Links 17/7/2019: VirtualBox 6.0.10 and Mageia 7.1 Releases, Mint Betas

Posted in News Roundup at 11:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • Data as the new oil: The danger behind the mantra

        Not a week goes by that I don’t hear a tech pundit, analyst, or CIO say “data is the new oil.” This overused mantra suggests that data is a commodity that can become extremely valuable once refined. Many technologists have used that phrase with little knowledge of where it originated – I know I wasn’t aware of its origin.

        It turns out the phrase is attributed to Clive Humby, a British mathematician who helped create British retailer Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty program. Humby quipped, “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc., to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.”

      • How to explain deep learning in plain English

        Understanding artificial intelligence sometimes isn’t a matter of technology so much as terminology. There’s plenty of it under the big AI umbrella – such as machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and more.

        Compounding this issue, some AI terms overlap. Being able to define key concepts clearly – and subsequently understand the relationships and differences between them – is foundational to your crafting a solid AI strategy. Plus, if the IT leaders in your organization can’t articulate terms like deep learning, how can they be expected to explain it (and other concepts) to the rest of the company?

      • How to make the case for service mesh: 5 benefits

        Service mesh is a trending technology, but that alone does not mean every organization needs it. As always, adopting a technology should be driven by the goals it helps you attain or, put another way, the problems it helps you solve.

        It’s certainly worth understanding what a service mesh does – in part so you can explain it to other people. Whether or not you actually need one really depends upon your applications and environments.

      • IBM

        • Using KubeFed to Deploy Applications to OCP3 and OCP4 Clusters
        • IBM Announces Three New Open Source Projects for Developing Apps for Kubernetes and the Data Asset eXchange (DAX), the Linux Foundation Is Having a Sysadmin Day Sale, London Launches Open-Source Homebuilding App and Clonezilla Live 2.6.2-15 Released

          IBM this morning announces three new open-source projects that “make it faster and easier for you to develop and deploy applications for Kubernetes”. Kabanero “integrates the runtimes and frameworks that you already know and use (Node.js, Java, Swift) with a Kubernetes-native DevOps toolchain”. Appsody “gives you pre-configured stacks and templates for a growing set of popular open source runtimes and frameworks, providing a foundation on which to build applications for Kubernetes and Knative deployments”. And Codewind “provides extensions to popular integrated development environments (IDEs) like VS Code, Eclipse, and Eclipse Che (with more planned), so you can use the workflow and IDE you already know to build applications in containers.”

          IBM also today announces the Data Asset eXchange (DAX), which is “an online hub for developers and data scientists to find carefully curated free and open datasets under open data licenses”. The press release notes that whenever possible, “datasets posted on DAX will use the Linux Foundation’s Community Data License Agreement (CDLA) open data licensing framework to enable data sharing and collaboration. Furthermore, DAX provides unique access to various IBM and IBM Research datasets. IBM plans to publish new datasets on the Data Asset eXchange regularly. The datasets on DAX will integrate with IBM Cloud and AI services as appropriate.”

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Call for submissions — linux.conf.au 2020

        The linux.conf.au 2020 organising team has issued an invitation to IT professionals for proposals for talks and miniconfs at the next conference, which will take place on the Gold Coast, 13–17 January 2020.

        Held regularly since 1999, linux.conf.au is the largest Linux and open source conference in the Asia–Pacific region. The conference provides deeply technical presentations from industry leaders and experts on a wide array of subjects relating to open source projects, data and open government and community engagement.

      • Intel Is Still Working On Upstreaming SGX Enclave Support To Linux – Now At 21 Revisions

        Intel Software Guard Extensions “SGX” have been around since Skylake for allowing hardware-protected (via encryption) memory regions known as “enclaves” that prevent processes outside of the enclave from accessing these memory regions. While supported CPUs have been out for years, the Intel SGX support has yet to make it into the mainline kernel and this week marks the twenty-first revision to these patches.

        The twenty-eight patches implementing the Intel SGX foundations support for the Linux kernel and Intel Memory Encryption Engine support were revised with various fixes. Even if the review of this twenty-first revision to these patches go spectacular, due to the timing this SGX support won’t land until at least the Linux 5.4 kernel with being too late for Linux 5.3.

    • Benchmarks

      • Firefox 69 Beta On Linux Bringing Better Performance

        With the recent release of Mozilla Firefox 68 there are some nice WebRender performance improvements that Linux users can enjoy. But with Firefox 69 now in beta there is even better performance, including when enabling WebRender on Linux.

        Given the recent Firefox 68.0 release and Firefox 69.0 being promoted to beta, I ran some fresh browser benchmarks for checking out the current state of Mozilla’s Linux performance from the Ubuntu desktop. The official Mozilla Firefox binaries for Linux x86_64 67.0.4, 68.0, and 69.0b3 were tested on the same system in a variety of browser benchmarks.

    • Applications

      • Top 15 Best Forum Software For Linux in 2019

        The online forum has been a popular and helpful platform for different kinds of professionals and bloggers. Based on the posted topic, people do discuss and provide their opinions. It works as a great place to get a clear idea of any item you prefer in the specific community. Like the other platforms, Linux also has many useful forum applications. Today, we are going to show you a comprehensive list of the best forum software for Linux users.

      • Changelog for VirtualBox 6.0

        VirtualBox 6.0.10 (released July 16 2019)

      • VirtualBox 6.0.10 Released with UEFI Secure Boot Support

        Oracle Virtualbox 6.0.10 was released today with many improvements and fixes to Linux hosts and guests.

      • VirtualBox 6.0.10 Adds UEFI Secure Boot Driver Signing On Ubuntu And Debian 10+ Hosts

        VirtualBox 6.0.10 was released today, and while this is a maintenance release, with mostly bug fixes, it does come with an important addition: support for UEFI secure boot driver signing on Ubuntu and Debian 10+ hosts.

        VirtualBox is a x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization software that runs on Windows, Linux, macOS and Solaris, and supports a large number of guest operating systems, including Windows Linux, Solaris, OpenSolaris, OS/2 and OpenBSD.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

    • Distributions

      • Kali NetHunter App Store – Public Beta

        Kali NetHunter has been undergoing a ton of changes of late. Now supporting over 50 devices and running on Android devices from KitKat (v4.4) to Pie (v9.0), its amazing the extra capabilities that have been introduced.

        But, we don’t want to stop there. After a ton of work, we are really excited to introduce the Kali NetHunter App Store!

      • New Releases

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

        • Mageia 7.1, Mageia 7 with Ryzen 3000 hardware support

          The timing for Mageia 7, just prior to the recent release of the new AMD Ryzen 3000 series of CPU’s, didn’t play nicely. Namely, there was an issue with the system starting up on these new CPU’s that prevented any type of installation, except for a net install. So, the only solution was to release a new set of installation media, which are available to download here.

          It’s very important to note that if you have a working system, there is nothing that you need to address. This release is primarily to fix installation on systems with the above CPU’s.

        • Mageia 7.1 Released With Systemd Fix For AMD Ryzen 3000 Systems
      • Fedora Family

        • Network Security Toolkit 30-11210

          We are pleased to announce the latest NST release: “NST 30 SVN:11210″. This release is based on Fedora 30 using Linux Kernel: “kernel-5.1.17-300.fc30.x86_64″. This release brings the NST distribution on par with Fedora 30.

      • Debian Family

        • Proxmox VE 6.0 released!

          We’re excited to announce the final release of our Proxmox VE 6.0! It’s based on the great Debian 10 codename “Buster” and the latest 5.0 Linux kernel, QEMU 4.0, LXC 3.1.0, ZFS 0.8.1, Ceph 14.2, Corosync 3.0, and more.

          This major release includes the latest Ceph Nautilus feautures and an improved Ceph management dashboard. We have updated the cluster communication stack to Corosync 3 using Kronosnet, and have a new selection widget for the network making it simple to select the correct link address in the cluster creation wizard.

          With ZFS 0.8.1 we have included TRIM support for SSDs and also support for native encryption with comfortable key-handling.

        • Univention Corporate Server 4.4-1/Point Release UCS 4.4-1: performance improvements, app recommendations and UDM REST API Beta

          There are significant performance improvements for managing the contents of the directory service via UDM, especially for application scenarios with complex structures. There have also been further minor improvements in DNS management, where the search for IP addresses is now enabled in further modules, as well as in the use of standard containers of domain controller objects.

          A brand new feature is the REST API for UDM, which considerably facilitates the integration of UDM with other applications. This REST API has been released as beta version for the time being. After further tests and improvements we plan to release a stable version in autumn.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 19.2 Beta Released, Available to Download Now

          The beta pops out ahead of the final Linux Mint 19.2 stable release, which is expected sometime next month. Users who install this beta will be upgrade to the final stable release when it arrives.

          Overall, Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” is shaping up to be a modest, but mature upgrade. It touts a crop of performance improvements and interface refinements, and brings enhancements to a number of core apps and utilities.

          When stable, Linux Mint 19.2 will become the 30th named version of Linux Mint, and the second point release in the 19.x series based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver.

          Linux Mint 19.2 will, upon release, receive critical updates and fixes from release until 2023.

        • Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” Cinnamon – BETA Release

          Linux Mint 19.2 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

        • Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” Available In Beta Form
        • Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” MATE – BETA Release

          This is the BETA release for Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” MATE Edition.

        • Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” Xfce – BETA Release

          This is the BETA release for Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” Xfce Edition.

        • Ubuntu 19.10 Will Offer a Flicker Free Boot (For Some Users, Anyway)

          A short, but welcome, update: Ubuntu 19.10 will offer a flicker free boot experience for some users!

          Red Hat’s crop of competent engineers are (as always) to credit for effort that Ubuntu 19.10 ‘Eoan Ermine’ takes full advantage of.

          Now, Ubuntu’s boot experience as-is isn’t exactly terrible, but there’s a visible bit of blinking during the process.

          As an AMD user I’m used to my laptop display “flickering” off and back on a few times during boot, signalling the transition from boot loader to loading screen to login screen — alas, something this effort can’t address.

          But users of Ubuntu 19.10 with modern Intel graphics cards and an UEFI setup should benefit from a truly seamless flickr-free boot experience, thanks to a new Plymouth snapshot added to the Eoan archives.

        • Ubuntu 19.10 To Ship With Flicker-Free Boot Support

          Thanks to the upstream work achieved by Red Hat engineers working on Fedora the past few cycles, Ubuntu 19.10 should have a flicker-free boot experience.

          Ubuntu 19.10 is in the process of picking up packages for the flicker-free boot experience that was led by Red Hat engineers like Hans de Goede for delivering a very polished boot experience particularly when booting in UEFI mode and also with supported graphics driver configurations, which for now is best with the Intel DRM code.

        • Our Diamond Sponsor – Ubuntu!

          Our Diamond Sponsor of this event is Ubuntu, an open source software operating system that runs from the desktop, to the cloud, to all your internet connected things.

          Linux was already established in 2004, but it was fragmented into proprietary and unsupported community editions, and free software was not a part of everyday life for most computer users. That’s when Mark Shuttleworth gathered a small team of Debian developers who together founded Canonical and set out to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop called Ubuntu.

        • Ubucon Europe 2019: Call for Sponsors

          This event can only be possible thanks to our sponsors. Your investment helps us create a greater experience for the open source community, while you still benefit from a considerable amount of exposure.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Seven Concerns Open Source Should Worry About – Part 1

        Not long ago, the Linux community celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Linus Torvalds’ famous Internet post, and thus its birth. While Linux was not the first open source project (Richard Stallman announced his GNU Project eight years before), it soon became the poster child of a new way of collaborative development that changed not only how technology is created, but many other aspects of the world as well. Today, most critical software platforms and architectures are open source, and virtually all proprietary software is riddled with free and open source software (FOSS) as well.

        So, what could go wrong? Well, a lot, actually, unless we pause to think about where the potholes may emerge in the future, and how we can successfully navigate our way around them. That’s what I plan to do in a series of articles to which this is the introduction.

        Happily, all the potential concerns I will address can be addressed. That’s the good news. The bad news is that neither the commercial world nor the community of developers has a very good history of thinking about some types of risks that might be expensive, inconvenient, or just plain boring to manage or fix.

        Take security. That’s hardly a risk that’s unique to FOSS. But it is a concern that’s been around for a very long time. So long that we have a pretty compelling record of how both human and commercial nature act in response to security risks. Or, more to the point, don’t act. It would be impossible to find a single new wave of technology – and there have been very many – where security was not addressed as an after thought rather than designed in from the start. Almost always after multiple disasters had already occurred.

        The latest example is the Internet of Things. The IoT has been building out for going on a decade now, and none of the initial devices had any security features at all. Most of the latest devices still don’t. Some even have designed-in vulnerabilities, like factory programmed, unchangeable passwords.

        Other risks arise from a different type of complacency – assuming that because FOSS is “good” that it’s not possible to do anything “bad” when it’s created. That’s a dangerous attitude to have when you consider that there are increasing numbers of projects that are heavily funded by multiple head to head competitors. FOSS projects need concise antitrust policies – and then they need to follow them. Codes of Conduct, too.

        Other aspects of complacency relate to how effective FOSS licenses (as compared to what might be referred to as social pressures) are in a legal sense. Another is unquestioned assumption that the world will always be better with a single, dominant code base. Sometimes, competition between multiple architectures and platforms is a good thing. And while everybody wants to contribute to a rapidly expanding project that’s taking over the world, not everyone wants to do the boring maintenance work after its finished and becomes stable. If too many developers lose interest and drift away, still-crucial elements of the technology ecosystem can become dangerously vulnerable, stagnant and weak.

      • Web Browsers

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • GSOC19 Ahmed ElShreif: Week 7 Report

          Then I spend more time reading some UI tests written with Python framework and try to figure out what missing of the UI elements and I disccuss adding logs for new events with my mentors.

      • Programming/Development

        • Return the number which is larger than the sum of the remaining numbers in a list with Python

          Given a list of numbers, return a new list consists of the number which is larger than the sum of the remaining numbers in a list or larger than absolute zero. For example, this list [2, 5, 2, 1] will convert to [5, 2, 1] because 5 is greater than 2+1, 2 is greater than 1 and 1 is greater than absolute zero. Another example. [2, 3, -3] will convert to [2, 3] because 2 is greater than 3+(-3) and 3 is greater than -3 but -3 is lesser than 0 which means -3 will not get included into the new list.

        • Jussi Pakkanen: A personal story about 10× development

          During the last few days there has been an ongoing Twitter storm about 10× developers. And like all the ones before it (and all the future ones that will inevitably happen) the debate immediately devolved into name calling and all the other things you’d except from Twitter fights. This blog post is not about that. Instead it is about a personal experience about productivity that I had to experience closer than I would have liked.

          Some years ago I was working for company X on product Y. All in all it was quite a nice experience. We had a small team working on a code base that was pretty good. It had nice tests, not too many bugs, and when issues did arise they were usually easy to fix. Eventually the project was deemed good enough and we were transferred to work on different projects.

          I have no idea what our “industry standard performance multiplier” was when we worked on that project, but for the sake of argument let’s call it 1×.

          The project I got transferred to was the thing of nightmares. It was a C++ project and all the bad things that have ever been said about C++ were true about that code base. There was not much code but it was utterly incomprehensible. There were massively deep inheritance hierarchies, , compilation speed was measured in minutes for even the most trivial changes, and so on. It was managed by an architecture astronaut that, as one is wont to do, rewrote existing mature libraries as header only template libraries that were buggy and untested (one could even say untestable).

        • 101 Machine Learning Algorithms for Data Science with Cheat Sheets

          Think of this as the one-stop-shop/dictionary/directory for your machine learning algorithms. The algorithms have been sorted into 9 groups: Anomaly Detection, Association Rule Learning, Classification, Clustering, Dimensional Reduction, Ensemble, Neural Networks, Regression, Regularization. In this post, you’ll find 101 machine learning algorithms, including useful infographics to help you know when to use each one (if available).

        • Python for NLP: Developing an Automatic Text Filler using N-Grams

          This is the 15th article in my series of articles on Python for NLP. In my previous article, I explained how to implement TF-IDF approach from scratch in Python. Before that we studied, how to implement bag of words approach from scratch in Python.

          Today, we will study the N-Grams approach and will see how the N-Grams approach can be used to create a simple automatic text filler or suggestion engine. Automatic text filler is a very useful application and is widely used by Google and different smartphones where a user enters some text and the remaining text is automatically populated or suggested by the application.

        • How to Write Pythonic Loops

          One of the easiest ways to spot a developer who has a background in C-style languages and only recently picked up Python is to look at how they loop through a list. In this course, you’ll learn how to take a C-style (Java, PHP, C, C++) loop and turn it into the sort of loop a Python developer would write.

          You can use these techniques to refactor your existing Python for loops and while loops in order to make them easier to read and more maintainable. You’ll learn how to use Python’s range(), xrange(), and enumerate() built-ins to refactor your loops and how to avoid having to keep track of loop indexes manually.

        • Tutorial: Advanced For Loops in Python

          In a previous tutorial, we covered the basics of Python for loops, looking at how to iterate through lists and lists of lists. But there’s a lot more to for loops than looping through lists, and in real-world data science work, you may want to use for loops with other data structures, including numpy arrays and pandas DataFrames.

          This tutorial begins with how to use for loops to iterate through common Python data structures other than lists (like tuples and dictionaries). Then we’ll dig into using for loops in tandem with common Python data science libraries like numpy, pandas, and matplotlib. We’ll also take a closer look at the range() function and how it’s useful when writing for loops.

        • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #377 (July 16, 2019)
  • Leftovers

    • Hardware

      • ASUS Chromebook C523

        Today we are looking at the ASUS Chromebook C523 (C523NA-DH02). It is a strong, modern smart-looking Chromebook for a great price with a big screen.

        It comes with a fanless Dual-Core Intel Celeron N3350 CPU, a 15.6 inch, 1366×768, HD NanoEdge display, and non-touch screen. It has 4gb of RAM and a 32GB eMMC SSD.

        It has Android Apps (Google Play) and Linux Apps (crostini) support and it will receive auto-updates until November 2023.

        It weighs 3.1 lbs and its dimensions are 14.1 x 9.9 x 0.6 in inches. The battery has 2 cells, 38Whr Lithium-ion battery, and 10 hours of battery life.

    • Security

      • Security updates for Tuesday

        Security updates have been issued by Fedora (expat and radare2), Oracle (thunderbird), Red Hat (389-ds-base, keepalived, libssh2, perl, and vim), Scientific Linux (thunderbird), SUSE (bzip2, kernel, podofo, systemd, webkit2gtk3, and xrdp), and Ubuntu (bash, nss, redis, squid, squid3, and Zipios).

      • Explainer: What is post-quantum cryptography?

        Few of us give much thought to the tiny padlock symbol that appears in our web browsers every time we use an e-commerce site, send and receive emails, or check our bank or credit card accounts. But it’s a signal that the online services are using HTTPS, a web protocol that encrypts the data we send across the internet and the responses we receive. This and other forms of encryption protect all kinds of electronic communications, as well as things like passwords, digital signatures, and health records.

      • Monitoring Linux Logs with Kibana and Rsyslog

        f you are a system administrator, or even a curious application developer, there is a high chance that you are regularly digging into your logs to find precious information in them.

        Sometimes you may want to monitor SSH intrusions on your VMs.

        Sometimes, you might want to see what errors were raised by your application server on a certain day, on a very specific hour. Or you may want to have some insights about who stopped your systemd service on one of your VMs.

        If you pictured yourself in one of those points, you are probably on the right tutorial.

        In this tutorial, we are to build a complete log monitoring pipeline using the ELK stack (ElasticSearch, Logstash and Kibana) and Rsyslog as a powerful syslog server.

        Before going any further, and jumping into technical considerations right away, let’s have a talk about why do we want to monitor Linux logs with Kibana.

      • Critical Vulnerability Found In Ad Inserter WordPress Plugin [Ed: Well, ads are malicious, many are literally malware, so people who put this crap in their site ask for if not deserve the worst.]

        On July 12, Wordfence team(Another popular security plugin for WordPress), discovered a vulnerability called RCE — Remote Code Execution in Ad inserter. This vulnerability can allow an attacker to run any arbitrary PHP code on the site.

        The vulnerability was found in Ad preview module of the plugin where you can preview the ads position, size, etc. before publishing it. This action can only be executed by the WordPress administrators and to ensure this, the plugin writer used WordPress function ‘check_admin_referer()‘ which ensures that the action is being performed by the administrator.

        Wordfence threat intelligence team who discovered this vulnerability said the ‘check_admin_referer()‘ function is not enough protection. check_admin_referer() is designed to protect against CSRF (Cross-site request forgery) and the way it ensures this is by checking if nonce (a one-time token) exists in the request.

      • Wanna work on Debian LTS (and get funded)?

        If you are in Curitiba and are interested to work on Debian LTS (and get paid for that work), please come and talk to me, Debian LTS is still looking for more contributors!

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Chelsea Manning’s Daily Fines For Grand Jury Resistance Increase To $1000

        Daily fines against Chelsea Manning for resisting a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks increased to $1000 on July 16.

        On May 16, Judge Anthony Trenga held Manning in civil contempt and ordered her to be sent back to the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria. The court also imposed a fine of $500 per day after 30 days, and then a fine of $1000 per day after 60 days.

        From June 16 to July 15, the court fined her $500/day. Those fines total $15,000.

        If Manning “persists in her refusal” for the next 15 months or until the grand jury’s term ends, her legal team says she will face a total amount of fines that is over $440,000. This excessive amount may violate her Eighth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

        In May, Manning’s attorneys filed a motion challenging the harshness of the fines. The federal court has yet to rule on the motion or hold a hearing.

        The motion asserted there is no “appropriate coercive sanction” because Manning will never testify. She should be released from jail and relieved of all fines.

        “Ms. Manning has publicly articulated the moral basis for her refusal to comply with the grand jury subpoena, in statements to the press, in open court, and most recently, in a letter addressed to this court,” her attorneys stated. “She is suffering physically and psychologically, and is at the time of this writing in the process of losing her home as a result of her present confinement.”

        “The government, and maybe the general public, think that I have access to resources just because I am a public figure but that’s just not true,” Manning previously declared. “Making money has never been my priority.”

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • ‘We Can’t Sit on the Sidelines and Be Climate Deniers,’ Dominion VP Warns Natural Gas Industry

          Donald Raikes arrived at 2019’s DUG East conference, a major shale gas industry gathering in Pittsburgh, with a mixed set of messages for his fellow fossil energy officials.

          “We are faced with a lot of challenges in this industry,” Raikes, senior vice president of gas infrastructure at Dominion Energy, said. “And this morning what I plan to do is use my time to carve out a call for action for all of us. We need to be very aware of the forces that are out there and how they are coming against us.”

          What sorts of forces? Raikes warned specifically about opposition from environmental groups.

          But Raikes also warned that the oil and gas industry was doing itself no favors by denying that it affects the environment, and he even dipped his toes into the issue of climate science denial.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • This Land: New Book Exposes the Biggest Threats to the Wild West

          If you’re a lover of wilderness, wildlife, the American West and the public lands on which they all depend, then journalist Christopher Ketcham’s new book is required — if depressing — reading.

          In This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism and Corruption Are Ruining the American West, Ketcham weaves together 10 years of reporting and decades of adventuring in the West into a deeply political and deeply personal call to save the West’s public lands.

          “It is still possible in this country to find wild, clean, open spaces, where the rhythms of the natural world go on as they should, relatively undisturbed by industrial man,” he writes. “I fear the opportunity, though, could disappear in our lifetime.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • The Sixth Circuit Also Makes A Mess Of Section 230 And Good Internet Policy

        Yesterday we wrote about a bad Section 230 decision against Amazon from the Third Circuit. But shortly before it came out the Sixth Circuit had issued its own decision determining that Section 230 could not protect Amazon from another products liability case. But not for the same reason.

        First, the bad facts, which may even be worse: the plaintiffs had bought a hoverboard via Amazon, and it burned their house down (and while two of their kids were in it). So they sued Amazon, as well as the vendor who had sold the product.

        From a Section 230 perspective, this case isn’t quite as bad as the Third Circuit Oberdorf decision. Significantly, unlike the Third Circuit, which found Amazon to be a “seller” under Pennsylvania law, here the Sixth Circuit did not find that Amazon qualified as a “seller” under the applicable Tennessee state law. [p. 12-13] This difference illustrates why the pre-emption provision of Section 230 is so important. Internet platforms offer their services across state lines, but state laws can vary significantly. If their Section 230 protection could end at each state border it would not be useful protection.

        But although this case turned out differently than the Third Circuit case and the Ninth Circuit’s decision in HomeAway v. City of Santa Monica, it channeled another unfortunate Ninth Circuit decision: Barnes v. Yahoo. In Barnes Yahoo was protected by Section 230 from liability in a wrongful user post. After all, it was not the party that had created the wrongful content. Because it couldn’t be held liable for it, it also couldn’t be forced to take it down. But Yahoo had offered to take the post down anyway. It was a gratuitous offer, one it didn’t have to make. But, per the Ninth Circuit, once having made it, Section 230 provided no more protection from liability arising from how Yahoo fulfilled that promise.

      • Section 230 Is Not Exceptional, It Is Not Unique, It Is Not A Gift: It’s The Codification Of Common Law Liability Principles

        There are so many myths about Section 230 that seem to need debunking. There’s the myth that it requires platforms to be neutral. There’s the myth that if you moderate too much you “lose” your status as a “platform.” There’s the myth that Section 230 of the CDA was “a gift” to big tech. None of those are true, and we’ve gone into great detail over the past few years about how Section 230 is designed to encourage the most “good” content, and discourage the most “bad” content. It’s designed as a pretty straightforward balance, and it actually does a pretty good job of that.

        However, along with the claims that 230 is a “gift” to tech companies, is the unfortunate similar myth that 230 is somehow “exceptional” or that it treats internet companies “different than any other company.” This has never been true. Instead, it’s really about properly applying liability to the party actually violating the law, rather than putting the blame on the tools and services they use to violate the law. Brent Skorup and Jennifer Huddleston at the Mercatus Center have now put out an interesting paper, highlighting how — far from being a “unique gift” to internet companies — Section 230 was merely the codification of basic common law principles regarding liability.

      • Gab, Mastodon And The Challenges Of Content Moderation On A More Distributed Social Network

        While so many of the discussions and debates about content moderation focus on a few giant platforms — namely Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — it’s fascinating to see how they play out in other arenas. Indeed, one of the reasons why we’re so concerned about efforts to “regulate” content moderation practices on social media is that focusing on the manner in which those big, centralized platforms work could serve to stifle newer, more innovative platforms, whose very set up may inherently deal with the “problems” in the first place (see my protocols, not platforms discussion for one example).

        There are a few interesting platforms out there trying to take a different approach to nearly everything — and one of the more well known is Mastodon, an open source “federated” system that is sort of somewhat like Twitter. If you somehow have missed the Mastodon boat, I’d recommend the long piece Sarah Jeong wrote about it two years ago, which is a pretty good intro to the topic. The really short version, though, is that anyone can set up their own Mastodon community and, if others so choose, they may “federate” with other Mastodon communities. You could build a Mastodon instance that is totally isolated from others, or you could build one that connects to others and allows “toots” to go from one instance of Mastodon to others. And, of course, the federating can change over time. It’s kind of neat in that it allows for multiple communities, who can set different rules, norms and standards, and thus you get much more widespread experimentation. And, unlike a fully centralized system, like Twitter, the ability for different instances to just “go there own way” if they disagree, allows for much greater flexibility, without a centralized content moderation impossibility.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Mr. Librem Kyle Rankin: Consent Matters: When Tech Shares Your Secrets Without Your Permission

        There is a saying that goes around modern privacy circles that “Privacy is about Consent.” This means that the one big factor that determines whether your privacy is violated comes down to whether you consented to share the information. For instance, let’s say Alice tells Bob a secret: if Bob then tells the secret to someone else, Bob will be violating Alice’s privacy, unless he had asked Alice for permission first. If you think about it, you can come up with many examples where the same action, leading to the same result, takes on a completely different tone–depending on whether or not the actor got consent.

        We have a major privacy problem in society today, largely because tech companies collect customer information and share it with others without getting real consent from their customers. Real consent means customers understand all of the ways their information will be used and shared, all the implications that come from that sharing–now, and in the future. Instead, customers get a lengthy, click-through privacy policy document that no one is really expected to read or understand. Even if someone does read and understand the click-through agreement, it still doesn’t fully explain all of the implications behind sharing your location and contact list with a messaging app or using voice commands on your phone.

        Big Tech has been funded, over the past two decades, by exploiting the huge influx of young adults who were connected to the Internet and shared their data without restriction. While it’s a generalization that young adults often make decisions based on short-term needs, without considering the long-term impacts, there’s also some truth behind it–whether we are discussing a tattoo that seemed like a good idea at the time, posting pictures or statements on social media that come back to bite you or giving an app full access to your phone. Individuals didn’t understand the value of this data or the risks in sharing it; but tech companies knew it all along and were more than happy to collect, store, share and profit off of it, and Big Tech is now a multi-billion-dollar industry.

      • EFF, ACLU Will Ask Court to Rule In Favor of Travelers Suing DHS Over Unconstitutional, Warrantless Searches of Cellphones, Laptops

        Boston, Massachusetts—On Thursday, July 18, at 3:00 p.m., lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU will ask a federal judge to decide that the constitutional rights of 11 travelers were violated by the suspicionless, warrantless searches of their electronic devices at the border by the U.S. government.

        The plaintiffs are ten U.S. citizens and a lawful permanent resident who, like many Americans, regularly travel outside the country with their cellphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Federal officers searched their devices at U.S. ports of entry without a warrant or any individualized suspicion to believe that the devices contained contraband. Federal officers also confiscated the devices of four plaintiffs after they left the border, absent probable cause of criminal activity. The judge will decide whether a trial is needed or whether the evidence is so clear that the case can be decided now.

      • EFF Sues AT&T, Data Aggregators For Giving Bounty Hunters and Other Third Parties Access to Customers’ Real-Time Locations

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP filed a class action lawsuit today on behalf of AT&T customers in California to stop the telecom giant and two data location aggregators from allowing numerous entities—including bounty hunters, car dealerships, landlords, and stalkers—to access wireless customers’ real-time locations without authorization.

        An investigation by Motherboard earlier this year revealed that any cellphone user’s precise, real-time location could be bought for just $300. The report showed that carriers, including AT&T, were making this data available to hundreds of third parties without first verifying that users had authorized such access. AT&T not only failed to obtain its customers’ express consent, making matters worse, it created an active marketplace that trades on its customers’ real-time location data.

        “AT&T and data aggregators have systematically violated the location privacy rights of tens of millions of AT&T customers,” said EFF Staff Attorney Aaron Mackey. “Consumers must stand up to protect their privacy and shut down this illegal market. That’s why we filed this lawsuit today.”

      • EFF Hits AT&T With Lawsuit Over Sale Of User Location Data

        We’ve noted a few times now that while Facebook gets a lot of justified heat for its privacy scandals, the stuff going on in the cellular data and app market in regards to location data makes many of Facebook’s privacy issues seem like a grade-school picnic. That’s something that was pretty well highlighted by a wave of massive scandals showing how your daily location data has long been collected by cellular data companies, then sold to a laundry list of dubious individuals and organizations. Outfits that have repeatedly failed to prevent this data from being abused by everyone from law enforcement to stalkers.

        The Ajit Pai FCC has yet to lift a finger or so much as scold the companies for their cavalier treatment of private user data. And while cellular giants like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile say they’ve stopped the practice in light of these scandals, nobody has actually bothered to confirm this fact. Given the billions to be made, it’s certainly possible these companies may have just made a few modest changes to what’s collected, who they sell this data to, and what they call this collection, but are still engaged in monetizing your daily location habits in some fashion.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • AT&T Will Now Filter Robocall Spam, If You Pay Them Extra

        When the FCC recently released its “new” robocall plan, consumer groups quickly noted how it wasn’t really new, and didn’t actually accomplish much of anything. Outside of making it clear that carriers could implement robocall blocking tech by default, most of the plan was just a rehash of past (inadequate) FCC policies. Worse, the plan fixates almost exclusively on “scam” calls (when “legit” telemarketers and debt collectors are the biggest culprits of unwanted calls), and does absolutely nothing to punish carriers that fail to implement either call blocking tech, or call authentication tech (to thwart number “spoofing”).

    • Monopolies

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Another Way In Which Patents Contributed To The Opioid Crisis: Hospitals Ordered Not To Use Better, Less Problematic Medicines

          Two years ago, we wrote about a stunning (and horrifying) study that explained how patents deeply contributed to the opioid crisis. It described the lengths that drug companies — including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma — went through to block any and all generic competition. It was quite a story.

          However, on a recent episode of Terry Gross’s “Fresh Air” she interviewed medical bioethicist Travis Rieder about his new book, In Pain. It tells the story of how, even as a “medical bioethicist,” Rieder himself got addicted to opioids after being in a severe motorcycle accident — and then was shocked to find that none of his doctors either knew how or cared enough to help him get off the painkillers. The story is fascinating — and harrowing.

      • Copyrights

        • New Study Points Out What A Boon Sports Streaming Piracy Could Be To Leagues

          When it comes to cable cord-cutting and the set box vs. streaming revolutions, I have always argued that professional and college sports plays an outsized roll. In fact, sports programming is one of the few threads by which the cable television industry is currently hanging. Some leagues have made better use of these trends than others, with Major League Baseball still representing the gold standard in sports streaming, with the other major sports leagues riding along in its wake. And, yet, one of the most common complaints about streaming copyright infringement one can find out there is that of live-streaming professional sports. While much of this comes from the broadcast partners of these leagues, the leagues themselves still make a significant amount of noise about pirated sports streaming.

          It’s never made sense to me. Sports league revenues generally are dominated by two categories: merchandise and advertising revenue. The former gets boosted with the maximum number of eyeballs on the product while the latter becomes something of a complicated mess, given that ad revenues have traditionally gone to broadcast partners, which translate into large contracts with revenue going from the broadcasters to the leagues. Despite that complication, the interest here is in advertising revenue.

Links 16/7/2019: Btrfs Gets ‘Cleaned Up’, Clonezilla Live 2.6.2-15

Posted in News Roundup at 12:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area

        So far, just 27 ERS staff out of 250 have committed to moving to the Kansas City area, according to the employee tallies.

        The UDSA argues the move will save $300 million over 15 years, but critics have said their cost-benefit analysis was shoddy and did not follow guidelines.

        A different cost-benefit analysis from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association found the move would cost taxpayers between $83 million and $182 million.

      • Will ships without sailors be the future of trade?

        The boat was made by SeaKIT, and the same vessel helped an international team of hydrographers, funded by the Japanese non-profit Nippon Foundation, win the $4m (£3.2m) Shell Ocean Discovery Xprize for advances in autonomously mapping the oceans.

        Now Hushcraft wants SeaKIT to be used for transporting cargo, hence mounting the 5kg box of oysters – a local delicacy – on to the vessel and sending it to Ostend. But is there a market for it?

      • Become a lifelong learner and succeed at work

        Of course, people don’t need training to learn something; often, people learn by researching answers, talking to colleagues, reflecting, experimenting, or adapting to changes. In fact, recent estimates suggest that between 70% to 80% of all job-related knowledge isn’t learned in training but rather informally on-the-job. That isn’t to say that formal training isn’t effective; training can be very effective, but it is a precise type of intervention. It simply isn’t practical to formally train someone on most aspects of a job, especially as those jobs become more complex.

    • Hardware

      • Acer Chromebook R 11
      • ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA
      • ASUS Chromebook C202SA
      • The 2019 MacBook Air Has 35% Slower SSD Than 2018 Model

        Tests were conducted on MacBook Air variants with different internal storage options and the drop in the write speeds were witnessed in every variant regardless of the internal storage.

      • 11-Year-Old Girl’s iPhone 6 Exploded Burning Holes In Blanket

        With smartphones from various tech companies falling prey to the exploding game, it seems like it’s Apple’s turn, as this time an iPhone caught fire in Bakersfield, California.

        It is suggested that 11-year-old Kayla Ramos was sitting in her sister’s bedroom and was holding the iPhone 6 in her hands. She mostly used it for watching YouTube videos and sometimes gave it to her younger siblings.

      • How many kinds of USB-C™ to USB-C™ cables are there?

        Why did it come to this? This problem was created because the USB-C connectors were designed to replace all of the previous USB connectors at the same time as vastly increasing what the cable could do in power, data, and display dimensions. The new connector may be and virtually impossible to plug in improperly (no USB superposition problem, no grabbing the wrong end of the cable), but sacrificed for that simplicity is the ability to intuitively know whether the system you’ve connected together has all of the functionality possible. The USB spec also cannot simply mandate that all USB-C cables have the maximum number of wires all the time because that would vastly increase BOM cost for cases where the cable is just used for charging primarily.

        How can we fix this? Unfortunately, it’s a tough problem that has to involve user education. [...]

    • Security

      • Windows 7 Enters the Last Six Months of Support [Ed: Microsoft propagandist (for ages) Bogdan Popa won't advise people to hop over to GNU/Linux (which he lies about, saying Microsoft "loves Linux")]

        According to third-party data provided by NetMarketShare, Windows 7 continues to be one of the most popular choices for desktop users.

      • Security bootcamp: 8 must-read books for leaders

        The threat of cybercrime constantly looms over business leaders – and it becomes more urgent as cyber attacks become more sophisticated. In 2019, security breaches happen more frequently, and the associated financial hit has increased, according to research from Accenture.

        Notably, the report points out that hackers increasingly target humans – the “weakest link in cyber defenses” – at all levels of organizations, through tactics like ransomware and phishing. (Witness the recent wave of ransomware attacks against U.S. cities, large and small.) That’s why it’s becoming essential for everyone – not just security professionals – to be well-versed in risk and their organization’s security efforts.

      • Security scanning your DevOps pipeline

        Security is one of the most important considerations for running in any environment, and using open source software is a great way to handle security without going over budget in your corporate environment or for your home setup. It is easy to talk about the concepts of security, but it’s another thing to understand the tools that will get you there. This tutorial explains how to set up security using Jenkins with Anchore.

        There are many ways to run Kubernetes. Using Minikube, a prepackaged virtual machine (VM) environment designed for local testing, reduces the complexity of running an environment.

      • This Is Why We Have Betas. iOS 13 Beta Shows Saved Passwords

        There’s a reason we have beta versions of software: all the kinks need to be worked out. This is also why using beta versions always come with warnings and disclaimers that you’re using the software at your own risk.

        Users of the iOS 13 beta have discovered that there’s a bug that makes it easy to access the data in “Website & App Passwords” in the Settings app. Certainly, this is something Apple needs to get fixed before the official release, expected for September.

      • Hackers breached Bulgaria’s tax agency and leaked the data of 5M people

        Bulgaria has suffered what has been described as the biggest data leak in its history. The stolen data, which hackers emailed to local media on July 15, originates from the country’s tax reporting service – the National Revenue Agency (NRA).

        The breach contains the personal data of 5 million citizens, local outlet Capital reports. To put that into perspective, Bulgaria has a population of 7 million. Among other things, the trove includes personal identifiable numbers, addresses, and even income data.

    • Finance

      • The next UK prime minister is bad for the pound—whoever he is

        In just under a week, the contest to become the next leader of the UK Conservative party—and by extension, the country’s next prime minister—will come to a close. Traders aren’t waiting to find out who wins: they’ve already decided it’s bad news. Both candidates, current foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, who previously held the same position, have pushed the UK on a path to a destabilizing “no-deal Brexit” at the deadline of Oct. 31.

        In a debate yesterday, both said a crucial part of the previously negotiated exit deal—the Irish backstop, which is like an insurance policy to avoid imposing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—had to be removed from any agreement between the UK and EU. But the EU has repeatedly said the backstop is an essential part of the withdrawal agreement.

        With Hunt and Johnson thus raising the chances that a deal both sides can agree on won’t be reached by the Halloween deadline, the pound is down against its major peers. At the time of writing, sterling was 0.7% weaker against the US dollar and down 0.4% against the euro, despite better than expected labor market data published today.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Twitter won’t hide Donald Trump’s racist tweets

        It’s hard to tell where Twitter’s actual bar for “hateful conduct” sits, though, because content is moderated by large numbers of people who interpret the rules in different ways — as with most social media platforms. Also, Twitter in particular has a convoluted stance on racist content. You apparently can’t be a self-professed Nazi, but Twitter has said it’s talking with experts to figure out its more general rules around white supremacy.

      • Green co-leader says Trump remarks ‘must not be accepted as part of mainstream politics’

        He said: “Donald Trump’s behaviour is racist. Let’s be clear about that, as the Tory leadership contenders were not last night.

        “I’m proud that the Green Party has been a leader in calling out dog-whistle politics over years in which it has been all too common in our politics.

        “But the US President’s tweets went beyond that.

        “We have seen a highly disturbed rise of Far Right rhetoric and support in many countries, but in all of them, it represents the views of only a tiny minority.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Age of Amnesia

        The spread of mass education may have exemplified the promise of liberal civilization. But, without an understanding and appreciation of what allowed it to flourish, it could also accelerate its dissolution. The reduction and reshaping of the past are essential to undermining liberal democracy. The great exemplars of the past—Washington, Madison, Burke, Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill—all warned that human beings are not necessarily good and, for that reason, power must be dispersed and restrained not concentrated. Yet we are witnessing the creation of a society, as envisioned by HG Wells, controlled by a credentialed elite. This “emergent class of capable men,” Wells wrote, should take upon itself the task of “controlling and restricting…the non-functional masses.” This new elite, he predicted, would replace democracy with “a higher organism” of what he called “the New Republic.”5

        Any reasonable reading of history cautions us against such power grabs, however well-intentioned. But this won’t resonate if our next generation remains cut off from the past and molded by a highly manipulated tech-driven reality. If one does not even know about the legacies underpinning democracy, individual freedom, and open discussion, one is not likely to miss them when they are eroded.6

      • The Third Circuit Joins The Ninth In Excluding E-Commerce Platforms From Section 230′s Protection

        Remember when there was a terrible decision in the 5Pointz VARA case and I wrote 3000 words to explain just how terrible it was? Well, buckle-up, because here’s another awful decision, this time in the Section 230 realm. In fact, this one may even be worse, because it was a decision at the federal appellate level, and thus we are more likely to feel the impact of its terribleness. What follows is an explanation of how it so badly missed the mark.

        Not long ago we warned that the Ninth Circuit’s decision in HomeAway v. City of Santa Monica, if allowed to stand, threatened Internet commerce. This new decision from the Third Circuit in Oberdorf v. Amazon heightens that alarm. As with the Ninth Circuit, it reflects undue focus on the commercial transaction it facilitated instead of on the underlying expression the transaction was connected to. Worse, it did so in a way that gave short shrift to the policy interests behind why Section 230 exists in the first place.

        As is typical in cases with terrible Section 230 rulings, the underlying facts in this case are terrible too. One of the plaintiffs had bought a retractable dog leash via Amazon. The leash was defective, and when it broke it recoiled in a way that blinded her in one eye. She and her husband then sued Amazon over the injury. The district court dismissed their claims, partially for Section 230 reasons, and also because it could not find a way to deem Amazon a “seller” for purposes of the Pennsylvania consumer protection law the plaintiffs were trying to base their claim upon. But the Third Circuit, looking at the decision afresh, substantially rejected the district court’s analysis and largely reversed its holding. It’s this decision that joins the Ninth Circuit HomeAway decision in now seriously threatening Internet commerce.

        It is worth noting that this was a 2-1 decision, with a majority opinion providing the controlling analysis and a dissent. Much of the majority decision involves pages and pages of discussion about what counts as a “seller” under that Pennsylvania law. While on the surface this discussion may seem at first seem tangential to our larger Section 230 concerns, in this case it ends up being fairly relevant. For one thing, it’s part of the decision, and it shouldn’t be. Section 230 includes a pre-emption provision because state and local laws are often messy and, worse, contradictory. An Internet platform’s protection from liability should not be contingent on how any given state a platform’s services may reach has opted to write its local law. So the mere fact that the decision starts out by reviewing how Pennsylvania’s state law might affect the liability of an Internet platform like Amazon is the first sign that the decision is trouble.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • U.S. proposes barring big tech companies from offering financial services, digital currencies

        In a sign of widening scrutiny after Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) proposed Libra digital coin aroused widespread objection, the bill proposes a fine of $1 million per day for violation of such rules.

      • Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency is already facing being outlawed

        The meat and veggies of the deal says: “A large platform utility may not establish, maintain, or operate a digital asset that is intended to be widely used as medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, or any other similar function, as defined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.”

        It defines a ‘large platform utility’ as one with global revenue in excess of $25m.

      • Facebook’s Libra hearings in Congress are the best free entertainment you’ll get all week

        No one trusts Facebook, a company that repeatedly disregards privacy concerns, issues meaningless apologies for doing so, then violates them again. Significantly, though, much of the cryptocurrency community hated Libra. They argued it was not a cryptocurrency (plausible); that Libra was not based on a blockchain (likely); and that it violated the decentralized vision of cryptocurrency (absolutely). In a defensive follow-up blog post, Facebook’s David Marcus opens with the question “Is this really a blockchain?” and then proceeds to… not answer the yes-or-no question he himself posed.

      • House Democrats are considering a bill to ban Facebook from the finance industry

        The text of the bill says simply “A large platform utility may not be, and may not be affiliated with any person that is, a financial institution,” with further sections spelling out the definitions of various terms. Most notably, “large platform utility” is defined as “a technology company with an annual global revenue of $25,000,000,000 or more…predominately engaged in the business of offering to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties.”

      • Facebook’s Big Libra Launch ‘Only Fanned the Flames’ for Critics

        Congress holding hearings on Facebook Inc.’s plan for a possible digital coin suggests that the high-profile debut for Libra was likely a public relations effort gone bad.

      • Putting a price on our data won’t make the platforms stop abusing our privacy

        But as my EFF colleague Hayley Tsukayama writes, “Our information should not be thought of as our property this way, to be bought and sold like a widget. Privacy is a fundamental human right. It has no price tag. No person should be coerced or encouraged to barter it away. And it is definitely not a good deal for people to receive a handful of dollars in exchange for allowing companies’ invasive data collection to remain unchecked.”

      • German schools ban Office 365 over privacy concerns

        When we say ‘banned’ we don’t mean detention for anyone that does, we’re talking illegal, proper illegal.

        The central state of Hesse has ruled that using the cloud-based version of the service opens children up to potential surveillance by US officials.

      • German state bans Office 365 in schools, citing privacy concerns [iophk: article failed to mention Calligra or LibreOffice, both of which are better]

        This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Microsoft. The commissioner notes that it’s also not possible for schools in Hesse to use cloud solutions from Google and Apple in a GDPR-compliant way. For now, the only option for schools is to use a locally stored piece of software like Microsoft’s non-cloud Office 2019, unless the company is willing to provide better assurances about data security.

      • German schools ban Microsoft Office 365 amid privacy concerns

        The Hesse Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) ruled that using the popular cloud platform’s standard configuration exposes personal information about students and teachers “to potential access by US authorities.”

        In declaring that Windows 10 and Office 365 is not compliant with EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for use in schools, this development ends years of debate over whether “schools can use Microsoft’s Office 365 software in compliance with data protection regulations.”

        The heart of the issue concerns the telemetry information sent by Windows 10 operating system and the company’s cloud solution back to the US.

      • Office 365 banned from German schools, Google Docs and iWork also ruled out

        The issue is not specifically the storage of school documents on cloud services – that in itself is ok provided that proper steps are taken to comply with GDPR requirements, as HDMI says.


        The problem, says the regulator, is that telemetry data is sent out of Germany to the US, and this can include personal data.

      • Microsoft Office 365 banned in some schools over privacy concerns [iophk: s/concerns/violations/]

        Investigators in the Netherlands last year found that the data being transmitted by Microsoft Office 365 could include sentences from documents and email subject lines, in addition to the usual software diagnostics. This is a breach of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, the Netherlands said.

      • EPIC on Libra: “Facebook Clearly Cannot be Trusted With Consumers’ Financial Data”

        EPIC also discussed the Cambridge Analytica scandal and outlined Facebook’s long history of failing to protect user data. As reported, a pending settlement with Facebook would not address proposals made by EPIC and others to strengthen Facebook’s protection of user data.

      • Amazon Alexa Is Coming To Windows 10 Lock Screen With 19H2 [Ed: Two deeply malicious companies work to put listening devices in more places; this way they can record billions of people (vicinity covered also), add ID to voices, turn to text, make searchable by US government. Unprecedented espionage operations on a global scale. This affects you even if you avoid all the GAFAM 'toys'; they also record/spy on non-censenting people in the vicinity of toxic people who deploy their listening devices for them.]
      • Russian Spy Discovers The Hard Way How Much His Smartphone’s Metadata Reveals About His Activities

        Smartphones are not just amazing pieces of technology that pack a range of advanced capabilities into a pocket-sized device. They are also the best tracking device invented so far. They reveal where we are, and what we are doing, every minute we have them with us. And the most amazing aspect is that we carry them not because we are forced to do so by authoritarian governments, but willingly.

        A permanent state of surveillance is something most people just accept as the price of using mobile phones. But for one class of users, the built-in tracking capabilities of smartphones are far worse than just annoying. For spies — especially more senior ones — the information revealed by their mobile phones is not just embarrassing but poses a serious threat to their future operational usefulness.

        That’s evident from a new investigation carried out by the Bellingcat team in partnership with various media organizations. Techdirt was one of the first to write about Bellingcat’s use of “open source information” — material that is publicly available — to piece together the facts about what are typically dramatic events. The latest report from the group is slightly different, in that it draws on mobile phone data leaked by a whistleblower in Russia. According to Bellingcat’s research, the account seems to be that of the mid-ranking Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer Denis Sergeev

      • The FTC And Facebook: Why The $5 Billion Fine Is Both Too Little And Too Much

        By now, you’ve certainly heard the news that was very likely leaked by Facebook late on Friday that the FTC, by a narrow 3 to 2 party line vote, had approved a $5 billion fine for Facebook for violating its earlier consent decree in the way it allowed an app to suck up lots of data that eventually ended up in Cambridge Analytica’s hands. Most of the reaction to this fine (by far, the largest in the FTC’s history) is anger.

        Many people focused on one key point to argue that the fine wasn’t enough: Facebook’s stock jumped upwards after the news broke, to the point that Facebook’s valuation probably went up more than the amount of the fine itself (never mind the difference between the value of equity and actual cashflow…). However, I wouldn’t read too much into the stock jump. After all, Facebook had already said back in April that it was expecting a $5 billion fine, meaning that Wall Street had already priced in exactly that. If the $5 billion fine had come out of the blue it might have been a different story. The bump, then, could be explained by investors reacting to the end of any uncertainty and the fear that the fine might have been larger.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • BTS: Why Saudi Arabia wants high profile pop stars

        But organisations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) say there is doubt over how much change is actually taking place.

        Though they’ve been permitted to drive, HRW say women still face several barriers.

        They claim Saudi authorities have arrested several well-known women’s rights advocates just before lifting the driving ban, accusing them of “suspicious contact with foreign parties”.

      • Pennsylvania Legislators Quickly And Quietly Passed A Law That Strips Power From Its Reform-Minded DA

        The residents of Philadelphia elected Larry Krasner as their new DA in 2018. Krasner promised reforms to the criminal justice system. And he delivered. He secured 33 resignations from prosecutors and staff who didn’t feel they could back his reforms. Shortly after this, he received the best possible (inadvertent) endorsement for his reform efforts, one that took the form of criticism from the head of the local police union.

        Krasner eliminated cash bail for nonviolent defendants and made it clear he would not tolerate misconduct or abuse by police officers. More importantly, he did more than talk. Two officers were criminally charged for performing an illegal stop of a pedestrian and Krasner secured an indictment from a grand jury against a cop who shot an unarmed man in the back.

      • Leaked document: EU Commission mulls new law to regulate online platforms

        The EU Commission is considering the creation of a new authority for the regulation of online services. This is part of a possible legislative proposal by the Commission to regulate platform companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. Under the proposed scheme, the e-Commerce Directive is to be replaced by a new law, the Digital Services Act, according to a leaked Commission note. (Click here for full document.)

        The new Act is supposed to create European rules against online hate speech and disinformation. It also means to address issues such as political advertising online and fairness in e-Commerce. It would affect „all digital services and in particular online platforms“, according to the paper. The note mentions social networks, cloud services, services such as Uber and Airbnb as well as internet service providers.

        The paper was written by officials in the Commission’s Directorate-General Connect. It is part of a discussion process towards a more detailed proposal to be brought forward by the next Commission. As the news site Contexte reports, several versions of the paper have been circulating earlier. PoliticoPro reported on it as well.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • West Virginia’s Biggest Telco Says Broadband Business ‘Unsustainable’

        For years we’ve explored how the nation’s phone companies no longer really want to be in the broadband business. They routinely refuse to upgrade their networks, yet often lobby to ensure nobody else can deliver broadband in these neglected footprints either. Telcos in particular have a bizarre disdain for their paying customers, delivering the bare minimum (slow DSL) at the highest rates they can possibly charge without a full-scale consumer revolt. It’s not surprising then that many telco DSL customers are fleeing to cable, assuming they even have a second option for broadband.

        This scenario has been particularly true in West Virginia, which has become the poster child for telecom sector graft and corruption. For years, incumbent phone provider Frontier Communications (which bought most of the state assets from Verizon), has seen zero competitive pressure to improve service. At the same time, they’ve enjoyed rampant regulatory capture, to the point where company executives have simultaneously acted as state senator, without a single question raised. The company has also been routinely under fire for bilking the government (read: you) out of millions of dollars intended to shore up coverage gaps.

    • Monopolies

      • Prosecution Disclaimer: Should patent law have a Parole Evidence Rule for Claim Construction?

        Back in February, the Federal Circuit issued a R.36 affirmance — affirming the lower court’s claim construction and non-infringement finding. Tech. Properties has now filed a statement of intent to petition for writ of certiorari, now with Ken Starr at the helm and focusing on prosecution disclaimer precedent from the 1880’s along with a constitutional argument.

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Illumina v TDL (Round 2): Mr Justice Arnold finds NIPT novel, inventive and sufficient

          The UK courts last month dealt with another patent dispute concerning non-invasive prenatal blood testing (NIPT). NIPT is a method for genetically screening the unborn fetus. NIPT is performed on the maternal blood and is therefore safer than previous methods for genetically testing the fetus that required fetal cells or amniotic fluid. NIPT allows clinicians to screen the fetus for diseases such as Down’s syndrome. The global market for NIPT is growing rapidly, and has been predicted to reach almost $5 Billion by 2025. Commercial NIPT tests available in the UK such as The Harmony Test and the IONA test cost around £350-500 per test. The market for NIPT is currently very competitive, with key players jockeying for position; now being played out as patent disputes in the UK courts.


          Key players in the NIPT testing market include Roche/Ariosa (The Harmony Test) and Illumina, following their acquisition of Verinata Health (Verifi). Another key player is Sequenom, a San Diego based company that began offering its own NIPT in the US in 2011 (MaterniT21). Sequenom owns what are arguably some of the broadest patents in the NIPT field. For example, EP0994963 (Lo), claims the detection of fetal DNA in maternal blood.

          In 2014, NIPT patent disputes between Illumina and Sequenom were settled with a patent pool agreement. Illumina and Sequenom have since joined forces in going after other players in the field. In 2017, Illumina and Sequenom sued UK NIPT providers Premaitha and TDL for patent infringement of Lo (EP0994963) ([2017] EWHC 2930 (Pat), IPKat post here). Premaitha subsequently agreed to licence the technology from Illumina.

          The most recent UK action concerned another Sequenom patent, EP1524321 (Hahn). This patent relates to a key step in NIPT, the separation of fetal DNA from maternal DNA. EP1524321 (Hahn) is based on the discovery that fetal cell free DNA (cfDNA) in the blood of the mother is, on average, smaller in size than the cfDNA of the mother present in the blood. Fetal and maternal DNA could therefore be easily separated to allow the fetal DNA to be analysed.


          The judgment includes an interesting end note on the patentability of the subject-matter of the claim, in view of an attempt by the defendants to bring a US-style assessment of patent eligibility into proceedings. In the US, the Sequenom NIPT patents have fallen foul of Section 101. Particularly, the US Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit found Sequenom’s diagnostic patents invalid for relating to patent ineligible subject matter, particularly for relating to a natural phenomena (Ariosa v Sequenom). Sequenom were denied permission to appeal to the US Supreme Court (Sequenom v Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc 136 S.Ct. 2511 (2016)).


          This case in the High Court is unlikely to be the last relating to NIPT. The growing commercial importance of this technology, and the crowded market, will undoubtedly give rise to yet more patent disputes. It is not yet known if TDL will seek to appeal the decision.

        • Distribution of Working Draft to 250-Member Standard Setting Working Group – NOT a PUBLICATION

          In the inter partes review (IPR), the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) sided with the patentee Infobridge — concluding that the purported prior art was not sufficiently publicly accessible prior to the patent’s November 7, 2011 filing date (and therefore not prior art). On appeal, the Federal Circuit has rejected that decision — holding that the PTAB “applied the wrong legal standard in assessing public accessibility.”

          The reference at issue is “Working Draft 4 of the H.265 standard” (WD4) which was developed by an MPEG group known as the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (“JCT-VC”). The information included int he reference was discussed at a July 2011 meeting in Torino that included about 250 participants including both academics and corporate representatives. WD4 then written and uploaded to the JCT-VC website on October 4, 2011 as one of hundreds of documents listed on the Torino meeting sub-page. The documents are in no apparent order and when printed run 48 pages long. (The relevant page is listed below, can you find our reference of interest?).

          WD4 was also uploaded to an MPEG website on October 4, 2011, but required a password to access. Also, the same day the WD4 lead author posted a link to the document to a listserve that included JCT-VC members and other interested individuals.

          A publication must be either actually distributed or else made publicly accessible. Courts ask “whether a person of ordinary skill in the art could, after exercising reasonable diligence, access a reference.” If so, then it is a publication.


          On remand, the PTAB will reconsider these issues — and likely find again that the listserv distribution was not sufficiently public.

      • Copyrights

        • Today’s the 10-year anniversary of the CJEU judgment that changed EU copyright

          In fact, unlike what is for subject matter like software, databases and photographs, the InfoSoc Directive does not contain a harmonized concept of originality. In this sense, it might have well been the case that individual EU Member States could have defined originality in accordance with their own national copyright traditions.

          However, this is not what the CJEU decided.

          In fact, the Court held that the InfoSoc Directive is rooted within the same principles found in those directives that contain a harmonized notion of originality.

          Thus, also for subject matter falling within the scope of the InfoSoc Directive, protection arises when a sufficient degree of originality – to be intended as the ‘author’s own intellectual creation’ – is found to subsist.

          A Copernican Revolution had just begun and nothing could stay the same!


          Turning to the latter, the recently adopted DSM Directive [Katposts here] shows how any review of EU copyright rules would not just need to consider the (formally rich but substantially relatively thin) existing legislative framework, but also – and possibly above all – the CJEU interpretation of existing sets of rules.

          In this sense, the discussion around certain provisions in the DSM Directive included the relationship with existing CJEU case law and whether and to what extent EU legislature should retain it. Examples in this sense are: Article 17 (as stated in Recital 64, that OCSSPs communicate to the public is a clarification of existing (case) law); Article 16 (which was meant to ‘erase’ Reprobel) and Article 8 (which was meant to remedy Soulier).

          2009 was the year that changed EU copyright. There is no reason to think that the Court would cease having a central role in the clarification, construction and development of the copyright framework in the near future. Although doubts might remain regarding the role and actual competence of the Court in building, rather than just interpreting (but how do you draw the line?) the law around copyright, this trend appears bound to stay … Happy Infopaqversary!

        • UK Pirate Site Blocking Requests Have Stopped, For Now

          A few years ago, movie and music industry companies would regularly go to the UK High Court to demand pirate site blockades. These efforts, which were previously seen as an essential tool to combat infringement, have stopped for now. It appears other anti-piracy endeavors have priority instead.

EPO Looney Tunes – Part 2: The “Difficult Legacy” and Its Dark Historical Shadow

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Haar building

Summary: Assuming that he was informed, then it seems fair to say that Battistell’s little “joke” at the expense of the Boards was in very bad taste

IN THE previous part we spoke about the reason for this series and moments ago we explained why we publish Part 2 on the same day. It’s becoming more urgent.

Before having a look at the legal team dealing with referral no. G 2/19, it seems like a good idea to revisit the background to what JUVE called Battstelli’s “difficult legacy”.

“At the end of 2017, as part of the “reform” package, the Boards were moved from the EPO main building in Munich to a more remote location in Haar.”Readers might remember that the controversial decision to relocate the EPO Boards of Appeal to Haar was the culmination of an ongoing tussle between the former EPO President and the – nominally – independent Boards of Appeal.

As reported by JUVE, strong criticism from the European patent community that the Boards of Appeal were not properly independent or immune from influence by the EPO President, led to a decision in the summer of 2016 to separate the Boards from the EPO in order to improve the “perception of independence”.

At the end of 2017, as part of the “reform” package, the Boards were moved from the EPO main building in Munich to a more remote location in Haar.

In many public commentaries, and in interviews with JUVE, employees of the Boards of Appeal saw the move as a covert disciplinary action by Battistelli.

“The only Council delegate who was prepared to call Battistelli out on his madcap scheme to exile the Boards to Haar was the Netherlands representative, Derk-Jan de Groot, who publicly denounced the plan as “unnecessary” and a waste of money.”Although the Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal (AMBA) managed to rouse itself to make a (rather limp) protest to the Administrative Council, this was (unsurprisingly) ignored.

The only Council delegate who was prepared to call Battistelli out on his madcap scheme to exile the Boards to Haar was the Netherlands representative, Derk-Jan de Groot, who publicly denounced the plan as “unnecessary” and a waste of money.

But de Groot was a voice crying in the wilderness. The rest of Battistelli’s poodles followed their master’s bidding and so the Boards were sent packing to Haar.

The move to Haar has been the butt of many jokes both inside the EPO and outside because the new offices of the Boards of Appeal are situated in Haar-Eglfing which “coincidentally” happens to be the location of the main psychiatric clinic for Munich, the “Isar-Amper-Klinikum München-Ost”, originally known as the “Oberbayerische Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Eglfing-Haar”.

But it’s not all fun and jokes.

There is a darker side to this institution because during the Third Reich it played a key role in the so-called “Aktion T4” program of mass murder by involuntary euthanasia masterminded by leading Nazi officials, including Hitler’s personal physician, Karl Brandt, and the “Chief of the Führer’s Chancellery”, Philipp Bouhler.



Karl Brandt and Philip Bouhler, the main architects of “Aktion T4”

Bouhler committed suicide after capture by US forces in May 1945 and Brandt was executed as a convicted war criminal at the Landsberg Penitentiary in 1948.

A key “cog” in the implementation machinery of “Aktion T4” was the Director of the Eglfing-Haar clinic, Hermann Pfannmüller.


Hermann Pfannmüller’s Nazi Party membership card

Pfannmüller originally joined the Nazi Party in 1922 but left in 1925. However, after the Nazis came to power in 1933, he decided to rejoin and he became an enthusiastic advocate for the Party’s “eugenics” policies.

From November 1939 onwards, in his capacity as a T4 “assessor”, Pfannmüller processed several thousand registration forms of institutional patients and recommended euthanasia in many cases.

Pfannmuller letter

T4 assessment form dated 11 December 1939 and signed by Pfannmüller.
The red cross is a recommendation that the patient be euthanised.

Some of the first victims of “Aktion T4” in 1940 were patients from Eglfing-Haar.

“According to two nuns who broke their silence in 1993, Sewering was responsible for the deaths of 900 physically and mentally handicapped children by transferring them from Schönbrunn to the “hunger rooms” of the Eglfing-Haar clinic.”Pfannmüller also displayed great zeal when it came to “child euthanasia”. In the children’s ward of Eglfing-Haar, more than 300 children were killed as of 1940. From 1943 onwards, 440 patients died of starvation or of overdoses of drugs in two of the institution’s “hunger houses” which had been set up by Pfannmüller.

In 1951, Pfannmüller was put on trial for his involvement in “Aktion T4”. He was convicted and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment which was reduced to four years on appeal. He died in Munich in 1961.

One Pfannmüller’s medical “collaborators” was the notorious Hans Joachim Sewering (below), who worked as assistant physician at the Schönbrunn Sanitarium, near Dachau, to the north-west of Munich.

Sewering, who lived out his latter years in Dachau, pursued a successful medical career in post-war Germany and rose to become the head of the German Medical Association in 1993.

He even managed to get elected as President of the World Medical Association but a storm of protest forced him to resign before he could take up the position.

According to two nuns who broke their silence in 1993, Sewering was responsible for the deaths of 900 physically and mentally handicapped children by transferring them from Schönbrunn to the “hunger rooms” of the Eglfing-Haar clinic. Sewering denied these allegations. However, he was barred from entering the United States and Jewish organizations called for him to be tried for murder.


Hans Joachim Sewering – accused of complicity in the murder of 900 children

Historians estimate the overall death toll of “Aktion T4” to have been around 300,000 and many consider that it was used by the Nazis as a “dry run” for the subsequent implementation of the Holocaust.

The role of Hermann Pfannmüller and the Eglfing-Haar clinic in “Aktion T4” are well known and extensively documented both in Germany and elsewhere.

Was Battistelli aware of these matters when he chose Eglfing-Haar as the new location for the EPO’s Boards of Appeal?

“Historians estimate the overall death toll of “Aktion T4” to have been around 300,000 and many consider that it was used by the Nazis as a “dry run” for the subsequent implementation of the Holocaust.”Given that the Sciences Po in Paris has published research about “Aktion T4” which mentions Pfannmüller by name, it would be very surprising indeed if the proud alumnus of that illustrious academy, was not fully au fait with the dark historical legacy of Eglfing-Haar and its well-documented role in the Nazi euthanasia program.

Assuming that he was informed, then it seems fair to say that Battistell’s little “joke” at the expense of the Boards was in very bad taste.

In the next instalment, it’s time to return to the present and to make the acquaintance of the “legal eagles” from the Enlarged Board of Appeal who will be dealing with the G 2/19 referral.

EPO Noise Machine Turned On as Haar Hearing Kicks Off, Patrick Corcoran Defamed Again

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 10:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: António Campinos is Almost 100% the Same as Benoît Battistelli


Summary: The EPO does not want people to hear about Haar; it just wants people to hear about how wonderful the EPO is and there are some who have just decided to slander Patrick Corcoran again

EVERYONE at the European Patent Office (EPO) certainly knows that António Campinos has done absolutely nothing to undo Battistelli‘s damage to (or attacks on) the Boards of Appeal. He has not restored patent quality either; in his blog he promotes software patents in Europe. It’s pretty sickening.

“Why is Corcoran suddenly being defamed again?”We were not planning to publish this series’ second part until tomorrow (previous part published this morning), but things are getting out of hand because the EPO has come up with new lies (warning: epo.org link), calling itself “diverse organisation” just earlier today. “The EPO published its Social Report 2018,” says the summary/outline, “which offers a comprehensive overview of staff and working conditions at the Office.”

Interesting timing. The EPO is not diverse at all. The management is French and examiners are mostly German men. But this is the EPO, where Germans can accuse an Irish judge of being “Nazi” because he read something about history (in which Britain was on the opposing side). It’s like accusing a Chinese/Nigerian businessman in the United States of KKK membership. Concurrently, and also today, we saw new attacks on this judge, Patrick Corcoran (written in German and we won’t link to it; promoted just as the new case about Haar commences, in response to tweets from last year). The person who received this response wrote: “On the contrary, in this case there is no doubt that Mr. Patrick Corcoran is innocent, since he was acquitted by ILOAT of all allegations / accusations against him! Nice try to discredit him, but this has failed miserably!”

Why is Corcoran suddenly being defamed again? Why today? Well, the ‘exile’ of all his colleagues to Haar is being discussed. They could really use a distraction, right? Nothing like an “armed and dangerous Nazi” to justify an exile — an act of collective punishment the Nazis were so infamous for (never mind the connotation associated with Haar because of the mass ‘euthanasia’ there). And never mind if the EPO is giving huge amounts of money to an actual Third Reich firm. Reversal of narratives seems to be key here (illusion of parity). So the EPO is “an attractive, modern and diverse organisation,” according to the title of today’s sole publication from the EPO. Moreover, shortly after “Quality Report” (all they did was put “Quality” in the title) we’re told there’s a “Social Report” (“Social” in the title) and it was promoted in Twitter on Monday. Perfect distraction? Meanwhile, as IP Kat‘s Rose Hughes has just put it, quality of European Patents gives room for concern. The EPO is nowadays more permissive on patent scope then even the US. “In the US,” as Hughes explained, “the Sequenom NIPT patents have fallen foul of Section 101.”

We don’t suppose the Boards of Appeal are going to change that. And also promoted in Twitter on Tuesday morning was this nonsense: “In the coming years, we’re aiming to work towards a complete digital transformation.”

It’s another tweet about the strategy “paper” from almost a fortnight ago. The PR/charm offensive is on high gear today. Just posted by Watermark’s Christian Schieber was this self-promotional article about the EPO putting patent trolls on the fast lane and pushing examiners to arm them faster, sloppily:

Effective from 1 July 2019, the European Patent Office (EPO) will be extending its Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme with IP Australia…

Let’s deliver a baby in 9 days! If we want “production” and cut corners, then maybe we can do this!

Dr. Thorsten Bausch has done some research on “Re-establishment – How Much Must the European and National Patent Applicant Care?”

Surely Bausch knows that the EPC is not applicable to the EPO anymore. Who’s going to enforce it? Certainly not the Boards of Appeal. They cannot, they have no independence (it’s too risky to do so!). So we now have an EPO detached from its very founding document, the EPC. It is violated every single day. The whole structure, originally designed to ensure separation of powers, has been diminished to a mere fiction. Bausch’s concluding words:

Having arrived at the end of our summer journey through Europe, it can be stated that the national provisions on re-establishment of rights are similar to each other and to Art. 122 EPC, but there are also notable differences in the standard of care that the respective national jurisdictions require applicants and their representatives to comply with. While the EPO’s „all due care“ standard seems to be applicable, more or less, in DE, FR, IT, ES and NL, the UK and – as of now – NO apply a more applicant-friendly standard, i.e. that the loss of rights must have occurred unintentionally. It will be interesting to see whether other countries will follow Norway’s example and move towards this more applicant-friendly standard.

When lawyers and attorneys say “applicant-friendly” they mean more friendly to their clients (like Bausch’s); that does not mean Europe-friendly, public-friendly, science-friendly or adhering to the law. It’s pretty meaningless. Without truly independent Boards of Appeal that can enforce the EPC we’re lost in a sea of patent maximalism. It’s hurting everyone, more so ill and vulnerable people. She we send them too to Haar?

Microsoft is ‘Doing Kamikaze’ (神風) on Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Karate is a form of marital arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.”

Dave Barry

Summary: An analogy for what the Linux (only in name!) Foundation and Microsoft mean to Linux — or by extension to GNU/Linux and Free software whose largest repository Microsoft took control of

THERE are many fitting analogies by which to describe Microsoft’s real relationship with Linux; “love” isn't even close to it. A famous and classic scenario is trying to drown oneself with somebody else, or driving a car off the cliff with someone else inside the car. In Japan, with its generally cruel history and nihilistic culture (whaling, babies on bayonets, massacres of Chinese, sexual enslavement of Koreans, Kamikaze flights and so on), several fitting analogies come to mind. Linux distrusts Microsoft for the same reason the Chinese don’t trust Japan (and probably never will). But Imperial Microsoft is in denial about its atrocities, so it’s characterising its victims (of abuse/crime/corruption/doxing) as intolerant haters who need to be shunned and/or disciplined further.

“…Imperial Microsoft is in denial about its atrocities, so it’s characterising its victims (of abuse/crime/corruption/doxing) as intolerant haters who need to be shunned and/or disciplined further.”Does anyone know how or why Jim Zemlin, the $10,000,000 man who never wrote code, understands Japanese? Darl McBride from SCO knows it because he promoted his cult in Japan (as a missionary), but we fail to see the connection in the Zemlins. Either way, Zemlin rules “Linux” (the brand) like a Japanese Emperor and he’s willing to totally destroy GNU/Linux on the desktop (or even LINUX.com) just to suppress criticism of his Empire. This is perhaps the best analogy I can come up at this moment in time.

I’m generally against cancer analogies, but Microsoft is a company and not a person (and one cannot cause “offense” to a corporation). So to use an analogy, Microsoft is to Linux like an ovarian cancer. It’s big, you know it’s there, but it’s not simple to get it out once it settles there and expands, stifling distribution and eventually killing the ‘host’. What host? The Linux Foundation. It seems to be terminal.

Doing karate

The ‘New’ Linux.com Sometimes Feels Like a Microsoft Promotion Site

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Azure Running GNU/Linux Isn’t About ‘Love’ But About Control

“It is not the lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Summary: Anything that the ‘Linux’ Foundation touches seems to turn into its proprietors’ agenda; one of those proprietors is Microsoft, which has a "Jihad" against Linux

TRYING my very best to be polite, I rarely post here (as articles) my microblogging rants about the Linux Foundation. When I write articles I also try to omit names (sometimes going to the extremes of ‘censoring’ names in our sources’ messages on the subject). Some of these rants can offend some people even though they’re perfectly honest and sincere a bunch of rants. Some have become satirical and cynical; I resort to humour. The truth is, I am really not happy about the pivot of the Linux Foundation and I’ve noticed, based on responses, that many other GNU/Linux users aren’t happy either. They probably just don’t say much about it. People refrain from ‘disparaging’ the Linux Foundation mostly because it has the word “Linux” in its name (never mind if very little or what it does actually supports Linux and most staff aren’t Linux users).

“People refrain from ‘disparaging’ the Linux Foundation mostly because it has the word “Linux” in its name (never mind if very little or what it does actually supports Linux and most staff aren’t Linux users).”Earlier this year we took some gloves off, partly because my wife had gotten fed up and said I ought to break the silence. Why do these people get a free pass (avoidance of criticism)? She reads Linux news all day. She runs Tux Machines, which makes this required. The Linux Foundation is “trying to condition the minds of people,” she told me this morning, to suggest “that Microsoft is OK…”

And my wife argues this not as a Microsoft basher or hater. She hardly ever minded them (until recent years). Now she uses terms like “entryism” and “conditioning” (which she borrowed from politics). “That’s the term there…”

“…Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux (from the inside) have left us no choice… sadly, the Foundation that owns or at least monopolises/utilises Torvalds’ trademark now actively participates in Microsoft’s attacks.”“There’s no Linux news anymore, it’s all about Microsoft,” she retorted a couple of hours ago. I too read Linux news all day, every day. So I see the same thing. Some readers sent us E-mail saying the same thing. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Some people underestimate the work of Techrights, much of which isn’t about publishing articles but doing activism in support of GNU/Linux behind the scenes and coordinating actions, e.g. in IRC. We’re supporting GNU/Linux a lot better than most ‘foundations’. Articles are one component of several activities. Tux Machines, for example helps people find positive stories about GNU/Linux. The same cannot be said about LINUX.com ever since the Linux Foundation effectively shut it down (back in April). It fired all the editors and staff without even a “thank you” or an explanation. Remember that for a "thank you" from the Linux Foundation you need to open the wallet/purse and pay tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, “thank yous” are a service or a product from the Linux Foundation. This is how gross things have become. In our latest daily links we included this report from yesterday; it shows Microsoft giving more money to Jim Zemlin and his PAC/foundation. This does not amuse us. What also isn’t amusing is yesterday’s news pick from “swapnilbhartiya”, who was chosen by the Foundation, maybe based on track record of love for Linux-hostile firms (he uses a “Mac”-branded PC, just like Zemlin). Weeks ago he did puff pieces for GPL violator VMware on the Foundation's payroll and this week (the second week) he continues using the site LINUX.com to promote Microsoft stuff. Zemlin’s PAC has put just one single person in charge of LINUX.com news, posting maybe (at most) two paragraphs a day. There’s like 50 Linux stories per day (I know this because of my research for Tux Machines and Techrights daily links), so why does he post Microsoft ones?

About 2 years ago I said repeatedly (and it’s a matter of public record) that I do not want to cover anything Microsoft and instead focus on GNU/Linux and patent issues. But Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux (from the inside) have left us no choice… sadly, the Foundation that owns or at least monopolises/utilises Torvalds’ trademark now actively participates in Microsoft’s attacks. It is a gradual handover, a passage of ownership, so to speak.

IBM is a Threat to the Internet, Not Just to Software Development (Due to Software Patents Aggression)

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 3:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Backed by exhaustive research, Black’s case is simple and stunning: that IBM facilitated the identification and roundup of millions of Jews during the 12 years of the Third Reich … Black’s evidence may be the most damning to appear yet against a purported corporate accomplice.”

Michael Hirsh, Newsweek

IBM recently published a dataset for facial recognition AI made up of images...

Summary: IBM continues its aggression against technology — a fact that’s even more distressing now that IBM calls the shots at Red Hat

Because of Red Hat we are going to at least try to like IBM (it was a much more benign and FOSS-friendly company a decade ago! Its ODF work is one example among many), but each time IBM advocates and lobbies for software patents at the European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) we’ll call IBM out on it. So should Red Hat’s people, whose walkout can potentially sway policy a bit. IBM not only fires people (or sends their jobs to India) but it also lobbies for software patents in India. We wrote many articles about it over the past half decade. India has the most to lose because software is the gem of its economy.

Yesterday Mike Masnick wrote about IBM, opening with the following paragraph: “This perhaps isn’t a huge surprise, but IBM is being disdainful of the wider tech ecosystem, yet again. It has an incredibly long history of this kind of activity — mostly in the patent space, where it is the world’s foremost patent bully. The company gleefully announces each and every year that it gets the most patents of any company in the US. It has done this (no joke) for 26 straight years. Of course, given how many patents it gets, if patents actually were a marker for innovation, you’d think that IBM would still be putting out all sorts of innovative new products all the time. Right? Except, of course, it is not. Instead, it uses the patents to shake down companies who actually do innovate. The most famous of these stories is the one about IBM and Sun in its early days, in which IBM showed up at Sun’s offices with threats of patent infringement…”

“IBM not only fires people (or sends their jobs to India) but it also lobbies for software patents in India.”Masnick then cited a famous old article. This is the new boss of Red Hat, mind you, and what a malicious company it has become in recent years. Again, we must stress, it wasn’t like this a decade ago. The current CEO of IBM is a disaster. Masnick recalled that “[b]ack in 2013, when IBM first went after Twitter, I highlighted how it was an example of how older tech companies focus on litigation when they have no innovation left. In the comments, a few people challenged that claim, saying that IBM was innovative. “Just look at Watson,” the company’s big AI project, they all said.”

It’s disgusting marketing. IBM did more such marketing to hide reports about it racially profiling people for NYPD. IBM is still a highly problematic company and that hasn’t changed since the buyout of Red Hat was first announced. They simply refuse to change. They still push for software patents. They not only apply for these but also lobby/bully/bribe politicians to welcome such patents (in defiance of 35 U.S.C. § 101).

“IBM is still a highly problematic company and that hasn’t changed since the buyout of Red Hat was first announced. They simply refuse to change.”Masnick’s new article (less than a day old) is mostly a rant about IBM’s latest attack on the Net. “Of course,” he wrote, “IBM doesn’t give a shit about the open internet. To them, killing Section 230 opens up all sorts of neat possibilities. First off, IBM doesn’t host any significant online services that rely on Section 230 protections, so it doesn’t increase its own liability. Second, it handicaps the companies who actually have been innovating in AI technology, like Google and Microsoft. Third — and this is the key — you can bet that one way that many companies will try to prove “reasonable care” would be to purchase an expensive filtering technology. Perhaps one based on… Watson? IBM gets to salvage its junk technology and have the government create a market for it. Bonus. [...] IBM has long been a black hole for actual innovation. Now it wants to suck down the open internet with it. Don’t let it.”

We’re trying to be optimistic about Red Hat, but we aren’t able to see IBM changing, certainly not for the better. Over the past week we saw several reports about Fedora that made it seem like IBM already gave up on GNU/Linux (as a laptop/desktop platform). Then there’s the question of public advocacy; the bigger problem for opensource.com (a Red Hat site) is that IBM might not spare it (layoffs) because many positions expressed there, e.g. on software patents and on patents in general, are not compatible with IBM’s patent blackmail agenda. IBM has been preparing some very big “parcels” of patents on blockchain while Zemlin’s PAC (the Linux Foundation) let IBM lead the HyperLedger push. Will IBM leverage that too as a patent trap? Time will tell, but let’s hope not…

Remember that Linux Foundation staff such as Zemlin does not oppose software patents. It has not even brought up this subject in nearly a decade! The same is true for OIN, but we’ll say more about that in our next post, which concerns the Zemlin-led group.

“We’ve long said that when it comes to software patents IBM is hardly more benign than Microsoft.”Yesterday the FFII’s President highlighted this new tweet that said: “In just 1 year the number of IBM blockchain patents has grown by 300%. When one of the largest companies in the world (366,000 employees) spends so much of their resources on developing a blockchain department, this tells a lot about the market potential…”

As we explained last week, we expect IBM to pressure Red Hat staff to apply for software patents; one worker who refused to do so at Red Hat (Oliva) quit his job about a month ago. What we have above isn’t innovation; it’s software with a database somewhere disguised as “AI” and “blockchain” (for lazy USPTO examiners to grant fake patents — patents which IBM then uses in bulk for blackmail). IBM is a real pest or parasite when it comes to patents. IBM makes billions of dollars per year this way. We’ve long said that when it comes to software patents IBM is hardly more benign than Microsoft.

EPO Looney Tunes – Part 1: Is D-Day Approaching for Battistelli’s “Difficult Legacy”?

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 3:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A four-part mini series about EBA referral G 2/19

EPO toons

“The European Patent Office is an executive organisation, it deals especially with patent applicants, as such, its view of the world may be biased. As an executive organisation, its interpretative powers are very limited. The European Patent Convention excludes computer programs, it is outside the EPO’s power to change this. The exclusion of computer programs is a political question. [...] The core task of a computer is to process data. So at least the processing of data is not patentable.”

Ante Wessels, FFII

Summary: European patent justice isn’t working within the premises of EPOnia; a bunch of ‘show trials’ may in fact turn out to be just that — a show

THIS series about the European Patent Office (EPO) comes from someone who prefers to remain anonymous. It is a series by a guest author. This author has a lot of credibility based on a track record of high accuracy.

“EPO Looney Tunes,” the author explains, is “a four-part mini-series exploring Battistelli‘s “difficult legacy” and the Enlarged Board of Appeal referral case G 2/19 which is scheduled for a hearing in the main EPO Isar Building today (Tuesday, 16 July 2019).”

The Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) is very important (a decade ago it dealt with questions like software patentability in Europe and I sent it a letter about it). There are similar things in the United States (dealing with 35 U.S.C. § 101 at the Office) and elsewhere in Europe, e.g. in EUIPO (previous home of António Campinos). Yesterday the following comment was left in IP Kat: “I note that I am not permitted to post obscene or defamatory comments, or to post ad hominem (or, I presume, ad feminam) attacks on members of the blog team or other posters. Moreover, the IPKat team will moderate my comments before they are published. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. What I do not understand is that the USPTO should be less privileged in this respect than the IPKat. David T. Keeling (former EUIPO Board of Appeal member, rapporteur in the SCREW YOU case, not rapporteur in the FUCKING HELL case)…”

Assuming that’s really him, it’s funny that he takes note of IP Kat censorship — a subject we explored/revisited at least twice earlier this month. Notice how IP Kat quit covering the attacks on EBA a couple of years ago (after some people had left the blog and the EPO temporarily blocked the whole blog). EBA has since then complained, publicly even, about its lack of independence. Will any of that change any time soon (under Campinos)? Will the EPO change at all? Yesterday the EPO tweeted: “The EPO’s success is based on the expertise of its highly skilled staff.”

“The EPO already drove away all the best staff,” I responded. “So now it can grant loads of fake patents and underpay the staff.”

We also recently noted here that examiners are bound by the decisions (e.g. interpretations of the EPC) of the Boards of Appeal, including EBA. So it’s highly crucial that independence gets restored. Without it, quality of patents will continue to suffer if not fall even further. With that in mind, here comes part 1.

Back in March of this year, JUVE reported on a case which had been referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, the highest judicial instance at the EPO, in a move which was said to put Battistelli’s “difficult legacy” to the test.

The “difficult legacy” referred to here was the banishment of the Boards of Appeal to a new premises in Haar, an independent municipality on the outskirts of Munich.

The question as to whether oral proceedings could lawfully be held in Haar was raised by Aachen patent attorney Hans-Dieter Jostarndt, following objections raised by third parties during the granting procedure of EP 2 378 735.

The disputed patent relates to a technology for operating a mobile phone network and it belongs to IPCom, a well-known – some might say “notorious” – patent-holding company or “non-practicing entity”, which is a common euphemism for a patent troll.

One of the leading patent trolls in Germany, IPCom was established by the flamboyant Munich patent attorney, Bernhard Frohwitter, and it lays claim to a portfolio of over 1,200 patents, many of which were acquired from Bosch. It has been active in the business of trying to “shake-down” big telecom companies since 2008 or thereabouts.

In the course of the proceedings in the case of EP 2378 735, Jostarndt requested that an oral hearing scheduled for 25 January should be moved to the seat of the EPO in Munich because “Haar is obviously not intended in the EPC as a place for acts and negotiations.”

The Technical Board of Appeal dealing with the case decided to refer the matter to the Enlarged Board of Appeal.

Oral proceedings are scheduled to be held in the main EPO Isar building on Tuesday, 16 July 2019.

The hearing will be public so anybody who is interested can attend.

One of the questions on the agenda is whether an EPO Appeals Board can lawfully hold oral proceedings in Haar “if the appellant objects to this site as not being in conformity with the EPC and requests that the oral proceedings be held in Munich instead?”

Despite the excitement which the case has generated inside the EPO, observers are cautioning that it may all turn out to be a bit of an anti-climax because the question about Haar’s conformity with the EPC is preceded by two other questions which concern the admissibility of the legal action itself.

Should the Enlarged Board decide that the appeal is inadmissible, then it will not need to consider the “Haar question”.

In that case, the issue of Haar’s conformity with the EPC would remain unresolved and would be likely to fester on in the background until it resurfaces in a future proceedings.

While we are waiting for the Enlarged Board to make up its mind on referral G 2/19, it seems like a good time to take a peek behind the scenes and have a closer look at the background and some of the personalities involved in the case.

The next installment will follow shortly…

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