing car manufacturers to submit to new requirements. By DER SPIEGEL Staff

    • Major EPA reorganization will end science research program

      A federal environmental program that distributes grants to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children is being shuttered amidst a major organization consolidation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

      The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) will no longer exist following plans to combine three EPA offices, the agency confirmed to The Hill Monday.

      The program provides millions of dollars in grants each year.

      Perhaps best known for its handling of fellowships that study the effects of chemicals on children’s health, NCER will be dissolved and science staff serving there will be reassigned elsewhere within the department, EPA said.

    • Relying on renewables alone significantly inflates the cost of overhauling energy

      A growing number of US cities and states have proposed or even passed legislation that would require producing all electricity from renewable energy sources like solar and wind within a few decades.

      That might sound like a great idea. But a growing body of evidence shows it’s not.

    • North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists
  • Finance

    • Coinbase: We will send data on 13,000 users to IRS

      Coinbase reminded its users that it is “unable to provide legal or tax advice.” The company also noted, “If you have concerns about this, we encourage you to seek legal advice from an attorney promptly. Coinbase expects to produce the information covered by the court’s order within 21 days.”

    • Capio to acquire the Swedish primary care group Novakliniken

      Capio has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of Novakliniken with operations in the southeastern parts of [Scania], Sweden. Novakliniken operates eight primary care centers and two branches, and provides some occupational health and dental services. 2017 net sales were MSEK 245. The acquisition of Novakliniken complements and strengthens Capio’s presence and healthcare offering in [Scania].

    • The American midwest is quickly becoming a blue-collar version of Silicon Valley

      Alongside the traditional high-flying software jobs that are plentiful in Silicon Valley, mid-tech jobs, loosely defined as tech jobs requiring less than a college degree, are growing fast in the Midwest. While not an official designation, mid-tech jobs can be defined as skilled tech work that doesn’t require a college degree: just intense, focused training on the job or in vocational programs like those of blue-collar trades of the industrial past.

    • Uber, Lyft drivers are making city traffic worse, studies find

      One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

      And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit.

    • American Manufacturing Doesn’t Have to Die

      Twelve-and-a-half million Americans worked in manufacturing in 2017, down from 14.1 million 11 years earlier.

    • Why blockchain challenges conventional thinking about intellectual property

      Cryptocurrencies are getting a lot of attention, but finance is only one of many applications of the blockchain technology behind it.

      Blockchain technology is poised to revolutionise almost everything from supply chains (including illegal fishing and human rights abuses), insurance and health.


      History is littered with examples of patents harming rather than aiding innovation. James Watt’s steam engine was an advance over existing steam engines, yet the technology could not be built upon because of Watt’s patents.

    • Chinese Tycoon Makes $9 Billion Bet on Mercedes E-Car Know-How

      A dozen years ago, Chinese carmaker Geely announced its arrival on the global stage with a giant “I Am Geely” sign over its stand at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Last week, Geely founder Li Shufu effectively added an “I am Mercedes-Benz” banner to his collection.

      Li on Friday disclosed that he has become the top shareholder in Daimler AG, the storied company that is one of the crown jewels of German industry. Li, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said the 7.3 billion-euro ($9 billion) stake — 9.7 percent of Daimler’s shares — will help his company better compete as the likes of Google and Apple Inc. vie for a role in the shift to electric and self-driving vehicles.

    • The Dropbox IPO is a transformative moment for Y Combinator

      Dropbox on Feb. 23 announced plans to raise $500 million through an initial public offering (pdf), making the 11-year-old file-storage startup the first company in Y Combinator’s portfolio to make a market debut.

      It’s a big moment, and a potential inflection point, for the influential incubator. Y Combinator has a roster of big companies, including Stripe and Airbnb, that plan to go public eventually.

    • Cooke Aquaculture Pacific urges lawmakers to consider jobs, science-based policy, fair and equitable treatment

      Cooke Aquaculture Pacific urges lawmakers to consider jobs, science-based policy, fair and equitable treatment; Will seek NAFTA arbitration if ban on Atlantic salmon farming is approved

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump campaign gamed Facebook ads even better than we thought

      So how much did the Clinton campaign pay? Here it gets a bit tricky. Last fall, a member of the Clinton campaign team told me that their CPMs averaged $10 to $30, which they described as typical for a targeted Facebook campaign. But that figure represented the cost only of paid impressions. As described above, ads that perform well can reach larger audiences as they receive likes, comments, and shares — so-called “organic reach.” That lowers the overall cost of the ad.

      When Parscale says “we had CPMs that were pennies in some cases,” he almost certainly took organic reach into account. (It’s very hard to place an ad for anything on Facebook for literal pennies.) Unfortunately, the person I spoke with at the Clinton campaign no longer had access to organic reach data. Still, they said, it was unlikely that organic reach would have lowered a $10 paid CPM to a $1 organic one, as my Facebook source had suggested.

    • FCC Republican faces ethics complaint after calling for Trump’s re-election

      Also on Friday, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly called for the re-election of President Donald Trump during his appearance at CPAC. Advocacy group American Oversight called for an investigation of O’Rielly, saying that he violated a rule against “engaging in partisan political activity while on duty.”

    • Bots, Assange, an alliance: Has Russian propaganda infiltrated the Philippines?

      Top Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that all 3 Twitter accounts shared news articles in support of Catalan independence. All 3 tweeted 24 hours a day. All 3 tweeted the exact same articles at the exact same times.

      The 3 accounts were “part of an online army of robot profiles, who, armed with gasoline canisters brimming with fake news, stalk social media and fan the flames of debate as ordered by their generals,” said Spain’s widest read newspaper and second most read online news site.

      “At the beginning of October, this army went to work on the issue of Catalan independence. Evidence shows a total of 87% of the 65 accounts who most shared RT and Sputnik content were automated,” El Pais said.

      “Those accounts helped ensure that Russian news outlets were the fourth most influential in the digital conversation about Catalonia.”

    • China Proposes Lifting Presidential Term Limit

      China’s ruling Communist Party has proposed scrapping constitutional term limits for the country’s president, which would give President Xi Jinping the option to stay on after the end of his second term in 2022. Critics see the move as reversing decades of efforts to create rules in China for the orderly exercise and transfer of political power.

      The official New China News Agency reported Sunday that the party’s 205-member Central Committee proposed that the term limits be removed from the constitution. The changes must be ratified by China’s parliament at its annual session next month, but that parliament, known as the National People’s Congress, has never rejected a law that the party or government has put before it.

    • China moves to silence outcry over abolition of Xi’s term limit
    • China censorship after Xi Jinping presidency extension proposal

      China’s governing Communist Party has proposed removing a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms – which means President Xi Jinping could remain as leader after the end of his second term in 2023.

      The controversial move has ignited discussion on Chinese social media and pushed online government censors into overdrive.

    • Xi Jinping’s power grab ‘does hark back to darker times in China,’ says expert

      Critics shared Winnie the Pooh images, including one that showed the cartoon bear hugging a pot of honey and featured the caption, “Find the thing you love and never let go.” Pooh Bear is often used to represent Xi, though censors cracked down on that last year.

    • California Democratic Party declines to endorse Dianne Feinstein for re-election

      In a surprising show of discontent with one of California’s most enduring political leaders, the state Democratic Party declined to make an endorsement in this year’s U.S. Senate race on Sunday, snubbing Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her bid for a fifth full term.

      Her main challenger, State Senate leader Kevin de León, won the support of 54 percent of delegates at the state party convention here this weekend, short of the 60 percent needed to secure the party’s endorsement. Feinstein received only 37 percent of the votes.

      The rebuke of Feinstein by the party delegates comes even though the 25-year incumbent has led polls by wide margins and received the backing of political luminaries like Sen. Kamala Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    • Surveillance-happy authoritarian “Democratic” California senator Dianne Feinstein loses California Democratic Party endorsement

      Dianne Feinstein has represented California in the US senate for 28 years, garnering the California Democratic Party endorsement every year despite her far-right positions on mass surveillance, military adventurism, and authoritarian rule (she’s trumpeted these policies as evidence of her “independence”).

      After a quarter-century of legislative malpractice, California Democrats have had enough. Yesterday, the California Democratic Party denied her their endorsement. The candidate favored by the state party is State Senator Kevin De León, a moderate left-wing Democrat who backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election but says he admires Bernie Sanders’ campaign and platform.

    • The Democratic party is now publicly attacking progressive candidates

      In their desperation to win back the House in the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats have turned to eating their own. How else to make sense of the unhappy drama unfolding in Texas’ 7th congressional district?

      The district, which includes much of affluent west Houston, has a Republican incumbent named John Culberson, but was carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Culberson, a gun-loving, climate change-denying champion of Donald Trump, is a dreary exemplar of the kind of reactionary outlier who now passes as a mainstream Republican politician. And so the effort to unseat him has attracted a crowded field of seven Democrats, all vying to win the 6 March primary.

    • Who Benefits from Russia’s ‘Peculiar’ Doping Violations?

      Viewers of the 2018 Winter Olympics were offered a constant reminder of Russia’s supposed deviousness with the “OAR” – or Olympic Athlete from Russia – designation that Russian athletes competed under as a punishment for doping. The image of Russia being penalized for cheating fit in neatly with ongoing geopolitical narratives of Russia being blamed for election meddling in the United States and military aggression in Ukraine.

    • How the Anti-Democracy Movement Used Media to Command the Narrative

      As far back as 1835, perhaps our nation’s earliest and most astute observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, understood the power of the media. He described the press as “the chief democratic instrument of freedom.” But today our “instrument of freedom” seems to mean the freedom to enrich oneself privately, whatever it takes. How did we get to this sad state?

      In 1969, the US Supreme Court unanimously upheld the public-good understanding of the press, stating, “The First Amendment is relevant to public broadcasting, but it is the right of the viewing and listening public, and not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.” In the 1960s, for example, media broadcasting gas-guzzling car advertisements had to pay for rebuttal airtime by public interest groups. But soon dramatic changes undermined this frame, as market ideology tightened its grip during the 1980s. “Television is just another appliance—it’s a toaster with pictures,” quipped Mark Fowler, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, as he mocked the very notion of media as a public good.

    • Chinese censors move to block ridicule of ‘Emperor’ Xi Jinping’s power grab

      Beijing’s vast army of online censors have been mobilised to stamp out the ridicule and criticism to the announcement that President Xi Jinping could rule for life.

      China proposed to remove a two-term limit from its president on Sunday, in a move which would see the current Chinese leader rule beyond 2023 and perhaps indefinitely.

    • End to term limits at the top may be start of global backlash for China, analysts say

      The proposed elimination of presidential term limits in China risks an international backlash over China’s strongman politics, but would help ensure the continuity of the country’s policies, diplomatic observers said.

      The bold move would send a message that Xi and his initiatives were here to stay and cement China’s ambition to fill the global leadership vacuum left by US President Donald Trump, they said.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube conspiracy video problem ‘bigger than thought’

      The problem of conspiracy videos on YouTube appears to be growing, with a data journalist unearthing nearly 9000 such clips after a search using the video platform’s API.

    • CJ Gopal Parajuli orders media censorship

      Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli on Sunday issued an interim order directing the Press Council to probe news reports published by Kantipur daily that highlighted discrepancies in his birth date mentioned by him in official documents.

    • China Proposes Lifting Presidential Term Limit
    • China’s move to abolish presidential term limits is more unpopular than the government thought — so it’s turning to censorship

      Criticism of the Chinese government’s desire to abolish presidential term limits has seen censorship soar since Sunday.

      China’s constitution restricts the president and vice-president to serving a maximum of two terms – 10 years – with President Xi Jinping’s leadership due to end in 2023.

      While censoring social media is a regular occurrence in China, the latest incident may mean the Communist Party’s proposal to scrap presidential term limits, and essentially allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely, was more unpopular than anticipated.

    • Curbing hate speech isn’t censorship – it’s the law

      IT IS hard to hear the phrase “political correctness” these days without reflexively appending the words “gone mad”. Thanks to self-appointed guardians of liberty, the inoffensive idea that people should try to avoid insulting language has been turned into a battleground over free speech.

      This might sound like a silly spat straight out of the pages of the tabloid press, but people who care about science ought to be paying attention. Free speech is a vital ingredient of enlightened scholarship and education.

    • Mistakes And Strategic Failures: The Killing Of The Open Internet

      Sometime tomorrow, it’s widely expected that the House will approve a terrible Frankenstein bill that merges two separate bills we’ve spoken about, FOSTA and SESTA. The bills are bad. They will not actually do what the passionate and vocal supporters of those bills claim they will do — which is take on the problem of sex trafficking. Neither bill actually targets sex traffickers (which, you know, one would think would be a prime consideration in pushing a bill that you claim will take on sex trafficking). Instead, they seek to hold third parties (websites) responsible if people involved in sex trafficking use them. This has all sorts of problems that we’ve been discussing for months, so I won’t reiterate all of them here, but suffice it to say if these bills were really about stopping sex trafficking, they sure do a horrible job of it. If you want to try to stop these bills, check out EFF’s action page and please call your Congressional Rep., and let them know they’re about to do a really bad thing. If you want more in-depth information, CDT has you covered as well. Finally, Professor Eric Goldman details piece by piece what this Frankenstein bill does and how bolting SESTA and FOSTA together make two bad bills… even worse, and even less clear as to what it actually does.

    • Letter: Board opening Pandora’s box for censorship

      Censorship of books is never good. Particularly when that book has been carefully chosen and is highly recommended by respected library sources.

    • Section 230 Isn’t About Facebook, It’s About You

      Longtime Techdirt readers know how important Section 230 is for the Internet to work, as well as many of the reasons why the proposed SESTA bill threatens the operation of the law, and with it the operation of the Internet. But especially for people less familiar with the ins and outs of Section 230, as the law hangs in the balance, we want to take moment to explain why it’s something that everyone should want to preserve.

      These days a lot of people are upset with Facebook, along with many other of its fellow big Internet companies. Being upset with these companies can make it tempting to try to punish them with regulation that might hurt them. But it does no good to punish them with regulation that will end up hurting everyone – including you.

    • Judge Tells Coal Boss Bob Murray The Judicial Equivalent Of ‘Eat Shit, Bob’

      Remember Bob Murray? He’s the Ohio-based coal mining CEO who threatened and then sued John Oliver and HBO over this fun episode of Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight, which discussed the ridiculousness of our President’s focus on “coal jobs.” However, it also spent a fair bit of time talking about Bob Murray, Murray Energy, and how his actions did not appear to support actual coal miners. A prominent part of the story features the phrase (originally written by a coal miner at Murray Energy as part of the process to void a bonus check) “Eat Shit, Bob.”

    • Why muzzling social media is no answer

      The Russian government clearly sought to influence the 2016 election. This should not incite a rush to censor dissonant opinions on websites and social media, but that could easily happen in the good intentions to safeguard democracy from truly false and subversive content.

      Like the printing press, broadcast radio and television and cable television, the internet and social media revolutionized communications by making mass distribution of news and analysis more broadly accessible. That has widened public dialogue on everything from parking regulations to who should be president — it’s too good to lose even if it’s sometimes as annoying and discomforting as persistent demonstrations on the Washington Mall.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Case against alleged hoarder of NSA documents gets tougher for federal prosecutors
    • UK Metro Police Sued Over Phone Malware Purchase

      Last spring, a hacker who had illicitly obtained data from malware/spyware company FlexiSpy shared some of it with Motherboard. In the trove of customer data, it was discovered that one purchase was linked to an officer in the UK Metro Police.

      FlexiSpy is powerful malware, capable of gathering communications from multiple messaging services, as well as providing GPS location, emails, and phone call records. The purchase of this malware is questionable, considering it’s regulated under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. The most obvious limitation of the malware is the fact that it requires physical access to targeted devices. But phones, tablets, and computers are seized all the time by law enforcement officers, and they’re sometimes returned to their owners after being searched. Malware like this would allow officers to hitch a virtual ride on someone’s phone or laptop, seeing everything they see.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (18/21): Our analog parents had private conversations, both in public and at home

      Our parents, at least in the Western world, had a right to hold private conversations face-to-face, whether out in public or in the sanctity of their home. This is all but gone for our digital children.

    • The Problems With FISA, Secrecy, and Automatically Classified Information

      We need to talk about national security secrecy. Right now, there are two memos on everyone’s mind, each with its own version of reality. But the memos are just one piece. How the memos came to be—and why they continue to roil the waters in Congress—is more important.

      On January 19, staff for Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) wrote a classified memo alleging that the FBI and DOJ committed surveillance abuses in its applications for and renewal of a surveillance order against former Trump administration advisor Carter Page. Allegedly, the FBI and DOJ’s surveillance application included biased, politically-funded information.

    • Rancher Sues CBP After Officers Install A Camera On His Private Property

      The CBP’s habit of moving further and further inland in their search for deportees, drugs, and water to dump on the ground isn’t making it any new friends. Residents of small towns near the border are getting very sick of having to assert their citizenship multiple times a day thanks to Checkpoint Charlie camping out on every road out of town.

      The federal government doesn’t care. No sacrifice is too great to demand from citizens to keep this country safe from job seekers, victims of violence, and the occasional MS-13 gang member. Rights are optional within 100 miles of US borders and they’re completely nonexistent within 25 miles of crossing points. It’s this 25-mile cutoff that’s key to federal lawsuit arising from trespassing CBP officers and the spy cam they placed on the property of a local who’s spent years complaining about the CBP’s incursions.

      Cyrus Farivar covers the story of Texas rancher Ricardo Palacios at Ars Technica. And it’s a good one. Palacios discovered a camera on his property and took it down. Shortly thereafter, the CBP and the Texas Rangers rang him up, demanding the return of their surveillance camera. Palacios refused and was threatened with criminal charges.

    • Cakewalk for French tech-wiz, Aadhaar and Telangana portal easy hack

      A French security researcher on Monday breached the Telangana government benefit disbursement portal ‘TSPost’ and lay bare its vulnerabilities. The portal has account details including Aadhaar numbers of 56 lakh beneficiaries of NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme) and 40 lakh beneficiaries of social security pensions (SSP).

    • In re Silver – Texas Supreme Court Follows CAFC Lead and Recognizes Limited Patent-Agent Privilege

      I’ve written about Queen’s University, the CAFC case that recognized a privilege over patent agent communications, and the dissent by Judge Reyna who (properly) recognized that if its scope is limited to what agents are authorized to do, patent agents may need lawyers to advise them about the scope of the privilege.

    • Surveillance watchdog investigates security risks of GCHQ IT contractors

      The investigatory powers commissioner is reviewing the security arrangements for IT contractors that have access to live computer systems at GCHQ holding highly sensitive records on the UK population

    • MIT’s ‘Veil’ Fixes Holes In Private Browsing Modes To Boost Anonymity

      Web browsers’ private browsing mode is the first resolution taken by most users to protect their privacy online. But subconsciously they’re aware that the private mode or incognito mode is doing nothing but deleting the browsing activity from their computer. According to past studies, it’s possible to track people’s browsing habits even when privacy mode is enabled.

    • The Dropbox IPO filing is here

      The company is not yet profitable, having lost nearly $112 million last year. This shows significantly improved margins when compared to losses of $210 million for 2016 and $326 million for 2015.

    • Dropbox files to go public with over $1.1 billion in annual revenue

      Here’s what the filing said:

      • Revenue: $1.11 billion in 2017, up 31 percent from the prior year
      • Net loss: $111.7 million in 2017, narrower than 2016′s loss of $210.2 million
      • Average revenue per paid user: $111.91, up from 2016 but down from 2015
      • 500 million registered users, 100 million signed up since the beginning of 2017
      • More than 11 million paying users
      • Gross margin: 67 percent

      Dropbox will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker “DBX.” Dropbox’s plans to go public were unsealed by the SEC on Friday, after previously filing the documents confidentially.

    • Dropbox saved almost $75 million over two years by building its own tech infrastructure

      After making the decision to roll its own infrastructure and reduce its dependence on Amazon Web Services, Dropbox reduced its operating costs by $74.6 million over the next two years, the company said in its S-1 statement Friday.

    • Dropbox Gears Up for IPO

      Dropbox has filed an S-1 form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its initial public offering (IPO). The company did not mention any pricing details in the filing, but it values the entire offering up to $500 million. The company intends to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the symbol DBX.

      The underwriters for the offering are Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Allen, Merrill Lynch, RBC Capital Markets, Jefferies, Macquarie Capital, Canaccord Genuity, JMP Securities, KeyBanc and Piper Jaffray.

    • Military, FBI, and ICE Are Customers of Controversial ‘Stalkerware’

      Dozens of employees from US federal law enforcement agencies and the armed forces have bought smartphone malware that can, in some cases, intercept Facebook messages, track GPS locations, and remotely activate a device’s microphone, according to a large cache of data stolen by a hacker [sic] and obtained by Motherboard.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Would you burn the Mona Lisa if it was sent?’: Our horror bureaucratic bungle

      It’s a bungle that has floored botanists around the globe and embarrassed the Australian government. How did 105 priceless and irreplaceable historical plant specimens, sent here by the French, end up being destroyed by biosecurity officers?

    • Texas police shoot man who disarmed possible church shooter

      Police in Amarillo shot an innocent man who helped foil a possible church shooting.

      The shooting happened shortly after 9 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Faith City Mission, a faith-based outreach organization. Police said Joshua Len Jones, 35, of Amarillo, barged into a church building at Faith City Mission, pulled out a gun and was holding about 100 congregants and church staff hostage.

      In the time between when police were dispatched and when officers arrived, a handful of churchgoers wrestled Jones to the ground. One of the congregants was able to grab Jones’ gun.

    • A Mother and Child Fled the Congo, Only to Be Forcibly Separated by the US Government

      The mother hasn’t seen her 7-year-old daughter in nearly four months, and the government won’t explain why.

      On Nov. 1, 2017, Ms. L. and her 7-year-old daughter, S.S., arrived at a United States port of entry near San Diego and presented themselves to border agents. Ms. L. had fled with her child from their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Ms. L. left in fear for her life. Now, the pair was finally in the United States, seeking asylum in a country where they thought they would be safe.

      Approximately four days later, Ms. L.’s young daughter was taken from her without any explanation or justification. When the officers separated them, Ms. L. could hear her daughter in the next room screaming that she did not want to be taken away from her mother. No one explained why her daughter was being taken away, where she was being taken, or when she would see her child again. More than 3 1/2 months later, Ms. L. remains at a detention center in the San Diego area, while her daughter is detained in Chicago, halfway across the country, without her mother or anyone else she knows.

    • 20,000 Protest Israeli Plan to Push Out African Migrants

      In other news from Israel, up to 20,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv Saturday to protest Israel’s plans to push out as many as 40,000 African migrants in the coming months. Israel is threatening to jail the migrants if they do not leave Israel. Protesters on Saturday condemned the Israeli government for shutting the door on refugees.

    • How Grassroots Activists in Georgia Are Leading the Opposition Against a Dangerous “Computer Crime” Bill

      A misguided bill in Georgia (S.B. 315) threatens to criminalize independent computer security research and punish ordinary technology users who violate fine-print terms of service clauses. S.B. 315 is currently making its way through the state’s legislature amid uproar and resistance that its sponsors might not have fully anticipated. At the center of this opposition is a group of concerned citizen-advocates who, through their volunteer advocacy, have drawn national attention to the industry-wide implications of this bill.

      Scott M. Jones and David Merrill from Electronic Frontiers Georgia—a group that participates in the Electronic Frontier Alliance network —spoke to us about their efforts to inform legislators and the public of the harms this bill would cause.

    • A Supreme Court Rebuke to the Trump Administration on DACA

      In a sharp rebuke to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court today refused to hear the government’s challenge to a lower court’s decision ordering the government to keep in place the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Since the administration announced last fall that it was ending the program on March 5, many DACA recipients have already lost their residence and work permits.

      While the court’s decision is good news, it doesn’t end the uncertainty, confusion, and fear of deportation for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children.

    • Childhood Is Now A Punishable Offense

      Who here hasn’t inhaled helium from a balloon and talked in a cartoon voice?

    • Kansas Legislature Introduces Two Bills Mandating Speedy Release Of Police Body Cam Footage

      Two new bills have been introduced in the Kansas state legislature with the intent of forcing law enforcement agencies to turn over body camera footage in a timely manner. They appear to have been prompted by the family of a man shot and killed by police officers late last year. It took police 11 weeks to turn over footage of the incident. Even then, it wasn’t as though the footage was given to the executor of Dominique White’s estate. Instead, White’s father was “granted access” to the the body cam footage, which means he was able to watch the video on police equipment at a police station by himself with no other surviving family members.

      This is the state of Kansas’ current laws regarding body camera footage. Very few people are given access to footage and, with rare exceptions, the footage remains completely in the hands of law enforcement. The only people granted access to footage at this point in time are subjects of recordings, parents of minors who are subjects of recordings, attorneys for a recording subject, or a person’s heir.

    • Bias already exists in search engine results, and it’s only going to get worse

      The internet might seem like a level playing field, but it isn’t. Safiya Umoja Noble came face to face with that fact one day when she used Google’s search engine to look for subjects her nieces might find interesting. She entered the term “black girls” and came back with pages dominated by pornography.

      Noble was horrified but not surprised. The UCLA communications professor has been arguing for years that the values of the web reflect its builders—mostly white, Western men—and do not represent minorities and women. Her latest book, Algorithms of Oppression, details research she started after that fateful Google search, and it explores the hidden structures that shape how we get information through the internet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Twitch community, YouTube creators join protest to save net neutrality

      Dozens of websites and internet agencies are banding together to protest the FCC’s decision to kill net neutrality.

      Internet advocacy group Fight for the Future has organized Operation: #OneMoreVote, which will take place on Feb. 27. The campaign will enlist the help of communities like Twitch’s and companies like Reddit alongside organizations like YouTuber Hank Green’s Internet Creators Guild, to raise awareness about the appeal process. Only one more vote in the Senate is needed to take the case to the House of Representatives, where cosponsors can vote to block the repeal of net neutrality. If unsuccessful, net neutrality will be repealed in April.

    • Charter Spectrum Fails To Wiggle Out From Under State Lawsuit For Crappy Service

      But the lawsuit also exposed how Charter was gaming an FCC program that uses routers with custom firmware to track real-world ISP performance. The lawsuit also hints at the fact that Charter executives toyed with intentionally creating congestion at peering points in order to extract additional money out of content and transit companies, something you’ll recall was at the heart of an industry battle with Netflix a few years ago. Those problems miraculously disappeared with the passage of net neutrality rules that governed interconnection (read: expect this problem to resurface with the elimination of the rules).

    • AMP: the missing controversy

      One of the main implications of publishing an AMP page is that the page will be served from the Google domain. Or whoever is serving the AMP cache, yet mostly that will be Google.

      This means less direct traffic on your origin, and more time spent at Google. Less traffic on your origin could mean less monetization opportunities. In general, it means less control of anything. You’re subject to whatever the AMP standard allows or disallows.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Exclusive interview with Johanne Bélisle, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office

      With respect to “brand Canada” from CIPO’s perspective, we strive to be known as a modern, internationally-leading IP office, one that provides high-quality and timely rights and that serves its clients well. We are a trusted source of IP information and knowledge for Canadian businesses and innovators. And we work in partnership with others, including our international partners in the IP ecosystem, to help make Canada a global centre of innovation. Canada is already an attractive place for business, trade and innovation to flourish, and we continue to make it more attractive all the time.

    • Trademarks

      • GUCCI as a well-known mark, with special attention to evidence, surveys, and unfair advantage

        Disputes involving luxury brands and the issue of well-known marks seem ubiquitous. Most often, two questions are asked: Is the mark at issue “well-known” and, if so, has there been dilution or an unfair advantage taken of the distinctive character of the well-known mark? A particularly interesting instance occurred recently before the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore involving the “GUCCI” mark, with particular attention to whether survey evidence was necessary and the need to prove that dilution or unfair advantage had occurred.

    • Copyrights

      • When a Pro-Copyright Rant Goes Wrong….

        It is no secret that copyright issues can trigger heated debates. On the one hand there are those who caution against stricter regulation, fearing that Internet freedom is at stake, while others argue that artists need more protection. Ironically, one of the most vocal pro-copyright activists lost sight of his core mission recently.

      • Most Users of Exclusive Torrent Site Also Pay For Services Like Netflix or Prime

        A survey carried out on HDBits, one of the world’s most exclusive private torrent sites, has revealed that even the most hardcore of pirates are happy to pay for content. The poll, carried out among more than 5,300 respondents, found that not only do 57% pay for streaming accounts on services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, but 26% use those platforms more than they use torrent sites.

      • BMG Wants Appeals Court to Rehear Cox Piracy Liability Case

        Music publisher BMG has petitioned the Court of Appeals for a rehearing of the piracy liability case against Internet provider Cox. The panel of judges reached the wrong conclusion when it overturned the $25 million verdict and issued a new trial, the company says. The RIAA and the National Music Publishers Association back the request.

      • Pirate Site Operators’ Jail Sentences Overturned By Court of Appeal

        Four men sentenced last year for their part in running several pirate sites have been told they will no longer have to spend time behind bars. After being ordered to spend up to ten months in prison, the court of appeal has now decided that for their activities on Dreamfilm, TFplay, Tankafetast and PirateHub, the men should walk free but pay increased damages to the entertainment industries.

      • ESA Comes Out Against Allowing Museums To Curate Online Video Games For Posterity

        A week or so back, we discussed the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) calling on the Copyright Office to extend exemptions to anti-circumvention in the DMCA to organizations looking to curate and preserve online games. Any reading of stories covering this idea needs to be grounded in the understanding that the Librarian of Congress has already extended these same exemptions to video games that are not online multiplayer games. Games of this sort are art, after all, and exemptions to the anti-circumvention laws allow museums, libraries, and others to preserve and display older games that may not natively run on current technology, or those that have been largely lost in terms of physical product. MADE’s argument is that online multiplayer games are every bit the art that these single-player games are and deserve preservation as well.

      • Does embedding copyrighted content constitute infringement? NY judge says yes

        In a summary judgement delivered on February 15, Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that embedding a tweet containing a copyrighted image on a website amounts to direct infringement.

IBM Has Become More of a Patent Broker Rather Than a Genuine Technology Company

Posted in IBM, Patents at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: IBM is becoming a lot more like Intellectual Ventures, namely a patent hoarder (tens of thousands of patents) looking to ‘monetise’ these patents using lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, feeding (arming) of patent trolls and so on

IBM likes to think of itself as ‘king of patents’ because for decades it was pursuing a lot of patents, including software patents, which the USPTO granted by the thousands (per year). What isn’t so well known, however, is how IBM uses these patents behind the scenes. It’s pretty brutal and it got a lot worse in recent years.

“The funny thing is that to people like these the trolls are heroes.”Finjan is a very malicious patent troll which was funded by Microsoft and as recently as last year was armed by IBM (IBM gave it patents to help the trolling).

Britton Davis and Max Colice wrote about Finjan yesterday. This troll is still being exploited by Watchtroll, which uses it to make a case for software patents and damages. The funny thing is that to people like these the trolls are heroes. To quote:

Patent damages law is one of the most complex areas in patent law and it is constantly evolving. Attorneys and courts often confuse the principles and get the law wrong. Further, even without the backdrop of constantly evolving and complex damages law, proving damages at trial is one of the hardest aspects of patent litigation. And properly apportioning damages can be one of the most difficult aspects of damages law to get right.


In Finjan, the Federal Circuit reached the opposite conclusion and remanded the case for failure to properly apportion the royalty base. Finjan, slip op. at 18-19. Finjan’s patent relates to virus detection software and creating a security profile for web addresses. Id. at 18. Finjan accused Blue Coat’s DRTR or “dynamic real-time rating engine” of infringing its patent. Id. The DRTR was itself part of a larger software product called WebPulse that helps companies set internet policies for their employees by categorizing different websites as containing different kinds of content. Id.

Finjan recently announced it financial results, after its stock/shares had collapsed over the years. Very many moons and even years ago Finjan actually had a product; it decided to become a proper patent troll about a decade ago and for IBM to send patents its way is worse than irresponsible; it makes IBM complicit in trolling.

“As Dropbox begins IPO process it has followed a familiar path in buying patents from IBM,” IAM wrote yesterday, having published this blog post that also mentions Facebook, Google and Alibaba (they left out HTC). To quote:

Dropbox filed the necessary paperwork for an upcoming IPO late last week, putting it on track to become the latest tech unicorn to go public. It is also on the long list of high-profile, multi-billion dollar start-ups that have acquired patent assets from IBM in the years leading up to a listing.

The file sharing business acquired 63 US patents and applications from IBM in 2016 in a transaction that was recorded on the USPTO assignment database last September. It has also bought assets from Intellectual Ventures, file-sharing rival SugaSync and, in a 2014 deal, picked up a portfolio of 105 US assets from Sony.

It’s quite likely that at least some of these patents would be worthless though; a lot of these are being invalided nowadays by PTAB.

We weren’t quite aware that Dropbox patents were also being bought from Microsoft’s patent ‘broker’ (troll) Intellectual Ventures. Now we know one thing that Intellectual Ventures and IBM have in common,

Patent Trolls Like Xperi and Fraunhofer Get Patents and Payments From East Asia

Posted in Asia, Patents at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



Panasonic logo

Summary: Xperi receives some patents from Panasonic whereas Fraunhofer, not quite a patent troll but still a major parasite, receives patent payments from the giant Huawei, a Chinese government-connected firm which uses a lot of Linux

THE demise of software patents in the US is great news (courts typically reject software patents that the USPTO granted), but at the same time software patents are gaining a foothold in China.

Benjamin Henrion correctly said that “no one in the software industry checks the patent database before writing code. If you know at least one human who does it, let’s schedule an interview, it will be fun!”

“Not just in software,” I replied. “Reading patents only makes the reader more liable (for higher damages)…”

The matter of fact is, in the domain of software which many people use, developers typically browse repositories and code, not patents. That just makes sense. It’s common sense. It’s better use of time. It’s therefore unfortunate that China decided to allow patents on software. Whose clever idea was it?

Based on this new press release, the Chinese government-connected giant Huawei now succumbs to demands from a de facto patent troll like MPEG-LA. They’re painting that as “Fraunhofer”, but it’s that same old patent pool of software patents. That cartel has managed to devour Huawei too. From the announcement:

Global communications equipment provider Huawei has entered into a worldwide patent license agreement with the renowned developer of audio and media technologies, Fraunhofer IIS, for Fraunhofer’s MPEG-4 Audio patent portfolio. The license agreement addresses past and future use of Fraunhofer’s MPEG-4 Audio patent portfolio in Huawei’s products.

Those are purely software; it’s all about software patents. Then again, can China pretend to be against them?

“Another Panasonic deal with an NPE,” IAM noted, “this time Xperi” (NPE just means patent troll). Panasonic is Japanese, unlike Huawei, and Japan’s JPO seems to have gotten a little tougher on patents lately. Is that what motivated Panasonic to offload patents onto a troll? As Managing IP noted this morning :

An increase in IoT players needing standard-essential patents has spurred the JPO to set guidelines. But IP practitioners are concerned the guidelines may not provide enough flexibility in SEP negotiations and will lack clarity

Those so-called ‘IP practitioners’ just want lots of legal disputes — the very thing Japan/JPO is trying to prevent here.

Going back to IAM, there’s also an article/blog post about it. Offloading patents to a patent troll like Xperi (which IAM was grooming earlier this month) may simply suggest that Panasonic sees no value or purpose for these patents. IAM said:

Xperi picked up a portfolio of chip patents from Panasonic last December, according to USPTO assignment records. It was the second small-scale transaction between the two in the space of about one year. For the publicly traded licensing company formerly known as Tessera, it is the latest in a series of portfolios sourced from Japan, Inc.

Assignment documents show that Tessera Advanced Technologies Inc acquired nine granted patents as part of the December, 2017 deal: five from the US, four from Japan and one from China. The patents appear to be related to various semiconductor technologies, and are packaged along with a number of abandoned or expired rights. The transaction came one year after a slightly larger deal in December 2016 saw the Xperi vehicle acquire around 20 US and foreign patents from the Osaka-based company.


It doesn’t look like Panasonic and Xperi have been involved in any courtroom tangles. But the relationship comes as no surprise. Panasonic has formed partnerships and completed deals with many of the biggest names among major NPEs and PIPCOs over the last several years.

As we noted in past years, Panasonic even claimed to have open-sourced its patents. We mostly take all that (or interpret it) to mean that Panasonic sees not much value in patents anymore and it gives them away. It previously paid Microsoft for some patents.

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