The USPTO Used to Pose a Threat to European Software Developers. Now It’s the EPO Posing a Threat to Software Developers Worldwide.

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 11:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Posing a threat to human rights and the rule of law, too…

EUIPO outsourcing

Summary: Europe has become a stronghold of patent maximalists (and corruption), whereas the US belatedly adjusts to better facilitate technological development (not lawsuits)

Software patents have long posed a risk in India, which nowadays offers many software services, including software development. Software developers are, in general (universally), suffering from such patents. The European Patent Office (EPO), now led by a man who outsourced software services to India and whose record shows support for patent trolls and software patents in Europe, is inspiring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to do similar things.

“SCOTUS has, perhaps for the first time in a long time, actually affirmed a CAFC decision on patents.”We find it almost ironic if not saddening that the EPO basically became the USPTO (in the patent quality sense), whereas it’s the US patent system gradually improving thanks to SCOTUS, the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). SCOTUS has, perhaps for the first time in a long time, actually affirmed a CAFC decision on patents. The new chief judge at CAFC is a lot better than her corrupt predecessor (literally corrupt) and the Trump "swamp" (thankfully just obviously clueless bunch) cannot overrule judges. This is one among several factors that led to our decision to focus even more on the EPO and less on the American (US) counterpart.

Just Because It’s Linux Doesn’t Mean It’s Free (as in Freedom)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Patents, Site News at 11:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One does not follow or imply the other

Sand freedom

Summary: The corrosive effects of technology on human rights and freedom will again occupy more of our time, bearing in mind that it’s a growing issue and high priority

TWO decades ago I became aware of “Linux”. I was in high school back then. I didn’t know about GNU, which had already been around since the early/mid eighties. The concept of “Open Source” was still associated with intelligence-gathering activities (sharing thereof) and “free software” typically meant freeware or warez and gamez — things one could share over floppy disks, compact disks, the Web, or BBS (depending on the year).

“Technology has in many ways turned against human rights and Linux powers just about everything (except most laptops), so it is integral to the workings of society or the operations of corporations.”Techrights has several types of readers and among those are patent professionals (e.g. examiners) and GNU/Linux enthusiasts, who are often themselves scientists and engineers, so there’s an overlap. This post is not about my childhood but about my interpretation of how technology develops. I worry greatly seeing how Linux gets ‘adopted’ — as in “winning!” — in drones, listening devices, surveillance-intensive back ends and so on. Technology has in many ways turned against human rights and Linux powers just about everything (except most laptops), so it is integral to the workings of society or the operations of corporations.

Several weeks ago I remarked rather briefly about the issue of freedom (not in the Libertarian sense) as it pertains to cars, which are now being spun as “smart” or “self-driving” or “computerised” and whatever…

“My personal belief is that the Linux Foundation just serves the Linux Foundation (i.e. its nontechnical staff) and by extension its sponsors; there’s no concept of “community” there and it is entirely detached from a moral compass.”Over the years we wrote many articles about GNU and we have, with little restraint, warned about the growing corporate influence in the Linux Foundation. My personal belief is that the Linux Foundation just serves the Linux Foundation (i.e. its nontechnical staff) and by extension its sponsors; there’s no concept of “community” there and it is entirely detached from a moral compass. Money talks. Money also gags (self-censorship). This is a problem.

More than half a decade ago, even when we harshly criticised Florian Müller, he said that we were more independent and purer than the FSF. He said this after he had pointed out corporate ties that jeopardised independence. We’ve managed to maintain our independence all these years; we recently moved to hosting in an environment that was offered to us free of charge by a GNU/Linux developer, ensuring our continued independence. Hosting would otherwise cost us about $10,000 for 3 years (we checked).

“At the end of 2018, seeing the site was becoming a tad repetitive in its position against software patents, we made the decision (after consultation with some longtime members) to focus again on GNU/Linux, with the usual emphasis on freedom.”But I digress…

The main point to make here is that it’s easy to lose sight of the original goals as put forth 35+ years ago by the GNU project. It is easy to be lured into the idea that to “win” is to gain a lot of “market share” or attract a lot of corporate funding — the very toxic (or intoxicating) trap many have fallen into. Persistence with one’s core values and pursuit of software freedom or societal solidarity (e.g. privacy, sharing) is the thing to strive for. Back in 2007 people wrongly assumed that we were tied to the FSF or were an FSF project, perhaps conflating Techrights with the FSF because of the strong stance on software patents.

At the end of 2018, seeing the site was becoming a tad repetitive in its position against software patents, we made the decision (after consultation with some longtime members) to focus again on GNU/Linux, with the usual emphasis on freedom. The month of January has thus far showed no signs of regressions on the 35 U.S.C. § 101 front. This will hopefully help clear time for more technical posts, at the expense of legal(ese)-oriented ones. And no, it won’t be blind cheerleading for “Linux!” but sceptical scrutiny of underlying issues and various players (like we did Red Hat yesterday). If some feathers get ruffled, so be it.

Links 27/1/2019: Catfish 1.4.7 and Latte Dock 0.8.5

Posted in News Roundup at 1:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Etherisc Decentralized Insurance Protocol to Release an Open-source Version of GIF

    Etherisc has stated that they will soon release an open-source version of the Generic Insurance Framework (GIF).

    GIF is a key component of the Etherisc protocol that provides utility services and acts as a base for the deployment and execution of smart contracts. Its objective is to provide resources to developers for the development of DApps for the insurance sector.

    So far, Etherisc has published the first part of GIF on GitHub, with the remainder being scheduled for release later this week. Later on, Etherisc will make GIF available on the testnet blockchain.

  • Google Cloud, Sony Pictures Imageworks Collaborate on Open-Source OpenCue

    Google Cloud, in collaboration with Sony Pictures Imageworks, has announced OpenCue, an open-source, high-performance render manager specifically built for the needs of the visual effects and animation industry.

    “As content production continues to accelerate across the globe, visual effects studios are increasingly turning towards the cloud to keep up with demand for high-quality content. While on-premise render farms are still in heavy use, the scalability and the security that the cloud offers provides studios with the tools needed to adapt to today’s fast paced, global production schedules,” Google Cloud Platform product manager Todd Prives wrote in a bog post announcing the collaboration. “Studios producing high-quality content have thousands of shots to render even in the smallest jobs — and managing the sequence in which shots are rendered is an essential part of any post-production pipeline.”

  • Google Cloud, Sony Team Up on OpenCue Open-Source Render Management

    Google Cloud and Sony have joined forces on the launch of OpenCue, a new open-source render manager for VFX and animation.

    Google said OpenCue is based on Cue 3, the internal queuing system developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks over the last 15 years. At Sony, the system has been scaled to over 150,000 cores shared between Sony’s own on-premise data center and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for recent projects. With additional development by GCP, the system has been open-sourced and renamed OpenCue.

    “Sony’s strong history of developing software tools has made this an ideal partnership,” said Todd Prives, GCP product manager, media & entertainment, in a blog post announcing the OpenCue release. “Sony has developed and contributed to industry standard software packages such as OpenColorIO and Alembic, which are now critical pieces in the pipeline of hundreds of studios worldwide for the daily creation of content that we view on all devices, be it at the movies, on television or on mobile devices.”

  • Confluent shows open source, paradigm shifts, cloud, and commercial success can all co-exist

    Confluent, the vendor offering a commercial version and services for the open source Apache Kafka platform, just received $125 million in funding. This has launched Confluent into unicorn territory with a valuation of $2.5 billion. You probably know this by now, and if you’ve been following, you also know why and how Confluent got to this point.

    ZDNet has been keeping track of Kafka and Confluent’s evolution, and the news were a good opportunity to catch up with Jay Kreps, Confluent CEO. Here is the lowdown on how Kafka will evolve from now on, the latest updates on the data streaming landscape, and last but not least, what this all means for the cloud and open-source software.

  • How Men and Women Approach Open Source Differently
  • FOLIO Launches Aster Release

    FOLIO, a community collaboration to develop an open source Library Services Platform (LSP), is kicking off 2019 with a release that will reach a variety of notable development milestones in accessibility. The FOLIO Aster Release is the first in a series of named releases that will begin to define the features and functionality of the open source LSP.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Yarn

    Currently Yarn features the ability to cache every package it downloads, parallelize operations for maximum resource utilization, verify the integrity of installed packages before code is executed and guarantee an install that works on one system will work on any other system. In addition, the project includes an offline mode, improved network performance, network resilience and a flat mode.

    Some major changes expected to come to the project this year include: making the lockfile and configuration format a strict subset of YAML; support for plugins; making Yarn an API in addition to a CLI; support for Node 4 and 6; and overhauling the log system.

  • Bloomberg on Kubernetes, Chaos Engineering and Open-Source

    New development practices in Bloomberg’s software dept. are landing big, as software engineer Mikolaj Pawlikowski explains to John Bensalhia

    Kubernetes is headline news in Bloomberg’s software department. The Wall Street powerhouse started investigating Kubernetes about two-and-a-half years ago, after forging a tool to manage the deployment of 6,000 instances of Apache Solr – an open source enterprise search platform – across around 1,000 servers. Bloomberg then started writing containerization software and orchestration software to support it.

    Mikolaj Pawlikowski, Bloomberg’s software engineer, is responsible for the construction of a microservices platform based on Kubernetes.

    “Our microservices platform was born out of the observation that a lot of how our code was deployed and updated could be automated once for many services,” explains Mikolaj. “At the same time, we are operating at a scale where anything that wasn’t fully automated was costly.”

  • Pagedraw goes open source, bringing an artsy feel to building React web apps

    Time to get out your art supplies; Pagedraw has just gone open source! This UI builder may work like a Sketch or Figma style design tool, but don’t be fooled. It creates high quality JSX code to be used with Angular or React web apps or pages.

    Although Pagedraw is not currently under active development, it’s an exciting step for automating the boring parts of frontend development. Pagedraw is a good foundation for any developer looking to handle complicated, performance sensitive, UI heavy products. It’s not a code-free solution, but it’s a start!

  • “With so many large organizations sponsoring AdoptOpenJDK, it makes them a leading option for LTS builds right now”

    The confusion over the rights to use Oracle JDK vs Oracle’s OpenJDK builds vs OpenJDK builds from other providers has been hovering over us for quite some time but now that the confusion has been untangled, it’s time to focus on the things that drive Java’s future.

    The list of providers of free OpenJDK builds is getting longer. We now have AdoptOpenJDK, Azul, IBM, Red Hat, Linux (to name a few) and Amazon Corretto, which joined the party in late 2018. That’s not surprising though, especially since “OpenJDK is the future of Java,” as Rich Sharples, Senior Director of Product Management for Middleware at Red Hat told us in an interview in November 2018.

    Now GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures, has announced its support of AdoptOpenJDK. As part of this sponsorship, GoDaddy will become AdoptOpenJDK’s key technology provider, delivering in-kind hosting and infrastructure services. GoDaddy will also move its products to OpenJDK.

  • SatoshiPay releases Solar, a new open-source multi-sig wallet for Stellar (XLM)

    SatoshiPay, a bitcoin and cryptocurrency payment company recently announced the launch of Solar, a multi-signature wallet for Stellar (XLM), that brings.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome changes could ‘destroy’ ad-blockers

        Blocking ads could become much harder if Google makes proposed changes to its Chrome web browser, warn developers.
        The changes could “destroy” ad-blockers, said one maker of widely-used blocking software.
        Others said the update would make it far harder for users to stop firms tracking them online and make it easier for them to be bombarded with ads.
        Google said the proposals were a “draft” and added that it would work with developers to limit their impact.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Apache Hadoop 3.2 is here!

      Big data was born on the back of Apache Hadoop. Today, we take a look at the latest version of this open source framework for distributed computing, Hadoop 3.2! Highlights include powerful new features and deep learning applications.
      Apache Hadoop is rightly seen as the foundation for the modern big data ecosystem, so it’s exciting to see the latest version for this open source framework for scalable, distributed computing! Hadoop 3.2 arrived earlier this week with a number of upgrades, improvements, and more!

      “This latest release … diversifies the platform by building on the cloud connector enhancements from Apache Hadoop 3.0.0 and opening it up for deep learning use-cases and long-running apps,” said Vinod Kumar Vavilapalli, Vice President of Apache Hadoop.

  • CMS

    • Playing With New Plone UI Volto

      I had to install node.js and yarn on my notebook. I created a new volto package with ‘create-volto-app my-volto-app’. I could build my volto app with the command ‘npm start’. This build everything and the instance is available at port 3000 of your URL, e.g. ‘http://localhost:3000’. But you need to fire up the Plone instance too with e.g. ‘bin/instance fg’ too (otherwise you will get error messages).

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Bison 3.3 released

      We are very happy to announce the release of Bison 3.3!

      The new option –update replaces deprecated features with their modern spelling, but also applies fixes such as eliminating duplicate directives, etc. It is now possible to annotate rules with their number of expected conflicts. Bison can be made relocatable. The symbol declaration syntax was overhauled, and in particular, %nterm, that exists since the origins of Bison, is now an officially supported (and documented!) feature. C++ parsers now feature genuine symbol constructors, and use noexcept constexpr. The GLR parsers in C++ now support the syntax_error exceptions. There are also many smaller improvements, including a fix for a bug which is at least 31 years old.

  • Public Services/Government

    • New Karlsruhe teaching laboratory focuses on open source

      The Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) in Germany has opened a new laboratory dedicated to open source software. High school student teachers will attend the lab to become familiar with open source tools, the open source development process and legal fundamentals. The goal is to help prepare future schoolteachers.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.6: Two neat enhancements

      The seventh release of littler as a CRAN package is now available, following in the now more than twelve-year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later.

      littler is the first command-line interface for R and predates Rscript. And it is (in my very biased eyes) better as it allows for piping as well shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript converted to rather recently.

      littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet – the build system could be extended – see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!).

    • Kubeflow to the rescue: ML toolkit offers hope for data science and deep learning

      Data scientists in the machine learning community have a growing skills gap, and it will take some serious technology to fix it.

      Google Cloud executive Rajen Sheth recently voiced his agreement with estimates that the number of machine learning engineers capable of moving deep learning from concept to production equals a few thousand. But there are millions of data scientists and significantly more developers. How can the gap be closed?

      The answer may be found in large part to the current activity taking place among major cloud players and key figures in the open-source community focused on a relatively new, yet vitally important project — Kubeflow.

    • Create a thread for the video editing application

      Hello and welcome back to this final part of the video editing project. After this chapter, you will be good enough to continue to develop this application by yourself and hopefully, you can come out with a better idea of how to further develop this video editing application.

      In this chapter I have created a thread for this video editing application which will separate the application into two part, the user interface part and the thread part. The user interface part will take care of the user’s click event and the user’s input and the threaded part will process the user input.

    • Idera acquires Travis CI
    • GitHub: The top 10 programming languages for machine learning [Ed: Stop judging FOSS as a whole based on a Microsoft repo with spying (NSA PRISM). FOSS is far bigger than this proprietary network.]
    • Macintosh API Comes To Linux, Android
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxii) stackoverflow python report
    • Episode #114: What should be in the Python standard library?


  • Update: scans of early RFCs

    The Computer History Museum has just this month made the scans of RFCs 1 through 9 available! The listing is here, and here is a direct link to the PDF.

  • A Cease Fire Was Called

    I do want to thank every packager out there who makes Ubuntu happen. For as horribly as our computers operate at work it would be great if we could switch them to Ubuntu. Unfortunately it looks like I would get RHEL if I dared ask to move to having Linux but, then again, I’m not in IT procurement but front-line customer service to America’s taxpayers.

  • Science

    • A Philosopher’s Hoax Embarrassed Several Academic Journals. Was It Satire or Fraud?

      Last September, Peter Boghossian, a philosopher at Portland State University, dropped a thunderous bomb on the academic community: He revealed that he had co-authored 20 bogus articles, most related to gender and queer studies (what critics often deride as “grievance studies”), and submitted them to a range of high-profile journals. Each article knowingly used absurd language to reach ridiculous conclusions, but only six of these satirical pieces were rejected. Seven were accepted, and the rest were deemed publishable but needing revision. In no time, “one of the biggest academic events of the decade”—as New York University’s Jonathan Haidt put it—was international news.

  • Hardware

    • Apple might start making its own batteries for iPhones and Macs

      Apple has hired Soonho Ahn, a former Samsung executive who worked primarily on lithium-ion batteries and other battery-related technologies, Bloomberg reports. Ahn joined Apple in December after a four-year stint at Samsung.

    • Apple Hires Samsung Battery Executive to Help Lead Its Own Work

      Soonho Ahn joined Apple in December as global head of battery developments, after working as a senior vice president at Samsung SDI since 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Samsung SDI, Ahn led development of lithium battery packs and worked on “next-generation” battery technology, the profile says.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Electric scooter users aren’t wearing helmets—the head injury rate proves it

      Forty-percent of the injuries linked to electric scooter use involve knocks to the noggin while nearly 95 percent of riders don’t wear helmets, according to a first-of-its kind study published Friday, January 25.

    • WHO’s Access Roadmap And The Art Of Accommodation Of Pharma Interest

      Expansion of the prequalification program is stated as one of the deliverables to expand access. While prequalification offers an opportunity to market the medicine in multiple markets through a single marketing approval in its current form, it favors only big pharmaceutical companies. The expansion of prequalification thus favors big companies at the cost of small and medium companies.

      Lastly, there is no clarity about whether? the activities related to regulatory system strengthening would lead to regulatory harmonization at the high threshold level for the regulatory approval of health products and would adversely impact the local production initiatives in developing countries.

      Adoption of the Roadmap in its current form very well accommodates the interest of the Pharmaceutical TNCs and therefore one need not expect any proactive steps by WHO towards promoting access after the adoption of the Roadmap.

    • Toxic Pesticides Assault in Utah

      Malquist lives in Nephi City, Juab County, Utah. He briefly said to me that the careless use of pesticides in Utah has made his life and the life of his daughter unbearable.

      Apparently, the Juab County has been sponsoring a regular mosquito fogging program that is out of control, spraying homes, people and the natural world indiscriminately. At least, that’s my understanding from talking to the distressed Malquist. He said to me he complained to the local authorities and, in 2011, sued the Juab County for poisoning his garden.

      Nothing worked, however. The mosquito foggers and their local and state supervisors saw no trouble in killing mosquitoes.

      In 2018, Malquist and his daughter spoke to me on the phone and sent me brief statements about their struggle with pesticides and those spraying them.

    • Giant Steps – The Next Stage in the Fight for Medicare for All

      The long journey toward transforming our health care system to ensure that all our nation’s people get the care they need is entering its next major phase.

      In the coming days, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, with dozens of House co-sponsors, is expected to introduce an updated version of a House Medicare for All bill, a significant step toward a real reform that is now favored by up to 70 percent of Americans.

      For the first time, following the House turnover in November, the prospects for real action in the House on Medicare for All look promising.

  • Security

    • Attack on git signature verification via crafting multiple signatures

      This article shortly explains the historical git weakness regarding handling commits with multiple OpenPGP signatures in git older than v2.20. The method of creating such commits is presented, and the results of using them are described and analyzed.

    • Data Silos and Breaches: Building a Long-term Security Operations Platform with Elasticsearch

      The recent Marriott data breach will likely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and class action lawyers are trying to turn it into billions. Unfortunately, the headline is all too familiar. Organized crime or nation-state actors burrow their way into IT networks, lying dormant through a back-door communications channel, slowly draining precious data from what were previously thought to be “protected” systems.

    • A New Era for Enterprise Open Source Use in 2019 [Ed: Veracode FUD]

      This is because the amount of collaboration these projects can foster brings forward some of the greatest advancements in tech, and it makes the software more accessible for individuals who cannot afford licensing fees.

      Using open source code speeds up development cycles and reduces cost. But it comes with risks – open source code doesn’t get the same level of scrutiny as your internally developed software. And when a vulnerability is identified, it can be difficult and costly to pinpoint all your applications that use a risky component.

    • Hakai and Yowai botnets abuse ThinkPHP vulnerabilities

      Cybercriminals are exploiting vulnerabilities in the ThinkPHP open source framework to expand the Hakai and Yowai botnets.

      The botnets can be used to breach web servers and launch DDoS attacks against websites using a vulnerability in the framework’s invokeFunction method to execute malicious code on the underlying server, Trend Micro researchers said in a Jan. 25 blog post.

      The remotely exploitable vulnerability which allowed threat actors to gain control over the servers was patched in December last year after Chinese cybersecurity firm VulnSpy developed a proof-of-concept exploit.

    • Benchmarking The Current Spectre + Meltdown Performance Overhead For 10 GbE Networking

      While running the Windows vs. BSD vs. Linux 10GbE network benchmarks among other recent 10GbE Linux network performance figures, the test request came in from a premium patron to look at the current 10GbE network performance hit as a result of the default Spectre+Meltdown mitigations.

      I ran some tests on an Ubuntu installation with the Tyan dual Xeon server used in the recent comparisons. With that Ubuntu 18.10 install, the Linux 5.0 Git kernel was running for the most recent kernel experience. Of course, on particularly older kernels the impact may vary with the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations continuing to be refined among other kernel optimizations to help offset the induced overhead.

    • New Malware Might Make macOS Vulnerable Via Steganography

      Malwares are usually targeted at Windows users. This is mainly because it accounts for a majority of the userbase around the world. But, that doesn’t mean macOS users are immune to these malware attacks. A new malicious code which hides under plain sight, is particularly tageting macOS. And, it does seem to be pretty critical and easy to fall trap to.

    • DHS: Multiple US gov domains hit in serious DNS hijacking wave

      The DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued the directive on Tuesday, 12 days after security firm FireEye warned of an unprecedented wave of ongoing attacks that altered the domain name system records belonging to telecoms, ISPs, and government agencies. DNS servers act as directories that allow one computer to find other computers on the Internet. By tampering with these records, attackers can potentially intercept passwords, emails, and other sensitive communications.

    • OpenBSD Security Vulnerability Mitigations
    • EU Tech Chief Warns Again on Cyber Threat From China

      In an interview, Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for digital affairs, said China’s National Intelligence Law, passed in 2017, has increased the risk in dealing with Chinese companies in Europe. The law mandates any organization and citizen to support and assist national intelligence in their investigations and to keep information related to such investigations.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Open Letter by Over 70 Scholars and Experts Condemns US-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela

      “Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability,” the letter reads. “The U.S. and its allies must cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change. If the Trump administration and its allies continue to pursue their reckless course in Venezuela, the most likely result will be bloodshed, chaos, and instability.”

      Highlighting the harm American sanctions have inflicted upon the Venezuelan economy and people, the letter goes on to denounce the White House’s “aggressive” actions and rhetoric against Venezuela’s government, arguing that peaceful talks are the only way forward.

      “In such situations, the only solution is a negotiated settlement, as has happened in the past in Latin American countries when politically polarized societies were unable to resolve their differences through elections,” the letter reads. “For the sake of the Venezuelan people, the region, and for the principle of national sovereignty, these international actors should instead support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow the country to finally emerge from its political and economic crisis.”

    • Disruptor-in-Chief

      In brief, the impacts of four million uncompensated contractors and 800,000 federal employees without pay disrupt, economically speaking. That narrow focus omits the human stress, with the related harmful impacts on mental and physical health to working folks experiencing dire conditions of surviving with no money in a capitalist society.

      To return to the so-called dismal science of economics, one needs no Ph.D. in the field to see why the shutdown is disruptive. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. Think about that.

      Trump is in effect removing money from the national economy. Economic contractions, recessions, do the same thing.

      Yes, that is disruptive. Recall that the Great Recession began in the U.S. and spread globally a decade ago. That was a disruptive process, the worst downturn since the dark days and nights of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    • The Transgender Ban is All About Bigotry and Distraction

      The Supreme Court just paved the way for Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military to move ahead, at least pending other court challenges. The ban will harm the military and help no one, while doing nothing to address the nation’s real problems.

      I’m neither transgender nor in the military, but I count several trans people, including trans vets, among my closest friends. I can’t speak for them. I can, however, speak as their friend — and as a sociologist who teaches about gender at the college level.

      Trump cites the cost of medical care for transgender people undergoing transition as the reason for his ban. Yet many transgender people never have surgery, and those who do may wait until after they’re finished serving in the military to do it.

    • An Open Letter to the United States: Stop Interfering in Venezuela’s Internal Politics

      The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government. Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability.

      Venezuela’s political polarization is not new; the country has long been divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. But the polarization has deepened in recent years. This is partly due to US support for an opposition strategy aimed at removing the government of Nicolás Maduro through extra-electoral means. While the opposition has been divided on this strategy, US support has backed hardline opposition sectors in their goal of ousting the Maduro government through often violent protests, a military coup d’etat, or other avenues that sidestep the ballot box.

    • Adversary Russia

      For corporate media, it is practically axiomatic: Russia is and ought to be an “adversary” of the United States.

      The duopoly parties agree. Donald Trump seems to have a different view – though only from time to time, and for reasons that no one outside his innermost circle really knows, but that nevertheless, like all things Trumpian, reek of corruption and venality.

      And so it was, the story goes, that the Russians “meddled” in the 2016 election and in the recent midterm election as well. We are told that they are also gearing up for 2020. If this seems far-fetched, just ask the guardians of democracy over at Langley or Fort Meade; they know all about it and, like George Washington, never tell a lie.

      The meddling charge is so stunningly hypocritical that it is difficult to look beyond it.

    • French Defense Secretary Says Country Is Willing To Fire First In Cyber Wars

      Over the past few years, politicians and intelligence officials have floated the idea of hacking back. When not pushing the idea of treating cyber wars like declarations of actual war, these officials have seen nothing wrong with hacking back against cyberattackers or allowing private companies to do the same.

      It may seem like there’s nothing wrong with a “best defense is a good offense” theory of deterrence, but it’s not that simple. First of all, attribution is often more difficult than these officials imagine. Hacking back against the wrong party is only going to escalate tensions. At worst, it could result in international incidents where those hacking back have broken laws in other countries. At best, it will just become another forever war countries throw money at — one that’s sure to result in expanded government power at the expense of the taxpayers, both in terms of tax dollars and civil liberties.

      France has been scratching its itchy trigger finger for awhile now. Roughly a year ago, the government shot down a proposal giving private companies the right to retaliate against cyberattacks. It felt doing so would only lead to further “instability in cyberspace.” That assessment is likely correct. But the French government apparently only felt private hack backs would lead to instability. If the government did it, no such instability should occur… apparently.

      As far as offensive actions are concerned, the [Strategic Review of Cyberdefense] may not want companies to unleash hack-backs after an online attack, but it does want to keep that option open for the French authorities.

    • How the Organization of American States Became an Agent of Regime Change

      With a Venezuelan opposition leader declaring himself the country’s president and the Trump administration appearing to back a coup, Venezuela is lurching toward a new phase of crisis. And that crisis could be worsened by hardline leadership at the Organization of American States (OAS), the world’s oldest and most influential regional organization. Luis Almagro, the OAS Secretary General, recently announced his bid for another 5-year term at the helm of the organization. That would be a major setback for good governance in the region.

      Throughout his tenure, Almagro has acted against many of the basic principles and mandates of the organization and consistently represented U.S. interests above those of its neighbors, generally supporting allies and punishing adversaries of the U.S. government. In particular, he’s actively sought regime change in Venezuela.

      Almagro’s often unsubstantiated claims against Venezuela and Cuba echo the rhetoric of dangerous terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles. His open interventions in countries’ internal politics have completely reversed diplomatic advances in resolving controversies, divided the continent, and led his own Uruguayan political party to expel him and advocate for removing him from the leadership of the OAS.

    • ‘Resistance’ Media Side With Trump to Promote Coup in Venezuela

      We like to think we have an adversarial media—one that will stand up, in particular, to Donald Trump. The media assured us that they would perform their crucial democratic role in holding this dangerous new president and commander-in-chief accountable at every turn. This struck a chord with the public; in the wake of Trump’s victory in 2016, the New York Times added over a quarter-million digital subscribers in a matter of weeks. “Democracy,” after all, “Dies in Darkness,” as the Washington Post tells us on every webpage.

      Yet on Trump’s support for regime change in Venezuela, the “resistance” media are lining up shoulder to shoulder with the president.

      After winning re-election in 2018, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was recently sworn in for a second term. However, Trump has taken the extraordinary step of declaring the elections void, condemning the “illegitimate Maduro regime.” He also arranged to have National Assembly head Juan Guaidó—someone who has never even run for president, whom even the New York Times (1/22/19) describes as “virtually unheard-of”—name himself the country’s new leader. This has spurred the Venezuelan right wing onto the streets to try to force Maduro out of office, leading to the deaths of 14 people in the first two nights of clashes between large pro- and anti-government demonstrations.

    • 20 Dead as Bombs Target Sunday Mass in Philippine Cathedral

      Two bombs minutes apart tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 20 people and wounding 111 others during a Sunday Mass, officials said.

      Witnesses said the first blast inside the Jolo cathedral in the provincial capital sent churchgoers, some of them wounded, to stampede out of the main door. Army troops and police posted outside were rushing in when the second bomb went off about one minute later near the main entrance, causing more deaths and injuries. The military was checking a report that the second explosive device may have been attached to a parked motorcycle.

      The initial explosion scattered the wooden pews inside the main hall and blasted window glass panels, and the second bomb hurled human remains and debris across a town square fronting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, witnesses said. Cellphone signal was cut off in the first hours after the attack. The witnesses who spoke to The Associated Press refused to give their names or were busy at the scene of the blasts.

      Police said at least 20 people died and 111 were wounded, correcting an earlier toll due to double counting. The fatalities included 15 civilians and five troops. Among the wounded were 17 troops, two police, two coast guard and 90 civilians.

    • The Vultures of Caracas

      We are frequently told that people in Venezuela have no food, clothing or toilet paper, and that popular discontent with the left wing government is driven by real hunger. There are elements of truth in this story, though the causes of economic dislocation are far more complex than the media would have us believe.

      But I ask you to look at this photo of supporters of CIA poster-boy, the West’s puppet unelected “President” Juan Guaido, taken at a Guaido rally in Caracas two days ago and published yesterday in security services house journal The Guardian. Please take a really close look at the photo. Blow it up as big as you can. Scan individual people in the crowd, one by one.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution

      The “Green New Deal” endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., and more than 40 other House members has been criticized as imposing a too-heavy burden on the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it. However, taxing the rich is not what the Green New Deal resolution proposes. It says funding would come primarily from certain public agencies, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and “a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks.”

    • Trump’s ‘Contribution’ to Global Ecology

      In Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs banker and former chief economic advisor to President Trump, is often seen advocating for a free trade position vis-à-vis Trump. For his part, Trump views trade deficits as the problem. He sees the purchases of steel and aluminum by U.S. corporations from abroad as weakening the U.S. position. In order to promote their manufacture in the U.S., Trump pushes to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. By making foreign products more expensive, Trump hopes to revive manufacturing in the U.S.

      Gary Cohn, meanwhile, subscribes to the neoliberal ideology, which would have the most efficient enterprises produce goods most cheaply, so that consumers can obtain them at the lowest price. Steel and aluminum forged in China is imported by auto manufacturers in Kentucky. TV sets assembled in China or Mexico are available at low prices at your neighborhood big box store.

      Cohn points out that for the same pay, most people would rather sit at a desk in an office than stand all day running a forge or sorting transistors into sockets. Therefore, for Cohn, that most Americans work in the service sector is a good thing.

      Human health is endangered by how neoliberalism plays out in the real world. Corporations scour the world for the most exploitable labor, abusing workers to the bone, burning fossil fuels to manufacture and transport goods around the world, externalizing the costs of environmental destruction and human sickness — all in the name of profit. As China continues to burn coal for energy, millions more of its citizens will die prematurely of respiratory diseases. (An estimated 366,000 deaths were attributed to coal-burning in 2013.) The manufactured goods are shipped across the Pacific Ocean, then transported across the U.S. to the big box store. This energy-intensive supply chain continues to be dependent on the burning of fossil fuels, further contributing to climate catastrophe. Many of our Pacific Island neighbors will soon lose their homes to sea level rise.

    • Extreme Wealth is a Planet Killer

      We either keep fossil fuels in the ground, or we fry.

      That’s the conclusion of another new blockbuster study on climate change, this one from the National Academy of Sciences. Our fossil-fuel industrial economy, the study details, has made for the fastest climate changes our Earth has ever seen.

      “If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” notes the study’s lead author, Kevin Burke from the University of Wisconsin.

      “In the roughly 20 to 25 years I have been working in the field,” adds his colleague John Williams, “we have gone from expecting climate change to happen, to detecting the effects, and now we are seeing that it’s causing harm” — as measured in property damage and deaths, in intensified flooding and fires.

      The last time climate on Earth saw nearly as drastic and rapid a climate shift, relates another new study, came some 252 million years ago, and that shift unfolded over the span of a few thousand years. That span of time saw the extinction of 96 percent of the Earth’s ocean species and almost as devastating a loss to terrestrial creatures.

    • Drought and conflict can spur climate refugees

      Austrian researchers have made it simpler to identify climate refugees, claiming to have established a direct causal link between climate change, conflict and the numbers of migrants.

      They are not the first to confirm that there is a statistical association between the likelihood of drought, or heat extremes, and violence. Evidence of cause for any civil or international conflict is always complex and often disputed.

      But researchers now say that mathematical techniques provide an indirect connection between formally-established drought conditions and recorded levels of applications for asylum.

    • Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Climate Denial Efforts Target Media, Cities Filing Liability Suits

      The conservative think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute has been busily pressing forward with its mission to promote climate denial, using high-profile tactics like full-page ads in major newspapers. But it is also working behind the scenes, filing records requests to dig for information from cities filing climate liability suits and academics studying the topic.

      As the science has grown definitive in tying global warming to the burning of fossil fuels, even oil companies have been forced to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus and back away publicly from climate denial efforts. But CEI continues to double down on their mission to claim the science is not settled.

      CEI made a splash this week by purchasing full-page ads in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal taking issue with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and NBC for refusing to give airtime to denialists during his Dec. 30 show about climate change.

    • Mining Director Ian Plimer Misrepresents Climate Consensus Studies in The Australian Newspaper

      Because most of us aren’t trained as oncologists or meteorologists, we tend to do the sensible thing and rely on those folk for facts on cancer, or the weather.

      It’s likely too that we’d act on their advice by seeking treatment after a diagnosis or packing an umbrella (or, if you’re in dangerously hot Australia right now, have a plan to stay cool).

      The same goes for climate science. At least six studies have shown that climate scientists agree that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.

      What should follow, of course, is that policy makers (and the rest of us) act on their advice.

  • Finance

    • Google Memo on Cost Cuts Sparks Heated Debate Inside Company

      Perhaps the most significant change in the proposal called for trimming the rate of promotions. Each year, a certain number of employees are up for promotions based on performance and other metrics. The slide deck suggested reducing this by 2 percentage points. The document said this could be rolled out without upsetting staff because workers didn’t know what the existing rate was, so wouldn’t notice if it declined.

    • Ex-Sanitation Salvage Workers Protest

      The temperature was barely above zero in the Bronx on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but more than a dozen former garbage workers showed up outside the offices of Sanitation Salvage, once one of the major private trash haulers in the city. They carried signs and demanded wages they say they are owed by the company, which surrendered its license in November after a series of revelations about its troubled operations.

      Andres Hernandez said he’d worked as a Sanitation Salvage driver for seven years. Manuel Matias said he’d started working at Sanitation Salvage at age 17 and was paid off the books for years. Alex Amante said the cold was all too familiar — he’d regularly worked the city’s streets at night in such temperatures, doing shifts that he and other workers said could be 18 or even 21 hours long.

      The former Sanitation Salvage workers picked the day to protest intentionally. When King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968, he’d come to the city in support of its sanitation workers, who were on strike over low pay and dangerous conditions following the deaths of two workers.

      “All we want is for them to pay us what they owe us,” Hernandez said.

    • Students File Lawsuit Accusing Brown University of Labor Violations

      On January 24, 2019, several current and former Brown University Dining Services student-workers hit the Ivy League school with a unique lawsuit alleging that Brown has been violating federal labor laws for years.

      The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal labor law passed in 1938, and Brown’s own policy dictate that employers must compensate workers when they are “engaged to wait” during “on-call” shifts. Employees meet this criterion when their on-call restrictions are such that they are not able to use their time effectively for personal affairs. Brown student dining managers and supervisors say that they are expected to be on campus, follow dress code, and be able to immediately respond via phone and in person during their on-call shifts.

      Max Kozlov, a junior majoring in cognitive neuroscience at Brown and former Brown University Dining Services supervisor and manager told Truthout, “Depending on the unit, supervisors and managers in the blue room, carts and cashier’s units take on-call shifts of 10-30 hours per week, in addition to working 15-40 hours per week, in addition to being full time students. But, in reality, we were really effectively on-call 24/7 because of the restrictions and demands of the job.” Another plaintiff, Ben Bosis, picked his class schedule, in part, based off on-call shifts.

      The crux of the legal complaint against Brown, Kozlov said, is that the university’s on-call policy goes back “indefinitely” and “to our knowledge, no one has ever been compensated adequately [by Brown] for being on call.” If this lawsuit is successful, sixty former and current Brown student dining supervisors and managers may be eligible for retroactive payment.

    • Our Counterfeit Social Security Crisis

      The humorist Mark Twain once called reports of his death “an exaggeration.” The same goes for the endless fearmongering and scare stories about America’s most popular government program, Social Security.

      On the contrary, the nation’s safety net for seniors is in remarkably good shape. The trust fund holds government securities worth nearly $2.9 trillion, just under its all-time high. In 2092, at the end of the latest 75-year projection, the inflow from payroll taxes would still be covering roughly three-quarters of scheduled worker benefits—without increasing the tax rate or raising the retirement age or making any other change. That’s the truth and nothing but the truth, according to the 2018 annual report of the Social Security board of trustees.

      Never let the facts get in the way of false alarms. As recently as mid-October, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claimed that cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were the only way to lower the federal deficit. He urged legislators to “address the real drivers of the debt” and “adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”

      Just-retired House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spent his entire Congressional career pushing the same notions. He doubled down in his farewell address, calling entitlement reform (the GOP camouflage for cuts) “our greatest unfinished business.”

    • ‘It Is a Disgrace That Our Public Schools Are So Poorly Funded’ – CounterSpin interview with Kent Wong on LA teachers strike

      As we record on January 16, the strike by more than 30,000 Los Angeles teachers is entering its third day. The decision to go on strike is never a whimsical one; the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, hasn’t had a strike in nearly 30 years.

    • The Yellow Vests, the Crisis of the Welfare State and Socialism

      Far from dying down after the holidays, France’s yellow vest movement is continuing to blaze throughout the country. Every Saturday for eleven weeks, protesters have been disrupting or blocking roads, traffic circles and freeway toll plazas, gathering in the squares of villages, taking to the streets of towns, marching in massive numbers through city boulevards, and confronting violent police repression. Ten people have died in the protests, mainly due to accidents at road blocks, and over 2000 have been injured by the police, around 100 seriously. 17 people have lost an eye due to rubber bullets, according to an independent association and an investigative journalist, while the interior minister recently said there were 4. Thousands have been arrested.

      Old and young, workers, retirees, artisans, some small business owners, farmers, students, self-employed and unemployed people are converging to protest not only Macron’s gloves-off reforms in favor of capital, finance and the ultra rich, but especially their own decline in living standards. Increasingly aggressive capitalism, the dismantling of the welfare state, and deindustrialization have eroded standards of living for forty years, and have stepped up pace with the crisis of 2008 and Macron’s “neoliberal” reforms dictated by the European Union.

      Yellow vested demonstrators are fed up with running out of money before the end of the month, job insecurity, rising taxes on the working class, insufficient and decreasing pensions, falling social benefits, and working multiple jobs or extra long hours to make ends meet. France’s broad middle class is downwardly mobile. People are also protesting rising energy costs, job losses due to offshoring, deteriorating working conditions, homelessness on the rise, increasing numbers of undernourished children and people scavenging for food, underfunded public services such as hospitals, schools, post offices and transportation, especially in rural areas, and a host of other issues.

    • ‘Constitutionally Illegitimate’: As Workers Miss Another Paycheck, Trump’s Draft National Emergency Order Condemned

      A draft obtained exclusively by CNN and updated as recently as last week supposedly declares, “The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency.”

      “Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C 1601, et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States,” it reads.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube Will Crack Down on Toxic Videos, But It Won’t Be Easy

      Social media companies have come under heavy criticism for their role in the spread of misinformation and extremism online, rewarding such content—and the engagement it gets—by pushing it to more users. In November, Facebook announced plans to reduce the visibility of sensational and provocative posts in News Feed, regardless of whether they explicitly violate the company’s policies. A YouTube spokesperson told WIRED the company has been working on its latest policy shift for about a year, saying it has nothing to do with the similar change at Facebook. The spokesperson stressed that Friday’s announcement is still in its earliest stages, and the company may not catch all of the borderline content immediately.

    • Requests for info, gag orders and takedowns fired at GitHub users hit an all-time high last year

      Microsoft-owned code repo GitHub has received twice as many requests for user information in 2018 as the prior year, noting a disproportionate rise in accompanying gag orders.

      As GitHub said in its 2018 Transparency Report, the total number of requests was small as things go – a mere 112 – and apart from two that hint at someone lawyering up, they covered a relatively minor number of accounts.

      The organisation has processed 78 of the requests it received and within that disclosed information on 66. Two of those requests covered a surprising 3,673 user accounts (which looks to El Reg like someone objecting to the same content in a lot of places).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Japan to consider regulating GAFA under the secrecy of communication

      The previous article covered a failure of legislation for piracy website blocking due to legal considerations of constitutionally guaranteed secrecy of communication. Now the secrecy of communication is likely to apply to foreign platform providers, especially to big tech companies called GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple), according to a draft document distributed in an advisory committee meeting which was held on January 21 2019.

      The scope of the secrecy of communication covers not only the communication content but also the date and time of the communication, the identification of communication parties, and everything which can be used to infer the semantic contents of the communication. Therefore, it may make an impact on targeted advertising using communication information.

    • Exclusive: Google is working on a Face ID-like feature for Android Q

      While Android smartphones supported fingerprint scanners long before the Apple iPhone did, Android devices are playing catch up when it comes to secure biometric facial authentication hardware. The Apple iPhone X is the first smartphone from a major device maker to combine a Time of Flight (TOF) sensor, IR illuminator, dot projector, and other sensors for hardware facial recognition (Apple calls it ‘Face ID’). We’ve seen a few smartphones with Face ID-like implementations from Android device makers like Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro and Xiaomi’s Mi 8 Explorer Edition, but these device makers have had to heavily customize Android to support this new hardware. However, it seems that Google is working on bringing native support for secure facial recognition hardware in Android Q.

    • Android Q Will Bring Native Support For More Secure 3D Face Recognition

      According to a report by XDA Developers, after going deep into the leaked Android Q build, it is found that the upcoming operating system could come with inbuilt support for a secure and better facial recognition.

    • The Pitfalls of Facebook Merging Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp Chats

      [...] It’s unclear what sort of defaults Facebook will impose, and how it will let users know whether their chats are encrypted.

      Facebook can also glean more data from unencrypted chats and introduce monetizable experiences like bots into them. The company has had a notoriously hard time earning revenue off of WhatsApp’s 1.5 billion users, in part because of end-to-end encryption.

    • Facebook plans to let Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp users message each other

      Each service will continue to operate as a standalone app, but according to the Times, Facebook is rebuilding the underlying infrastructure so that people who might use only one of Facebook’s properties could communicate with others within the company’s ecosystem. All of the apps will support end-to-end encryption as well. Facebook has yet to provide a timeline for when this will happen.

    • Zuckerberg defends Facebook data practices in op-ed

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his company’s business practices in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Friday that comes after a slew of controversies over the social media giant’s handling of user data.

    • Facebook Merging Apps Could Bolster Ads, Defense Against Breakup

      Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate the chat tools on the WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger services, a move that could help the social media giant better tailor ads for users, and bolster its case against a breakup by regulators.

    • Zuckerberg Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger

      Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, plans to integrate the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger — asserting his control over the company’s sprawling divisions at a time when its business has been battered by scandal.

      The services will continue to operate as stand-alone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified, said four people involved in the effort. That will bring together three of the world’s largest messaging networks, which between them have more than 2.6 billion users, allowing people to communicate across the platforms for the first time.

    • Facebook To Integrate WhatsApp, Messenger, And Instagram: Report

      A report by The New York Times has indicated that Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

    • Facebook Slides After Report Claims 50% Of Its Users Are Fake

      In a report published Thursday by PlainSite, an independent research shop led by Aaron Greenspan, analysts calculated that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been regularly lying to investors and the public about the company’s user metrics, and that the company could be overestimating the number of users by as much as 50%.

    • Advocacy groups are pushing the FTC to break up Facebook

      Advocacy groups are calling for Facebook to be broken up as a result of its Cambridge Analytica scandal, subsequent privacy violations, and repeated consumer data breaches.

      Groups like Open Market Institute, Color of Change, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote to the Federal Trade Commission today requesting a major government intervention into how Facebook operates. The letter outlined several moves the FTC could take, including a multibillion-dollar fine, reforming the company’s hiring practices, and most importantly, breaking up one of the most powerful social media companies for abusing its market position.

    • Security News This Week: Privacy Wins in Six Flags Fingerprints Ruling

      Customers in Illinois have the right to sue companies for taking their biometric data—like fingerprints or iris scans—without their consent. That was the verdict Friday of the Supreme Court of Illinois, which reversed an earlier decision in the case of a 14-year-old boy who bought a season pass to a Six Flags amusement park and unwittingly had his fingerprints taken by Six Flags in the process. [...]

    • Could This Really Be The Beginning Of The End For WhatsApp?

      It seems that Facebook is about to reverse years of promises around the integrity and independence of its flagship WhatsApp messaging platform. And coming off the back of the worst year of PR for the social media giant, the implications for the future of WhatsApp could be game-changing.

    • Mark Zuckerberg, Let Me Be Your Ghost Writer

      KARA TRANSLATES: We old now. We big now. It came from my one really good idea: AOL sucked and I could do better and I did. Now the noise has reached me up on Billionaire Mountain, so I am going to have to pretend that I care.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Canada envoy backflips on comments about Huawei CFO

      Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, has backtracked on comments he made, about detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou having a good case against extradition to the US, claiming he “misspoke”.

    • India: Police fire shotgun pellets at journalists in Kashmir, injuring four

      The reporters were covering a gunfight in Shopian district on 22 January, in the south of Kashmir, when the police fired at them with their shotguns, injuring four of them in the face and body. They were identified as Nisar-ul-Haq of the Srinagar daily Rising Kashmir, Junaid Gulzar of Kashmir Essence, Mir Burhan of ANN and Waseem Andrabi of the Hindustan Times. The four photojournalists were transferred to the hospital.

    • Director Priyanandan attacked with cow dung over his social media post on Sabarimala issue

      National award-winning director Priyanandan has been attacked by suspected right-wing activists on Friday morning after he shared a social media post on the Sabarimala issue.

    • Cow Dung Thrown At National Award-Winning Director After Sabarimala Post

      The 53-year-old director, whose second film Pulijanma received the National Award for Best Feature Film in 2006, believes the attack came due to his recent social media post on Sabarimala where right-wing activists mounted strong protests after the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict that opened the temple to women of all ages.

    • The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story

      How could the elite media—The New York Times, let’s say—have protected themselves from this event, which has served to reinforce millions of Americans’ belief that traditional journalistic outlets are purveyors of “fake news”? They might have hewed to a concept that once went by the quaint term “journalistic ethics.” Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.

    • Police’s Athena IT system is so bobbins that criminals are getting away

      Coppers talking under the proviso of anonymity told the Beeb’s Victoria Derbyshire programme said the Athena system, which was supposed to speed up the detection of crimes, is “unfit for purpose”.

      The salty slices of bacon noted the system is overly complicated and crashed regularly, leading to some cases not being built in time to press charges or getting dropped due to not being up to scratch, essentially meaning some crimes escape justice.

      “The first two weeks it was brought in were the worst two weeks of my entire career. It’s overly bureaucratic. It doesn’t understand the police investigative process at all. From day one, it malfunctioned. Four years on, it is still malfunctioning,” said one of the chatty 50s.

    • Google Wanted to Prohibit Workers From Organizing by Email

      Two days before 20,000 Google employees temporarily walked off the job, CEO Sundar Pichai threw his support behind the protest, assuring employees that Google’s leadership backed their right to organize. But three weeks later, the company’s lawyers took a different stance, asking the US government to overturn Obama-era protections that supported employees’ right to organize using their work email.

    • Google doesn’t want employees to use work email to organize, per report

      Newly revealed filings to the National Labor Relations Board show that attorneys for Google have been lobbying the agency to undo an earlier decision that required companies to let employees organize on the company’s own email systems.

    • Google Urged the U.S. to Limit Protection For Activist Workers

      Google, whose employees have captured international attention in recent months through high-profile protests of workplace policies, has been quietly urging the U.S. government to narrow legal protection for workers organizing online.

    • The People’s Home: the United American Indian Involvement Photographic Project

      Restoring a photographic narrative from a de-colonial perspective allows for a face to face experience with images that no longer stand in the way of dignity. The United American Indian Involvement Photographic Project inaugural exhibition at the These Days Gallery gives back respect and voice to all those who came to the United American Indian Involvement (UAII) center in downtown Los Angeles for food, shelter, health and human services during a period of relocation from Native American reservations to urban cities across the United States from 1959-1979. It is a symbolic photo exhibition that rewrites People’s Home: Winston Street 1974 back into history after years of unfolding from the colonial constrain of invisibility. The visual narratives spark memory and oral traditions into conversation many questions: “What does it mean to be an American Indian living in Los Angeles today?” or “what did it mean in the 1930s when American Indians were cast as one-dimensional characters in Hollywood?” These are some of the many questions posed by curator and Professor Nancy Marie Mithlo. For undergraduate student researcher Kelsey Martin from Occidental College, one of the central themes to consider is “How do Indigenous archival protocols intersect with Western archival standards of curation?” In other words, how do move away from instrumental and categorical approaches that minimize and stereotype the American Indian experience.

    • Lawyer Steps Up To File Doomed Lawsuits On Behalf Of Catholic School Teens Called Racists On Social Media

      Over the past few days, a social media shit-storm formed over footage of Catholic private school students in MAGA hats apparently engaging in some bigoted behavior while attending an anti-abortion march at the nation’s capital. As more footage of the incident was released, the formerly crystal clear narrative of bigoted, privileged white dudes antagonizing a Native American demonstrator became a bit more muddied.

      By the time the additional footage came to light, it was too late. Decisions had already been made about the mindset of the Catholic school teens, most of which were posted to Twitter. Some journalists and celebrities were in the mix as well, including a few that went so far as to ask for the kids to be doxxed.

      What was made of the situation seemed to come down to preexisting notions of what kind of person would wear a Make America Great Again hat. Most of those notions were in agreement: a person wearing that hat is a racist. In some cases, this is probably true. It’s unknown whether the students being called racists on Twitter are actually racist, but there’s hardly enough clear evidence on hand to declare this a fact.

      Whatever you make of the situation (and the hats), there’s an article written that comes down firmly on your side. Robby Soave’s article at Reason says everyone calling these kids racist is wrong because the extended footage shows details that don’t align with the skewed narrative created by edited clips. Over at Deadspin, Laura Wagner says don’t doubt your preconceptions: the footage shows exactly what people thought it showed.

    • King’s Vision Is Still Defiant

      Mike Pence, in his attempt the other day to commandeer the spirit of Martin Luther King to shill for his boss’s agenda, unintentionally did so much more. He brought the enormity of King’s vision back into national awareness, where it shattered the Trump Wall of Fear just as resoundingly as it shattered Jim Crow America more than half a century ago.

      Let us once again embrace the infinite.

      Speaking on “Face the Nation” the day before MLK Day, the veep said: “One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do: Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen our government.”

      This obvious co-optation of MLK — this attempt to buddy up with an American icon — drew a fusillade of outrage on social and other media. Martin Luther King III, for instance, said his father was “a bridge builder, not a wall builder.”

    • Everybody in Chicago’s Mayor’s Race Says They Want Ticket Reform

      Some of the plans have already been introduced by local or state lawmakers but so far failed to gain traction. The support of a new mayor would improve their odds of passage.

      A number of candidates have proposed overhauling the city’s existing payment plan structure, which now requires motorists with significant ticket debt to make a down payment of $1,000 or more and can be difficult for poor people to manage. Some candidates have suggested a tiered payment structure according to debtors’ ability to pay or allowing community service alternatives to payment. A proposal to do something similar was introduced to the City Council in October but remains stalled in the Finance Committee.

    • When Illinois Laws Meet Real People

      We’ve had lots going on lately. As you know, last week we published our first investigation into video gambling in Illinois. We’re excited that the story, co-published with WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times, was also published in a number of newspapers across the state: The State Journal-Register in Springfield; the Journal Star in Peoria; the Rockford Register Star; and The Southern Illinoisan, to name a few.

    • Yes, “algorithms” can be biased. Here’s why

      Newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently stated that facial recognition “algorithms” (and by extension all “algorithms”) “always have these racial inequities that get translated” and that “those algorithms are still pegged to basic human assumptions. They’re just automated assumptions. And if you don’t fix the bias, then you are just automating the bias.”

      She was mocked for this claim on the grounds that “algorithms” are “driven by math” and thus can’t be biased—but she’s basically right. Let’s take a look at why.

    • Trump Administration Puts Religious Beliefs Over the Best Interests of Children

      The Department of Health and Human Services has exempted South Carolina from federal nondiscrimination requirements for child welfare programs.
      Across the United States, there are over 440,000 children in the public child welfare system. Nearly a quarter of these children are awaiting adoption with many living in group homes because no family is available to care for them. In the end, too many of these children will age out of the system without ever becoming part of a loving family. Despite these facts, the Trump administration this week made it even harder for these children to find foster and adoptive parents to love them.

      On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s request for an exception to a federal rule barring discrimination in federally funded child welfare programs. By doing so, the Trump administration has allowed government-contracted child welfare agencies in the state to turn away would-be foster and adoptive parents because they do not share the agency’s religious beliefs. It’s a terrible decision that will only hurt the children these child welfare programs were created to help while incentivizing other states to follow South Carolina’s bad example.

      The South Carolina governor’s request was prompted by an agency called Miracle Hill, which accepts only Protestant Christian families. Miracle Hill was in the news after a Jewish family filed a complaint because it was turned away by the agency because of their faith. There are no other foster care agencies in the area apart from specialized agencies that work only with families seeking to care for children with serious medical or behavioral needs. Thus, for most prospective foster and adoptive families who aren’t Protestant, getting licensed through a supportive private state-contracted agency is not an option. This barrier denies children countless families just because their prospective foster or adoptive parents might be Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, or nonbelievers.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • A Nesting Doll Of Stupidity: Rudy Giuliani’s Twitter Typo Leads To Bogus Trademark Threat Letter

        Another day, another crazy trademark story. As you may recall, back in December we wrote about how President Trump’s personal lawyer, and former NYC mayor, Rudy Giuliani — who considers himself a cybersecurity expert — made an utter fool of himself. It started with him making a typo in a tweet, in which he left out a space after the period ending a sentence. The second sentence started with “In” but after a period it became “.in” which is the TLD for India. Someone then registered that domain and pointed it to a site critical of Trump. Rather than recognize he made a typo, Giuliani ridiculously tweeted that Twitter had “allowed someone to invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message.” Except that didn’t happen. Incredibly, months later, Giuliani’s nonsense tweet is still up.


        Someone astutely registered collusion.so and pointed it to Lawfare’s coverage of connections between Trump and Russia. It was all a good fun internet joke thing.

        So what could this possibly have to do with crazy trademark claims? Well… clothing brand Asos apparently launched a clothing line called “Collusion” around the same time as Giuliani’s original tweet, and its brain-dead clueless lawyers decided that the registration of collusion.so was clearly infringement, and sent a very silly cease and desist letter.

      • Forfeiture of a trade mark as part a criminal conviction: a Nigerian perspective

        Can trade marks be subject to forfeiture orders? A recent case in the US gives the opportunity to Katfriend Chijioke Okorie (Penguide) to reflect on this issue from the perspective of Nigerian law.

        Here’s what Chijioke writes:

        “A few days ago, news spread that a jury in California convicted a popular motorcycle club – Mongols – of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy for the crimes of murder, attempted murder and drug dealing committed by individual members of the Mongols in the course of several years.

        The jury also found that the club’s trade mark and various items bearing the sign (e.g. vests, clothing and the like) as well as documents such as the Mongols’ constitution were to be forfeited to the US Government under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act). Under the RICO Act, ‘property’ that may be subject to criminal forfeiture includes: “real property, including things growing on, affixed to, and found in land; and tangible and intangible personal property, including rights, privileges, interests, claims, and securities”.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Threatens To Shut Down Google News In Europe Over Article 11 As Publishers Whine About ‘Publicity Stunt’

        It truly is bizarre that the publishers keep pushing this same bad solution and somehow magically expecting better results. Once again, the publishers are absolutely free to make use of robots.txt and remove themselves from Google’s search results if they don’t feel it’s providing value in the traffic. But they don’t do that. Indeed, I’d bet that nearly all of these big publishers that are pushing for Article 11 hire “search engine optimizers” to help them get more traffic from Google. What they’re now demanding is not only that Google give them more traffic… but that Google also pay them… to send them traffic. This is entirely nonsensical.

        But it might soon become the law in the EU and Google would be smart to shut down Google News entirely, rather than give in to what is little more than an attempt at bureaucratic extortion, pushing a successful company to pay out money to old media giants who sat around and refused to adapt to the internet.

      • One More Week To Enter Our 1923 Public Domain Game Jam

        We’re down to crunch time. As announced on January 1st, we’re co-hosting a fun public domain game jam to celebrate the fact that works from 1923 are finally in the public domain, after years and years of lobbying efforts by the legacy copyright industries kept pushing out and blocking the release of cultural works into the public. When the works from 1923 were first published, they all expected to be in the public domain by 1979 at the latest. But intense anti-public lobbying by Hollywood and other copyright holders have held that off for decades, doing significant harm to culture and our access to culture. I still believe that these copyright term extensions were unconstitutional, but tragically the Supreme Court disagreed.

      • Easynomics: When copyright meant right to copy

        The cartoon character Mickey Mouse debuted in 1928. For the past 90 years, it has been a must watch for multiple generations of kids and continues to be so.

        It has been a little over nine decades since Mickey Mouse debuted, but it is still copyrighted by the Walt Disney Company. As Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn write in The Myth of Capitalism—Monopolies and the Death of Competition: “Even though Mickey Mouse is now almost 90 years old and should have long ago entered the public domain, every time Mickey’s copyright is about to expire, Disney spends millions lobbying Congress for extensions… The latest judgement occurred in 1998, when Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act, which increased ownership from 75 years to 95 years.”

      • Google Takes Java Fight to the US Supreme Court

        Google announced today that it has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the long-running legal battle over its use of Java in Android.

      • Google: Oracle Java win will kill software development, so Supreme Court must rule

        Google is asking the Supreme Court to make a decision on two overruled decisions in Google’s favor that APIs are not copyrightable and that Google’s use of Java APIs is “fair use”.

        In a blogpost, Google’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker, compares copyrighting APIs to “saying that keyboard shortcuts can work with only one type of computer”.

        “We built Android following the computer industry’s long-accepted practice of reusing software interfaces, which provide sets of commands that make it easy to implement common functionality – in the same way that computer keyboard shortcuts like pressing ‘control’ and ‘p’ make it easy to print,” writes Walker.

        “Android created a transformative new platform, while letting millions of Java programmers use their existing skills to create new applications. And the creators of Java backed the release of Android, saying that it had ‘strapped another set of rockets to the [Java] community’s momentum’.”

        Oracle of course acquired Java’s then owner, Sun Microsystems, in 2009 saying Java was the most important software Oracle had ever acquired. Just over a year later it sued Google over its use of Java in Android.

      • Google vs Oracle is back with an appeal for clarification from the Supreme Court

        THE ON-RUNNING saga of Oracle and Google has taken its latest, inevitable twist.

        Google has written to the Supreme Court (great bunch of guys, no sex offenders) asking it to rule under what circumstances that code can be copyrighted. It first mooted such a move last summer.

        The two companies have been locked in a bitter war of nerves over the issue, after Oracle sued Google for using the APIs of its open source Java code as part of the Android operating system.

        Oracle argues that the APIs are copyright, rather than open source, and that Google broke the law. In the last appeal, judges ruled in favour of the mercenary database company, but after a short ceasefire, Google is playing its next card.

      • Google Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Crazy Ruling About Copyright In APIs

        However, when you get a bunch of technically illiterate judges together, and show them snippets of an API, which makes no sense to them, they assume it’s the same thing as software code — which clearly is covered by copyright. On the second trip through the courts, the Federal Circuit messed things up again, insisting that Google’s reuse of certain Java APIs could not be fair use.

        Google is asking the Supreme Court to hear this issue and overturn the Federal Circuit — something that the Supreme Court has done with some regularity over the past dozen years or so (though, mainly on patent issues, where the Supreme Court has been quite good, and not on copyright issues, where the Supreme Court has been mostly bad). While Google’s cert petition officially clocks in at 343 pages, much of that is just the appendices, which include the various lower court rulings.

      • Google Considering Pulling News Service From Europe

        The European Union’s Copyright Directive will give publishers the right to demand money from the Alphabet Inc. unit, Facebook Inc. and other web platforms when fragments of their articles show up in news search results, or are shared by users. The law was supposed to be finalized this week but was delayed by disagreement among member states.

        Google News might quit the continent in response to the directive, said Jennifer Bernal, Google’s public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The internet company has various options, and a decision to pull out would be based on a close reading of the rules and taken reluctantly, she said.

      • Game Developer Uses DMCA Notice to ‘Free’ Its Game from Steam Publisher

        Indie game developer Ammobox Studios has sent Steam a DMCA takedown notice for its own game. The company says that it was forced to take such a drastic measure after the publisher stopped making payments. While it’s an unusual step to take, the takedown notice achieved the desired result.

      • Sweden’s Supreme Court Slashes Damages Against Pirate Site Operators

        Sweden’s Supreme Court has dramatically cut the level of damages previously handed down to the former operators of streaming site Dreamfilm. To the disappointment of rightsholders, compensation of around US$443,400 has now been slashed to just US$44,340.

      • Record Labels and Rightscorp Destroyed Vital Piracy Evidence, ISP Says

        Texas-based Internet provider Grande Communications has accused several record labels and anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp of destroying evidence. The labels sued the ISP for failing to terminate accounts of repeat infringers. However, Grande says that nearly all information about the underlying copyright infringement notices was deleted.

January Closes as Another Month (Among Many Months) of No Turnarounds on Software Patents

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 12:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Drink to that!

Three beers

Summary: Positive outlook for the year as nothing is really changing in favour of the patent microcosm that’s preying on companies in the United States

AT the dawn of the new year (and end of last year) we said we would focus on the European Patent Office (EPO) and no longer focus on USPTO matters unless or until there’s a threat of software patents rebound. A month later there’s no change at all. 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains in tact albeit Iancu hopes to water it down [1, 2], SCOTUS issues decisions on totally unrelated questions (one more a week ago), a former Federal Circuit chief judge expresses only a desire for a rebound in 2019 (wishful thinking over at Watchtroll), and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) continue unabated. Patent maximalists just cherry-pick exceptional cases where PTAB overturns examiners’ decisions to reject (those are still very few, less than a handful per week). That being the case, we’ll continue to observe developments and outcomes of cases in US patent courts. But we probably won’t cover them here. Hopefully we’ll never need to because assuming nothing changes (for the worse), we can focus on other topics.

Always Remember That Red Hat Also Considered Microsoft as a Buyer

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 4:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Hat pukeBig proprietary software vendors ruin and take over what’s left of Free/libre software (anything that respects freedom, not just surveillance and digital coercion)

Summary: Red Hat’s decision to sell itself to IBM really stinks; the only upside is, the buyer could be worse because Red Hat had hired many managers from Microsoft, its sites are sometimes composed by Microsoft staff and Red Hat routinely promotes .NET (the hallmarks of Microsoft entryism)

THE largest GNU/Linux vendor is about to be sold and passed over to the largest booster of software patents. Red Hat being Red Hat (a key contributor), it it getting a blank cheque on this just because it wasn’t Oracle or Amazon or Microsoft that bought Red Hat (and Red Hat reportedly reached out to Microsoft for a bidding opportunity before closing the deal with IBM). Red Hat cannot ignore IBM’s terrible record on patent policy and bullying. Is Microsoft interested in Canonical? Microsoft already announced losses several times in the recent past due to largely failed (unprofitable) acquisitions. We don’t mean to bash Red Hat over things like systemd because quite frankly many people do so already, but how can Red Hat carry on pretending that IBM isn’t an inherently incompatible suitor from a legal perspective? As recently as days ago a patent maximalist at Law 360 revealed that IBM is still shaking down small online retailers using software patents and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) refuses to get involved after an inter partes review (IPR). Some readers of ours go further* and allege that IBM sabotaged Red Hat just to buy it ‘on the cheap’.

“We are planning to watch Red Hat (or the Red Hat ‘division’ of IBM) a lot more closely in months and years to come.”Earlier this month we showed that IBM was pushing for software patents in the European Patent Office (EPO), not just at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) where it has lobbied hard against 35 U.S.C. § 101, in effect working to undermine SCOTUS (Alice). We wrote about a dozen articles about this one issue alone (IBM’s lobbying that actively harms Free software).

We are planning to watch Red Hat (or the Red Hat ‘division’ of IBM) a lot more closely in months and years to come.
* We have been getting messages to that effect, e.g. the one below.

I came across your articles on website techrights.org recently and wanted to add some details to IBM’s activity in the industry.

The New Yorker broke Red Hat’s Linux founder Linus Torvald’s privacy in September 2018, and was the first publication to publish excerpts from his personal business emails: https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/after-years-of-abusive-e-mails-the-creator-of-linux-steps-aside This led to Torvald’s public apology and withdrawal from Linux’s leadership, sending the RHT stock price on a chaotic path. https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/rht

The New Yorker is owned by Conde Nast Publications (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_Publications).

Conde Nast has partnered with IBM and their Watson technology since 2016 https://www.adweek.com/digital/cond-nast-has-started-using-ibms-watson-find-influencers-brands-173243/ ; https://landt.co/2016/09/conde-nast-ibm-watson-unearths-brand-influencers/

The New Yorker could have been acting on behalf of their partner, IBM, to send RHT into crisis PR mode. The New Yorker’s expose could have been deliberate: to drive down stock price in favor of a cheaper IBM takeover.

I thought this may be of interest to you and the staff at techrights.

To which my reply was:

The main issue I have with this assertion is that it was the Torvalds/CoC debacle that caused Red Hat’s decline, which I tracked closely (every day I posted financial news picks about them).

The followup:

Right, The New Yorker was the first to publish Torvalds’ private business emails, and attacked Torvalds in September 2018 causing Red Hat’s decline (https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/after-years-of-abusive-e-mails-the-creator-of-linux-steps-aside). The New Yorker has been in a partnership with IBM over its Watson software since 2016. It seems to me The New Yorker was financially motivated (by its relationship with IBM) to cause Torvalds’ downfall.

And finally:

With respect:

1. Torvalds isn’t close to Red Hat
2. Red Hat’s financial issues predate the above

I’ve asked around fellow techrights folks and they too think it’s improbable IBM played the major role; Microsoft or Intel would be more incentivised to throw a fit.

British Courts Once Again Reject Bogus European Patents Granted on Software

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 3:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trivial patents, too

Sony Communications International AB v SSH Communications Security Corporation

Background to case (Source): Sony Communications International AB v SSH Communications Security Corporation

Summary: The liability caused by erroneous patent grants, requiring years in courts (motions and appeals) just to undo and revoke; it’s a warning sign to all those who ignore the nonchalance of António Campinos and his new deputy (denying the decline in patent quality like oil companies deny climate science)

POSTED some hours ago in Kluwer Patent Blog (almost no articles there lately; just a catalogue of cases with self-promotional links, Sara Moran helping Kluwer make ‘sales’ in this case) was this recent case/outcome. It’s related to what we wrote yesterday about declining quality of patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and what we wrote the day before yesterday about the UK High Court rejecting European Patent No. 2073862. Here’s the summary of what happened:

The Court of Appeal upheld the first instance decision that the patent in suit lacked novelty and inventive step over the prior art. The Court confirmed, following Halliburton v Smith, that despite the fact the parties had reached a confidential settlement and Sony was not involved in the appeal, it was necessary to hear the appeal on its merits as it would not be right to restore a patent which had been held invalid by the court below unless that decision had been shown to be wrong.

“We are saddened to see that António Campinos is — much as we’ve expected all along — another Battistelli, only with reduced insider backlash because staff representatives have been gagged (not just SUEPO but also the CSC).”We’ve seen situations like these before in the United States. The Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants dubious patents which are used for extortion without trial and later on, some time down the line (usually years), the extortionist turns out to have used a bogus patent (or patents) to accumulate great wealth (sometimes as much as hundreds of millions of dollars); the money never get refunded to the extorted parties (sometimes as many as thousands of them). One such example is the patent troll Erich Spangenberg, whom EPO management invited to speak at its event that promotes software patents in Europe. We are saddened to see that António Campinos is — much as we’ve expected all along — another Battistelli, only with reduced insider backlash because staff representatives have been gagged (not just SUEPO but also the CSC). With decreased work security it seems like nobody has the courage to step up and protest anymore.

From Attacking to Stealing

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 2:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO a decade ago (when he said that)

Summary: With GNU running under Windows (WSL) and other EEE-esque tactics we must remain vigilant and well aware of the grand scheme of things; Microsoft is still all about licensing its proprietary software and using it to spy

WITH various factors like the demise of software patents (e.g. 35 U.S.C. § 101 at the USPTO and US courts) and the OIN situation, not to mention IBM’s takeover of Red Hat (IBM strongly opposes § 101 — a position it reaffirmed 3 days ago at Watchtroll), we must consider the growing threat that is proprietary software companies simply devouring Free software. Under the guise of ‘cloud’ they lock down the code and with purchases like that of GitHub they look to assert more control over it and spy on private code (repositories that will be accessible to the NSA over PRISM). In yesterday’s daily links we included over half a dozen articles about Microsoft’s purchase of Citus (it’s still in the news [1, 2]). A decade or so ago we realigned to focus not only on Novell but also Microsoft entryism at large. Things have changed since then because several more large companies (e.g. Amazon) emerged as threats to the freedom of Free software, so we’d rather not return to a focus on Microsoft. In case it’s not obvious, Microsoft is currently just trying to control (or ‘become’) the competition; this assimilation strategy isn’t new and we resisted it even more than a decade ago when the likes of Sam Ramji were assigned the responsibilities. A reader of ours has been researching the prospect/likelihood Microsoft might take over — or at least try to take over — Canonical. We might revisit that in the future. At the moment it looks as though Microsoft, boosted by the GitHub takeover, infiltrated Python (its board/foundation). They basically bought staff in key positions.

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