Links 5/7/2018: AryaLinux 1.0, Qt Creator 4.7 RC

Posted in News Roundup at 2:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source money: Bitcoin, blockchain, and free software

    Whether you believe that blockchain technology is poised to change the world or that it is a flash in the pan, one thing is sure: Technical and legal questions about blockchain are on everyone’s mind today. People often wonder: Is Bitcoin “open source”? But this question arises from confusion about three separate concepts: blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and open source software.

  • Industry Watch: Open source has won the day

    I remember talking to other technology reporters in 2000, asking if they thought Linux had a commercial future. Some saw the uptake in server rooms and were certain of it. Others believed Linux advocates to be nothing more than anti-vendor zealots and hobbyists who would rather write software themselves than pay for it, and that’s where open-source would remain.

  • Shedding Light: A New Open Source Imaging System

    The open source movement has facilitated the development of low cost and easy-to-use technologies for scientific settings. A study published in PLOS ONE describes the creation of a novel multi-fluorescence imaging system from readily available, low cost components.

    The study has just been awarded the 2018 PLOS Open Source Toolkit Channel Prize, and I was lucky to interview via email study authors Isaac Nuñez and Tamara Matute, of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, who both contributed to the answers below.


    The GOSH (Global Open Science Hardware) movement and OpenPlant work to promote open source technology. We believe that openly shared technologies, such as open scientific hardware and open genetic tools, are crucial for technology development and knowledge production, particularly in low income countries.

  • This 22-Year-Old Spanish Programmer is Building an Open Source, Secure Alternative to Facebook

    Joel Hernández is frank about why he’s trying to launch Openbook, an open source, hyper-secure social network as an alternative to Facebook.

    The 22-year-old programmer and entrepreneur, who by day works as a security software engineer for Dutch telecoms giant KPN, told Computer Business Review: “We are sleepwalking into a zero privacy world. This may not be abused now, but it will be in future. I’m someone with the capability to fix a small part of that.”

    Two years ago he had tried to talk a group of friends into the project, amid concerns about Facebook and other social media platform’s data sharing practices and a perceived lack of privacy. They told him they didn’t think anyone cared enough to make the leap to an alternative that prioritised security and transparency.

  • How open source can transform the way a company’s developers work together

    Open source has been a tech mainstay for decades in large part, as Tilde co-founder and JavaScript veteran Yehuda Katz has argued, because it “gives engineers the power to collaborate across …companies without involving [business development].”

    “The benefits of this workaround are extraordinary and underappreciated,” Katz continued. But open source offers something just as extraordinary and even more underappreciated, something that edX community lead John Mark Walker recently pointed out on Twitter.

    Namely, what open source does to collaboration among engineers inside the same company.

  • Linux Australia Joins Open Source Initiative

    The Open Source Initiative is the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant. The organization’s members play an important role across the world in community building, education and public advocacy to promote the importance of non-proprietary software. In doing so they further international awareness of how open source technologies, licenses and models of development can provide economic and strategic advantage.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Another one bites the Rust

        Rust was the primary reason we dropped source parity for TenFourFox also (though there were plenty of other reasons such as changes to the graphics stack, the hard requirement for Skia, Electrolysis and changes to ICU; all of this could have been worked around, but with substantial difficulty, and likely with severe compromises). Now that Firefox 52ESR, the last ESR to not require Rust support, is on its last legs, this marks the final end of “Warpzilla” and Firefox on OS/2. SPARC (and apparently Solaris in general) doesn’t have rustc or cargo support either, so this is likely the end of Firefox on any version of Solaris as well. Yes, I use Firefox on my Sun Ultra-3 laptop with Solaris 10. There are probably other minor platforms just hanging on that will wink out and disappear which I haven’t yet discovered.

      • Faster Event Telemetry with “event” Pings

        Event Telemetry is the means by which we can send ordered interaction data from Firefox users back to Mozilla where we can use it to make product decisions.

        For example, we know from a histogram that the most popular way of opening the Developer Tools in Firefox Beta 62 is by the shortcut key (Ctrl+Shift+I). And it’s nice to see that the number of times the Javascript Debugger was opened was roughly 1/10th of the number of times the shortcut key was used.

      • State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 2

        Last time we had a closer look at a metrics-based report analysis from the Analysen & Tal agency that took a deep dive into support.mozilla.org’s historical data.

        Today, we are going to continue sharing external insights into our community and support model with a summary of the comparative study conducted for us by a team of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design from Denmark. While we were not exactly looking for the essence of hygge, we found quite a few interesting nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that we’d like to share with you below. You can find the presentation here.

      • Making calls to WebAssembly fast and implementing anyref

        As you can see, the C++ step that was originally required to call wasm from JS has been completely eliminated!

        This resulted in massive speedups over a variety of different situations: when a wasm function is directly / indirectly / polymorphically called, or used as a getter/setter, or called by Function.prototype.call/apply, when the call is missing required arguments, etc. Here’s a brief summary of the results, but there might be a full-blown blog post about these optimizations coming on Mozilla Hacks at some point in the future.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice styles – My style is the bomb didi bom di deng

      LibreOffice styles management sure can benefit from improvements. All office suites can. Not only that, there are dozens of other areas where this free office suite could better itself. But to focus on the original question, styles in LibreOffice are different from Microsoft Office, but they work reasonably well.

      There are some annoyances – selected text, the style and tab jumps on selection, and the lack of global export. On the other hand, you have the preview option, and the modify sub-menu is powerful and rather intuitive. Usable and reasonable. Now, that does not mean you should toss away your payware suite and go free. Not at all. The specific, individual needs are very delicate. Moreover, while LibreOffice has improved a lot, it’s still not quite as powerful as Microsoft Office, and this is more evident in Calc and Impress, less so in Writer, which often gets most attention and care. But it is marching in the right direction, and if you’re keen on doing documents right, you need to use styles. And when it comes to styles, LibreOffice 6.0 works fairly well. But the quest for perfection continues. So long and thanks for all the fonts.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Release Candidate Available Now for Final Bug Hunting Session

      Tomorrow, July 6, The Document Foundation plans to host the third and final bug hunting session for the LibreOffice 6.1 office suite, due for release in mid-August 2018. This bug hunting session is aimed at fixing last remaining issue against the Release Candidate milestone.

      Those interested in joining the final bug hunting session to find, report and triage bugs can now download the first Release Candidate version of LibreOffice 6.1 for GNU/Linux as DEB and RPM packages, as well as for macOS and Microsoft Windows platforms.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Fixing bufferbloat on your home network with OpenBSD 6.2 or newer

      The reason for this is a phenomenom called “bufferbloat”. I’m not going to explain it in detail, there are plenty of good resources to read about it, including the eponymous Bufferbloat.net. Bufferbloat is the result of complex interactions between the software and hardware systems routing traffic around on the Internet. It causes higher latency in networks, even ones with plenty of bandwidth. In a nutshell, software queues in our routers are not letting certain packets through fast enough to ensure that things feel interactive and responsive. Pings, TCP ACKs, SSH connections, are all being held up behind a long line of packets that may not need to be delivered with the same urgency. There’s enough bandwidth to process the queue, the trick is to do it more quickly and more fairly.


    • libredwg-0.5 released [alpha]
    • H1-2018 Was Certainly Eventful For The GCC Compiler

      The first half of 2018 was certainly eventful for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) with the stable release of GCC8, feature development on GCC9 kicking off, and all the associated fun.

      The stable GCC 8.1 debut brought with it initial C++2A support, initial Intel Cannonlake and Icelake CPU enablement, Profile Guided Optimization improvements and other optimization passes work, Intel CET, Qualcomm Saphira CPU support and other ARM CPU improvements, C17 language support, updates for the Go and Fortran languages, AMD HSA IL / BRING improvements, and a whole lot of other work that built up over the past year. GCC 8.1 was officially released in early May while all feature work is now focused on GCC 9 that should debut as stable around the end of Q1’2019.

  • Programming/Development

    • This Week in Rust 241

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

    • Python 3 at Facebook

      Python 3 adoption has clearly picked up over the last few years, though there is still a long way to go. Big Python-using companies tend to have a whole lot of Python 2.7 code running on their infrastructure and Facebook is no exception. But Jason Fried came to PyCon 2018 to describe what has happened at the company over the last four years or so—it has gone from using almost no Python 3 to it becoming the dominant version of Python in the company. He was instrumental in helping to make that happen and his talk [YouTube video] may provide other organizations with some ideas on how to tackle their migration.

      Fried started working at Facebook in 2011 and he quickly found that he needed to teach himself Python because it was much easier to get code reviewed if it was in Python. At some point later, he found that he was the driving force behind Python 3 adoption at Facebook. He never had a plan to do that, it just came about as he worked with Python more and more.

    • Teaching Python to kids

      The combination of an “unsuspecting library employee” and a bunch of bored children has created a popular program using the Raspberry Pi and other tools to teach coding to kids. Qumisha Goss is a librarian at the Parkman branch of the Detroit Public Library; she started the “Parkman Coders” program and came to PyCon 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio to tell the assembled Pythonistas all about it. She also had some thoughts on ways to make the Python community a more diverse place, along with some concerns for her students that are much bigger than the diversity topic.


  • (Neo)mutt fuckery with multipart messages

    We thought it might be fun as retaliation to send multipart emails, with the text/html part saying “This email has no HTML version, please refer to the plain text”. An hour and a few curses at mutt’s documentation later, I’d come up with this solution…

  • Drones replace July 4th fireworks in western towns worried about wildfires. But where’s the ‘boom’?

    Get in the car, kids. It’s time to see the Fourth of July drone show.

    Towns in California, Colorado and Arizona – facing another season of drought and wildfire – are turning to drone shows as a less dangerous alternative to organized fireworks, encouraged by the development of jaw-dropping, choreographed shows such as the one Intel prepared for the Winter Olympics broadcast.

  • CIA archives document Agency’s decades of ASCII woes

    In the ‘60s, the US federal government saw a need for a unified standard for digitally encoding information. Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 executive order on computer standards directed federal agencies to convert all of their databases to the new character encoding standard: the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, or ASCII.

    Although more powerful and flexible standards have since appeared – most notably Unicode, created to enable people to use computers in any language – ASCII became ubiquitous, and remains foundational to computing. It was the most popular encoding on the web until 2007.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • He Went In for a Heart Transplant. He Suffered Severe Brain Damage. Now His Family Is Suing St. Luke’s.

      In June 2016, Ernest “Chris” Keys received a heart transplant at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, giving him and his family hope he would finally return home after months in the hospital battling chronic heart failure.

      Things went downhill “almost immediately after surgery,” according to a lawsuit filed last month against St. Luke’s and its affiliated Baylor College of Medicine, as well as three Baylor doctors who treated Keys.

      After several follow-up surgeries, Keys, then 44, left St. Luke’s in August 2016 with a new heart — but also a severe brain injury that left him unable to speak or walk.

      “It’s horrible what he’s been through,” said Michelle Wan, a Houston lawyer who filed the lawsuit in Harris County District Court.

      A hospital spokeswoman said she could not discuss pending litigation and declined to respond to questions about the care Keys received.

    • Why Is There a ‘Gaming Disorder’ But No ‘Smartphone Disorder?’

      But it makes sense that the WHO would respond to lobbying by its affiliates. If the overuse of games or smartphones are a matter of behavior, then of course that behavior is bound to vary by region, nation, culture, and other social conditions. To some extent, all diseases require a social construction—they have to be acknowledged by a body like the WHO in a bureaucratic artifact like the ICD in order to be diagnosed, treated, managed, and paid for. But unlike a viral infection or an autoimmune condition, a behavioral disorder is particularly susceptible to the varied social contexts in which the behavior takes place.

    • If there’s a “gaming disorder”, why isn’t there a “smartphone disorder”?

      The discrepancy between digital dependencies considered pathological and those considered perfectly normal may simply come down to pleasing lobbyists–or avoiding their displeasure.

    • Excessive Pricing And Sham Patent Litigation: The Pfizer And AbbVie Decisions

      Competition law is a critical tool in seeking to maintain some semblance of reasonable pricing in the pharmaceutical market. It is particularly important as legislators around the world appear extremely hesitant to address pharmaceutical pricing in meaningful ways, regrettably influenced by well-funded lobbying.

      Two recent competition law decisions discussed below illustrate the importance of and challenges to regulating the pharmaceutical sector. In the first, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) partially upheld and partially reversed and remanded (pending briefing) a decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fining Pfizer and Flynn close to £90 million for abuse of dominant position in the excessive pricing of an anti-epilepsy drug. The CAT decision is problematic because it creates unnecessary and unwarranted hurdles to findings of excessive pricing in the UK. In the second decision, the US Federal Trade Commission succeeds in proving that AbbVie engaged in abuse of monopoly power by engaging in sham patent litigation against two generic producers in order to delay market entry of competitive products. The Federal District Court found that AbbVie’s patent lawyers by “clear and convincing” evidence had knowingly pursued patent infringement claims without chance of success for no other purpose than to delay market entry.

    • HP moves into life sciences, while microfluidics market sees a surge in patent filings and suits

      A new analysis of the thriving synthetic biology patent landscape has revealed the top patent owners and dealmakers in this space, as well as those appearing most often in the courtroom. Among its key findings are that Hewlett Packard (HP) has expanded into the life sciences arena and that the microfluidics market is booming. What’s more, a look at patenting activity by jurisdiction shows a stark contrast between the behaviours of US and Chinese players – and plenty of opportunities for collaboration between the two.

    • WTO Panel On Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging: A Fact Dependent Analysis Of TRIPS Art 20

      Scholars and professionals in IP, trade and public health are likely to be digesting the 900-odd page WTO Panel Reports in Australia – Tobacco Plain Packaging, circulated on 28 June 2018, for some time. An appeal by one or more of the complainants (Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia) is expected, to be launched between 20 and 60 days after circulation, in accordance with the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU, Art 16). Although Australia won the dispute in its entirety, the country could also choose to appeal certain intermediate findings of the Panel, such as its interpretation or application of particular WTO provisions.

    • Colombia: Reinstates Roundup Fumigations, This Time By Drone

      With pressure from the United States, Colombia will reinstate its practice of spraying glyphosate to eradicate coca crops.

      Colombia’s Minister of Defense says the country will reinstate the policy of eradicating its coca production with glyphosate, this time with the help of drones.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Fortnite cheats are being served with adware and malware

      Uber-popular battle royale game Fortnite is being used as a vehicle for malware and adware, with YouTube and other streaming services being exploited to spread malicious code.

    • Google Chrome’s “Download Bomb” Attack Is Back, Also Affects Firefox, Opera, Brave

      Earlier this year, a bug in Google Chrome was a rejoice for tech support scammers who could freeze people’s browser using the infamous download bomb trick.

    • Grand Pwning Unit: Accelerating microarchitectural attacks with the GPU

      The general awareness of microarchitectural attacks is greatly increased since meltdown and spectre earlier this year. A lot of time and energy has been spent in defending against such attacks, with a threat model that assumes attacks originate from the CPU. Frigo et al. open up an entirely new can of worms – modern SoCs contain a variety of special purpose accelerator units, chief among which is the GPU. GPUs are everywhere these days.

    • Gentoo’s GitHub mirror compromise incident report

      LWN reported on June 29 that Gentoo’s GitHub mirror had been compromised. Gentoo now considers the incident resolved and the full report is available.

    • Incident Metadata
    • Endpoint Security

      Over the years, threats have evolved from simple attacks to very advanced threats that can cripple an organization and hide their tracks. As the attacks have evolved, so have our protection needs. We have gone from the single point of protection on mainframes and Unix servers to a large number of endpoints across many networks. We went from Layer 3 security appliances to protect the entire network from the outside to place more of an importance on the endpoints. We’ve seen this grow from antivirus solutions to tools that use machine learning and provide in-depth threat hunting tools.

    • Linux Users Face a Growing Number of Cryptojacking Threats
    • Hackers Targeting Malware at Linux Users: Report

      In the past cyber gangsters mainly targeted their tools at Windows users, since this was the most widely-spread operating system. Recently, modifications for Linux have been discovered as well.

      Cybercriminals have grown to love decentralized digital currencies. Ransomware now seems to be the trend of the past. These days it is cryptojacking that is the hot one.

    • Dodgy Crypto Miners Target Linux Systems, a New Report Reveals
    • New Cybersecurity Report Notes Rising Cases of Cryptojacking Attacks on Linux Devices
    • Black Hat USA: Cybot – The Open-Source Threat Intelligence Chat Bot
    • WatchGuard Reports About Linux Targeted Cryptojacking Mining Software
    • Cisco Security Experts Describe New Attack Vector for Old Malware

      PROPagate was originally discovered in October 2017, so it represents a fairly new way to target Windows installations. However, Smoke Loader has been around since at least 2011. The current version has evolved considerably, and some of the recent outbreaks have been as a result of fake patches that claimed to correct the Meltdown and Spectre exploits.


      PROPagate was originally discovered in October 2017, so it represents a fairly new way to target Windows installations. However, Smoke Loader has been around since at least 2011. The current version has evolved considerably, and some of the recent outbreaks have been as a result of fake patches that claimed to correct the Meltdown and Spectre exploits.

    • NSA Exploit “DoublePulsar” Patched to Work on Windows IoT Systems

      An infosec researcher who uses the online pseudonym of Capt. Meelo has modified an NSA hacking tool known as DoublePulsar to work on the Windows IoT operating system (formerly known as Windows Embedded).

      The original DoublePulsar is a hacking tool that was developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and was stolen and then leaked online by a hacking group known as The Shadow Brokers.

      At its core, DoublePulsar is a Ring-0 kernel mode payload that acts like a backdoor into compromised systems. DoublePulsar is not meant to be used on its own, but together with other NSA tools.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • NATO troops on the front line with Russia are taking new steps to protect against electronic attacks

      Larsen and other military officers involved said Russian personnel behaved professionally and kept their distance, but the NATO forces were taking new steps to insulate themselves electronically: All members of the crew on Larsen’s four ships were required to keep their phones on airplane mode to ward off hacking [sic] attempts.


      Troops at Estonia’s Tapa military base switched to a “no smartphones” policy last year, after they noticed their contacts were disappearing and music they had not downloaded would start playing.

    • Reading hotel key cards with a credit card magstripe reader

      In this post I describe how my cheap magstripe reader wouldn’t read all magstripes, only credit/debit cards. This did nothing to help me understand what data was on my hotel key card – which is what I really wanted to know. Rather than take the obvious next step or buying a better reader, I opted to open up the cheap magstripe reader, probed around a bit and found a way to read the raw data off the hotel magstripes. What that data means remains a mystery so there may be a part 2 at some stage.

    • Really dumb malware targets cryptocurrency fans using Macs

      Someone impersonating administrators of cryptocurrency-related discussion channels on Slack, Discord, and other social messaging platforms has been attempting to lure others into installing macOS malware. The social-engineering campaign consists of posting a script in discussions and encouraging people to copy and paste that script into a Terminal window on their Macs. The command downloads a huge (34 megabyte) file and executes it, establishing a remote connection that acts as a backdoor for the attacker.

    • IBM Lands $740 Million Deal to Supply Data Security to Australia

      The contract will see services such as automation and blockchain provided to federal departments including defense and home affairs, IBM’s Asia Pacific head, Harriet Green, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Thursday. The “youth of the technology” and the employment of Australians to support and help the implementation would be hallmarks of the new partnership, she said.

    • A step forward for government vulnerability disclosure in Europe

      We’ve argued for many years that governments should implement transparent processes to review and disclose the vulnerabilities that they learn about. Such processeses are essential for the cybersecurity of citizens, businesses, and indeed governments themselves. To advance policy discourse on this issue in Europe, we recently participated in the Centre of European Policy Studies (CEPS) Taskforce on Software Vulnerability Disclosure. The Taskforce’s final report was published this week and makes a strong case for the need for government vulnerability disclosure policies, and comes at a critical juncture as European policymakers debate the EU Cybersecurity Act.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • “Shooting And Robbery Are Frequent”: China Warns Its Citizens About Risks Of Travel To The US

      “Public security in the United States is not good. Cases of shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent”

    • No One Knows What Kim Jong Un Promised Trump

      The optimism generated by President Trump’s meeting last month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is giving way to the reality of just how difficult it will be to persuade North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons. In fact, it’s difficult even to understand what Kim and Trump actually agreed to.

      Recent reports said U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that North Korea has, according to NBC News, “increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites;” has also, 38 North adds, made “improvements to the infrastructure at … Yongbyon,” the plutonium-production reactor; and, The Washington Post reports, is “considering ways to conceal the number of weapons it has and secret production facilities.” Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea was expanding a facility to build solid-fuel ballistic missiles, even as Kim was meeting with his South Korean counterpart in April and preparing for his meeting with Trump in June.

    • The Escalating Air War No One Is Watching

      A complex air war over Libya has killed hundreds of innocent civilians, and possibly many more, since the U.S.-led NATO intervention in the North African state began in 2011. And almost no one outside of the war-torn country has even noticed. The U.S. government, for its part, increasingly seems to prefer it that way.

      Manned warplanes and drones from four foreign countries and various Libyan factions conducted at least 2,158 air strikes between September 2012 and mid-June 2018, according to a new report from the Washington D.C. based New America Foundation and Airwars.org, an air-strike-tracking project affiliated with the University of London.

    • ACLU Wins Partial Unblocking of FOIA Request on Yemen Raid

      The CIA will not be able to block a Freedom of Information Act request regarding records about the justification, approval process, and assessment of casualties ahead of the January 2017 raid by U.S. forces in al Ghayil, Yemen, that left 10 children among the dead, according to reports.

      The request for the records, made by the American Civil Liberties Union, was issued to the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice and State, along with the CIA. According to U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer of the Southern District of New York, all litigation over the request has proceeded with the exception of the CIA.

      The CIA issued its customary Glomar response, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of responsive records on the grounds that doing so would reveal highly sensitive information protected from FOIA disclosure.

      The ACLU argued the Glomar response is inappropriate, because public statements made over a series of days by former White House spokesman Sean Spicer, as well as earlier statements by CIA officials regarding the agency’s interest in Yemen, functioned as official acknowledgement.

    • CIA Can’t Dodge ACLU Requests For Yemen Raid Docs

      White House statements about a deadly 2017 raid in Yemen prevent the CIA from refusing to say whether it has documents responsive to American Civil Liberties Union information requests, a New York federal judge held Wednesday, saying the comments made it clear that the agency had an interest in the mission.

    • A least 11 people killed in U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan

      American officials claim their drones carry out high-precision attacks on specific targets; but the reality is that most of these drone attacks result in death of innocent civilians.

    • U.S. Military Surveys Found Local Distrust in Niger. Then the Air Force Built a $100 Million Drone Base.

      Before the U.S. military began building its $100 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, U.S. Africa Command and the State Department took the temperature of locals through public-opinion surveys. The results indicated mixed feelings about the United States and its motives in the region — and take on added resonance in the wake of an ambush last October in Niger that killed four American soldiers.

      “The devout of Agadez are divided on variables associated with violent religious extremism,” reads a military report that contains data from surveys conducted in 2012 by the polling firm ORB International. The 2013 report by U.S. Army Africa, which is the Army component of AFRICOM, is titled “Special Assessment: Agadez, Niger – Strategic Crossroads in the Sahara,” and was obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act.

      A July 2012 survey found that 83 percent of Agadez respondents believed that American and European cultures pose a threat to traditional Muslim values. Nearly 50 percent were convinced that the United States is fighting Islam, rather than terrorism, across the Muslim world. And 40 percent believed that using violence in the name of their religion was always or sometimes justified.

    • Google’s artificial intelligence ethics won’t curb war by algorithm

      On March 29, 2018, a Toyota Land Cruiser carrying five members of the Al Manthari family was travelling through the Yemeni province of Al Bayda, inland from the Gulf of Aden. The family were heading to the city of al-Sawma’ah to pick up a local elder to witness the sale of a plot of land. At two in the afternoon, a rocket from a US Predator drone hit the vehicle, killing three of its passengers. A fourth later died. One of the four men killed, Mohamed Saleh al Manthari, had three children aged between one and six. His father, Saleh al Manthari, says Mohamed was the family’s only breadwinner.

      The US took responsibility for the strike, claiming the victims were terrorists. Yet Yemenis who knew the family claim otherwise. “This is not a case where we’re just taking the community’s word for it – you’ve had verification at every level,” says Jen Gibson, an attorney with legal organisation Reprieve, which represents the Al Manthari family. “You’ve got everyone up to the governor willing to vouch for the fact that these guys were civilians.” The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has in the past few weeks opened an investigation – a “credibility assessment” – into the circumstances of the strike, which lawyers describe as unusual.

    • Corporate Media’s About-Face on Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis

      Last month a freelance journalist named Joshua Cohen published an article in The Washington Post about the Ukraine’s growing neo-Nazi threat. Despite a gratuitous swipe at Russia for allegedly exaggerating the problem (which it hasn’t), the piece was fairly accurate.

      Entitled “Ukraine’s ultra-right militias are challenging the government to a showdown,” it said that fascists have gone on a rampage while the ruling clique in Kiev closes its eyes for the most part and prays that the problem somehow goes away on its own.

      Thus, a group calling itself C14 (for the fourteen-word ultra-right motto, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) not only beat up a socialist politician and celebrated Hitler’s birthday by stabbing an antiwar activist, but bragged about it on its website. Other ultra-nationalists, Cohen says, have stormed the Lvov and Kiev city councils and “assaulted or disrupted” art exhibits, anti-fascist demos, peace and gay-rights events, and a Victory Day parade commemorating the victory over Hitler in 1945.

      Yet nothing has happened to stop this. President Petro Poroshenko could order a crackdown, but hasn’t for reasons that should be obvious. The U.S.-backed “Euromaidan” uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Close Up: Julian Assange

      In early 2006, Assange started to work on a website which is intended to share secret information and news leaks on an international scale. This lead to the foundation of WikiLeaks and in 2007 WikiLeaks was officially launched.

    • John Pilger: Julian Assange must be brought home

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.

      The Australian government and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be.

      They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.

      Assange does not ask for special treatment. The government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect Australian citizens abroad from gross injustice: in Julian’s case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that await him should he walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London unprotected.

    • Comey squashed possible limited immunity deal for Assange: report

      WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange was willing to discuss guidelines on the release of CIA documents — which were published under the name Vault 7 beginning in March 2017 — in exchange for a limited immunity deal that might have freed him for a while, but the deal was squashed by former FBI director James Comey, a report claims.

      The Hill reported that Democrat Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr; and American lawyer Adam Waldman — who is known for his US Government connections — were involved in the negotiations to try and bring about the deal during the early days of the Trump administration.

      According to the report, in January 2017 Assange’s lawyers contacted Waldman to see if the new administration would negotiate with the WikiLeaks publisher. Washington was aware that Assange had a trove of CIA documents that he was planning to publish.

    • Plot Thickens: Analyst Explains Why Comey Meddled in Assange-DOJ Talks

      Ex-FBI Director James Comey and some former Obama administration officials would have had much to lose if Julian Assange had shared his vision on what happened during the 2016 US presidential race, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel opined speaking to Sputnik, explaining why the ex-FBI chief was so “incurious” about the DNC server hacking.

    • Coming up Tuesday’s ‘Rising:’ How the DOJ almost offered an immunity deal to Julian Assange
    • Comey Fingered in Case of Leak That Harmed US Defense ‘for Years to Come’

      By this point, the belief that James Comey still deserved to be FBI director and that his firing at the hands of President Donald Trump was uncalled for takes an almost Herculean act of intellectual dishonesty.

      The inspector general’s report on the FBI investigation into Hillary Cinton’s emails might have officially found no bias on the part of the bureau as an organization (questionable), but it indisputably showed an organization full of Clintonista shills complete with Comey at the helm, bumbling from one disaster to another.

      This was in addition to what we already knew about Comey and his self-serving tendency to place himself at the center of every major event of the 2016 presidential election.


      “Assange had a bargaining chip: The U.S. government knew he had a massive trove of documents from classified CIA computers, identifying sensitive assets and chronicling the agency’s offensive cyber warfare weapons,” Solomon noted.

    • Jim Jordan: ‘Too early to tell’ about talking to Comey, Warner about Wikileaks

      Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said it’s too early to tell whether House Republicans would want to talk to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) about his contacts with former FBI Director James Comey during the Russia probe.

      In an interview with Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Jordan was asked about a contributor’s piece published by The Hill on Monday about how former FBI Director James Comey allegedly intervened, through Warner, to kill a WikiLeaks’ immunity deal with whistleblower Julian Assange.

    • Vault 7, DNC Hacking: How Comey’s Intervention Upset DOJ Deal With Assange

      Following Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s exposure of former FBI Director James Comey’s mishandling of the Hillary Clinton email case, investigative journalist John Solomon has shed light on Comey’s meddling in the DOJ’s negotiations with Julian Assange ahead of a massive disclosure of CIA cyber malpractice.

    • Report: WikiLeaks immunity deal scrapped after Comey intervened

      A limited immunity deal the Department of Justice was considering for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was killed when then-FBI Director James Comey intervened, a report said.

      The deal, which could have temporarily freed Assange from a London embassy where he has been in exile for years, was derailed by Comey with help from Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, The Hill’s John Solomon reported on June 25.

    • The Next Step: The Campaign for Julian Assange

      The modern detainee in a political sense has to be understood in the abstract. Those who take to feats of hacking, publishing and articulating positions on the issue of institutional secrets have become something of a species, not as rare as they once more, but no less remarkable for that fact. And what a hounded species at that.

      Across the globe prisons are now peopled by traditional, and in some instances unconventional journalists, who have found themselves in the possession of classified material. In one specific instance, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks stands tall, albeit in limited space, within the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

      Unlawful imprisonment and arbitrary detention are treated by black letter lawyers with a crystal clarity that would disturb novelists and lay people; lawyers, in turn, are sometimes disturbed by the inventive ways a novelist, or litterateur type, might interpret detention. The case of Assange, shacked and hemmed in a small space at the mercy of his hosts who did grant him asylum, then citizenship, has never been an easy one to explain to either. Ever murky, and ever nebulous, his background and circumstances inspires polarity rather than accord.

    • U.K. official calls for end to Julian Assange impasse, cites WikiLeaks publisher’s worsening health

      A British Foreign Office minster called Tuesday for an end to the impasse surrounding WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, a resident of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012.

      “It is now over six years since the Ecuadorian Embassy has been abused in its purpose as an embassy” Sir Patrick McLoughlin, a Conservative member of the House of Commons, said during a Parliament hearing. “How long does the government care to put up with this?”

      Mr. Assange “is in the embassy of his own choice,” responded Sir Alan Duncan, a fellow Conservative and the U.K. minister of state for Europe and the Americas.

    • UK Foreign Office offers Assange a doctor if he leaves Ecuador embassy

      A UK Foreign Office minister has offered cupboard-dwelling WikiLeaker Julian Assange access to medical attention if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy.

      Sir Alan Duncan told Parliament this afternoon that the British government is “increasingly concerned” about Assange’s health.

      “It is our wish that this can be brought to an end and we’d like to make the assurance that if [Assange] were to step out of the embassy, he would be treated humanely and properly and that the first priority would be to look after his health, which we think is deteriorating,” Sir Alan told the House of Commons earlier today.

    • Pence urged to press Ecuador on Assange

      Democrats in the US Senate have urged Vice President Mike Pence to press Ecuador’s government over asylum it grants to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and nine other Democratic senators said in a letter to Pence that they were extremely concerned over Ecuador’s protection of Assange at its embassy in London.

      Pence was beginning his stop in Ecuador on Wednesday as part of a three-nation tour of Latin America, where he will meet with President Lenin Moreno to discuss trade and the crisis in Venezuela.

    • Pence urged to press Ecuador on Assange
    • VP Pence tells Central America to do more to stop migrants

      During their private meeting, Pence raised the issue of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who Ecuador has granted asylum, U.S. officials said.

      Assange, whose leak of classified U.S. documents infuriated U.S. government officials, has been a sticking point between the two nations. He has been living under asylum inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.

      Pence and Moreno did not mention Assange in their public comments.

    • Mike Pence urged by Democrats to discuss Julian Assange’s asylum status during Ecuador trip

      Lawmakers pressed Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday to raise concerns while in Ecuador this week about the country’s decision to continue shielding WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, a resident of its London embassy for the past six years.

      A group of 10 senators, all Democrats, wrote Mr. Pence urging him to discuss Mr. Assange’s asylum status during his meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno.

      Led by Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the letter said that lawmakers “remain extremely concerned about Ecuador providing asylum to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange since June 2012.”

    • Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange

      Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.

      “The vice president raised the issue of Mr. Assange. It was a constructive conversation. They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward,” a White House official said in a statement.

      Several Democratic senators penned a letter to Pence earlier this week asking him to raise the issue when he met with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno during his multi-country swing through Latin America.

    • Democrats Against Assange: Influencing U.S.-Ecuador Relations

      Such a historical twist, but one that deserves its iniquitous slot in the history books. No secret has been made about US policy towards Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which continues its trajectory to seek his apprehension and shutter the organisation. Despite its cables being used for political effect by interested parties; despite the exposures of corruption within the ranks of US politics, Assange is to be thanked with punishment.

      This is the sentiment expressed by Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with nine other Democratic senators, in a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence. The senators had been losing sleep after getting wind of what was said, or rather not said, in a June 4 phone call between Pence and Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno. One glaring omission troubled them: the absence of any discussion about Assange’s asylum status and stay in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    • Vice-President Pence threatens immigrants, Assange, and Venezuela during Latin America tour

      Last week, US Vice President Mike Pence visited South and Central America to pressure Latin American governments to back Washington’s efforts to tighten its control over the region.

      Announcing an escalated offensive against democratic and social rights, Pence negotiated with Ecuador over the expulsion of Julian Assange from Quito’s embassy in London. He also coordinated with Brazil and Ecuador to intensify the US intervention in Venezuela’s crisis and pressed Central American governments to build up their armed forces to prevent immigrants from trying to escape the desperate social conditions in their countries of origin.

      On Thursday, Pence stopped in Quito, Ecuador, the highest ranking US official to visit the country in three decades. Given that President Lenín Moreno’s government seeks a rapprochement with Washington, a group of ten US Democratic senators sent an open letter to Pence ahead of the trip pushing for him to force the expulsion of Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks.

    • Pence pledges support to Venezuelans until democracy returns

      Democrats in the U.S. Senate also urged the vice president to press Ecuador’s government over its continued asylum for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ten Democratic senators said in a letter to Pence that they were extremely concerned over Ecuador’s protection of Assange, who has lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.

      “It is imperative that you raise U.S. concerns with President (Lenin) Moreno,” the letter said. “WikiLeaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes globally.”

    • On His 47th Birthday, Assange Remains in Limbo at Ecuador Embassy

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on Tuesday, 3 July, will be celebrating his 47th birthday in the same Ecuadorian embassy in London that has been his abode for 6 years now. His motives, his interventions, his leaks, and not to forget the status of his asylum at the embassy have been subjects of intense debates.

      Two days after the United States Vice President, Mike Pence, in a meeting with Ecuador President Lenin Moreno, discussed Assange, an Ecuadorian diplomat on Monday, 2 July, said Washington can’t decide the fate of Australian programmer.

    • Happy Birthday Julian Assange: Who Dared To Challenge World’s Super Power Through WikiLeaks !

      Having travelled across Australia, gone to 37 different schools, Julian Assange who sought refuge at Ecuador’s Embassy in London on 19 June 2012, is now offered citizenship by Equador. This move is being seen as an effort to ease out mounting pressure from the international community on Assange, who was confined to the embassy for six long years.

    • What WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange got for his birthday
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Greenpeace intentionally crashes drone into French nuclear power plant to reveal security vulnerability

      The environmental organization published a video on its Twitter page showing a Superman-shaped drone flying over the Bugey nuclear plant, located about 20 miles from the city of Lyon. The drone then slams into a building inside the nuclear plant.

      Airspace surrounding and above nuclear plants are no-fly zones in France.

    • Greenpeace crashes Superman-shaped drone into French nuclear plant

      Greenpeace crashed a Superman-shaped drone into a French nuclear plant on Tuesday to demonstrate its vulnerability to outside attacks, the environmental group said.
      Greenpeace said it had flown the drone — piloted by one of its activists — into the no-fly zone around utility EDF’s Bugey nuclear plant, near Lyon, and then crashed it against the wall of the plant’s spent-fuel pool building.
      “This action again highlights the extreme vulnerability of this type of buildings, which contain the highest amount of radioactivity in nuclear plants,” Greenpeace said.

  • Finance

    • To Spite Harley, Trump May Have to Turn to Foreign Bike Foes

      He’d almost certainly have to work with Harley’s foreign foes to fill the void, and none has stepped forward to announce any such negotiations.

    • Taxi law reform sparks competition for fares from Helsinki Airport

      The taxi queue arrangement at Helsinki Airport has changed quite a bit over the weekend. Instead of a single, long line of taxis waiting for customers, there are now four lanes reserved for specific companies, each offering slightly different pricing schemes.

      The airport set up the new arrangement before Finland’s taxi law reforms went into effect on Sunday and started using it on Monday. The first row of taxis, the one closest to Terminal 2′s arrivals doors, belongs to Lähitaksi, while the second row is reserved for Vantaan Taksi.

      The third row is devoted to Taksi Helsinki vehicles, while a fourth row was still empty on Monday, one day after the reforms went into effect.

    • Americans need passenger rail that serves entire nation — not just the East and West coasts

      Amtrak has made drastic changes in the dark, without input from the public, stakeholders or lawmakers.

    • Burst Dymaxion: Linux of Blockchain Proof-of-Capacity (PoC) Project?

      With smart contracts gaining more and more popularity, there have been many platforms that have tried to attract users by offering blockchains with certain revisions that would allow better deals. One of them is called Burst Dymaxion, and this one offers a truly distinct experience thanks to various unique mechanisms and features.

    • Shareholder class actions against Qualcomm over frustrated Broadcom merger may turn on secrecy of CFIUS proceedings

      Before we get to the actual topic of this post, a quick follow-up to the previous one: the Deseret News reports that President Trump has interviewed Senator Mike Lee, so the possibility of a FRAND-friendly Supreme Court Justice is real (though other candidates have been interviewed as well).

      Last week, an interesting class action complaint was brought against Qualcomm in the Northern District of California by a group of consumers, with the class being defined broadly enough to include any U.S. smartphone buyer. I’ve run a couple of online searches and found that there’s a whole bunch of other class lawsuits pending against Qualcomm, and they’re all about Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm, which couldn’t materialize after a presidential veto.

    • Leaders On Global Trade Discuss Leadership And Current Trade Challenges

      Fox, in his demonstration of the role that the United Kingdom has played and continues to play as one of the “foremost champions” of the multilateral trading system, highlighted the efforts of the UK in making sure that the multilateral trading system is beneficial to all.


      In the medium term, the system needs reforming for adaptation to a more multi-polar technological world and in the long term, leadership is needed for more inclusiveness of women and young people in international trade and entrepreneurship, she added.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • There Are No Heroes in This Story
    • Putting a Face (Mine) to the Risks Posed by GOP Games on Mueller Investigation

      I only came to be convinced slowly about Russia’s role in the attack and I have been skeptical of the Steele dossier from the day it was published. That said, I obviously do not like Donald Trump — though I’m no Hillary fan, either. But my decision to share information with the FBI had nothing to do with my dislike for Donald Trump. It had to do with the serious damage that someone else I believed to be involved in the Russian attack — someone I had been friendly with — was doing to innocent people, almost all of those people totally uninvolved in American politics.

    • Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes

      But in a small courtroom in California’s Redwood City on Monday, attorneys for the social media company presented a different message from the one executives have made to Congress, in interviews and in speeches: Facebook, they repeatedly argued, is a publisher, and a company that makes editorial decisions, which are protected by the first amendment.

    • Facebook claims it is ‘publisher’ in court case

      In Facebook’s lawyers claim that it is a “publisher” which gives it the right to decide “what not publish.”

    • America Celebrates Lateral Move From Monarchy To Corporate Rule

      Today America celebrates its liberation from the shackles of the British Crown and the beginning of its transition into corporatist oligarchy, which is a lot like celebrating your lateral promotion from housekeeping to laundry staff. Fireworks will be set off, hot dogs will be consumed, and a strange yellow concoction known as Mountain Dew will be imbibed by patriotic high-fiving Yankees eager to celebrate their hard-fought freedom to funnel their taxes into corporate welfare instead of to the King.

      Spark up a bottle rocket for me, America! In trouncing King George’s red-coated goon squad, you made it possible for the donor class to slowly buy up more and more control of your shiny new government, allowing for a system of rule determined not by royal bloodlines, but by wealth bloodlines. Now instead of your national affairs being determined by some gilded schmuck across the pond, they are determined by the billionaire owners of multinational corporations and banks. These oligarchs have shored up their rule to such an extent that congressional candidates who outspend their opponents are almost certain to win, and a 2014 Princeton study found that ordinary Americans have no influence whatsoever over the behavior of their government while the will of the wealthy has a direct influence on US policy and legislation.

    • Wheel Out the Skripal Story Again

      Just as the World Cup had forced the British media to grudgingly acknowledge the obvious truth that Russia is an extremely interesting country inhabited, like everywhere else, by mostly pleasant and attractive people, we have a screaming reprise of the “Salisbury incident” dominating the British media. Two people have been taken ill in Amesbury from an unknown substance, which might yet be a contaminated recreational drug, but could conceivably be from contact with the substance allegedly used on the Skripals, presumably some of which was somewhere indoors all this time as we were told it could be washed away and neutralised by water.

      Amesbury is not Salisbury – it is 10 miles away. Interestingly enough Porton Down is between Amesbury and Salisbury. Just three miles away from Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The news reports are not mentioning that much.

    • The Amesbury Mystery

      We are continually presented with experts by the mainstream media who will validate whatever miraculous property of “novichok” is needed to fit in with the government’s latest wild anti-Russian story. Tonight Newsnight wheeled out a chemical weapons expert to tell us that “novichok” is “extremely persistent” and therefore that used to attack the Skripals could still be lurking potent on a bush in a park.

      Yet only three months ago we had this example of scores from the MSM giving the same message which was the government line at that time:
      “Professor Robert Stockman, of the University of Nottingham, said traces of nerve agents did not linger. He added: ‘These agents react with water to degrade, including moisture in the air, and so in the UK they would have a very limited lifetime. This is presumably why the street in Salisbury was being hosed down as a precaution – it would effectively destroy the agent.’”

    • Trump as a Russian Target – Through the Eyes of a former CIA Russian Expert

      Donald Trump would have been an active target of Russian intelligence since the moment they laid eyes on him for two reasons that come straight from the classical espionage textbook: He has influence; and he is potentially vulnerable to various forms of compromise. Playing by the book, the Russians would have attempted to initiate multi-layered operations to develop varied means of access to him in an effort to establish and ultimately exploit mechanisms of control over Trump and his associates. This is not calling out our president, but rather is a reflection of the reality of how Russian intelligence operates. Indeed, it could even benefit the president to know how this stratagem works. To be fair, I have no information that suggests that our president has been compromised by the Russians. Rather, my intent is to offer to the reader an explanation of the classical vulnerabilities that intelligence officers seek to identify and exploit including sexual indiscretions, greed, corruption, revenge, and most of all, ego. In essence, the pursuit of selfish interests over the common good.

    • Secret to success: BBC gives UK spy network some nice PR at taxpayer expense

      A recent BBC video saw the state-funded broadcaster chat to the deputy director of the UK’s intelligence agency, giving the espionage network some soft and cuddly PR at the taxpayers expense.

      Nikesh Mehta, who has been the number two at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) since 2015, was interviewed for BBC Ideas for their Habits of the Highly Successful segment, which seeks tips from people at the top of their game.

      Other videos to feature on BBC Ideas, which bills itself as a “curated video platform for people who want to think as well as surf,” include programs on why you should wear trainers to work and investigations into why people chant at football matches.

    • The Secret Role the CIA Had in Making These Movies and TV Shows
    • Politics is becoming a minefield for the travel and hospitality business

      It is getting harder to stay on the right side of customers and employees

    • Extraditing Snowden has ‘never’ been discussed with Trump administration says Lavrov

      Russia’s foreign minister on Friday cast doubt on the possibility of extraditing Edward Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor who received political asylum from Moscow after leaking classified documents to the media in 2013.

      Sergey Lavrov briefly discussed the situation surrounding Mr. Snowden during an interview conducted in advance of the recently announced meeting scheduled for July 17 in Finland between President Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

      “What are you prepared to give in this Summit? For example, if Donald Trump says he wants the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden back in the U.S., is that something that you would consider? Is this something that you can put on the table?” asked a reporter for the U.K.’s Channel 4.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Court overrules FPB censorship of Inxeba

      The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and the South African Screen Federation (Sasfed) is rejoicing the overruling of the censorship of Inxeba.

      The Film and Publications Board (FPB) reclassified the film as X18. R2K and Sasfed entered the case as friends of the court with representation by the Legal Resources Centre.

    • Homophobic censorship of children’s books in Hong Kong libraries a big leap backwards

      Malaysia has seen bans on yoga and a ballet performance in the name of religion, but Hong Kong has always been a secular society – or has it?

    • Censorship on campus? A new poll reveals what students really think about free speech

      A quick search of the hashtag “snowflakes” on Twitter will reveal that the word has become a go-to for conservative commentators describing left-wing young people who dismiss arguments on the basis of personal offence. According to the narrative, snowflakes congregate on university campuses, where they seek to silence speakers they disagree with.

      The government takes the risk of a blizzard seriously: in May, universities minister Sam Gyimah suggested that the Department for Education brought in a clearer set of free speech guidelines for higher education institutions. In explaining his reasons for the proposals, Gyimah referenced an incident in which students at Cardiff University signed a petition demanding Germaine Greer be disinvited from a guest lecture on the basis of “misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether” (Greer was in fact not disinvited by the university).

    • Reflections on Emergency and Press Censorship Today

      It is now de-facto Emergency and an undeclared press censorship in large sections of the print and TV networks, and many websites in the country.


      Indeed, the promulgation of Emergency on June 25, 1975 followed by press censorship, did constitute a dark chapter in history of press in free India. The period had its immediate and long-term repercussions for the press. The moot question today is how far have the lessons been learnt by succeeding governments and the press? In fact, while in the earlier years, dark shades of press censorship were indeed hovering over the country, there were also some periods of resistance too, when the press even imagined an adversarial role for itself. Darker shades were visible during what was a BJP interregnum in its previous government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but now more dangerously, new forms of suppression have been invented. The press today is caught in new forms of press monopoly with major industrial houses directly entering the all spectrum media fray.

    • AEJ: The Case With The BNT Journalist Can Create Self-Censorship

      “A condition for triggering known mechanisms of self-censorship in the program content”, is the opinion of the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria, concerning the case of the temporary withdrawal of the “Healthcare” sphere of the journalist Maria Cherneva from the Bulgarian National Television.

    • Some high school journalists in the U.S. are facing censorship from school administration

      High schools across the country have pushed back this year against student journalists who have reported on sensitive subjects, such as the reaction to school shootings and adolescent sexuality.


      Since 1988, when the Supreme Court ruled that a Missouri school district had acted lawfully in removing a two-page spread on divorce and teenage pregnancy from a student newspaper, administrators have been able to censor work in school publications that they consider poorly written or “inconsistent with the shared values of a civilized social order.” Fourteen states have laws in place meant to safeguard school publications from interference.

      The killing of the opinion piece on the National School Walkout protest was the third instance of conflict between John Burdett, the principal of Prosper High School in Prosper, Texas, and the school’s news publication, Eagle Nation Online. The first skirmish concerned an article about the cancellation of “movie day,” a school tradition allowing the class that had raised the most money for a cancer charity to see a movie during school hours. Burdett disputed the article’s take on the cancellation and ordered the faculty adviser, Lori Oglesbee-Petter, to scrub it from the site.

    • China’s Censors Love The Laugh Track

      The Chinese comedian Yu Zhenzhong knows how to make 50 people laugh at a stand-up night. But tackling a potential TV audience of 1.4 billion people is another challenge — especially when there’s a smaller but less friendly audience of censors to face first. That’s why Yu headed from Shanghai to London last year to learn the secrets of the laugh track and the family sitcom.

      Chinese love comedy as much as anyone else, but the two forms most popular in the country — traditional “cross-talk” and the scathing online humor of the young — don’t always translate to regular commercial programming. Cross-talk, reminiscent of the old Western music hall routines down to the somewhat naughty jokes and the comedy accents, turns around individual performers in a way that’s hard to replicate every week. Online sarcasm, meanwhile, is increasingly scoured from the internet and impossible to put on TV. Audiences and authorities want something regular, safe, and universal — like the multicamera sitcom.

      Yu’s company, Houghton Street Media, has partnered with the U.K.-based China Media Centre to sponsor a seminar series teaching Chinese comedy writers how to write Western-style comedies. The workshop is one of several run each year by the China Media Centre, designed to “help Chinese creative talent produce their own ideas in a systematic and commercializable way,” said Hugo de Burgh, the director of the center. For years, these workshops focused on helping Chinese producers localize British programming, but de Burgh noted a recent shift toward equipping Chinese talent to develop their own shows.

    • Amnesty calls on Egypt lawmakers to reject online censorship laws

      If the laws are passed, law enforcement will be able to monitor and block websites in the name of crime prevention and protection of national security. The laws on online media would also increase the regulation of the media to potentially block disfavored sites. Amnesty reports that “Over the past year, the Egyptian authorities have blocked 500 websites including independent news platforms and pages belonging to rights groups.”

    • RSF-FN expressed concern over media censorship in the country

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its partner in Pakistan, Freedom Network (FN), have expressed concern over reports of media censorship in the country, observing that “censorship and intimidation of media are incompatible with democracy”.

      In a joint letter written to caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, the RSF and FN called upon the authorities to allow journalists to cover the election campaigns freely.

      The June 25 letter said: “What with threats, abductions, beatings, illegal suspensions and disrupted distribution, media and journalists are being harassed by the military and intelligence services, as well by political actors, in a clear attempt to intimidate them and prevent independent reporting ahead of the elections.”

      The letter highlighted a number of cases related to intimidation of journalists, including those of Gul Bukhari and Marvi Sirmed.

    • Lindenwood Student Journalists Allege Censorship

      University officials said the move came because of budget cuts and was not meant as censorship.

    • Lindenwood University: Ending publication of magazine due to digital strategy, not censorship

      Students, administrators and journalism organizations are reacting to Lindenwood University’s decision to cease the physical publication of the student-run magazine, The Legacy.

      Student-staff was notified by the university that printing of The Legacy would shut down on Friday, sparking accusations of censorship from student-media staff. Lindenwood University alumni have voiced their concerns over the announcement, said The Legacy News Editor, Madeline Raineri. She said students and alumni are considering what to do next.

    • British Council accused of censorship over Bahamas exhibition

      The cultural diplomacy arm of the Foreign Office has become embroiled in controversy in the Bahamas where it has been accused of censorship and causing further damage to relations already strained by the Windrush scandal.

      The British Council was served with an unprecedented rebuke by the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), its partner in a major exhibition this year, which said the council had caused “distress and disappointment” after distancing itself from an accompanying catalogue over unstated concerns about its “political” content.

      Artists and collaborators in the project have gone further, voicing allegations of censorship and saying they were left feeling “stunned and angry” while the gallery described it as a lost opportunity to foster goodwill in the wake of the Windrush revelations.

      Ironically, the project in the Bahamas was the final phase of a British Council series called Difficult Conversations – reflecting on the UK’s involvement in the slave trade in the Caribbean.

      The controversy centres on a catalogue for a Bahamian show in which the work of local artists has been displayed this year alongside Scottish artist Graham Fagen’s video installation re-working the Robert Burns song the Slave’s Lament. It was commissioned by the British Council for the 2015 Venice Biennale.

    • Bahamas Govt Accuses British Council of Censorship Over Slave Trade Exhibition

      The project would’ve served as the final phase of a series called ‘Difficult Conversations’ which were to be reflections of the UK’s involvement in the slave trade in the Caribbean, the Guardian has reported.

      United Kingdom’s cultural body, the British Council has come under scrutiny for censorship by the Bahamas government, further straining the relations amid the recent Windrush scandal.

    • Craigslist to drop personal ads after passage of sex trafficking bill

      Craigslist said it is dropping its personals section, citing the passage of a sex trafficking bill potentially leaving websites liable for penalties.

      The U.S. Senate voted 97-2 on Wednesday to pass the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which adds tougher penalties on web services that help facilitate prostitution or sex trafficking.

    • EFF sues to kill FOSTA, calling it “unconstitutional Internet censorship law”
    • Rights Advocates Blast Law Aimed at Sex Trafficking
    • Sex-Worker Advocates Sue Over Internet ‘Censorship’ Law

      Lawsuit claims “anti-trafficking” bill SESTA-FOSTA has already harmed sex workers, calls it “legislative censorship of Internet speech”


      The EFF, a nonprofit founded in 1990, specializes in defending civil liberties online and in the realm of digital technology. They have been one of many organizations to mobilize against SESTA-FOSTA since it was first introduced to Congress in 2017, under the name H.R.1865. SESTA-FOSTA makes it a crime to operate or manage a website that “promotes or facilitates prostitution,” vastly expanding liability for sites that host any content on which sexuality may be discussed.

      Because the law vaguely defines what speech can be interpreted as “supporting” prostitution, websites like Craigslist have already chosen to remove their personals section rather than face liability. Others such as Instagram have increased scrutiny of hashtags such as #yesastripper, while Reddit has outright banned subreddits including r/Sexworkers. Just this week, fundraising host Patreon suspended the accounts of numerous adult-themed creators. Any discussion of sex work, or even sex in general, could potentially make a third-party host – from Twitter to Google – liable for their users’ posts.

    • Opinion: Censorship is a four-letter word

      The road has become a difficult one to navigate for future journalists. With our work been criticized openly by President Trump and the recent death of five Maryland journalists at the hands of a disgruntled reader, it has become even more important that we seek the truth and defend it always, as written in the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics.

    • Blocked reality: From protection to censorship

      Unjustified and unreasonable restriction of such human rights as the right to freedom of speech and the right to access to information is a violation of Ukraine’s Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention on the Protection of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

      Such interference is illegal irrespective of how it is carried out: through the prohibition of a printed publication, the prohibition of the release of a political talk show, or by blocking Internet resources.

      In addition, it is very easy to cross the line in the developing democracies: from the defense of national interests to the “massacre of those who are not wanted” and the narrowing of freedom of speech.

      In the conditions of Ukrainian politics, these risks are no less dangerous, but now they are still relevant.

      Recently, the legislative initiative No. 6688 “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Regarding Information Security of Ukraine” was introduced into the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada. The essence of it is to block Internet resources under certain conditions.

      Considering that the authors of the bill are coalitionists from Poroshenko’s Bloc and National Front, there is a high probability that by the end of this session the parliament would vote for it.

    • Behind the battle against Poland’s Holocaust censorship law

      On Tuesday June 26, the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) filed an amicus brief with the Polish Constitutional Court in an effort to have the Polish government cancel an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, also known as the “Polish Denial Memory Law” or “Polish Holocaust Law.”

      The IAJLJ argued that the Polish Law was overly broad and had contradicted the Polish Constitution and its value of freedom of expression. Moreover, the IAJLJ felt this law severely hampered Holocaust study across the world.

      On Wednesday June 27, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed an amendment to the law, downgrading the offense from criminal to civil. While no one can say for sure why law was changed because many countries including Israel and the United States and many organizations across the world lobbied for its cancellation, the “IAJLJ feels confident that the filing of their amicus brief aided in the pressure being put on the Polish government to cancel this law” said, iAJLJ Deputy President attorney Calev Michael Myers.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • For victims of smart home abuse, there’s no easy out

      The New York Times recently published a report that revealed a disturbing trend of harassment and domestic abuse via internet-connected devices. In addition to using them to stalk and monitor their victims, abusers are also doing things like changing door-lock codes, turning lights on and off and boosting the thermostat to unbearable heat. In short, making their victims miserable.

      On the surface, this seems like a relatively straightforward problem to solve: Just change your password or unplug the devices, right? Except the issue here is two-fold. Not only are the devices sometimes solely controlled by the abuser, but oftentimes making these changes will result in even worse abuse, especially if the couple is still living together. Asking these victims to stop using the devices is like telling them to just leave their abuser; these situations are usually much more complex, and the victims could be putting their lives in danger by doing either.

    • The ACLU’s Biggest Roadblock to Fighting Mass Surveillance

      In March 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a type of National Security Agency bulk monitoring known as “upstream” surveillance. More than three years after the ACLU originally filed the suit, the case is still mired in procedural and bureaucratic limbo. But on Friday, a hearing over one such roadblock in Maryland district court could bring long-awaited progress.

      The Wikimedia Foundation, which the ACLU is representing along with cocounsel from the Knight First Amendment Institute and Cooley LLP, engages in more than a trillion communications per year with people around the world, and has hundreds of millions of visitors each month to Wikipedia. The organization is suing to stop upstream surveillance, the process by which the NSA passively monitors and collects a huge amount of data and text-based communications by combing international internet traffic as it moves across service providers’ backbone infrastructure.

      The suit alleges that this tactic violates the First and Fourth Amendment, along with other laws. But it took two years for Wikimedia to simply prove its standing to bring the suit. Now, the government is using a concept known as the “state secrets privilege,” which protects classified information from the discovery process in a lawsuit, to resist cooperating with Wikimedia’s requests. As a result of these evasive tactics, the core constitutional issues of upstream surveillance remain unexamined.

    • Five of the grooviest vintage NSA security posters

      Earlier this month, our friends at The Government Attic caused quite a stir in the FOIA community with a release of over 100 vintage security posters from the National Security Agency. As it turns out, MuckRock founder Michael Morisy had a similar request with a slightly larger timeframe, and the two appear to have been consolidated.

    • Hack, spy, swing an election: Orwell game sums up life in a tech dystopia

      The terrifying extent of online government surveillance is laid bare in the Orwell game series. How complicit will you be when put in control?

    • Facebook quietly kills its Aquila autonomous internet drone program

      Facebook has canned its plans to bring high-speed internet via a solar-powered drone beaming lasers to the ground, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

      The social media behemoth hellbent on ‘global connectivity’ wanted to launch a “high altitude platform station (HAPS) system,” nicknamed Aquila, into the stratosphere. Facebook envisaged hundreds of these electric-engines powered drones floating in the skies drawing energy from solar panels and firing laser-guided internet access to remote corners of the world so locals could get a daily diet of memes and messages.

      But, after four years of trying to make the concept work, Facebook announced on Tuesday that the Aquila project had been killed off.

    • Facebook’s Giant, Internet-Beaming Drone Is Dead

      Facebook is killing Aquila, its solar-powered, jet plane–sized drone that it built to beam down internet to more than 4 billion people around the world who are still offline.

    • Revealed: The towering NSA ‘spy hubs’ hidden in plain sight in cities across the country ‘peering into Americans’ lives from their own backyards’
    • Hidden in Plain Sight: NSA, AT&T Intertwine to Form Surveillance Web Over US

      Among the hundreds of properties owned by leading telecommunications giant AT&T across the United States, at least eight are being used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to suck up billions of records from internet and cell phone users that don’t even have a contract with the company.

    • The Digest: New Report Details AT&T’s Role in NSA Spying Initiatives

      On Monday, The Intercept published a report detailing AT&T’s collaborative relationship with the National Security Agency (NSA) via a program codenamed FAIRVIEW. According to the report, AT&T facilities in eight U.S. cities play a central role in helping the NSA conduct surveillance on both Americans and foreign citizens — even those who are not AT&T customers. The report provides details on each facility, as well as supporting evidence drawn from public records, interviews, and classified NSA documents.

    • AT&T colludes with the NSA to carry out massive illegal surveillance

      In an investigative report released on Monday, The Intercept has further exposed the long-term and highly organized collusion between the communications behemoth AT&T and the National Security Agency (NSA). The story reveals the use of eight AT&T facilities in major cities across the US (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Dallas) by the NSA to serve as “critical parts of one of the world’s most powerful electronic eavesdropping systems, hidden in plain sight.”

      In large part due to the efforts of brave whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, the public has been made aware of the massive and illegal surveillance on all forms of electronic communications carried out by the NSA. In addition, there has been sufficient evidence of the “special relationship” between AT&T and the NSA. However, the new revelations are striking in that they not only provide us a much better look at the physical infrastructure of the spying, but also make clear that the sheer scale of the collusion and the surveillance is far greater than has been assumed.

    • AT&T lets NSA hide and surveil in plain sight, The Intercept reports

      “Like all companies, we are required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement entities by complying with court orders, subpoenas, lawful discovery requests and other legal requirements,” said Jim Greer, the director of corporate communication at AT&T, in an emailed statement. “And, we provide voluntary assistance to law enforcement when a person’s life is in danger and in other immediate, emergency situations. In all cases, we ensure that requests for assistance are valid and that we act in compliance with the law.

    • Meet the 8 spooky AT&T buildings that almost certainly also serve the NSA

      In a new article published Monday, The Intercept has now revealed what it describes as secret AT&T facilities across several American cities that are “central to an NSA spying initiative.”

      The piece builds on earlier reporting that the website did in November 2016 which focused on one such site in New York City.

      The eight locations, which are in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC, are “peering” facilities that normally route other telecom companies’ data traffic onto their network as part of their regular Internet service.

    • The ATT/NSA Scandal – A Consequence of Centralization

      NSA scandal of surveillanceNSA scandal details exposed by Edward Snowden via his Twitter account. “The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how @ATT became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”

      A mass surveillance operation has been unveiled as AT&T has been colluding with the NSA in actively tracking citizens. A detailed post by The Intercept on June 25th outlined the details of the operation, and the significance of the findings cannot be understated. The AT&T/NSA scandal could go down in history as one of the most extensive recorded incidences of mass surveillance. While previously reported, it has not been examined in detail or brought to the public attention on a widespread basis.

    • AT&T helps NSA spy on Americans

      Surveillance cameras seem to be popping up everywhere these days. People use them to protect their homes. Police departments across the U.S. use them to spot crimes 24/7.

      Even the U.S. military has used surveillance cameras to keep an eye on certain bases and embassies. This can be a good way to keep us safe, but it also could lead to a loss of privacy. In fact, we told you last year that the Chinese government may have found a way to use surveillance cameras against you. (PssT! Scroll to the end of this article to listen to Kim’s free podcast dealing with the Chinese government spying on you.)

      You would probably expect that type of shady activity from the Chinese government, but not from our own. Well, it turns out that the U.S. government is spying on American and foreign citizens and AT&T is helping them do it.

    • Apps May Not Eavesdrop On You But They Record Screen Activities: Researchers

      Since the inception of target advertising, a way of positioning ads based on demographics and activity on smartphones, people have believed that their phones secretly record conversations and monitor their every move.

    • Your phone isn’t listening to you, researchers say, but it may be watching everything you do

      Researchers were quick to mention the limitations of the study and never made a definitive claim that your apps are never secretly listening to you. Since an automated system was used to test the apps, the results may be different from what a human would encounter. The automated system was also unable to sign into these apps and could have missed audio that was processed locally on the device.

      But, the researchers did notice something else funky, according to Gizmodo. Several apps had taken video recordings and screenshots of what people were doing. These screenshots were then sent off to third-party domains.

    • These Academics Spent the Last Year Testing Whether Your Phone Is Secretly Listening to You

      Like good scientists, they refuse to say that their study definitively proves that your phone isn’t secretly listening to you, but they didn’t find a single instance of it happening. Instead, they discovered a different disturbing practice: apps recording a phone’s screen and sending that information out to third parties.

    • The Supreme Court just struck a blow against mass surveillance
    • These Academics Spent the Last Year Testing Whether Your Phone Is Secretly Listening to You

      It’s the smartphone conspiracy theory that just won’t go away: Many, many people are convinced that their phones are listening to their conversations to target them with ads. Vice recently fueled the paranoia with an article that declared “Your phone is listening and it’s not paranoia,” a conclusion the author reached based on a 5-day experiment where he talked about “going back to uni” and “needing cheap shirts” in front of his phone and then saw ads for shirts and university classes on Facebook.

    • Researchers Find Apps Aren’t Recording Your Conversations (But Some Are Grabbing Screenshots)

      Facebook isn’t spying on everything you say. Your data plan would be higher, and your battery life worse, if that were the case.

      And yet the conspiracy theory that apps are listening to your in-person conversations and using them to show ads persists. So researchers at Northeastern University decided to look into it, testing 17,000 Android apps and monitoring what kind of information they sent home.

    • Oppression for Pennies – The Cost of Surveillance is Falling

      If there’s one thing the Internet has taught us over the last 40 years, it is that information is power.

      The Internet has made and ruined careers, toppled corrupt regimes, made and broken millions of relationships, disrupted entire sectors of economies and created new markets for everything from t-shirts to music to real-estate.

      It has the potential for enormous good. Free information keeps governments honest, gives people reliable news from all perspectives on issues, and brings together communities of people from every walk of life to enjoy the latest Psy video on YouTube.

      But with this tremendous potential for good, also comes the likelihood to shift power away from the status quo. Powerful institutions like governments, banks, large corporate copyright holders, patent authorities, news outlets, and even research institutions seek to reign-in the Internet. They want to protect themselves from the disruptive forces that the internet brings.

      The most obvious of these efforts are nations that tightly control what their citizens see and learn in order to manipulate their populations into complacency.

    • The DOD’s App Store Does This One Crucial Thing to Stay Secure

      The key, Saffel says, is getting developers to agree to hand over the source code of their apps for in-depth analysis and review. Whether an app is a simple time/speed/distance calculator for a pilot or a hyper-specialized classified tool, sharing source code is a big risk for developers, because it means trusting third parties with the core intellectual property [sic] they have built their businesses on. But NGA soon realized that full access was the only way its project could work.

    • SCOTUS and Congress Leave the Right to Privacy Up for Grabs

      If Congress doesn’t update existing digital privacy laws, it’s also possible that states may step in and craft their own. Some already have: California passed a law in 2015 that requires state law enforcement to obtain a warrant to get user data stored online, including things like text messages and location information. Last week, the state also unanimously passed another sweeping privacy law, designed to give citizens more control over the data collected about them by private companies like Facebook and Google. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if Congress and the Supreme Court follow California’s lead.

    • Facebook confirms that it’s acquiring Bloomsbury AI

      While financial terms were not disclosed, we reported that Facebook is paying between $23 and $30 million. Bloomsbury AI is an alumnus of Entrepreneur First, and it was also backed by Fly.VC, Seedcamp, IQ Capital, UCL Technology Fund and the U.K. taxpayer-funded London Co-investment Fund.

    • Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags

      Facebook doesn’t have a mind-control problem, it has a corruption problem. Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters.

    • Mark Zuckerberg and his empire of oily rags

      But surveillance captialism is still dangerous: all those dossiers on the personal lives of whole populations can be used for blackmail, identity theft and political manipulation. As I explain in my new Locus column, Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags, Facebook’s secret is that they’ve found a way to turn a profit on an incredibly low-yield resource — like figuring out how to make low-grade crude out of the oil left over from oily rags.

    • Judge slams Tacoma for not releasing stingray records

      A judge in Washington state has excoriated the Tacoma Police Department for withholding public records pertaining to its use of cell-site simulators, also known as stingrays.

      Back in 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state sued the TPD on behalf of four community leaders, arguing that the department has not adequately responded to their public records requests concerning the use of stingrays, which included asking for a blank form authorizing its use.

    • How To Know If A Third Party App Is Reading Your Gmail Inbox? How To Disable Gmail Access?

      Last year, Google was criticised for accessing users’ inbox to show them relevant ads. In the time that followed, the search giant stopped its practices, but the ability for third-party apps to look into people’s Gmail inbox remained intact.

    • Gmail messages ‘read by human third parties’

      People who have connected third-party apps to their accounts may have unwittingly given human staff permission to read their messages.

    • How to See Which Apps Can Read Your Gmail

      The WSJ reported on Monday that employees of Gmail app developer Edison Software personally read the emails of hundreds of users to build a new feature; employees of another developer, Return Path Inc, reportedly read about 8,000 unredacted user emails to help train algorithmic software.

    • Google allows companies to read Gmail users’ inboxes

      Gmail users’ private messages are sometimes read by employees at software companies, it has emerged, when the user installs certain apps and grants permission to their Google account.

    • ACCC chief issues caution on digital media, urges government scrutiny

      Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims says how Australia approaches the proliferation of digital platforms, and how they collect and manage data, is one of the defining questions of our age.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Five Things You Didn’t Know about Frederick Douglass

      On July 1st , 1852, the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society took out an advertisement in Frederick Douglass’ Paper for a “Celebration of the National Anniversary.” The event, scheduled for July 5 at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York, boasted speeches from prominent abolitionists as well as a headlining address from the namesake of the paper himself. If the irony of inviting a former slave to speak at an occasion billed as a “celebration” of a nation still practicing slavery was lost on the Ladies Society, it was not lost on Douglass. His polemic would be one for the ages.

    • Police searches homes of „Zwiebelfreunde“ board members as well as „OpenLab“ in Augsburg
    • Coordinated raids of Zwiebelfreunde at various locations in Germany

      On June 20th, police raided five locations in Germany, nicely coordinated at 6:00 in the morning: The private homes of all three board members, Jens, Juris and Moritz, our registered headquarters in Dresden (a lawyer’s office), and the home of a previous board member.

      Please check the bottom of this page for links to various press reports about these raids detailing what happened. We will update that section regularly.

      The brief summary is that a German left-wing blog “Krawalltouristen” (ruckus tourists) called for protest actions around the right-wing AfD party convening in Augsburg, Germany. Law enforcement argues that this includes calls for violence.

    • NC was part of a worldwide network of CIA torture centers. We can do better.

      When I returned from Guantanamo Bay in August 2005, I described that prison as “a cancer on our democracy” because I understood that the political, legal, and moral framework that allowed that institution to exist posed an existential threat to our nation. I did not understand then that the cancerous corruption of our American values had already metastasized to North Carolina.

      We were a frightened, angry people in 2005, because our nation had been attacked. Three members of my congregation in New Jersey were in the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, and only two escaped with their lives. So I was invested in seeing the perpetrators of that despicable crime brought to justice. Having previously served in U.S. Army Intelligence, I grasped the challenge of that mission and gasped at the appalling miscalculations made by our leaders.

    • Reality Winner pleads guilty in NSA leak case

      Reality Winner, the first person to be prosecuted by the Trump administration for leaking sensitive government information, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sending to the news media a top-secret National Security Agency report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

      Her plea agreement calls for her to serve five years and three months behind bars, though she will be sentenced at a later date.

      “All of these actions I did willfully, meaning I did them of my own free will,” she told the court.

    • Help Shadowproof Cover Final Phase Of NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner’s Prosecution

      NSA whistleblower Reality Winner is expected to plead guilty to violating the Espionage Act at a hearing on June 26. We’re sending Kevin Gosztola to Augusta, Georgia, to cover it.

      You’ve helped Kevin travel there to cover this important story before, and we believe it’s in the public interest to have him present for this last phase of this significant prosecution. But we need $1,200 to cover his travel costs.

    • Whistleblower Reality Winner pleads guilty

      The plea agreement is still tentative: a sentencing investigation begins now, with a court hearing to come during which Reality may choose to make a statement and bring forth character witnesses to mitigate her sentence.

      Reality was initially charged under the Espionage Act, which carries a ten year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. The Espionage Act bars defendants from explaining themselves in court, so had Reality taken her case to trial, she would not have been allowed to argue that she wanted to inform the American people, that she knew the leak wouldn’t cause any harm, and that the government shouldn’t needlessly hide this information from its citizens.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Pleads Guilty, Will Serve 5-Year Prison Term

      And accused NSA whistleblower Reality Winner has pleaded guilty to retaining and transmitting a document to a news organization after reaching a deal with the U.S. government to serve a 5-year prison sentence. Winner had faced up to 10 years in prison on charges she violated the Espionage Act by leaking a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election. She’s been imprisoned for the last year at the Lincoln County Jail in Georgia, where The Intercept reports Winner has been struggling with depression and an eating disorder. Click here to see all our coverage of Reality Winner’s case.

    • Mother Of NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner: I Didn’t Want To See Her Plead Guilty To Violating Espionage Act

      It’s been kind of an uphill and/or a rocky thing preparing for this. I knew that, today’s hearing, I knew that she was going to change her plea. I knew that she was going to plead guilty to this. I knew that she was going to plead guilty to the violation under the Espionage Act. That’s something that I didn’t want to see happen. So it was very hard for me.

      Today, right now, I feel a sense of relief because it’s over with. But still it’s not the ending that I was hoping for. It’s not the outcome that I had wished for. I never wanted for people to think that Reality was totally innocent, as far as—you know, today she was able to come out to the judge and say that she did this. She did release this document. She knew that it was top secret. She knew what that meant. She had the training. She had everything. So she knew that this was something she wasn’t permitted to do. So she did break a rule. She did violate a law.

      What I didn’t want to see happen was that she was going to be charged and convicted under the Espionage Act. I didn’t want her to be labeled as a traitor. I didn’t want it to be this severe punishment, for her to be seen as somebody who acted against her country. Because to me when you read the Espionage Act that’s pretty much what it says. You have committed a crime against the United States. So that to me is something I really didn’t want to see happen and I’m not happy about.

    • He Is a Member of a Violent White Supremacist Group. So Why Is He Working for a Defense Contractor With a Security Clearance?

      There likely isn’t such a thing as a “typical” violent white extremist in America in 2018. Still, Michael Miselis — a University of California, Los Angeles doctoral student with a U.S. government security clearance to work on sensitive research for a prominent defense contractor — makes for a pretty unusual case.

      For months, ProPublica and Frontline have been working to identify the white supremacists at the center of violent demonstrations across the country, including the infamous Unite the Right rally last August in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Rise Above Movement, a Southern California group that expresses contempt for Muslims, Jews, and immigrants, became a focus of that effort. ProPublica and Frontline were able to quickly identify a number of the group’s leaders, and find evidence that put them in the middle of violence in Charlottesville and Berkeley, California, among other places.

    • What needs changing in the EU’s draft whistleblower directive

      Courage welcomes a strong set of proposals and recommends changes regarding national security cases, protecting anonymity and letting whistleblowers choose who they talk to

      In April this year, the European Commission published the text of its draft whistleblower directive. This was something that campaigners had been working towards for years, partly due to the galvanising impact of the LuxLeaks revelations and the opposition to the European Trade Secrets Directive, both of which we have followed closely at Courage.

      On the whole, the proposals are stronger than had been expected and there’s a lot in them that we can be wholly positive about. We are particularly happy to see that the draft Directive treats disclosures about privacy, potential data breaches and network security as whistleblowing, a clarification that is long overdue.

      At the same time, we think there are some aspects of the draft Directive that could be improved and we’ve just submitted our explanation to the European Commission.

    • Why Anthony Kennedy Was a Moderating Force on the Supreme Court

      The first case I litigated before Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on June 27 after more than 30 years on the Supreme Court, was Texas v. Johnson, the 1989 case that established that the First Amendment protects flag-burning. Kennedy, a mild-mannered Reagan appointee, was no flag-burner. But he provided the crucial fifth vote to strike down Texas’s law.

      A few years later, I invited him to guest-teach my constitutional-law class at Georgetown. I said he could talk about anything; he chose the flag-burning case. But his real subject was judging. In his hour with the students, he not only stressed the importance of having an open mind, but exemplified it in his openness to the students themselves. Not all judges are like this; Justice Antonin Scalia was always absolutely certain about his views when speaking to students (or to anyone else, for that matter).

    • Cops Are Telling Paramedics To Inject Arrestees With Ketamine. Worse, EMS Crews Are Actually Doing It.

      The paramedics are fully complicit in this horror show. They’re overriding their own knowledge and medical training with catastrophic results. This atrocious behavior was exposed by a report from the Office for Police Conduct Review. The report showed ketamine injections increased from three in 2012 to 62 in 2017. It wasn’t until this report was delivered to police that anyone decided to do anything about it. The Minneapolis Police Commander has now forbidden officers from instructing EMS crews to sedate a subject.

      Ketamine is a dangerous drug. The police know this. They classify it as a “date rape” drug, capable of putting people into deep sedation and altering their memories. Healthcare providers know this, too, which is why they’re often hesitant to use it as a sedative if the subject has preexisting breathing problems. Ketamine can kill under these circumstances. When used as a first response in the sedation of detainees, medical histories aren’t available and the outcome can be death.

      Allowing police to “prescribe” sedatives is a horrible idea. The report shows Minneapolis cops nuked arrestees with a powerful sedative just because. In many of the cases examined, there appeared to be no reason to escalate to a dangerous sedative.

    • UK ‘knew US mistreated rendition detainees’

      The UK tolerated “inexcusable” treatment of US detainees after the 9/11 attacks, MPs have found.

      The Intelligence and Security Committee said British agencies continued to supply intelligence to allies despite knowing or suspecting abuse in more than 200 cases.

      Committee chairman Dominic Grieve said agencies knew of incidents that were “plainly unlawful”.

    • UK blamed for allowing ‘inexcusable’ torture by US after 9/11 attacks By Aditi Khanna

      London, Jun 28 Britain’s intelligence officers and ministers have been blamed for allowing “inexcusable” torture by the US in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.

      A damning UK parliamentary report released today concluded that British authorities turned a blind eye to the routine mistreatment of detainees by US authorities. The cross-party House of Commons’ Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said UK intelligence agencies, like MI6 and GCHQ, knew what was going on from an early point but failed to act.

    • ‘Beyond doubt’ that Britain knew US mistreated terror detainees

      And it was also inexcusable that British intelligence and security agencies supplied questions for the interrogation of prisoners who they knew or suspected were being subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment (CIDT) and paid for the rendition of others to states where they were at risk of such abuse.

      A three-year investigation by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee found no “smoking gun” proving that the agencies turned a blind eye to torture, and no evidence that UK officials themselves mistreated detainees.

    • Torture report: Jack Straw did not question MI6 over its use of rendition
    • UK tolerated ‘inexcusable’ treatment of detainees by US after 9/11, damning official report finds
    • UK blamed for allowing ‘inexcusable’ torture by US after 9/11 attacks
    • MI6 put questions to prisoner waterboarded 83 times by CIA

      British intelligence officers put questions to a man despite knowing he had been subjected to appalling abuse, including being waterboarded 83 times, according to damning evidence contained in a UK parliamentary report published this week.

      In the years after 9/11, Abu Zubaydah was the only CIA prisoner who went through all 12 of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including being beaten, deprived of sleep and locked in a small box.

      After a four-year inquiry, the all-party intelligence and security committee (ISC) said in its report published on Thursday that MI6 had “direct awareness of extreme mistreatment and possibly torture” of Zubaydah.

    • The Observer view on why Britain’s role in torture must be revealed in full

      Scattered throughout the reports is overriding concern not for human rights but fear of offending the US, and of being excluded from the intelligence gained through methods that breach international law. The UK inquiry began in 2010 under a judge, Sir Peter Gibson, but he ended up publishing only an interim report, stymied by a lack of cooperation. The ISC took up the investigation but, like Gibson, also gave up. Given the restrictions it worked under, the committee did a commendable job. But it acknowledged there were still too many gaps, too many unwilling to testify and too many obstructions – such as Theresa May, who refused to allow four key officers in the intelligence agencies and the military to give evidence.

    • Complying While Black (Taser Edition)

      Some police are prone to using force at a moment’s notice, even when their orders are being followed.

      When two patrons at a Starbucks cafe in Philadelphia were arrested while waiting for a colleague earlier this year, people in Pennsylvania and around the country saw on video what Black people have known for a long time — the mere act of going about our daily lives can lead to harassment, arrest, or worse.

      The stakes are ratcheted upward dramatically when we cross paths with law enforcement officers. Even when we comply with an officer’s every request, we can be at risk of violence.

      That’s what happened to Sean Williams, a 27-year-old Black man in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 28. While trying to comply with police officers’ conflicting commands, Williams was shot in the back with an electronic control device, popularly known as a Taser, after the brand that manufactures the weapon. A video recording of the incident has gone viral across the country.

      Williams was a suspect in a dispute with three other people. While a statement from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police claims that the video does not show the full context of the incident and that Williams earlier failed to comply with their commands, the video clearly shows that the situation had deescalated to the point that Williams was seated and prepared to do what the police told him to do. Officer Philip Bernot stunned him with the Taser anyway, sending an electric shock through his body.

    • American Hate Group Looks to Make Allies in Europe

      Robert Rundo, a leader of the violent white supremacist group known as the Rise Above Movement, pounded the man, hitting him with a series of thudding punches — left, right, left — that sent his foe staggering backwards.

      But this wasn’t a street brawl captured on video: It was a boxing match — complete with 12-ounce gloves, a referee, and scantily attired ring girls — and it was promoted by a white supremacist fight club in Ukraine. The event was held inside a bunker-like building in Kiev, with fighters competing inside a cage of the sort familiar to mixed martial arts fans in America.

      With the skinhead subculture fading, neo-Nazi organizers in Europe have turned to promoting boxing and mixed martial arts bouts with the aim of pulling in new recruits.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast’s Wireless Service Will Charge You More To Stream HD Video

      In other words, by “unlimited” Comcast really means 20 GB on a connection incapable of delivering HD video unless you pay more money. As an added, new restriction, Comcast is also now throttling all tethered hotspots on these “unlimited” connections to 600 kbps–unless you sign up for the company’s pay per gigabyte option at a whopping $12 per gigabyte. This is, apparently, Comcast’s version of what it looks like when you try and disrupt and compete with the broader wireless industry.

      On its face this isn’t the end of the world. On a small mobile phone screen, the difference between 480p and 720p will likely be unnoticable to many users. It’s the precedent that’s being set that’s more troubling. For one, this continues to be a bastardization of the term “unlimited,” a word the telecom sector has abused for the better part of the last decade without learning any real lessons.

    • Gallery Grid With CSS Grid

      The images auto-fill across the first row, filling all available space. If there’s no image2 or image3, image1 fills 100% of the available width.

    • Special Report on Decentralizing the Internet

      I really like the way The Economist occasionally allows its writers to address a topic at length. Siegele provides a good overview of what has gone wrong and the competing views of how to fix it. Below the fold, my overall critique, and commentary on some of the articles.

    • AT&T promised lower prices after Time Warner merger—it’s raising them instead

      AT&T confirmed the price increase to Ars and said it began informing customers of the increase this past weekend. “The $5 increase will go into effect July 26 for new customers and varies for existing customers based on their billing date,” an AT&T spokesperson said.

  • DRM

    • How Netflix became a billion-dollar titan

      Instead, Netflix has become an industry in and of itself. Mr Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, and his colleagues will spend $12bn-13bn this year—more than any studio spends on films, or any television company lays out on stuff that isn’t sport.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Fortress-affiliated entity doubles down on litigation campaign against Intel

      VLSI Technology, an entity with apparent ties to Fortress’s IP Group, has launched a second infringement lawsuit against Intel, accusing the chipmaker of infringing five patents. Filed late last week in district court in Delaware, it follows another court action brought by VLSI against the tech giant in the Northern District of California last October. All the patents in suit in Delaware herald from NXP Semiconductors, currently subject to a Qualcomm takeover bid. VLSI picked up a large portfolio of NXP patents in a series of assignments in 2016 and 2017; although not all originated with the Dutch company.

    • Incyte judgment prompts change of direction of the Spanish Patent Office in pending appeals

      Historically, the Spanish Patents and Trademarks Office (“SPTO”) has rejected the correction of the registered term of supplementary protection certificates (“SPCs”), even in cases where such term has had to be recalculated due to the new case law emanating from the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). As reported in our posts of January 2018, following the judgment of 20 December 2017 of the CJEU in case C-492/16 (“Incyte“), the SPTO modified its historical position. In particular, it published a “Notice to Applicants” informing that it would now allow the modification of entries registered in the SPTO so that the published term of protection may be recalculated, pursuant to the case law of the CJEU. So far, so good.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • EU Parliament rejects rubber stamping disastrous copyright bill

        The European Parliament has today heard the voice of European citizens and voted against proposals that would have dealt a hammer blow to the open internet in Europe.

        By a clear majority, MEPs have rejected rubber stamping proposals that would have forced internet companies to filter the web, and would have introduced an unprecedented tax on linking online.

        This is great news for Europe’s citizens, its SMEs and startups, especially those in the creative sectors as, while the proposed rules were supposed to protect and support them, they would have been the ones to suffer most under the new regime.

      • EU Parliament Votes To Step Back From The Abyss On Copyright For Now

        The last few days (and weeks) we’ve had plenty of articles about the EU’s attempt to undermine the fundamental aspects of the internet with its Copyright Directive, including a snippet tax and the requirement of upload filters. Supporters of the Directive have resorted to ever-increasing levels of FUD in trying to get the EU Parliament to move the directive forward without changes — and they did this despite quietly making the directive much, much worse and only revealing those changes at the last minute. It became quite obvious that the intent of this legislative effort was to fundamentally change the internet, to make it much more like TV — with a set of gatekeepers only allowing carefully selected and licensed content online.

        As the drumbeat got louder from (quite reasonably) concerned people around the world, supporters of the effort kept trying different strategies in support of this nonsense — including a letter claiming to be written by Sir Paul McCartney.

      • MEPs hold off Article 13′s Censorship Machine

        The odds were steep, but thanks to everyone who contacted their representatives, MEPs got the message that Article 13 and it’s automated “upload filters” would be a catastrophe for free expression online.

        In the final days, support for Article 13 collapsed, as pressure from real people like you convinced MEPs that they needed a rethink.

        Today’s victory is a rude awakening to industry lobbyists who expected Article 13 to pass quietly under the radar. We can expect a fierce battle in the coming months as the Copyright Directive returns to the EU Parliament for further debate.

        Today’s vote preserves our ability to speak, create, and express ourselves freely on the Internet platforms we use everyday. Instead of rolling over and putting computers in charge of policing what we say and do, we’ve bought ourselves some time to foster public debate about the wisdom, or lack thereof, behind automated censorship.

      • Controversial EU Parliament Copyright Reform Vote Tomorrow; 1,300 Musicians Urge Support

        The European Parliament votes tomorrow on whether to allow negotiations with the Council to begin on controversial copyright reform legislation. The proposed updated rules have sparked intense lobbying by supporters and foes alike, including, one lawmaker said at a press briefing today, death threats.

        Under parliament’s rules of procedure, at least 76 MEPs are needed to object to the opening of talks with the Council without seeking plenary approval, the European Parliament said. As of midnight Tuesday, “enough MEPs had in fact lodged their objection.”

        If tomorrow’s vote confirms the negotiating mandate adopted by the Legal Affairs Committee, negotiations can begin at any time, Parliament said. If the vote rejects the mandate, the substance of the proposed measure will have to be debated and voted on in September’s plenary session, it said.

      • How streaming is saving the music business

        Meanwhile, concern continues in the music industry over those whom we’ll call the music 99 percent being able to earn a fair amount from streaming dollars. On YouTube, for example, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated in a 2017 report that the annual revenue for the music industry per user is less than $1. “User upload services, such as YouTube, are heavily used by music consumers and yet do not return fair value to those who are investing in and creating the music,” IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said in a statement.

      • Pirate Bay is Mining Cryptocurrency Again But Forum Staff Aren’t Worried

        Last year The Pirate Bay caused controversy by embedding a cryptocurrency miner to generate revenue. The site has experimented off and on since and has recently established another miner. While users might prefer for it not be there, a TPB moderator says it’s easily blocked and anyone spending more than a couple of minutes on the site “is doing it wrong.”

      • The Pirate Bay AGAIN Caught Mining Cryptocurrency Using Your CPU Power

        Last year, when The Pirate Bay was first caught mining cryptocurrency without notifying the users, it created lost of havoc in the pirate community. While some supported the decision by calling it a way to assist the website operations, others expressed concern.

        The Monero cryptocurrency miner has been found to make an appearance once again, according to TorrentFreak. As per a user who was trying to upload torrents to The Pirate Bay, his CPU got “really hot” during the process.

      • 145 Organisations Urge EU Vote Against JURI Mandate On Copyright

        Some 145 organisations have signed an open letter urging European Parliament to vote against the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee mandate to negotiate on copyright reform. The European Parliament will meet on 5 July for a plenary vote on whether or not to endorse the mandate.

        In their open letter, the 145 organisations representing “citizens, startups, human rights organisations, publishers, creators, educators, cultural heritage professionals, librarians, and researchers,” call on Parliament to vote against the negotiating mandate, and “to vote for a public debate on the Directive,” according to the letter.

      • Countering the Latest Misinformation about the EU Copyright Directive

        Tomorrow the European Parliament will vote on whether to send its version of the Copyright Directive text to “trilogues” for final negotiations. As I’ve written here before, this would be disastrous for the Internet in the EU. However, efforts to prevent that happening are having an impact. The MEPs on the JURI committee that drew up the current flawed text have just sent a short document to all MEPs to try to convince them to vote to move on to the trilogues (you can read it on Techdirt). It is full of misinformation, which I would like to debunk here so that people can explain to their MEPs – either in an email, or by phone – why the claims made in the JURI note are false.

        I’ll concentrate here on what it says about Article 13, which will bring in upload filters, since the threat it represents to the Internet is greater, and the misinformation in the JURI paper most egregious.

      • Tomorrow, European Parliament Must Reject Automated Filtering

        Tomorrow, the whole European Parliament will vote on the new Copyright Directive. Two weeks ago, Parliament’s “Legal Affairs” Committee has adopted a first text, forcing commercial platforms to actively block copyright-protected contents uploaded by their users. Tomorrow, Parliament must reject this text.

        On 20 June, the “Legal Affairs” Committee, gathering 25 Members of the European Parliament, was in charge of adopting a first draft on the Copyright Directive. The majority of its members adopted an Article 13 which would impose automatic filtering measures on commercial platforms that publish and “optimize” the displaying of user-provided contents. YouTube or Facebook have already implemented such measures for a very long time: they would be legitimized by this Article 13.

        Our public communications should never be regulated through automatic means, be it for “protecting copyrights” or fighting hatespeech or ‘fake news’. Only humans should be able to regulate humans’ conducts, especially when it relates to fundamental rights like freedom of expression.

      • Article 13 Lobbying Efforts Clash Before Crucial Copyright Filters Vote

        In two days time, a pivotal vote will take place in the European Parliament, one that could change the direction of copyright enforcement in the EU. Framed around the so-called “Value Gap”, Article 13 aims to force Internet platforms to “play fair” on licensing rates with record labels. Ahead of the vote, hundreds of groups and organizations are facing off in a final clash of the causes.

      • Sony Blunders By Uploading Full Movie to YouTube Instead of Trailer

        Sony Pictures Entertainment’s movie ‘Khali the Killer’ is on release in the United States and, as is customary, a trailer has been uploaded to YouTube. However, on closer inspection, it appears that Sony uploaded the entire movie in error. Oops.

      • Genius At Sony “Accidentally” Uploads “Entire Movie” On YouTube Instead Of Trailer

        When people at Sony Pictures are bored to hell and feel the need to make headlines, they just pitch in human-error backed up by their PR.

      • Sony Pictures accidentally uploaded the entire “Khali the Killer” movie instead of the trailer
      • DEBATE: Will the EU copyright reform being voted on this week ‘break the internet’?

        The EU’s new Copyright Directive is anti-competition, anti-innovation, and anti-free speech. It requires online platforms to develop complex and expensive filtering systems to monitor and delete copyrighted content. If they fail to do so, they will be hit with massive fines.

      • Wikipedia down in several countries in EU law protest

        In Spain, Italy and Poland, an explanatory, protest statement about the upcoming vote came up when the online encyclopedia of the usual web page on whatever celebrity, legal case or historical event users had searched for.

      • Hours before a critical EU vote on mass internet censorship, European Wikipedia projects go dark

        This is an important moment in this fight. MEPs need to hear from their constituents on this: with EU elections coming up, they’re more likely to be responsive than at any other time. The daily activities and cultural lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans are on the line here.

      • Kim Dotcom loses appeal against extradition, will take case to Supreme Court

        However, acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said the possibility of appealing wasn’t clear cut.

      • Kim Dotcom Loses His Latest Battle to Avoid Extradition to U.S.

        Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has lost the latest round in his long-running battle to avoid extradition to the U.S. and will now take his case to New Zealand’s highest court.

Abstract Ideas and Mental (Thoughts) Type of Claims Still Deemed Patent-Ineligible, Buzzwords Are Used Instead

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Cloud Computing”, “AI” etc. in so-called ‘IP Five’

Cityscape Delaware

Summary: The District Court for the District of Delaware (above) now attracts a lot of patent litigation; this court, however, isn’t so tolerant of software patents (more like the Federal Circuit and less like East Texas); in East Asia buzzwords are also being used, but courts aren’t necessarily tolerant of abstract patents; Europe is a mess because of the EPO’s abuses

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), together with the USPTO as a whole, is doing what patent law firms fear the most. There’s a wide-ranging patents cull and the most common criterion for culling is abstract claims.

Ancestry (the company), according to this new tweet, “Argues that the 23andMe Patent Asserted Against It is Invalid under Mayo/ Alice: https://dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/1059000/1059443/show_temp%20(25).pdf…”

“Buzzwords like “cloud” don’t magically render algorithms more “concrete”.”It is. We wrote about it before. It probably won’t be long before this whole lawsuit collapses, sending a warning sign to anyone who feels courageous enough to still use software patents in 2018. They can call these anything they want, but the courts eventually assess whether claims are abstract or not. The cloudwashing of software patents, for example, won’t work either. Buzzwords like “cloud” don’t magically render algorithms more “concrete”.

Covering a relatively new case from the District Court for the District of Delaware (where much of the litigation now happens), patent maximalists speak of “§ 101 issues in light of Federal Circuit patent-eligibility decisions since early 2016.”

To quote the entire opening paragraph:

This month, in an infringement case against Defendant Amazon, Judge Stark of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled that Plaintiff Kaavo Inc.’s cloud computing claims are patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In related cases dating back to 2016, the Court ordered that the asserted independent claims be found patent-ineligible, as well as one of the dependent claims. The Court later ordered limited discovery, claim construction, and summary judgement briefing with respect to the eligibility of the remaining dependent claims. Kaavo then moved for reconsideration of the Court’s Order invalidating all of the asserted independent claims and the one dependent claim, whereas Amazon moved for summary judgement. The Court denied both motions without prejudice and instead ordered new briefing to allow for consideration of the § 101 issues in light of Federal Circuit patent-eligibility decisions since early 2016. Renewals of both motions were at issue in this latest decision, in which the Court granted Amazon’s renewed motion for summary judgement of invalidity of the remaining dependent claims and denied Kaavo’s renewed motion to reconsider.

Looking eastwards towards China, the main/only country that still permits software patents, Jacob Schindler wrote about declining winning rates in courts there. To quote:

IP House – a litigation analytics outfit based in Beijing – recently released a Chinese-language study of cases involving semiconductor patents from its database. It has been shared an analysed by Berkeley professor Mark Cohen on his China IPR site. Of note: this sample of cases does not yield the high plaintiff winning rates we are used to seeing in macro-level Chinese patent statistics. First off, the selection of cases is relatively small. IP House turned up 133 first instance civil trials which yielded a judgment containing the word ‘chip’.

So even in China patent litigation is still not a “winning” strategy. Here is another new article about China, this one about abstract patents on GUIs:

In 2014, the number of design patents with GUI in China was more than 5,000, which was 6,638 in 2015, and 9,864 in 2016, a growth rate of up to 48.6%. In 2017, this number basically equaled that in 2016.

Is the bubble in China starting to burst? It is no secret that China just grants far too many low-quality patents (not even patent maximalists are disputing it!), which means that they make a mockery of the very concept of patents.

“Software patents by any other (buzz)name/word…”Earlier this week Managing Intellectual Property wrote about patent filings in China and then did another piece about “blockchain, AI, software patents” in China. Well, those are pretty much the same thing. Software patents by any other (buzz)name/word…

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is nothing news. They just call more and more old stuff “AI” in an effort to generate public interest/hype. For the third time this week the same site did a piece dedicated to “AI”, in which Ellie Mertens said:

Artificial intelligence will have a big impact on IP prosecution and litigation. Ellie Mertens takes a look at how it will change life for patent practitioners

Artificial intelligence (AI) relates to patents in two main ways. First, advancements in the technology can be protected by patents. Second, AI can be applied to the patent space to reduce inefficiencies.

They’re talking about whether automation (not “AI”) can make some tasks of law firms (e.g. search) more efficient and thus render some workers redundant.

Looking at Europe, there’s this new article by Frances Wilding, David Lewin, James Ward and James Sunderland (Haseltine Lake LLP). It promotes hype and buzzwords as surrogates for software patents at the EPO (“Neural Networks, Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence”), in effect parroting Battistelli-produced propaganda from earlier this summer:

A recent EPO report talks about “A new era of technological development characterised by digital transformation”, based on “information and communication technologies” (“ICT”) and amounting to a “fourth industrial revolution”. The present review looks at three specific aspects of ICT – neural networks, machine learning and artificial intelligence – which the EPO report groups together as “enabling machine understanding”.

Developments of these aspects may relate to their implementing hardware and software or to any of the extensive range of their possible applications, for example from assisting medical diagnosis to image recognition to natural language understanding to operating wind turbines to playing the game of go. This means that capture of relevant patents and applications using the International Patent Classification (IPC) is challenging, as incidentally illustrated by the EPO report.

This review takes a simple and direct approach: using full texts and keywords “neural network”, “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence”, searches for European patents having patent (B1) publication dates over the 10-year period 2008 to 2017 were carried out.

Notice how many other buzzwords they throw into the mix, including the EPO’s favourites, “ICT” and “fourth industrial revolution”.

Over at the Battistelli-leaning IP Kat (it became the opposite of what it used to be) there’s this new lengthy post about rulings from the EPO. “According to UK case law and the Technical Boards of Appeal (TBA) of the European Patent Office (EPO),” it said, “for a range overlapping with a known range to be novel, the prior art must at least not disclose specific values within the overlapping range. This is the principle that a generic disclosure is not novelty destroying for specific examples covered by the generic.

“The TBA have established further criteria for an overlapping range to be novel. The claimed range must also, for example, have a technical effect. These criteria can seem addressed to the question of inventiveness as opposed to novelty. For this reason, the UK courts have previously been reluctant to adopt the TBA approach. The recent decision by the Court of Appeal has now firmly incorporated part of the EPO’s approach into UK case law.”

As a reminder, the TBA does not enjoy independence anyway. The Boards of Appeal (BoA) are being threatened and the EPC was essentially killed by corrupt Battistelli (shredding it to pieces over the years). Mind the following new comment:

For me, this is a fine example of different jurisdictions helping each other to feel their way forward under the substantive provisions of patentability/novelty of the EPC. I like it, when the jurisprudence of English law, and that of the Boards of Appeal, converges, despite the gulf of difference between them in how they assess evidence of fact.

It seems to me that, because of rivalry between EPC jurisdictions, progress under the EPC is almost Darwinian, survival of the fittest legal logic. Keeping novelty distinct from obviousness is easier said than done but here again, Europe leads the way, thanks to the EPC, Art 54(3).

Where else in the world, outside Europe, is there so much legal certainty, what is patentably novel, and what is not? Why, in the USA, they seem not yet to have got as far as considering elementary quesations about novelty, like whether D1 is to be construed as of its date of publication, or as of the day before the date of the claim.

UPC threatens to change all that. It would broaden patent scope in the whole of Europe in one fell swoop if somehow (miraculously) it became a reality.

Going back to East Asia, there’s this news about standard-essential patents in Japan, alluding to patent lawyers as “IP [sic] lawyers” or “Practitioners”; they’re neither because “IP” is just a misleading term and because they practice nothing, they’re blood-sucking parasites looking to exploit (or prey on and tax) those who practice technology. Those are the types of people who lobby hard for the UPC. Anyway, the article says the following:

IP lawyers in Japan say the standard essential patent guidelines are a good start but will not have much case impact because they are not legally binding

The Japan Patent Office has released guidelines to licensing negotiations involving standard essential patents (SEPs).

Japan has attempted to reduce abuse and aggression with patents. Remember that the JPO and Japan’s patent courts aren’t the same thing. Software patents and other abstract patents aren’t favoured there unless buzzwords are used, e.g. IoT.

Oddly enough, citing just one person (whose blog post IAM reposted) IAM now says this: “Business method patents may be out of favour in the US, but in Japan they are enjoying a comeback, while in China they are surging.”

Well, China suffocates itself with low-quality patents on mere ideas, guaranteeing its industry will sink under lawyers’ weight. As for Japan? It has only gotten tougher. But IAM, being the lobby of patent litigators, focuses on China instead when it says:

When people talk about Chinese innovation, e-commerce is often among the first subjects to come up. Mobile payments and related technologies are ubiquitous, as anyone knows who’s tried to pay cash for anything in Shenzhen or Beijing recently. So it is not much of a surprise that SIPO patent applications covering business methods are swelling. Policy changes implemented last year point toward continued meteoric growth. For each of the past couple of years, the Japan Patent Office has compiled an update on the status of business method patents in Japan and around the IP Five.

IAM calls this “favourable policy environment”; favourable to whom? Trolls? What about those whom they target? If IAM was to speak honestly, it would rename and the acronym IAM would be expanded to “International Attorneys’ Mind-control”.

The Latest Twists in US Patent Courts

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

Delaware, where a lot of the legal action has come

27th Street, Wilmington

Summary: A quick look at developments in US patent courts on this Independence Day week

THESE are the times of leadership changes; the EPO has a new President this week and the USPTO got a new Director a few months ago. Do these changes represent improvement? Well, considering the role of their offices, they will be judged based on the quality of patents granted because therein lies the only objective measure of justice.

“Motorola does not make very much anymore (in terms of products), so patent litigation may gradually become this brand’s identity.”But what about the courts? The patent offices do not deal with trials; they do, however, take into account the outcome of trials when drafting examination guidelines. Earlier this week Hytera was dealt a blow [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] after Motorola Solutions had filed a patent complaint. Be sceptical of ITC, however, as it has a track record of ignoring not only the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) but also common sense. Motorola Solutions threw 4 patents into the mix, so a proper assessment of the merit of the complaint can take some time. Another part of Motorola was bought by Google and later passed on to another giant. Motorola does not make very much anymore (in terms of products), so patent litigation may gradually become this brand’s identity. Speaking of Google, based on this new update a former Google Vice President may soon be deposed in Space Data Corporation v Alphabet Inc and Google LLC because a “court granted in part defendant’s former employee’s motion for a protective order precluding his deposition under the apex doctrine.”

“Many jurors won’t be technical enough to grasp the claims in the patents and judge them based on merit, complexity, prior art etc.”Well, at least they examine the evidence. In another case, Exmark Manufacturing Company Inc. v Briggs & Stratton Corporation, something interesting has just happened. TC Heartland gets brought up as the case may have been filed in an improper venue. “Following a jury trial,” it says, “a bench trial, appeal, and remand, the court denied defendant’s motion to transfer for improper venue because defendant waived its venue defense through litigation conduct.”

Jury trials for patents are barely suitable for reasons we named here many times before. Many jurors won’t be technical enough to grasp the claims in the patents and judge them based on merit, complexity, prior art etc. There are things for which jury trials are absolutely fine, but patents? Many such trials have typically taken place in East Texas, however litigation is now shifting to Delaware, as we shall explain in our next post.

No, Europe Does Not Gear up for the Unitary Patent, But Team UPC Wants Everyone to Think So and EPO Amplifies These Lies

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even without the crooked old President, Team Battistelli is still in charge of the Office and the Organisation

Jérôme Debrulle

Summary: Campinos already sounds just like Battistelli, at least as far as his stance on the UPC goes (never mind attitude towards staff and the rule of law); Team UPC controls the Office and the Organisation ‘by proxy’, advancing the interests of litigation fanatics

IN the first EPO statement after announcing that António Campinos becomes President we see an obvious lie, right from the headline, “Europe gears up for the Unitary Patent” (warning: epo.org link), preceding some assorted quotes from Margot Fröhlinger and Campinos.

Under Mr. Campinos the EPO carries on lobbying for and lying about the unconstitutional 'unitary' patents, which are being pursued/sought by the litigation ‘industry’ and patent trolls rather than European companies. We finally have some partial transcript of what Campinos said:

“The Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court are sources of great untapped potential,” said António Campinos during his first keynote speech as EPO President. “This project will form a vital additional tool for providing access to the IP market. And in essence, that is what the EPO is about – facilitating access to effective and high-quality patents.”

Mr Campinos also expressed his confidence that the UPC and the Unitary Patent would come into operation very soon, explaining that 16 Member States have already ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court and that there is good reason to believe that the new system will start with close to 20 states. “We now stand on the cusp of a fully operational patent for the EU,” he said.

Is Campinos a legislator now? His job should be only to grant patents correctly. That’s all.

Campinos already sounds just like Battistelli. As far as policy is concerned, these two are likely indistinguishable. But it doesn’t surprise us; we didn’t really expect anything else. The above release also mentions Jérôme Debrulle, who had a lot to do with Campinos getting this job.

The EPO is very seriously compromised; a change of President is barely enough to salvage it. They need to take it further.

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